Monday, March 31, 2014

With Encouragement and Support


Towards the end of a yoga practice, as we lay on the floor getting ready for shavasana, or corpse pose, the pose of rest, we often take a spinal twist. As we lay on our backs with our knees bent, using the breath, we allow the knees, to fall softly to one side, our arms spread out on each side of us in a T shape, and our head to the opposite side.

 Depending on your level of lower back flexibility, there are varying degrees of depth to the pose. For me, I have an ongoing level of discomfort in my lower back. It's just something I have to work with.  I attend to to it in all poses with care, as it's an awareness I have that heeds my attention. I generally place my hand on my knees as I focus my breath, and slowly and surely, as I focus my attention on the areas of concern, my lower back releases a little more. As with any discomfort, whether it's ongoing or something new you're nursing, there's a degree of holding- of protecting, as we want to be therapeutic in our attention to our areas of concern.

The longer we lie in a pose with attention on the area of focus, directing our breath to that area, the more able and willing we are to let go of the holding. We use our breath as we allow our knees to fall closer to the ground. Often, the instructor will will come around to each student and gently offer assistance to further the pose. This can be welcome or unwelcome depending on your level of holding, and your level of discomfort. If the Instructor is intentional and follows your breath and her own breath, you may realize an opportunity to release a little more. With a hand on your shoulder and a hand on the opposite hip, knowing you have a hand to support you, you can get a degree of release you may not have gotten on your own. With support, you can always do more than without. With support, you allow yourself  to let go more, and to fully express what  your body wants to, but resists. With support, you make the conscious decision to release, and you reach a potential you might not have reached on your own.

Encouragement and Support are invaluable.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Showed Up

Showing up with what you have
and doing what you are capable of is all you can do. 
It's what I expect of myself each time I attend a yoga class. 
I start by showing up.
Sometimes this is the hardest part of all.
Various reasons rear their heads for not showing up.

Not motivated.
too tired.
It's too late.

But when I get the showing up part taken care of,
the rest of it takes care of itself.

When I've been absent for a while 
as I often am, 
most often in the Winter
When I have a tendency to succumb to the blues,
I congratulate myself for doing it. 
I start there.

But before that, 
in order to even get that far,
I have to urge myself the night before
to get out my clothes and set them out. 
I feel that gets me one step closer.
One step closer to putting them on in the morning
After prying myself out of bed.

Prying my stiff self out of Bed.
47 is too young to feel so stiff, so sore.
But when the day comes
That I pry myself from the bed
and put on the clothes I set aside
I'm one step closer to showing up.

I tell myself it doesn't matter which class it is,
I'm going anyway.
Even if it's a "level 3".
Not because I'm tough
because I am to be the yogi that is in me
whatever class I go to
Wherever I am.

But if  I've committed myself to showing up
I show up, nonetheless.
The Spirit of Yoga within me
is the same whether its been
3 days or 3 weeks or three months.

I do what I can do with the outer umph I have that day.
But The way, the Spirit of Yoga 
is expressed through me
is the divine reminding me
It's ok.
It's all OK.

I belong wherever I am
I do what I can.

I practice with the same heart I have when I am feeling well
With the same heart I have when I am feeling sad
The same heart I have when I am strong.

I am strong.
I am here.
I showed up. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Navigating Social Media, Navigating Life

                                   (From the Book "The Gift of Nothing" By Patrick McDonnell)
Navigating the world of social media can be overwhelming. Something new is emerging every day. Seemingly, you need to be onboard every latest new thing since they're outmoded as quickly as they're developed. Remember MySpace? But such is life.

While wading through the Twitisphere I decided to weed out all the twits I wasn't necessarily interested in anymore. It turned out to be quite a job. Do I really need to follow 1200 people? 1200 people have an awful lot to say! I'm finding myself doing this in all elements of my life at the moment. Nothing holds me back more than clutter. I'm by no means a hoarder, but I can understand how it happens. I'm the daughter of a packrat. Not my mother, my father. My mother's Mantra is "Every day, throw something away." She knows the value of simplicity. 

Heaven help me. I think I'm equally both! Neither of my parents want to waste things. they were born in the Depression. My father's mindset is, "I might need it someday." My Mother's mindset is "When and if you end up needing it, Get it."

  I read a great book by Julia Morganstern on organizing. It was called Organizing from the Inside out. What I got out of that book was this. Go through your stuff and put it in Piles:

*Stuff I want to Keep
*Stuff To Get Rid of

Of course it's much more involved than this. Or is it?  The idea is to keep what's necessary. What we really need. Ultimately, we are editors. Great Mathematicians. Subtracting everything that's no longer relevant, and ending up with the Difference, which should end up being enough. Just enough.

Related Post: Enough is Enough

                                (From the Book, "Just Like Heaven" by Patrick McDonnell)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

When Basil tastes like Mint

I think it's funny
when Basil tastes like mint
Because where I come from
Basil always tasted like Basil
and nothing else.

Perhaps it was because we didn't use too much mint growing up
Even though it grew with abandon in the back yard

Of course I knew the taste of mint-
Peppermint, Spearmint--
all the best gums boasted it

But in college I really learned the taste of mint
Because on Wednesdays
on Wednesdays
the Hari Krishna's opened their doors to the students
And shared the most wonderful warm mint tea
or maybe it was cold

But I remember it
I remember it well
and the meal
a vegetarian meal I cant put my finger on

But they shared it 
without expectation
that we join them 
in any other way 
beside food
and sharing

I notice Basil 
tasting like mint
in a place
where it's not invited
like Roasted Tomato Mascarpone Bisque

But who am I to say
where Mint is Welcome
Who am I to say?

I eat the whole thing anyway

And I remember the day
When Basil tasted like Basil
and Mint was Christmas Candy
And the Day our Friend Cam 
made Mojitos with Basil
And they were wonderful

Related Post: 

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Regular Customer

Sitting in my Rollie chair
at my Thrift store job
in perfect silence.
No customers.
A stack of books before me....
A sip of coffee left in my styrofoam cup.
I hate styrofoam cups.

I am here alone today.
My working partner Sue,
she had a mild stroke
and can not drive yet
But she called me
early this morning
To tell me.

The phone rings.
A regular customer 
Whose last name I do not know.
He is calling to tell us
He won't be in today-
Because of the snow.
He calls to tell us
when he'll be absent,
In case we wonder why

Last time he was absent,
he himself had a stroke.

He's always well dressed,
With a shirt and a tie;
A tweed jacket of some sort;
A messenger bag
across his chest
Which holds the Trader Joes bag he uses to carry his purchases home
and the books he's reading. Always reading books.

He buys ties
Colorful ties
And he wears them in ways
That many wouldn't.
He's got panache.

He carries one of those black leather wallets that's on a chain
The kind Harley riders use;
The kind that has two chrome snaps.

And as he takes his money out
( to pay for the things he's collected and left on the desk while he shopped for 2 dollar ties),
He rethinks each item
to keep within budget.
But he's one of our best customers,
Spending 30 dollars or so each time.

His face, very small for such a large beard,
his eyes deep in his face, below the silver and black preened nest;
a contained pompadour
The effortless kind.

He comes from a large Catholic family
But is largely alone.
Sometimes he brings his art to show;
A sketch or two,
Something he did at the senior center,
Something he drew in his youth,
A photograph of a
well dressed small faced young man in a college sweater

He brought in a sketch of a girl he once knew.
A sketch he had drawn.
a sketch he had given to her
but she had given it back.
And he didn't know why.
He wasn't sure if she didn't like it
or if keeping it might imply something else.

Sue thinks he has a crush on me.
I don't.
I think he's just out there doing his best with the life that is his
And that he enjoys conversation.

He tells us that his brother has moved in with him,
and he doesn't know how that will be.

He thoughtfully chose
an ethnically-colorful sweater once,
and a long black skirt for, who he called his "lady friend."
And he got her a fabulous hat.
The kind of hat I think is fabulous.
And I was glad it ended up with him.

I'd call it an outback hat, of sorts; oiled leather
with leather-twisted braided-strands
secured in back by an etched silver cabochon.
On second thought, maybe it's a Western hat,
or a Mexican hat.
He knows a lot of things, so he might know.
But what he does know,
or seems to know,
or hopes-is-so,
is that it might be his lady friend's style.

I hope he's right. In my heart, I hope he's right.

He walks slowly but upright
his right hand on his cane, but on the other hand,
The one with the pinky ring,
he's young.

He seems younger than the story his body tells.
Today on the phone, he tells me his
aortic abdominal aneurism
will be fixed on Thursday
because the last time it was scheduled was before he had his stroke.

I knew that.

As he says this, I notice a slight slur in his words,
And that the cadence of his delivery is more punctuated and purposeful
even than the last time we spoke,
and I wonder
if he's had another stroke since.

But he tells me he's in "thurapy",
at home, he's in "thurapy."

And He tells me his neighbor brought him a turkey dinner yesterday
"With the snow and all-"

But he says he's ok
It's warm inside
and he has food.

He mentions that
the other day
he went to stand up
and collapsed.

He went to the emergency room
Only to learn
that muscles atrophy quickly with disuse,
"With the snow and cold and all-"
But he's got thurapy
at home, he's got thurapy.

I tell him that when he returns
we'll still have ties and jackets and books.

He buys an equal amount
of books and ties,
Fewer sweaters
An occasional hat
And Sue wonders how many clothes he must have at home.

We talk about food choices
And He looks at my lunch
He wonders what I'm eating.
It's something I've hastily concocted,
to get out the door-
like yogurt with buckwheat groats,
and millet and hemp seeds

We talk about super foods
And I tell him about all the articles
I've cut and pasted
About foods-
and health
about well being
and healing

I've saved them in umpteen documents
and created a file for them,
since I'm not the kind
who retains everything I read
and I need to reread things often.

I decide I'll print them out and
Bind them in a volume
And give it to him
next time he's here as a gift,
And I do.

The next week,
he returns.
He's gone through each
of the hundred pages
In that volume of my saved information
And created an index
So the next person I share it with
can find what their looking for with ease.

I realize how little I rely on indexes,
How audible my inhale was 
and how long my exhale is lasting.

I offered him some Goji berries that day
and Sue shares her dark chocolate
I think about the first time
I saw him
How I thought he was a professor.

That was the day he dropped his cane
and I bent over to get it.

He said, "no thank you,"
His pride.

But asked
if I might re-tie his loosened shoelace,
If I could,
As it would be more difficult
To get up again once down.

He drops his cane each time he's here
and it's hard
To keep
from picking it up.

A regular customer called to tell us he won't be in today.
He calls when he'll be absent
In case we wonder why.
                                                                        And we do.