Yoga love, my yoga love

Yes, I’m singing “Baby love” by The Supremes while typing this, and YES, I know. Another post about my love for yoga? Yep. Because last night in yoga, well, it was amazing. A-maz-ing.

No one else in class could hear me silently cheering for myself as I did not one, not two, but three things I had never been able to do before. I wanted to stop the class and say “Look what I can do!!”. And I was in Savasana, I was already taking mental notes for this blog post. And thinking about how things in my life have changed so much in the past 2 and a half years since I began this journey that I never ever ever thought I would.

This practice has taken me from overweight to fit, from insecure to confident, from anxiety to (mostly) calm. Oh I still worry about stuff I can’t control, and have moments of complete freak out, but I also don’t stay in that space for long. I’ve learned to control what I can and let go of what I can’t.

I know a lot of non-yoga people get sooooooo sick of hearing yoga people talk about how great it is. But has anyone stopped to realize they’re singing yogas praises for a good reason?? It’s a body, mind and soul transformation. Not a lot of things can claim all three. I have a few runner friends who feel that way about running. I tried running. I know I can run, which is something I never thought I’d say either. But I had too many injuries and not a deep-in-my-soul love for it. So I get runner love. I hope they can appreciate my yoga love.

And in an effort to remain honest about my practice, yes I almost did fall over last night in a pose I’ve done a hundred thousand times. And I also know why. Because in that moment, that second, my mind drifted and I wasn’t focused. Of course I laughed with Julie because, well, hello? I almost fell over! But after I regained my balance and was realizing what I did wrong, it occurred to me that so many things in our lives are just like that pose and potential fall.

How many times have you lost focus in what you are doing? Things are going well, maybe you start to feel like you can coast a little instead of furiously pedaling, and then you start to swerve. Your resolve starts to waiver and you quickly get jolted back to what can happen if you lose that concentration. Hopefully you can correct your thinking and start again toward your goal. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a hard fall to see that you’ve totally lost your previous determination and it takes a scraped knee or elbow to see how far you fell.

This could be with anything: exercise, diet, anger, dating, addiction, career, kids, spouse, anything. Anything you are trying to change about yourself to make you a better you. Change isn’t easy. There is resistance, sometimes from others who don’t want to see you change, but most of the time, the resistance is right between your own ears. We think things of ourselves that we would never say outloud or to another person. We allow our bad thinking to take over and self sabotage our progress. “I’ll never lose that much weight” or “I’ll never get that promotion” or “I’ll never find someone who will treat me better. I deserve what I’m getting” or “I can have just one (or two or five) and no one will know.” We SAY these things to ourselves!! ACK!

What yoga has taught me is that what happens outside of my mat has nothing to do with me and if I focus on myself and what I can do, nothing can stop me. I can look inside and praise my little victories, even if no one else does. It’s MY victory after all. I can look at how far I’ve come and not be bogged down by how much further I have to go. I can control my mind, my actions, my day by how I respond to my own thinking. Basically, I can get out of my own way.

And by getting out of my own way, I’ve empowered myself. Even if I have a swerve. Or I lose concentration for a second. The more I practice, the stronger I am. The more you have people around you, supporting you, understanding what you’re doing and going through, the easier it is to acknowledge the slip and get right back up. And LEARN from it. Isn’t that what life is all about anyway?

yoga love

Inner Strength

It’s that time of year when thoughts go to Christmas decorations coming down, resolutions for the new year come to mind, what your “word of the year” or theme will be be. Reflection. Changes. Decluttering. Reorganizing. (And you know how I love to declutter!)

But this year, as I was contemplating all of this, I had a slightly different take on it. Yes, I still want most of the crap in my basement gone. I’ll be working on that slowly this winter. Yes, I want to lose more weight, gain more muscle, and get Linda Hamilton arms. Yes, I want to find my inner zen more easily in times in difficulty or stress. Find my breath.

I want to also let go. I want to let go of things that weigh me down, both physically and mentally. I want to start each day with a positive intention and carry it through my day, no matter what is thrown at me. I’m not trying to be unrealistic. Everyone has a bad day. Or two. Or 10. But I want to find a way, if I can, to not get bogged down with stress, or misfortune, or just general unhappiness. I want to look at it in a different way.

What can I do to change it? Make it better? Because that is all that is my power. I can’t change someone else or their situation. I can fix me. I can fix my outlook. I can change my reaction. I can change what comes out of my mouth (which has got me in trouble more than a little!) and I can certainly change my perception.

So what weighs us down? A bad relationship that you know is not serving you and your interests anymore? Are you staying for the wrong reasons with a friend, a spouse, a lover? Are you spending more time bitching about this person instead of finding ways to improve it? Can you admit your part in it to help you find closure? That’s a tough one! It’s so much easier to place all the blame on the other person, but does that really help you feel better when you close your eyes at night?

Finding out what you need, what you really truly need, and then making that happen is what you can control. And what a wonderful feeling. Sometimes, the only thing you can control is your own breath. The world feels like it’s falling apart all around you and the only thing you can do for those first few moments is breathe. My yogi tells us to listen to our breath. Listen to it. Control it. Slow it. Regain your footing. When you feel you’re on solid ground, then start over. But you’ll have a harder time regaining your own footing when you’re relying on someone else for that. Trying to hold on to the broken friendship, the crumbled marriage, the relationship you thought was going somewhere turned out in the light of morning to not be what you hoped it would be. What then? Do you blame the friend, the spouse, for their failure in making you happy?

The guilt that comes with letting go of those relationships can be overwhelming too. We try and try and try to make it work. We don’t want to give up on years of that friendship. Or think we should stay in a marriage for the kids. Don’t we lose ourselves in that process? I’ve spoken before about the great loss I went through losing a friend of decades and how I didn’t know how to cope, how to deal and move forward. It seriously was harder than my divorce. More tears were shed, more sleepless nights, more self doubt and constant questioning shouting in my head. I couldn’t make her take me back. I couldn’t make her want me in her life. I couldn’t make her see how completely devastated I was. But through all that, I learned how to find myself that I had lost.

This year, this year is about finding my inner strength. Mind, body and spirit. I’m going to push myself to do things I never would have thought to try. I’m going to do things I always wanted to do but was afraid to. (Maybe time for my tattoo on my shoulder??) I’m going to allow myself to be a bit selfish. To think of what I want, what I need, and making it happen. I’m going find my inner zen. It’s going to be a challenge, and it’s going to stretch me out of my comfort zone as a people pleaser and a habitual “fixer”. And I’m thankful for 2014 teaching me that I can’t fix anyone but me. And what a waste of time it has been to try.



Growing up, never giving in, rising above

Something happened yesterday that has made me think. And get angry. And sad. And ultimately, thankful.

I was told by someone I used to know a long long time ago that I’m not the same girl I used to be in high school. In the context it was given, it was meant as an insult. And I was insulted, so point taken. Congratulations. But it also made me think about how she is absolutely right and I am thankful I’m not.

In high school, as I have mentioned before in this blog, I was a complete rebel. In a Catholic high school, it doesn’t take much to be a rebel, so I guess comparatively speaking, I don’t know how much of a rebel I truly was.  However, I did some pretty wild and crazy and utterly stupid things. I rejected everything “establishment”, I couldn’t wait to go my own way, do my own thing, live how I wanted to live, be who I wanted to be. If that meant living out of my car for a few weeks or staying on a friends couch, so be it! I could go with the wind baby!!!

After graduation, I went to OSU and quickly realized that I was less than nothing there. I was a blip on the screen. No one knew if I was in class or not. No one was looking for me at the library. Friends from high school lived on campus. I lived at home. I felt like I didn’t fit there, and in retrospect, I didn’t try to fit there. I should have. I could have. But I didn’t.

And so different options came up. After living wild and seriously crazy for a few years, I wound up married. And I’m going to be brutally honest because, well, it’s MY blog, I did it because I was tired of living the life I was and I thought, well, guess this is better than not doing it. That is no reason to get married. Ever. As much as I hate him now, I can honestly say I don’t think I ever loved him. He was a means to an end. He was a way out.

He was also one of the biggest assholes known to man. With the exception of Rob being born, he was the biggest mistake of my life. No woman, friend or foe, should have to endure what I did. Controlling. Beatings. Degrading. Menacing. Did I say controlling? Yep. Have I mentioned before how he threw me down an entire flight of stairs while I was pregnant? How when I tried to leave after that, he literally ripped wires from my car so I couldn’t go anywhere? How I ran, barefoot in the snow, pregnant, to a friends house to stay until he calmed down? Have I relayed how I showed up at my parents house with a black eye, cut swollen lip, bruises everywhere and begged them to not make me go back there? The divorce papers were filed the next day. Rob was 3. He didn’t need to see that growing up. He couldn’t be the next punching bag. 

THAT changes a person. That changes you to the core of who you are. That fundamentally alters your psyche, your outlook, your perception of what is going on around you. To this very day, I can not stand the smell of cigar smoke. That bastard used to hold me down, and straddle me and blow that smoke in my face til I gagged and cried. Then he laugh, or slap, or spit at me and let me up. So, don’t mind me when I go to another room or leave when the cigar’s start coming out. It’s not you, it’s me. 

I could continue on and on, but I won’t. Let’s just stop the examples of transformation in my mid 20’s. Am I the same person as I was in high school? No way. In less than than 10 years from graduation, I had permanently changed. But I think part of that is also maturity. We mature as we grow older, no matter how good or bad those years are. We learn, we adapt, we start seeing outside of our own little world and realize the enormity of everything around us. We try to find like-minded AND opposing viewpoint friends to help us continue to grow and see things differently. And we don’t have to agree, but we can certainly learn a thing or two about civility. We can disagree without name calling or personal attacks. Isn’t that the way to grow in a positive direction?

I think of who I was in high school, and that girl is still here. But she’s wiser. And older. And has seen things, done things, lived through things I hope you never know. So even though I’m still jamming out to some killer 80’s music (and oh, I do. I do.) and I wish I had the body I used to have, I’m jamming out knowing some of the lyrics mean something completely different now than they did back then. But I’m still smiling.