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

Time to celebrate and relax

Do you ever get that feeling this time of year that the stress, and money, and stress, and lists, and stress are take all the joy from your holiday season?

Sometimes trying to remember everything that you “have” to do can overshadow what you should do. And that, for me, can just suck the joy right out of the whole jolly, merry celebration. Trying to remember everyone you should buy for, send a card to, baking, shopping, wrapping……sigh. It can get to be too much. The crowds and the traffic can make even the most centered calm person start wishing harm on those around them. Oh wait. Is that just me?

Every year I vow to start earlier, wrap as I go, make lists, set money aside, all the good things I should try to do. Yea, it never seems to work out that way.

This year I was able to get shopping finished, gifts wrapped, and only go slightly over budget, with a few days to spare. Wooo hoooo!!! So now, I can relax. Right? Yes. And I can also refocus.

I can focus on what this season is all about. Family, friends, reconnecting with myself and those I care about. It’s about Christ and a baby being born and celebrating the blessings that brings. It’s about being thankful for everything I have been blessed with, even if sometimes my life hasn’t felt blessed. It’s about being able to give back and help others who have it worse than I do, because someone always has it better and it’s easy to fall into that mindset, but how often do you realize that others could be looking at you and thinking of how blessed you are? Someone might have it better than you, but someone definitely has it worse than you. Feel thankful for what you do have.

I’m thankful every day. I’m thankful for my parents, my brother and his family, my husband, my children. I’m thankful for having a roof over my head and food in my fridge. A car to drive and money to pay for the things I need and even some things I want. I’m thankful for my church family and the people we’ve met there who have touched my life. I’m thankful Michael found God out of his tragedy, which led us to our church. In the midst of deep sorrow, there really can be a silver lining.

So now that all of my things are done that I felt needed to be done, I love being able to do what I want to do. I’m baking, watching the rain fall and actually wishing it was snow for Christmas, and most important, I’m playing the Carpenters Christmas album while putting gifts in the stocking hanging by the fireplace. And feeling very very blessed.

Alcoholism, nerves and yoga

One of the side effects of living with an alcoholic is having nerves of steel. Well, maybe not steel. Maybe more like wet noodles. Not so steel-like. I think when you have lived with this disease for a long period of time, it somehow leeches onto the family that surrounds it. Not that I have become an alcoholic, but it affects my life in myriad ways.

Some of the feelings that come up with having been almost conditioned to it remain, even after the alcoholic is in recovery. Some fears and shadows remain, below the surface, just waiting to spring up into your life. To take you right back to where you were and said you would never be again. (See how that sounds just the alcoholic himself?)

Last night I was just about to go crazy. And it was all me. My brain thinking, my hands shaking, my stomach sick. All of my own doing.

He said he was leaving work, on his way home. It was 4:15. Woo Hoo! Coming home early, we could do some yard work that the rain of the weekend prevented us from doing. Then I could go to yoga. Perfect!

He wasn’t home at 5. That’s ok. Traffic coming from downtown to the suburbs can be bad some nights.

He wasn’t home at 5:30. Wow. Over an hour seems a bit long. Don’t panic. But don’t call. Don’t let him know you’re worried. Just relax.

He wasn’t home at 6. Ok. I’m calling. This is crazy. I call. No answer. I text. No reply. OMG! I call again. No answer. Why isn’t he answering???? It’s been almost 2 hours since he told me he was leaving! What is happening??

Full force panic has now set in. I’m sick to my stomach. I’m imagining him on the side of the road, crumpled, waiting for an ambulance to make its way through rush hour grid lock. I’m imagining him in cuffs in the backseat of police car after getting another DUI. I’m imagining his phone going off on the front seat of the police car and he knows its me calling.

I’ve broken into a sweat and my entire body is literally trembling.

He walked in the door at 6:09. I literally burst into to tears as I collided with him in the hallway, hugging him, crying, squishing him in a monster hug.

He has no idea what’s even going on. He’s alarmed. Why is she crying? Did something happen to Ryan? Rob? Her parents? He pushed me back and searched my face for a clue. He doesn’t know what to do or say to make me stop crying.

So after I explained my completely irrational thinking and behavior, thanking God that he was home, he tells me he was on the phone on his way home. He didn’t leave the office until 4:50 after getting pulled into a meeting. He stopped for gas. He thinks his phone is on the Do Not Disturb setting which he uses frequently at work because he is on so many conference calls that he can’t have his phone beeping. My calls didn’t beep through. My texts were received but no notification signal.

He apologizes profusely. He’s so sorry. He didn’t mean to scare me or worry me. And most of all….he’s SOBER. He wasn’t trying to pull a fast one where he was drinking but oh-I-didn’t-hear-my-phone-ring BS. He was truly sorry for causing me to worry to the point of tears.

So I tried using my yoga breath (the suggestion of my dear sweet friend!) and tried to calm my shaking. He tells me about the phone call and the weird but potentially good news from his office. He’s made quite a name for himself and I’m very proud of what he has achieved in his company.

In through the nose. Out through the nose.

I changed and went to yoga (which of course in my doomsday thought process, I figured I would have to miss since I would be down at the police station and/or hospital) and tried to channel my fears and calm my mind. Find that stillness that is sometimes so elusive to me. I just need to trust, relax, let go, and breathe. All the things my yoga instructor teaches me every class. Find a way to put them into practice in the middle of a manufactured crisis in my head.

In through the nose. Out through the nose…..

Yoga Warrior Pose 2