Lessons From the Yoga Mat

Lessons From the Yoga Mat

I’ve been doing yoga off and on since childhood. Mostly at home, but have taken classes in a studio here and there as well. The past few months, though, have been a brand new chapter in this drawn out story of my yoga journey. I’ve been practicing (nearly) every day for the past three months. I don’t have time or money right now for classes in a studio, so I’ve been practicing at home in the rare moments of quiet….early morning or late at night. With the help of the DownDog app, Pinterest, and my mama, I’ve expanded my asana repertoire way past what I’ve ever known. In the midst of all that, I have found the true purpose of yoga: to get to know yourself. It helps to calm my insanely LOUD mind. It brings me back down to earth and calms me enough to find a solution to whatever I’m struggling with. My anxiety has lessened, my pent up anger is definitely subsiding and I’m sleeping better. I find I can step back from the insanity no matter where I am, re-center with a few deep breaths, and then step back into the fray with more solid legs. This I know is all thanks to yoga. Despite what some think about yoga as a religion, I feel closer to God on the mat than I do anywhere else (aside from the ocean). This is where I can hear his gentle whispers that I’ve been blocking out during the day. Yoga is a time I can settle into myself and start acknowledging emotions and thoughts that I have been reluctant to listen to. My yoga mat is where I am finding myself, buried under years of doubt, pain, fear and struggle.

Aside from the mental, spiritual, and emotional growth I’ve experienced, I have also been excited to see the PHYSICAL changes. My body is stronger, more tone. My balance is getting better (which was SO NEEDED), my aches and pains are less. I’ve been able to stretch and hold my body in ways I haven’t been able to in years. Some of my favorite moments on the mat are looking at a pose and thinking “oh no way in hell” only to try and realize with a little bit of focus, I CAN do it! There is nothing more satisfying than nailing a difficult asana, or feeling myself sink deeper into a familiar one that used to give me trouble. I usually end a session feeling all sparkly and ready to take on the world.

Today after work I was feeling pent up and restless and exhausted…the perfect storm. Just for fun, I decided to try a “beginner” headstand. I’ve been working on shoulder stands and arm balances so I thought it would be fun to see if I could step it up a bit. I got through the first two steps, but when it came to stretching my legs out above my head, my core muscles just couldn’t get the job done. I collapsed with a giggle and a shrug and figured I’d come back to it. I dove into a kick ass 45 minutes session that left me sweaty and shaky & feeling accomplished. As I settled into savasana (also known as the main reason I do yoga), my perfectionism started to creep into my quiet mind and nitpick at all the spots I had problems in. “You were really shaky in Warrior III today. Why couldn’t you do side-plank? That used to be no problem! Your forward fold wasn’t deep enough.” Then I thought about the hilariously failed headstand attempt and started feeling stubborn. “I’m gonna try it again. I know I can do it! I was almost there!” And then a quiet voice from the back of my mind came forward and said, “listen to your body. You are not ready for a headstand. Keep working towards it, and come back to it later. If you force it, you will get hurt. Just be patient.” Grudgingly, I acknowledged I needed to calm the f*** down and work on perfecting some other asanas first. As I sat up and started coming out of my meditation, I had an epiphany: that same line of thought could be, and SHOULD be, applied to the rest of my life.

The number one rule in yoga is to listen to your body. That’s not to say, don’t challenge yourself, don’t push yourself a little bit. But you need to listen to what it’s telling you. If a certain pose hurts too bad, release and try something else. Focus on the muscles that need help the most, and listen when your body is saying “ENOUGH!” Yoga is not to meant to hurt. It’s meant to bend, stretch and challenge, but never injure. As I pushed aside my ego and perfectionism this afternoon, I realized I needed to apply that rule to my life off the mat. I need to stop rushing every
thing and trust the process that is my life. Obviously, I will continue  to work towards goals, continue to push f
or a higher education, better health, happier mental state. I will not settle but I also will not keep forcing things that aren’t ready to happen it. The more I push, the less I listen, and the more likely I am to end up hurt in a pile on the floor. Things only happen when the time is right. I will be married when the time is right. We’ll have a baby when the universe says we will. I will find the perfect job when I’m supposed to. Our first house will come to us when it’s time. I just need to keep on finding a way to better myself, and everything else will fall into place. WHEN THE UNIVERSE/GOD WANTS IT TO, NOT WHEN I WANT IT TO.IMG_1805

How’s that for a lesson in ego and perfectionism? I am not a patient person. When I decide I want something, I get pretty upset when it doesn’t happen exactly when I want it to. I plan things out and then get completely disheartened when that plan falls to shit….and it always falls to shit. I obsess about things until I convince myself it will never happen and i spiral down into a depression. I’m kind of a toddler, if we’re honest here. One of the few Bible verses that I remember is from a Psalm (I don’t remember which one) and it simply says: Be still and know that I am God. It’s plain but powerful. Basically He’s saying, do what you’re supposed to, SHUT UP and just trust Me. Being still has never been my strong suit…unless I’m napping. Being patient has never been my strong suit either. But hard work definitely is, so I will keep on my path and just wait for things to fall into place. I’ll keep working on my balance and core muscles too, and one day I’ll get my ass in the air.

To help with this whole being-patient-and-still shit, I’m stepping back from Facebook for awhile. It’s hard to focus on all the positive in my life when there is nothing but negative shit on my feed. It’s hard to hear my inner voice when I’m nose deep in my phone. And yes, honestly, it’s almost impossible to be content in my life, when I’m getting snippets of everybody else’s “perfect”  life. I rejoice full heartedly for friends and family who announce engagements, babies, new houses etc. I love looking a pictures of vacations and adventures. But, being human, I find myself comparing and despairing and maybe even getting a little jealous. I don’t like that about myself. I have a great life, and I am thankful and happy. But there are huge gaps that I am working on filling, and I don’t need a constant barrage of outside influence. So for my sanity, I’m breaking up with Facebook for a bit. I will spend the extra time working on me, spending time with my rapidly growing child, and strengthening my relationship. I need a little bit more silence in my life, and less negativity. Less competition.

You can contact me in the “old fashioned” ways via cellphone and email. I’ll still be on Instagram, and hopefully writing here much more frequently.

Namaste.

Loaded Question

Loaded Question

“Where are you from?”

Usually, a simple, straightforward question innocently asked by someone trying to get to know you. Unless you are a military child, and then it’s a loaded, complicated question. In the past, I’ve answered “nowhere” or “everywhere” and then patiently explained that I was an Army Brat. We moved around a lot yada yada yada. That eventually got too tiresome so I usually just say Tennessee. Because out of all the places I’ve lived, Tennessee has been the one place I lived the longest. But I never felt like I belonged there, always felt like I stood out like a sore thumb. Just didn’t fit. When I moved away to Oregon, I felt, and still feel, more at home than any place I have ever lived. It’s okay to be weird and quirky and whatever you are here. The beauty is astounding, no matter how many times you see it. I feel the history of my family here, remember childhoods filled with love and wonder. But still a part of me is connected to Tennessee. I tell people I’m from there. That I grew up there because really, I did. I graduated high school and college there. My biggest and hardest life lessons were learned in the backwoods of that state. Some of my lowest and highest of times were spent under the kudzo and hickory trees.  So many good memories have sunk into the clay, but all the awful things I went through after Baby Bee was born have overshadowed the life before. All the fear and threats and insecurity still haunt me. I get physically ill every time I have to come here to bring my son home. I plan my flights so I spend as less time as possible in the town I’ve grown to dread. I have family here. I have friends and acquaintances and beloved professors still here that I’d love to see. But my anxiety and my confusion and the out right FEAR I have associated with this place prevent me from enjoying my visits. Sometimes I just fork out money and stay in a hotel in Nashville in order to avoid the feels. 

Today I landed a little after four in the afternoon and had my brother pick me up. As we were driving down I-24 I was struck by the beauty of a Southern spring. It’s different than the rugged, awe-inspiring spectacle that is the Northwest. Oregon’s air is sharp and pure, the trees a jagged deep green you can feel in your bones. The mountains and river are so drastic they slap you in the face. Tennessee’s beauty is gentle…rolling like the hills and slow like the old rivers. The green of the trees is soft, the air is soft & heavy. The beauty whispers to you and runs its fingers through your hair. I forgot that this state could be a sweet, gentle friend. It was a dictator to me for so long, I forgot how to love it. Today I’m remembering how. I sat on the banks of a (non-snow melt) river and drank my favorite peach wine from a local winery while laughing with my little brother about crazy shit we did growing up. I heard my father in his words, and our mother in my voice. I longed for my son and boyfriend to share this homecoming with me. For once I didn’t feel like running away. I wanted to feel the embrace of Tennessee again, to be flooded by good memories instead of bad ones. I still haven’t been back to our old house, or anywhere near it. I probably never will make it back. There are some things better left buried deep in the ground. This town has changed so much I barely recognize it, and that’s okay. It makes it less painful that way I think. I can pretend I’m in a foreign city and not one painfully familiar.

I’m ready to go home now. Home to Oregon where I’ve made a life for myself untainted by lies and manipulation with a man who would never dream of saying or doing things to me that were done to me before. A man who treats me and Baby Bee like people and not pawns to play in his game. Home to the life I’ve carefully and exhaustedly built to protect us and set my son up for a good life. Home to Oregon. To the sharp piney air and hypothermic rivers. To the slow left-lane drivers and silly hippies. Where I belong. And though I’ll be relieved when our plane takes off and points west tomorrow, I will leave a piece of my heart in the red Tennessee clay. Because no matter how hard I ignore it, or deny, or pretend it’s not there, this place will always be in my soul. I’m at once a southern girl and a northwest hippie and I can’t change that. So when people ask me where I’m from, I will probably continue to answer “Tennessee.” Or maybe I’ll revert back to my fail safe “everywhere.”

Heart Less

Heart Less

My boy is 2,000 miles away with a person I don’t trust. Every instinct in my body is screaming “WRONG! THIS IS ALL WRONG!” But it’s a court order. I have no choice. I trudge through two weeks every couple of months like I’m dead. I am not myself when he’s gone. I feel like a shell of a person…I do what I need to do but it’s like autopilot. My heart is gone, my soul in hibernation. The world stops until I get that fuzz head back in my arms after 14 days of agony. We try to keep busy and do fun couple things, but it’s always tainted. There’s a shadow following us, reminding us that the world is not right without a chattering four year old tagging along behind. 

This visitation schedules suck. Everything about it sucks. All I can do is drink heavily, snuggle C, and wait for my chance to change this. To fight for my son yet again. Four years and it hasn’t gotten easier. It probably never will. But we cope. We adjust, we survive, we make the best of things. And I buy mass quantities of wine and pay my Netflix subscription and count down the days until the world gets back on its axis.

Dear Baby I May Never Have…

Dear Baby I May Never Have…

(Art by Ferenc Pinter)

Dearest Little One,
I am in love with you, and I have not even conceived you yet. I may never get to and that is something I am trying to come to terms with. I long for you nearly every minute of every day. My womb feels empty as I watch my “baby” learn new big boy things like riding a bike and his ABC’s and preparing for Kindergarten. My heart aches at the sight of infant clothing and my hands often wander down to my flat(ish) stomach yearning to feel life in there again. I love you. I want you desperately. But now is not the time. It is in fact, a terrible time for a new baby. Money is tight (though much better than what it was when I was pregnant before), things are awfully hard and confusing with my only child, and I am stuck at a crossroads in life, trying to figure out what I want to be when I’m grown up. Although at 28, I should have figured this out by now. So as you can see, Dear Baby I May Never Have, my life is not ready for you. But oh, my heart sure is. Our arms have plenty of room for a baby and a kindergartner. My brain knows, that if I think things are hard NOW, adding an infant to the mix will most definitely make life a thousand times more difficult. But my heart counter-argues that it would also make life a million times more beautiful.Full of brand new firsts, and gummy smiles, and impossibly adorable accessories in the miniature. Our lives would be filled with boundless love and wonder. Baby Bee would be a fantastic big brother and experience the joys of being a sibling. He would (eventually) have a 24/7 playmate, someone to go on adventures with and play pranks on and to help him drive mommy crazy.

But it won’t happen right now. Hopefully, hopefully, one day down the road, this ache in my heart will be replaced by the blooming love only an expectant mother knows. One day my empty uterus will explode into life again and give me a do over on pregnancy and infancy. You see, I never really got to enjoy my first and only pregnancy. Things were even worse then, I wasn’t as careful, and a miracle happened. I was in a bad spot, and all the bad things overshadowed the holy things that were happening in my body. I think that is part of the reason I am feeling so desperate for you. My baby is almost five, and soon won’t need me. I remember very little of his first 2 years and as time goes on, the few memories I have are fading more and more. There was so much I didn’t get to do with him that I hope I  can do with another one. To make up for it all. To prove that I am capable and loving and not just a big fluke. And to bring the inexplicable joy of parenthood to My Love. He doesn’t say it much, but I know he’s wanting you too.

It’s indescribable, this love and longing I have for a being who isn’t anything more than a wish. It’s maddening, waiting for the time to be just right when time is actually AGAINST me and my ability to have you. It’s heartbreaking, the possibility that I will never see you Earthside. One that haunts my dreams and follows me around all day, dodging in and out of shadows. So, my dearest Baby I May Never Have, please be patient with me. With us. With the world. Please wait in your sacred place until it is time to come to me. Don’t give up hope. Don’t abandon our dream. Know that I am dreaming of you, I am wanting you and I love you. Already. Forever and ever. Amen.

Roller Coaster Ride

Roller Coaster Ride

Baby Bee had a very rough day at school yesterday. For whatever reason, he was mad at the world and the littlest thing set him into a huge meltdown. Complete with blood-curdling screams, SWEARING, and disrespectful words to both his teacher and his mama. So as a consequence he lost every toy except books and puzzles, T.V. and movie privileges for yesterday and today, and a long list of chores to earn back some toys. So today, instead of enjoying the lovely spring day on the golf course with C, Baby Bee and I are at home checking things off our chore list. But as much as this is a lesson in consequences for him, it’s also a lesson in patience for me. Having a four year old “help” with chores is literally the most nerve-wracking, tongue-biting, deep-breathing thing on the planet.

Instead of stacking the tupperware neatly with like sized containers, he just shoved. Instead of nice back and forth motions with the mop, he zig and zagged and flopped and even tried to mop the ceiling. Why? God only knows. He was so eager to help and actually enjoyed the chores that were supposed to be punishment. But my not so inner control freak was…well freaking out. I’ve been sick for about 4 weeks in a row, so I’m already cranky and have very little patience left. Add to that the fact that I’m missing out on a fun sun-soaked day because my child lost his ever-lovin’ mind at school and I’m still trying to be firm and let him know he’s in trouble but he keeps being so sweet and cute and DAMMIT I’M READY TO START DRINKING BECAUSE THAT’S NOT HOW WE PUT CLOTHES IN OUR DRESSER!!!!!

This child. I don’t know how to handle him most days. He leads me to the edge of my sanity and right before I’m about to jump off in despair, he grabs my hand and does something so sweet and hysterical that I snap out of it and back away from the edge. I have never been so in love, so mad, so exhausted, so in awe and so utterly at a fucking loss than I have been while raising this wild man for the past 4 1/2 years. Every day brings about a hundred different emotions and at least one “what the fuck?” muttered, thought, or sometimes yelled into a pillow or the shower.

Take yesterday for instance. He got up without much complaint, ate breakfast and got ready for school without a single fuss. The drop off went okay and then about an hour later…shit hit the fan. The rest of the morning was him screaming, swearing and losing his shit over one thing and another. After being pulled into the office and calmed down, he came back to my class (where I was crying and cleaning up the lunch mess from 8 toddlers) with the sweetest grin and gave me a big hug. Like he hadn’t just been screaming profanities so fiercely his eye was twitching. Like I hadn’t been questioning my parenting skills and every decision I had ever made in the past 5 years. The rest of the afternoon went fine until we got home and he realized all of his toys were being taken out of his room. Then another meltdown ensued while I drank a beer on the deck trying to not meltdown myself. C came home, talked to G and we started dinner. Since Baby Bee was told to stay in his room all night, I poked my head in to check on him. There he was, sitting butt ass naked in the middle of his room working on puzzles. Happy as a damn clam. He ate dinner quietly, but still made silly faces at me trying desperately to get attention. He returned to his room to clean up and get pajamas on. He came running out with a t-shirt as pants and pants as a hat and said “look mama I’m an elf!”IMG_0575

How can you go from a complete and utter demon child to the most hysterical and cheekiest little person in a day?! Hell, sometimes it’s within an hour. I have a baby Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde on my hands, I think. Or maybe just a little boy with a big heart, smart brain and too big feels in his tiny, energetic body. Honestly, I have no idea. But I DO know that this parenthood gig is a crazy roller coaster ride that I am never prepared for. I prefer calm, smooth seas but my child is a raging typhoon. Every day is a lesson in patience and letting go for me. I just need to remember to breathe, and pick my battles. But have you ever watched a four year old sweep!? Oh the agony.

Hairy Legs

Hairy Legs

I haven’t shaved my legs in about two months. Nor have I shaved my arm pits or other areas that ladies tend to shave. I thought at first I’d be disgusted, but ya know what? I’m not. I’m actually kinda impressed with myself!

It started partly as a joke and partly out of sheer exhaustion and laziness. But now it’s taken on something more-it stands for my refusal to be told how a woman should look to be considered attractive. It’s pushing MY own views of how I should present myself, and what I’m comfortable with. Upon self reflection I realized that I’ve spent the better part of 27 years so worried about how people perceive me, about if I’m pretty or appropriate. And I’m kind of over that now. I’m on the edge of 30 and have lived my life for other people or based off other peoples standards. So my own quiet revolution, my way of gaining control over my body, was to finally stop doing something I hate with a burning passion and to sit with my uncomfortableness and examine the root of it. 

In December there was something going around Facebook about “glitter beards”-men decorating their facial hair with glitter for the holiday season. I thought it was hilarious, and posted it for my boyfriend because it’s SO NOT something he would do. A few days later, my mom found an article about “feminists” glittering their arm pit hair. She tagged me in it and said I could match C’s beard. It was a joke but various friends and family members were outright disgusted. “That’s disgusting!” “Ew that’s so not right!” Which for some reason, really pissed me off. Thinking out loud I asked why women were expected to have hairless everything, but it as perfectly acceptable for men to be hairy beasts. My boyfriend shrugged and said “I don’t know. It’s just natural for us to be hairy.” Which kind of annoyed me further because “It’s natural for women as well, otherwise it wouldn’t BE there!” He thought for awhile and said, “yeah I guess you’re right. Huh.” And like a smart man, changed the subject.

So I decided to show up at my parent’s house for Christmas with glitter pits. They live in Arizona so I planned to not shave for a few weeks, arrive in a tank, flash them with my blingy body hair, and then remove it the next day. I knew my mom would get a kick out of it, and my dad would roll his eyes and mutter something about me being a damn hippie. I chickened out the night before we left and shaved, but felt oddly disappointed in myself. So when we got home, I started a little experiment. I wanted to see how long I could go without shaving before I became uncomfortable or grossed out. It’s now the end of February and my razor is rusting in the shower from lack of use. It’s kind of funny to me and empowering. Like I’m more rugged or stronger with hair on my body. My legs are still muscular and thin, and my favorite thing about my body, even with a fur coat on. Nobody looks at my pits so I just laugh at them. My boyfriend still loves me and hasn’t said a damn word about his girlfriend turning into Sasquatch (like I said, smart man). It’s just body hair. If someone is going to judge you on something so trivial and natural as body hair, then screw ’em. 

I’m going to keep on with this little experiment and remind myself of all the times society or a person told me how I should dress or feel about my body. All the times in high school I had to cover my shoulders and hide a bra strap because it was inappropriate but saw guys strutting around the practice field in football pants and no shirt. Or sagging their pants and wearing a muscle tank with armholes that went down to their waistline. All the years I tried to keep my hair to his liking. All the time I’ve been repremanded for swearing only to hear my brother spit out a slew of more offensive words without anybody blinking an eye. I’ll remind myself of all the disgusting, demeaning, sexist jokes I’ve heard about women and blondes my whole life. Or all the nasty looks and words people feel compelled to share when they hear the word FEMINIST. 

Me not shaving is my quiet way of telling society to suck it. “They” can no longer tell me how I should look. My way of telling politicians to get my body and my rights off their fucking agenda and treat me and all the other women of the world like the sensible, hard working HUMAN BEINGS we are. WE know what is best for OUR bodies and our situations. Not politicians. Not magazines. Not bloggers.  I’m not shaving to prove to myself, and everybody else, that I am beautiful, strong, feminine and loved even with “masculine” hairy legs. I refuse to be told how a woman should look. We should look however the hell we want to look. I’m tired of the “how-to-dress” guides and the endless debate over whether leggings are pants. If I want them to be pants, then they’re fucking pants. My hairy legs protect me from judgements and labels and stereotypes. I will continue to not shave until I decide otherwise. Me. Not a peer or a lover or a blogger or a stranger. This is MY body and its high time I respect and admire her instead of feeling inadequate or inappropriate or gross. 

It’s completely liberating not shaving. And there is no razor burn or over priced products to worry about! Try it. You’ll be amazed at your body. Or maybe not, maybe you’ll be horrified. And that’s okay too. You do you. 

I’m kind of an ostrich. When things get tough, I bury my head in the sand (or a pillow…it’s easier to breathe in there) and pretend all is well instead of facing the problems head on. My brain knows what to do. My heart knows what to do. My soul just sometimes isn’t ready to woman-up and take care of business. So I grit my teeth, dig in my heels and work harder and harder at something that I KNOW isn’t working or benefiting me. Kind of like Sisyphus. It’s kind of a running joke in my family, “Bee, stop being an ostrich and put on your big girl panties.” “Are you ostriching again??”

It’s funny cause it’s true, but it’s not really funny. My inability to do hard things because I don’t want to hurt or disappoint anyone, or because I’m just too stubborn to admit defeat, only ends up harming me. Butting my head against a brick wall every day just because “I’M NOT A QUITTER” just gives me brain damage (which explains why I was with a narcissistic, abusive a-hole for 6 years….but that’s another subject). I’ve been ostriching it for awhile now in the subject of my job. But I’ve finally pulled my head out of my ass sand and the lightbulb went off. *DING*

For the record, I love my job. No…I love what I DO. I LOVE my kiddos, and being a vital part of their lives. I like the majority of my team, even my managers. I do not; however, like the company much anymore. My values and beliefs don’t mesh well with the company’s, and it has become increasingly harder for me to justify that. I know the majority of job-holding human beings feel that that way about their employers, but I don’t think those type of feelings belong in the early education field. On top of that, I work like a dog only to be expected to work even harder to cover for the lazy asses who don’t have their heart in the field. Childcare is a an emotionally, physically and mentally draining field….you will never know the extent of it until you are part of it. But my bond with the kids, my sense of obligation to my boss, my steady income and big discount have kept me keeping on, suffocating on sand and rolling my boulder up the never ending mountain.

  Until last week. I sat scrubbing a wall for 30 minutes wondering how in the hell I got here. I was going to be a scholar, an archaeologist, a traveler. I was going to be fluent in at least three languages and able to translate any Latin or Greek text. Instead I popped out a surprise baby, rushed my degree last minute, and grabbed the first job I could find post graduation. And I’ll be damned, I fell in love with ECE. So I stayed. And stayed. But now I don’t really want to stay. I did not spend $26,000 and five long, hard years of my life crying over textbooks to be scrubbing walls and wiping noses. I’m no longer feeling fulfilled. I don’t feel like what I’m doing really matters anymore. I don’t feel like I’m reaching my potential.

So I’m going back to school for my Master’s degree. *DING* Just like that, it was crystal clear. Schooling was the best option to get me to a better spot for my future. I will go back to my first loves-history and the Classics-and I will figure it out from there. I have a LOT of work to do. I need to study for and take the GRE. Find and apply for programs. Relearn my languages, hone my writing skills, apply for financial aid…I’m terrified and overwhelmed and wondering what in the hell I was thinking. But I also know in my bones this is right. I know something has to change. It’s time to figure out “what I want to be when I grow up” because I’m twenty-seven fucking years old with a four-year old looking to me for guidance. How can I tell him “you can be anything you want to be” when I’m denying myself that luxury? How can I tell him life is beautiful and good and worth living when he sees me so exhausted and bitter from my job that I don’t enjoy anything anymore? So I’m gonna grit my teeth and dig my heels in again, but this time on a new adventure. I’m gonna bust my ass and cry over some more textbooks, and know that it’s all good. It’s all necessary and it’s all where I need to be. I may not understand this pull, but I understand I need to listen and allow myself to be pulled.

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” -Albus Dumbledore

*DING*