Balance

I LOVE BALANCING POSES. They make me feel like someone who is graceful and elegant and all the things I’m not. Today, I successfully did not place either foot back on the ground until the video prompted me because I am a goddamned crane/dancer/tree.

We’re moving into the last week of Dedicate which means I’ll soon be on my own to motivate myself to get on the mat every day. You’d think it would be the same–just get up every morning like I’ve been doing and get to it–but there’s something special about completing a series, collecting those experiences as they come out, that makes it a tiny bit easier to begin. Getting on the mat is the hardest part, Adriene always says.

I read a quote once about balance, but I can’t find it now. it went something like this:

You don’t find balance by standing perfectly still, you find it by constantly shifting.

I can’t recall the exact words, but the concept stuck with me because it’s not one of those bullshit-isms: it’s actually true. In a yoga pose, you don’t try to come to complete stillness in order to stay up on one leg, you have to move a tiny bit to stay there, and really you should be breathing and moving the whole time anyway. If you strive to find complete stillness, you’re a lot more likely to fall over (and hold your breath which isn’t great). Similarly, in other aspects of your life, you won’t find balance by halting your progress or sticking to a perfect routine because the world around you is constantly shifting and if you don’t go with the flow you’re sure to be knocked off course.

So when I’m in tree or dancer or really anything, that quote floats around my mind in some way, like a mantra. It’s not standing still, it’s moving to accommodate everything else.

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Joyful

Man, this is necessary after yesterday’s big ole downer of a post.

But listen, I do have something to be joyful about. (I mean, I actually have hundreds of things to be joyful about, but this one specific thing is just the cat’s pajamas to me right now.)

I FINISHED A BOOK. Reading, that is. I finished reading an entire book. Wow.

So yeah, I get that that is not a big accomplishment, especially for someone who touts themselves as a writer. In fact, reading is an absolute necessity to be a writer–that’s what all the other writers say anyway–but my problem has always been getting part way through and wanting to go write myself and not picking the book back up. I decided I was changing the habit in 2019, and so far it’s going great.

I finished The Color Of Magic last night and even started Equal Rites before going to bed. I’m often afraid of stealing from the things I’m reading when I write, so I used to chose to read books way outside of the genre I was writing in, but I’m writing a comedic fantasy now, and I’m reading them as well, and this seems to be going a lot better than I expected. I could never write like Terry Pratchett, he’s legitimately just too fucking good for me to worry about copying.

I’m also pretty joyful about how much stronger I’m getting from yoga. I lost quite a bit of strength from being so sedentary in the last few months, but it’s quick to come back. My planks are pretty rad now, and I’m holding poses in ways I wasn’t able to before. Progress.

Steady

Clouding up my mind today has been the people who, and the ways in which those people, made fun of me when I was younger. See, I ordered a laser hair remover from Costco, and it just arrived. Don’t get me wrong, I am fucking PUMPED this thing is here–it’s something I’ve wanted since I learned laser hair removal is a thing–but I’m also having a little bit of post-traumatic stress from thinking about why I want to epilate so badly.

So here’s a story for nothing more than my own catharsis. Let me guarantee you this upfront, Dear Reader, there’s nothing to be learned by reading farther other than a deeper look into my psyche.

I, like a lot of people who grew up to have a shred of empathy in their shriveled little hearts, was made fun of a lot growing up. I was a kill ’em with kindness kinda kid in elementary school, and when these other kids recognized that I was just genuinely nice and smart (they very often thought I was mentally challenged because I had a lazy eye and a droopy face–not that that would have justified cruelty) some of them stopped being too awful to me.

Case in point: in 7th grade I had terrible acne (I hit puberty a few years before most of the other kids, so I got to experience the face explosions first) and there was this boy who called me “pizzaface” or just “pizza” because I was Italian, greasy, and, well, I suppose it looked like I was covered in pepperoni. I didn’t even like pepperoni! It was so unfair! I felt all the shitty feelings about it, but I found a way to kind of laugh it off. Then that kid became one of my best friends, and even when I moved away, we still talked and saw each other for a few years after that. So yeah, basically I had a shining, win-em-over personality.

But once I was a teenager, my personality didn’t matter so much anymore, and kids were into playing the long game. Also, enough of that bullshit really wears you down. Teen-aged angst buoyed by being made fun of for things way out of your control and a huge dash of social anxiety is a pretty good recipe for character-killing-serum, but I do still vividly remember the first time I was essentially bullied when I went to a new school in the 8th grade.

I was in some sort of computer class. This was the very early 00s and most of us knew more than the teacher, but “keyboarding” was still inexplicably on the curriculum. I was sitting next to this girl who was very sweet, very pretty, and also very, very dumb. She was a cheerleader and seemed to be one of the happiest people around (ignorance truly is bliss), so even though I thought I should feel bad for her, there seemed to be little to feel bad for. Anyway, this story isn’t really about her–she was actually one of those rare people who was really popular, but also really nice. No, no, this story is about Jeremy.

And yes, Jeremy is his real name.

Jeremy was, and I assume still is, human fucking garbage. I know you can’t know this for sure, you only have my words here to go off of, and at the time I didn’t know this either–I was new to the school and didn’t really have any friends yet–but I hope I can sway you with this anecdote upon which you will judge the whole of Jeremy’s worthless, POS character.

So prettydumbnice girl needs help, and the instructor has already written her off as a moron, so I’m happy to oblige because I’m not an asshole. I’m leaning forward in my chair to look over her shoulder, and she’s actually getting it. I love when you show someone something and then they do the thing and their face lights up with realization. That’s such a good feeling! And here comes Jeremy to ruin it.

I’m tapped on the shoulder, turn, and there’s his stupid fucking face, but at the time I didn’t know what a stupid fuckface he was, so when he goes, “Can I tell you something?” in this incredibly serious tone, I think something sincere is going to come out of his mouth. No idea what, but to 13-year-old, kind, helpful, empathetic me, I am thinking, Oh, this person might also need help, what can I do? and I tell him, “Of course!”

“You have the hairiest back I have ever seen. I mean, seriously, just the hairiest. It’s like you’re a monkey.”

He delivered this in the same sincere, flat tone, staring right into my eyes like I wasn’t even human. Like he was just practicing being mean. So since this was the 00s, low-rise jeans were hardcore in, and as I was leaning forward, my lower back was exposed. At the time I had no idea how hairy my back was–I mean, I’d never seen it, obviously–but it suddenly became the center of my goddamned universe. I had known my eyebrows were way too bushy thanks to previous teasing, but quickly discovered so much more of me was hairy–too hairy–and all thanks to that comment.

And don’t worry, I’m not writing off Jeremy because he just said one mean thing to me. I watched him be an utter dickface over the next five years to a plethora of people. He’s earned every shitty name I’ve called him here plus about a thousand more.

With the rise of body positivity, women have been embracing natural things about themselves, including hirsutism and even just normal hairiness (we are mammals,after all, despite what every razor commercial and post-apocalyptic movie armpit would have you believe) and I think that’s great. But I’ll never get over that feeling when I was 13, and even though I can openly talk about it now, it still hurts me. I’ve spent almost 20 years trying to remove unwanted hair, I’ve irritated the fuck out of my skin, I’ve bled, I’ve given myself chemical burns, all in the pursuit of hairlessness. Maybe now I’ll get there, or at least a little closer.

What did today’s yoga have to do with all this? Well, not a lot, or maybe everything. Adriene’s letter for today talks quite a bit about loving what you see in the mirror, working for yourself instead of on yourself, and I appreciate that, but part of conditioning your mind is often changing the physical things around you. This is part of my effort to do that.

And I realize it’s not a fuck you to the people who bullied me. Looking the way they thought I should isn’t a fuck you at all, “glowing up” doesn’t absolve me of feeling like crap back then or teach them a lesson. In fact, I’m sure nothing I do now or ever will affect the Jeremies of the world. Like I said, Dear Reader, there’s nothing to be learned from reading this blog, it just is what it is.

Lead and Light

I’ve thought quite hard about it, and the best way I can describe how I felt yesterday is akin to a deflated balloon. It’s not a unique simile, but it’s the most accurate.

It was like I’d lost all my air, and just sort of bumped along on the ground, listless and droopy. I realized this morning, after completing yesterday’s yoga session, that had I started my day with that, I probably wouldn’t have felt anywhere near as terrible, but the hardest part is getting on the mat, after all.

Today was significantly more productive, though. I set myself up a sorta block schedule to keep from wasting the day away and boy did it work! Well, that and my iron constitution. Well, maybe more like aluminium? In my bullet journal, I have a section where I track six habits and yesterday I didn’t get a single one, not even taking my vitamin! But today, well, today I got them all. That is an improvement.

I just finished today’s yoga which had some really enjoyable forward bends that I hadn’t done in this way before. I executed them really well, and then I did a terrible job at a few incredibly low skandasana, switching from side to side. I’m discovering a kind of universal weakness in my knees, specifically the left one which is really unfortunate, and my fear of really fucking it up is probably holding me back, but then again, fucking it up for real would definitely hold me back.

If nothing else, I am incredibly motivated for the rest of this week. I’m going to finish my first book of the year probably tonight (yay!) and by the end of the week I’m hoping to have another 10-ish thousand words in my project. That’s the kinda wave I need to ride.

Listen

Today’s practice flew by. I was sure it wouldn’t as I didn’t start it til after 8pm after a long day engaging in a brand new activity with people I’ve never met before (an anxious introvert’s nightmare), but the activity was insanely fun and everyone was so nice, so even though I was exhausted, it didn’t take much to get zenned out, and as suddenly as yoga began, it was over. Even though I love a good, long yoga session, when they end quickly I am always thankful–not because I want them to be over! But because I know I was so invested in the action that time wasn’t on my radar during it.

Love

Today’s session was a quite good one for crying, but, you know me, I kept it together!

I do love the instruction to “breathe lots of love in, and breathe lots of love out” because I imagine sucking in and blowing out all these little, sparkly hearts and sending them off into the universe to people who need them. I hope they get there.

Today when we were in mountain pose, I finally recognized the shape when Adriene said to imagine the crown of your head as the peak and your hands as the roots. Indeed, with your arms out beside you, you are like a mountain, grounded down and reaching for the sky. With my eyes closed, I imagined tiny trees poking out all over my arms and becoming a human landscape, and I wondered if mountains ever imagine they’re little people.

My heirloom rocking chair was supposed to be delivered today. Well, it was supposed to be delivered on the 11th, then it was supposed to come on the 18th, then today, and now finally it’s supposed to come on Monday, and I know it’s a bit broken, but I’m very concerned it’s broken well beyond repair, and I have little faith it’s coming at all. After all of this, all I can think about is how this chair is so symbolic of my body. It’s a very sad thought for love day, but it is what it is. All I can do is try to love myself despite the constant reminder I’m lacking something that should be so easy, but I did believe it when I was rolled up in that little ball.

Learn

One of the nicest things about yoga, and specifically a daily practice, is the invitation to put everything else out of your mind for that time you spend on your mat. You don’t throw up harsh walls and block everything out or even focus really hard on nothingness, but you acknowledge the wayward thoughts, the to-dos, the worries, and then you send them away. In a culture where we are expected to multi-task and where we’ve redefined the word priority into the concept of many priorities, it’s nice to turn off for a bit. I’m not always completely capable of it, but I usually find by the end of a session, I am genuinely zenned out.

Sometimes I feel completely crazy. I wonder if my perception of things is just totally off when something odd happens around me. I think Is this fucked up, or am I just fucked up? I don’t want it to be me that’s off, but that would make things easier because I could just tell myself to stop being a dickhead. I want to constantly check myself (before I wreck myself), to make sure I’m being fair, thoughtful, kind, open. If this situation were happening to someone else, what advice would I give that person? If this situation were happening in a vacuum, would I react the same way? Am I coming to whatever conclusion for benevolent reasons?

But, as my mom told me, “Crazy people don’t think they’re crazy.” She’s convinced that as long as I’m questioning my sanity, I’m sane. I’ll take that vote of confidence any day.

Dulce

There are lots of sweet things in my life, specifically one man and three kitties, and for all of that I am thankful. I’m also thankful for the sweet ass ideas that Husband gives me on long walks that spark really fun scenes in my writing. This book, my dudes, I have so much faith in this book.

Today’s practice had a lot of “sweet massage” which isn’t really my jam. It’s not like I’m adverse to touching myself (trust me), it’s just that I don’t get much pleasure out of my feet being touched by anyone at all, myself included, and I really can’t illicit the feel-good tingles that go along with massage when I do it to myself on my temples or shoulders. I think it all spins back to the first time I heard someone say they had a “knot.” I figured out, after far too many years, that these are those hard or tight areas one might get in a muscle, and I suppose a “knot” is just a midwestern way to say that. But I am just not familiar with the whole thing. That isn’t to say I’ve never had sore muscles, I just always stretched til it felt a little better then rested it. Knot always made me think, “You have a knot under your skin? That sounds like it needs medical attention, not you grinding your fucking knuckles into it.”

Anyway, point is, I did everything Adriene said to do, but I didn’t like it. Well, I didn’t dislike it either, I just kind of endured it. No, that sounds like it was painful. I just sort of…experienced it? I tried to enjoy it, really, but it’s a no from me, dawg. Still, I’m happy about today because I indulged and had a cup of iced coffee in the morning and a cup of hot chai in the afternoon (after getting rained on during my walk) all in the name of sweetnesss!

I also bought the monster box of Ghirardelli brownie mix from Costco yesterday and intend to make some this weekend. They’re for a get together, but still you can bet your ass I’ll be eating two. I’m going to doctor them up a little, I’m thinking half the batch will be cheesecake and the other peanut butter. Hopefully the yoga this weekend will help me expend a few more calories than normal.

Reveal

Let me jump on the internet bandwagon here.

Left: Me in 2010, Right: Me at the tail end of 2018, so as close to 2009 and 2019 as I’m getting.

All that seems to have changed in roughly 10 years is the color and length of both my hair and the bags under my eyes. Oh, and I got contacts. It’s more of a dull but reliable LED than a glow up, I admit.

It’s moments like these I realize I should be very grateful for the greasiness of my skin because it’s transitioned from 20 to 30 pretty nicely which is to say its hardly aged at all, which may be the long-term benefit of the “short-term” nightmare that was borderline cystic acne from the time I hit puberty til I was legally allowed to drink.

I wore some makeup today for a Costco date with Husband and thought I’d take my current photo in that, then I realized that’s not really current me. I do throw on eyeshadow and lipstick from time to time for funsies, but bare-faced is just so much more honest to the effort I put in every day (read: none).

In Reveal today, Adriene asked us to spend time with ourselves instead of on ourselves. It’s a good thought experiment and helped me decipher what I need vs what I want. I want a bangin’ booty, but I need to be physically stronger and healthier. It’s all possible, but it’s good to know the difference and it’s even better to be happy with myself while I’m on the journey to either.

Grace

I’ve always been clumsy. I’ve spent a lot of my life bruised and scratched from knocking into the edges of things, and more of what I’ve poured into cups has ended up on the floor than in my gut. It could be a lot worse, and I’ve grown into an adult who is significantly more poised, but no matter how many times I cross known thresholds, I will still manage to bang into them on too frequent an occasion.

You move too fast.

– My mother

She’s right. Even though I talked about my penchant for sloth yesterday, when I am doing things, I tend to try and speed through unless I really don’t want to do it. I think this is heavily influenced by nerves, especially if I’m around others. I get anxious and just want whatever I’m doing to be over. I’m sure I fell in front of some mean kids who made me feel terrible or something when I was little and I’ve carried that over into the rest of my life, but here we are. The nice thing about yoga is that it reminds you to slow down. I’m still working on carrying over these lessons off the mat, but subconsciously some of them have sunk in.

So I associate grace with slowing down. There are some things I will probably never do slowly like walk down a sidewalk or use a public restroom, but it’s worth it to attempt in other areas. But how? Adriene’s quote at the end of today’s session struck me:

The winds of grace are always blowing, but it is you that must raise your sails.

– Rabindranath Tagore

That suggests grace is something you can capture from the world rather than bring out from the inside. For a person who feels interminably clumsy, whose need to rush is second-nature, who was born pigeon-toed and near-sighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other, this is a huge relief. It’s out there, and accessible, I just need to call to it.

Graaaaaaaa-AAAAAAAAA-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace, where are you???