Sunday, January 11, 2015

An Afternoon of Restorative Yoga, Quiet Meditation, And Football Food.

I haven't been to a led yoga class in... a long time. I think the last class I went to was back about the time the kids went back to school in August/ September. Too long.

I'm definitely a vinyasa girl. I like to flow from one pose to another, not staying in any one pose too long. Slower classes don't feel like a work out to me. Yes, I'm aware that yoga is so much more than a "work out". But I'm a bit type A so while I'm finding some inner peace I need to be burning some calories too.

This week I got an email from a local studio offering a 2 1/2 hour restorative & yoga nidra workshop. Two and a half hours of holding supported poses, a very very slow practice and long meditation. I'll be bored out of my mind. And staying in supported restorative poses gives me way too much time to think. Which leads to confronting issues I have so far successfully avoided dealing with.

No, restorative yoga and long meditation is not what I need right now. There is too much in my life causing me stress and pain. I need to move and sweat and push it away. This restorative class has potential to be emotional and I'm sooooo tired of being emotional.

But I didn't delete the email. When Kid 2 invited friends over to watch football Sunday afternoon I figured it was my perfect excuse not to go to yoga. Why spend 2 1/2 hours on my yoga mat when I could be home eating junk food with my teenager and his friends?

Still I didn't delete the email. And Saturday night at 11:50pm I finally logged on and registered for the workshop.

I walked into the yoga studio and thought 'I'm home'. As I got situated on my mat I knew this was going to be exactly what I was afraid of. Exactly what I expected. Exactly what I needed.

With the help of bolsters and blankets my body sank into the poses and relaxed. As my body opened up my mind started chattering. Every issue, every worry came rushing at me at once. What do I do about work? Where will I find a job that pays me what I need yet lets me still be a mom? Is it time to move on? To try something new? How do I let go of the old? How do I walk away from what I've loved?

This is too much. I can't process it all and I don't know what to do about any of it.

But I fought the urge to get up and leave and instead rearranged myself into the next long held restorative pose.

Eventually my body released and I began to feel lighter. I was able to follow the instructors cues and tune in to my breath. The more I breathed the more clear the chatter in my head became. And eventually, it too, slowed down.

I think I might have dozed off  a little during the yoga nidra portion. I don't remember all of it. I know I became aware again when I heard the phrase 'I am always safe in the center of my being'.  How true that is. When I feel scared and unsure, I can feel safe again by getting low, getting quiet and tuning inward.

I left the studio emotionally drained yet lighter. And more calm than I have felt in a long time.

And I got home in time to eat too much junk food and watch football with friends and family.

Tonight, as I was browsing through Facebook, I saw this notification:

Today, Jennifer, we believe God wants you to know that ...
if you relax, it comes.
Don't seek, don't search, don't ask, don't knock, don't demand - relax. If you relax, it is there. If you relax, God shows you the way.

How appropriate for my day. Instead of muscling my way through a yoga practice and trying to sweat out the voices in my head, I got quiet. I got still. And my path became a bit more clear.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

#TBT: 44 For My Next 44 - a look back at 2014

Two years ago on my birthday I wrote a list of 44 things I'd like to do in my next 44 years.  Last year when I looked back I surprised myself by how much I had accomplished in just one year.

Looking back through my list this year I realize I've made some pretty good progress again!

  1. Travel more - My new state this year was Portland, Oregon. It's beautiful! And I was excited like a kid when I saw Christmas trees growing on the beach! The kids and I also took our first post-divorce family vacation to Pinnacle Mountain Arkansas. And kid 2 and I rode bikes all over New York City while we were up visiting potential colleges for him. 
  2. Dance more - It turns out I enjoy country line dancing! Who knew? 
  3. Ride in a hot air balloon
  4. Finally find a sun dress that doesn't make my butt look huge - Last year was sundresses, this summer was skirts.
  5. Skydive
  6. See the Grand Canyon
  7. Not wait for special occasions to dress up 
  8. Swim with dolphins
  9. Go on a cruise
  10. Whale watching - When I first wrote go whale watching I imagined I'd be on a boat. But no boat needed! As we were standing on the beach in Oregon my friend kept saying "I'm not sure we will see whales. It's really not the right time of year." Well, then what are those two huge gray things humping out of the water and blowing their spouts?! I was even more excited to see the whales than I was to see Christmas trees growing on the beach!
  11. Take an aerobics class in Los Angeles with Richard Simmons at his Slimmons Gym
  12. Ride a cable car in San Francisco
  13. Visit all 50 states - I added one more to my list - Oregon state! (see #1)
  14. Have more fresh flowers in my house 
  15. Take a surfing lesson
  16. Take ballroom dance lessons 
  17. Be more spontaneous 
  18. Publish my book -  It's been edited and is being read by a few trusted friends right now for their review. 
  19. Attend Summer Solstice in Times Square - I don't know why I didn't write about this at the time! I guess it was just a super busy time. But it was freaking amazing! We literally lay out our mats in the middle of Times Square and did an hour of yoga. It was kind of funny when the tour buses would pass by and wave at us. 
  20. Finish my 500 hour RYT
  21. Get back to a regular yoga practice again- sporadic at best this year but always there for me when I can be there for it. 
  22. Get back to a semi-regular meditation practice again 
  23. Stress less about finances
  24. Make time to read more - Now that I've cancelled DirectTv I'm finding not only, don't I miss it, but I am reading so much more. 
  25. Redecorate my kitchen - I totally forgot this was on my list until I looked at it! I've repainted the walls, refurbished the cabinets and - what I'm most proud of - framed my mom's handwritten recipes and hung them on my kitchen walls. The only thing left to complete the project now is the counter tops and that only needs time set aside to do it.
  26. Take more pictures - thanks to the iPhone and my Instagram account taking more pictures is easier than ever.
  27. Walk more
  28. Get a Labradoodle dog
  29. Be able to afford a house cleaner
  30. Watch my kids grow up to be healthy, productive adults - 2014 was the year I saw Kids 1 & 2 really grow up, and not just age chronologically. Kid 1 had some major life choices to make this year and I'm so proud of how far he's come. Kid 2 is looking ahead to his future and mapping out a plan to achieve what he wants. 
  31. Stay healthy into my old age
  32. Walk the beach more - the water was freezing but the beaches in Oregon are absolutely beautiful. 
  33. Take more chances
  34. Attend more live theater - this year I saw Wicked ( fabulous) and 50 Shades of Gray The Musical (almost as dumb as the books.)
  35. Find a way to combine what I love to do with a way to support myself financially
  36. Laugh more - Laughing will always make my gratitude list 
  37. See my book for sale on Amazon (see #18)
  38. Be debt free
  39. Care a little less what people think
  40. Paint a baseball field onto my backyard
  41. Take the kids to Disney World
  42. Find balance 
  43. Be happy- I've become much more aware this year of what / who makes me happy, what I'm willing to do to be happy and what / who I will not allow to rob me of my happiness. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Creativity: #reverb15 Day 28

Creativity: What does being creative mean to you?  How do you express your creativity?

Creativity - that elusive state that I wish I was in more often.

In the four years that I've had this blog I've actually written less this year than any other. The year of my mom's death and the year of my divorce I wrote more frequently. Although I'm not sure I was more creative during those times, rather I just needed to write as a way to release the pain.

This month has been a bit more of a productive month for me. Thanks to #reverb14 I've written more this month than I have all year. I also have redone my kitchen with new paint, refurbished cabinets and new decor that I created myself. I'm proud of both accomplishments.

Looking back I think I've been feeling kind of stagnant this year.  I've made no forward progression in any area of my life; professionally, socially or economically. That stagnation applies to my creativity as well.

The divorce propelled me forward into new and unknown terrain. But now I'm just sitting here not sure where to go or what to do next. #reverb14 was the jolt I needed to start writing more frequently. Now I just need a kick in the butt to get myself moving forward again too.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Project Reverb.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Thanks & Gratitude: #reverb14 Day 25

What are you so grateful for?  How did you count your blessings in 2014? 

I've written gratitude lists off and on for a few years now. I know that one of the ways to pull myself out of a downward spiral is to step back and look at what I have to be grateful for.

Sometimes I'm good at acknowledging all I have to be grateful for. Sometimes I'm not.

As I was wrapping Christmas gifts late one night this week, I had a temporary moment of feeling sorry for myself. As a single mom the budget is tight. I had been doing pretty good saving ahead for Christmas, but this summer a crisis with one of my kids wiped out that savings in all of 10 minutes. The ensuing bills meant there just wasn't any money left over to save. So I did the best I could and each payday purchased one gift.

Although each of my six kids knew that there would only be two presents a piece under the tree this year, when I saw the gifts all wrapped and ready for the tree I felt sad. And even a little guilty that I couldn't give them more.

But then looking at the 12 gifts sitting on my bedroom floor I realized, wait a minute, this isn't too bad. In fact for the financial hardships I've had this year this is actually pretty good. Each kid was getting what they really wanted! I decided to stop dwelling on what I couldn't do, and instead focus what I had been able to accomplish.

My current gratitude list:

  • My six kids whose list of wants is short
  • Friends who have stepped up to help me make sure my kids are raised surrounded by love
  • Coworkers who have gone from employees, to friends to family
  • Health of my family and friends
  • The special people in my life who know how to make me smile, make me cry and make me laugh through my tears.
  • People there to greet me as I get off an airplane
  • Hard, sweaty gym workouts that clear my head any time I need
  • Technology that allows texts/calls/emails/chats anytime just to say Hi and I'm thinking of you.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Project Reverb

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ending With Certainty: #reverb14 Day 21

Today, I'd like you to revisit what you wrote on 1 December on the first day of Reverb14.
How does that compare to where you are now i.e. what can you say today with certainty?

On the first day of #reverb14 I wrote a pretty dark and depressing post. At the time, I meant everything I said and even now I don't feel the need to take any of it back. The only thing I can say right now with absolute certainty is I still know nothing.

I don't know the future.
I don't know the reasons for everything in my past.
I don't know on some nights how I will make it through the next day, month, year.
I don't know the answers to so many questions I continue to ask.

However, after a few weeks of purging my demons into blog posts and a bit of an emotional breakdown, I am certain of a few things.

I know I have friends who care about me.
I know I am intelligent and have value to offer to the person who is open to accepting it.
I know that the only person in my life I really have any control over is myself.
I know the only thing stopping me from living a life worth living is me.

Then, without thinking too hard about it, grab a pen and some paper and finish the following sentences:
In 2015, I am open to...


In 2015, I want to feel...

Genuine happiness. Love. A sense of accomplishment.

In 2015, I will say no to...

Those who make me feel worthless. Myself when I tell myself I'm not good enough.

In 2015, I will know I am on the right track when… 

I am living my life with ease. My life may not be easy, but I won't be muscling my way through trying to force the world around me to conform, only causing me more suffering.

But when I find myself veering off course, I will gently but firmly…

Force myself back into what I know works: self care, exercise, sleep, asking for help.

In December 2015, I want to look back and say...

This is the year I finally stopped saying "I'm going to..." and instead say " I did...".

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Do It Anyway: #reverb14 Day 15

What are you really proud that you made happen in 2014, despite the gremlins? And what will you do anyway in 2015?

In 2014 I finally, after way too long, finished my book: Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom.

The book was sidelined so many times because of divorce, kids and work. But mostly it took so long because of my own inner demons telling me it was stupid to think I had the ability to write a book. I've written about this picture before. But this picture is by far one of my prouder moments this year.

My kids reading my  book to see if
their names are in it.

I haven't done much since getting the galley copies of the book back. I still need to find someone to help me format it. The two people I asked to read it and give me a small quote for the back cover both told me they just didn't have time. But mostly I haven't done anything further with it because the gremlins are telling me that it really is stupid.

In 2015 it's time to shut the gremlins up. The book may not be a bestseller and it's possible no one will buy it. But I want to see what may very well be the one and only copy ever printed sitting on my bookshelf.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Don't Be An A**hole: #reverb14 Day 17

How can you stop being an a**hole, get out of your own way and make room for more of your magic to happen in 2015?

Today I was a real asshole. In fact, before I even saw this prompt I used the word asshole in referring to my behavior today.

Actually for the past few weeks I've been an asshole. It just all became clear today how much of an asshole I've really been.

It's been a rough patch lately and once again I've been hurt and feel abandoned. So, being the "I'm so strong I don't need anyone" type that I am, I retreated to my usual defense mechanisms and pulled back from the world.

My defense mechanisms have been fine-tuned over time and I'm so good at them, I rarely even notice when I first begin to go into safety mode.

  • Step one: Pull back from those who care about me.
  • Step two: Stop sleeping.
  • Step three: Feel defeated and see the future as hopeless.
  • Step four: Lash out at those closest to me in an attempt to drive them away, thus proving to myself that no one really cares about me anyway. 
  • Step five: Break down crying out of exhaustion, desperation and fear.

It works every time.

Well it works to get me to the point of breaking down crying out of exhaustion, desperation and fear. And then those closest to me, who have endured my wrath patiently, will wrap their arms around me and remind me that I really don't need to always be the strong one. And maybe if I'd just open myself to the possibility of being loved, I would see that I truly am loved.

And then I cry some more. And finally sleep.

It's a pattern I have repeated all too often in my life. And I'm grateful that those closest to me are there to see me through it each time. And are there to pick me up at the end.

In 2015, I'd really really like to stop being so much of an asshole. I'd like to learn to reach out for help instead of retreating out of fear. And opening myself up to the possibility of, well, possibility.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.