Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Journey - A Poem

I found this poem tonight on my friend Jilda's blog Transformation Information. After an emotional weekend, I know I was meant to read it tonight. Thank you Jilda and thank you to the original author Mary Oliver.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save. 
~ Mary Oliver ~
(Dream Work)

Friday, December 21, 2012

My God Is Loving Not Vengeful

This picture has been making the rounds on Facebook and other social media sites. It's been tagged to my wall a few times by well meaning friends.

I'm not a church-going Christian and I tend to interchange Universe with God. I've both been on my knees praying to God as well as standing obstinate yelling at Him.

But this picture bothers me. It bothers me deeply.

My understanding of the Christian belief is God is everywhere and "where one or more gather I am there". I am confident in those terrible minutes of incomprehensible violence, many prayers were being spoken and God's name was being called.

I don't believe in a God that would "allow" such atrocities simply because prayers aren't formally spoken in a classroom. If that was the case, why did He "allow" the Amish school shooting from a few years ago?

Violence is in our society and it has affected our schools and our kids. Saying violence is in the schools simply because we don't allow prayer and it is God's punishment on us is just one step away from becoming a  member of the Westboro Church group. And I'm just not comfortable assuming I know  why God would punish someone or how he chooses who to punish. I don't even believe God is a punishing God.

School shootings, as are any mass act of violence, are the acts of a mad man. A sick, flawed, human mad man.

And every time it happens, I believe God weeps.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Strong Women, Creating Art & Finding A Rich New Life

"Today, and everyday, I walk in the wake of millionaires who have gone before me creating a clear path for me to follow."
--- Wanda Marie
21 Day Wealthy Consciousness Affirmation

As I read today's affirmation, I didn't immediately think of millionaires in the sense of financially wealthy women.  Rather, I thought of women who have been been cast aside only to later rise up and become women of power and strength.

Women who were left, left to raise children alone, pushed aside or in any number of other ways told they weren't good enough anymore. Women who held their head high, who refused to accept their second place status and forged a new life for themselves.

I've always been very selective in my friendships - at times being accused of being a snob. I own it. I don't want to be around people who bring me down. I don't want to be around people who get their own self worth from hurting others.

I choose my female friends based on their moral character. They may not necessarily make the same decisions as me, but they operate on a higher level of consciousness. They value the bond between women, between mothers and between families.

Tonight I had the pleasure of spending time with two such women. Neither are financially wealthy, but they've both been where I am now and they have cleared a path for me to follow to build my own fruitful life. They are both examples to me that building a new life for myself is possible and I am capable.

Tonight was about celebrating our bond as women. Acknowledging the stages of our life, both the light and the dark times. There was no gossip or negativity, just love and creativity.

Although the pictures were similar, we each created with our own vision of ourselves and our life; where we were, where we are and where we want to be.  It was a very rich night of my life indeed.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 28

1. "Friends" in local businesses who I never see outside of the store yet remember me and talk to me when I'm in the store.
2. Slowly getting back to teaching yoga - even if I am teaching while sitting in a chair.
3. Sleep - still not through the night but what sleep I am getting is becoming more restful

Monday, November 26, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 26

Although recovering from knee surgery is way more difficult than I expected, I'm grateful I was in decent enough shape before my injury & surgery that I am progressing faster than the physical therapists normally see (even if it's not fast enough for me).

Month of Gratitude November 25

1. Cooking a real dinner for my family for the first time in months
2. The fun of making ice cream sundaes with the kids
3. Time to catch up with a friend
4. The reminder that it's OK to accept help

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 24

1. Friends who step up and help way beyond what is expected of them
2. My kids who continue to astound me with the way they've stepped up over the past few months
3. My kids smiles and laughter - thank you God that they haven't lost that
4. My smile - still extremely rare but I admit it feels pretty good when it does occasionally pop out

Month of Gratitude November 23

A temporary break from reality.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 22

New Traditions.

For 23 years I cooked green bean casserole for the one person who liked it. He has chosen to no longer be a part of this family.

Last year I jokingly said for now on I'm only cooking pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes because that's all anyone in my house really wants anyway. The turkey and other sides were just put on the table because that's what you are supposed to eat on Thanksgiving.

So, this year, a new version of my family, and therefore a new tradition:

Pizza, Pie & Popcorn

Today me and the kids ordered pizza, ate pumpkin pie and went to the movies. We had a great time. We spent the day together, expressed our thankfulness that we are still together, and reminded each other that we will always be there for each other.

What we ate or didn't eat isn't what made today a holiday. Being together and strengthening our family for years to come is what made today special.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 21

1. My new appreciation/empathy/respect for people who struggle with chronic depression and anxiety.
2. The help that is available for depression and anxiety

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 20

1. Physical therapists who understand I am going to push myself and give me just enough leeway to push without getting hurt
2. I still have health insurance - for now

Monday, November 19, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 19

Some days I am just grateful the day is over.

Month of Gratitude November 18

I was so wore out yesterday I didn't realize until tonight that I missed a post.

Yesterday started out fine. Physically I was feeling on the upswing and mentally I felt, well, stable.

Things started to go downhill when I realized that I had nothing to wear for my divorce court hearing today. My knee was still very bandaged and the only thing I could get over it was sweatpants or yoga pants. I decided I felt well enough to drive into Walmart for a cheap skirt to wear. No big deal, right?

I forgot to factor it was the weekend before Thanksgiving. I forgot to factor how crowded it got with the after church group and how nervous I would be about getting knocked off my crutches.  I forgot to consider how warm I would be in sweatpants and a long sleeve sweatshirt inside the store with the heat on during an unusually warm day.

As I hobbled through the aisles of Walmart there wasn't a skirt in sight. (Note to anyone reading this blog who doesn't live in rural Tennessee -- Walmart is the closest store. Yes I could have driven to Target or the mall but that is about 45 minutes away and let's remember I was two days post surgery and in no condition to be out shopping to begin with). I'm hot. It's crowded. I'm in pain. How can there be no skirts for sale here?

My mental stability is quickly eroding away in the Walmart Ladies section!

Eventually a saleswoman sees me, assesses my teary eyes and red face and offers to help me. As I stand  in one spot crying and shaking, she runs through the aisles trying to find a skirt. Finally she finds a pretty flowing black skirt, but it's from the plus section and entirely too big for me.

That's it. I've officially lost it. I don't want to be on crutches. I don't want to be in pain. I really don't want to be shopping for clothes in Walmart to wear to a hearing for a divorce I never wanted!

The very nice saleslady finds the smallest plus size skirt she can and walks with me over to the fitting room. With some creative pinning we assure us both that the skirt won't fall off me as I walk (hobble) through the court room.

As I grabbed the skirt to get out of the store as quickly as I could, I caught a glimpse of the saleswomans name. I think, I hope, I said thank you to Jeannine. But I'm not sure I did. I needed to escape out of the store and get to my car where I could have a complete meltdown and cry all the way home.

Although I unfortunately was in no shape to express my gratitude to Jeannine at the time, I am very grateful to this stranger who came to my rescue in the Walmart aisles.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 17

1. Airfare sales that bring loved ones closer
2. Food brought by friends
3. Friends who tell you not to worry about gaining weight because you are eating all that food yet practically confined to bed while you recuperate
4. Boys in sports
5. Girls in dance

Friday, November 16, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 16

1. The sun on my face
2. Friends who are nurses
3. Long phone conversations that involve both tears and laughter.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 15

1. Handwritten get well notes with child-like spelling
2. Friends who call you pig headed as they do anyway what you insist you don't need their help with, even though you really do
3. Colorful balloons brightening up my room where I spend most of my time lately
4. Comfort food, the calories don't even matter right now

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 14

Last night was a bad night. A very lonely night.  Alone, scared and no one to comfort me. The kind of night that you feel you might not survive, that you aren't sure you want to continue living. The kind of night I had thought, I had hoped, I had gotten past. There have been way too many of those nights these past few months.

The stress and shock of my 23 year marriage suddenly and unexpectedly ending in divorce, trying to sort out my humiliation and hurt at the way it was ended, combined with anxious nerves about today's knee surgery sent me spiraling right back down into anxiety, panic, depression and hopelessness.

No matter how hard I willed myself I couldn't stop crying. I forced myself to at least attempt pranyama - yoga breathing exercises - to get myself to calm down. It didn't work. Pacing the house like I did a couple months ago isn't as easy since I'm on crutches. So I lay confined in bed, taunted by the demons of the night.

As I was scrolling through my phone trying to decide who I could call and talk to at 3am, I found an old voice mail from a friend and an old text from another friend. The voicemail was sent at the very beginning of my trauma reminding me that no matter how strong someone hits me down, I am stronger. The text reminded me to use the Buddha's lovingkindness meditation to not let my demons rule me.

I knew I needed to get my mind in a better, healthier place before I went under anesthesia today. But instead of letting my mind quiet, I was trying to force it. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and the mind is no different. The more I tried to force myself to calm down, the more it rebelled and the more upset I got.

As the day dawned and I prepared to leave for the hospital, I knew I was still in a dark place. I considered just not showing up for surgery rather than go through it with such negative energy inside me. The pre-op nurses saw me holding back tears and asked if I was afraid of the surgery. I had to admit no, the surgery doesn't scare me. No, my knee isn't hurting. My heart is broken and I am the only patient here today without a spouse who loves them in the waiting room.

And then the texts started coming in. Well wishes, prayers and good vibes from all the people who have not abandoned me and who do still love me. As I was being prepped for surgery I silently repeated the lovingkindness meditation and thought about all the people thinking and praying for me today.

Tonight I am thankful for all the people who stood in the gap for me today. For those who bathed me in light and love. For those who hugged me, wiped my tears and took care of me. For those who reminded me although I have been left alone, I need not be lonely.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 12

1. Help in the most unexpected of places
2. Warm soup on a cold night
3. Friends who won't take no for an answer

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 11

1. Kid #1 who wanted to celebrate his 18th birthday with me today
2. And he remembered to say thank you during his birthday lunch
3. A quiet night with the sound of rain outside but being warm and comfortable inside

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 10

1. Kids who are old enough to drive
2. Kids who are old enough to help me get around in a grocery store while I'm on crutches
3. Kids who are old enough to help tip over and take apart the recliner chair to find the credit card I lost

Friday, November 9, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 9

I had some work to do in downtown Memphis yesterday so while I was there I stopped by Ebbos, a spiritual supply store. Yes, even down here in the Southern Bible Belt, if you look really, really hard you can find "alternative" healing stores.  After all the heartbreak and trauma of the past few months I need all the help I can get to heal and move forward.

The back room of Ebbos is like a magical room of herbs, spices, roots and other good stuff. I felt like a kid in a candy store as I opened each jar and inhaled the different aromas. I didn't even know what most of the jars were used for - names like dragon root intrigued me and more than a little intimidated me. I kept thinking all the jars lined along the wall must be a wizards dream come true.

But, I was there for one item and one item only - sage. I needed sage. Why sage? My life is in desperate need of a sage smudging ceremony.

The botanical name for sage is Salvia. The Latin root salvare means "to heal". I'm still hurting, but I'm feeling strong enough now to know it is time to bring out the sage. It's time to begin the healing.

Many cultures including Native Americans, Eastern philosophies and good-old-fashioned witch doctors and medicine men have used sage smudging to heal for years. The theory is that before a person can heal, they must first be removed of negative thoughts, negative feelings and negative energies.  And just as a person can hold on to negative energy, a place - such as a house - can also store the negative energy that has gone on there.

So, time to smudge the house of all the negative energy!

Which leads to tonight's gratitude list. Tonight I am thankful for:

1. Funky little out of the way shops that cater to us "out there" people
2. The knowledge and kindness of the people who run these shops
3. My kids who think their mom is cool for having a smudging ceremony
4. A warm enough evening to have all the doors and windows open to allow the negativity to escape the home
5. My kids who go from room to room with me smudging all the corners
6. Working smoke alarms in the house, when the smudging get a little, um, thick
7. The older kids who role their eyes at their crazy mom but at least encourage the craziness
8. Feeling strong enough to do something, anything, to help myself heal

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 8

1. The kind words of a stranger who somehow knew exactly what to say to me, although I hadn't told him a thing about myself.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 7

Tonight's gratitude moment is easy: A car full of my kids singing along to Phillip Phillips new song Home.

It made my heart warm to hear the chorus in the car, to all agree it's our new family theme song, and to know that we're not alone we're going to make this place our home.

Hold on, to me as we go 
As we roll down this unfamiliar road 
And although this wave is stringing us along 
Just know you’re not alone 
Cause I’m going to make this place your home 

Settle down, it'll all be clear 
Don't pay no mind to the demons 
They fill you with fear 
The trouble it might drag you down 
If you get lost, you can always be found 

Just know you’re not alone 
Cause I’m going to make this place your home 

Settle down, it'll all be clear 
Don't pay no mind to the demons 
They fill you with fear 
The trouble it might drag you down 
If you get lost, you can always be found 

Just know you’re not alone 
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 6

1. My village who have and continue to help me raise such good kids
2. Big fleece blankets

Monday, November 5, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 5

1. Friends who have my back
2. Moments of clarity, even if those moments are hurtful
3. Kids old enough to drive to help me out

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 4

1. The hope that some days will never be repeated
2. Hugs of forgiveness
3. Never giving up

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Month of Gratitude November 3

1. The wisdom of my children
2. Moments of peace
3. Windows open and a breeze blowing

Friday, November 2, 2012

Month Of Gratitude November 2

Today I am thankful for:

1. Friends who know me well enough to know how to surprise me
2. Friends who are massage therapists
3. My kids sense of humor
4. Days I feel strong
5. Days I have hope

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Month of Gratitude 2012

-- Melody Beattie

Gratitude. Ugh. I'm having a really, really hard time finding gratitude in my life right now. But I know enough to know that it's the first step in helping myself heal from the trauma I've been through recently.

Last year I participated in the Month Of Gratitude Challenge and each day I listed five things I was grateful for. I don't know that I'll be able to find five daily things this year. I'm still too deep in a depression, too deep in shock, too deep in fear to have the clarity to find five. But I do have enough sense left to know that if I look hard enough I can find five.

So here is day one of my Month of Gratitude 2012. Hopefully each day there will be five items listed. But if not, I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I'm doing the best I can do right now.

November 1, 2012

1. Friends who have held me as I cried these past few months.
2. My kids who have rallied together to not only help me but help each other through this difficult time right now.
3. I still get to live in a house I love.
4. Making kid #1 take a Red Cross Safe Babysitting class many years ago. It came in handy today when he very quickly gave another kid at school the Heimlich maneuver who was choking.
5. My mom's voice in my head telling me "this too shall pass".

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Reminder From My Child

My kids don't usually read my blogs. My younger kids never do.

I know my 11-year-old daughter didn't read my post from earlier this week The Leaves Are Dying. And So Am I. 

So when she brought me this picture she made tonight, it took my breath away. And made me cry. Except for the first time in three months they were happy tears.

Tears that when I am weak my kids are strong. And their strength secures me and holds me up when I am falling down.

Last week I wrote "The leaves are dying. And so am I."  Tonight my daughter reminded me "The leaves may fall, but we don't."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Leaves are Dying. And So Am I

It's been almost two years to the date that I was awestruck by a beautiful tree changing leaves and wrote a blog about it.  Two years ago I was full of grief over the impending death of my mother. Today, I am full of grief over the death of my marriage.

Today iswas, I hoped would be, would have been my 23 year wedding anniversary. Maybe it still was since the judge hasn't officially stamped the marital dissolution papers yet. (Isn't that such a polite term for such a horrid thing?) It doesn't matter either way, the marriage is over. I have been told it many times. It's just taken me almost three months to believe it myself. Almost 23 years of believing we'd be the old people telling our kids and grandkids to just love each other and make it work vs three months of being told it's over and can't be fixed. The cruise we'd been planning to celebrate 25 years is never going to happen.

Here, sign these papers and walk away.

I haven't been sleeping well these past few months and I refuse to take sleeping pills. Mostly because I still have six kids depending on me and I need to be alert for them. But also because there have been a few times I wouldn't trust myself with those pills in the house.

Last night was no exception. I was exhausted from another round of bronchitis and an extremely busy day, yet I woke up at 4am with a version of a recurring bad dream I've had since the beginning of all this. And I sat there in the dark and cried. I finally fell back asleep, and woke up at 7:30am still crying. A couple of the younger kids crawled into bed with me then and their love calmed me down enough to help me face this day.

As the rain cleared later this morning, I walked outside and saw the tree in our front yard. Obviously I see the tree everyday and it must have been changing colors for the past week. But today it really hit me. It really was beautiful. And it really is dying.

I remembered the dharma talk from two years ago where I learned that a tree changing colors is really a tree that is dying for the winter. And once again I started to cry. I feel like that tree. I, too, am dying in preparation for this winter.

Logically I know that no matter how brutal a winter we have or how difficult an adjustment I will have in my new life, I do know that spring will eventually come again. New buds will bloom and life will return.

Many around me have told me eventually I will also re-bloom more vibrantly and colorful than before. I believe them. Mostly. I just can't see it myself yet. I have no idea what my new life will look like or even what I want it to look like. I've been focused on one vision for 23 years. I don't yet know how to change that vision.

Right now I'm dying inside and instead of dropping leaves I'm dropping tears. I don't feel beautiful like the tree. I feel ugly, sad and unwanted.

Spring feels like a long time away.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Love Forever?

Karen & Charles Williams
married 42 years
My mom and dad
This picture of my mom and dad was taken Christmas of 2010, just a couple months before my mom died and a month before their 42nd wedding anniversary.

I'm not naive enough to think it was 42 years of bliss and perfection, but I know without a doubt they were hoping for much longer than the 42 years they had together. I'm sure over the years there were fights and threats, but when push came to shove they loved each other literally till death they did part.

Merton & Jennie Everhart
and baby Maggie
my grandparents
married almost 60 years
My grandparents were married almost sixty years. They were married in an era when you didn't just walk away when things got difficult. I've heard whispered stories of some hellish years my grandfather went through with my grandmother due to her mental illness. But until the very end he would say "I just need to stay alive one day longer than her." He was true to his word. He died about a month after my grandmother.

Don't all marriages start with hope and promises? And then the years go by and something happens. The hope fades and the promises are forgotten or sometimes outright broken. In today's throw away society, it's easier to throw it away then it is to do the hard work to fix it. Pay some court fees, sign the papers and be done with it.

I remember when my husband asked me to marry him. I was young, naive and thought I was oh so sophisticated at 20 years old. So I told him I was keeping my maiden name after we married. I've never forgotten his response, "but then we're not a real family."

And now, 23 years later, I have to make the decision whether to keep my married name or go back to my maiden name. Does it even matter? A name doesn't make a family. Hope, faith, kept promises and hard work keep a family together.

My name may or may not change. My family has been forever changed.  I have been forever changed.

Forever doesn't last as long anymore.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

End Of An Era

The large play set in our backyard has been torn down. It's gone. Destroyed.

July 2006
I remember when my husband and I first bought this house, our first home. Our sixth baby wasn't even walking yet and we were confident enough to make this huge investment in our future. The play set was already in the backyard when we bought the house. But we made it one of our first priorities to fix it up and make it nicer and stronger. Safe from outside forces. A place where our family would be secure forever.

I look at the pictures of us painting the play set just six years ago. I remember how happy and full of hope we all were. The kids were so young, and we were all a bit naive. But we had love and I was confident life would be kind to us.

The play set is rotted now and with great sadness the decision to get rid of it was made. What happened?  We took it for granted that it would always be there even without our attention and dedication. We allowed outside forces to influence it's stability. We stopped caring for it.

September 2012
So with nothing more than some tears, a saw, and a crowbar the play set was torn down and thrown away. Despite its years of loyalty to the family, it's now been rejected. Thrown away like trash. I know that rejection. I'm living it daily.

I've wailed, cried, begged, pleaded, bargained and argued. All to no avail. There were nights I couldn't take the thought of the only life I've ever known ending that I considered ending my own life. But that's not me. I am in a kind of pain I never experienced before, but I won't abandon those who do still love me, want me, need me and depend on me. I can't be that horribly selfish to just walk away from a rotted mess. I will find a way to heal the rot.

If nothing else, the past 25 years have taught me that love is a choice. Every day we wake up, we have a choice to make whether to love or not. I'm not going to claim that I chose love every day. Too many days I chose not to allow it. But when push comes to shove, always choose love. Always.

There's a big empty void now both in my backyard and in my life. My heart physically aches when I look at it. It's a big open space and I have no idea what, if anything, can or will fill it.

Most of the old play set sits tonight in the burn pit awaiting a bonfire. A symbolic burning of the old and a hope that a new future will arise out of the ashes. Out of destruction comes a new creation.

But I can't let go of the memories. I refuse to believe that today's rot negates the happy memories we did have. Although the memories often bring me to my knees in tears, I won't let go of all of them. I have saved the boards where the kids wrote their names on the play set and hung them up where I'll see them daily. A new place and a new purpose. A reminder of happier times.

A reminder that there was love. And love still exists.

Monday, September 10, 2012

When Sleep Won't Come & The Nightmares Won't Stop

I'm so tired. Exhausted. Drained.  My eyes burn, my head hurts and my body is weary.  Yet I'm afraid to try and go to sleep.

I've tried all the tricks for a restful nights sleep; warm tea, a hot bath, exercise, reading, darkening the room, lowering the temperature. Nothing works. My brain is on overdrive right now and it won't shut down.

My body needs the rest, and once I lay my head down I will fall asleep. I'll probably stay asleep for about four hours. That probably doesn't sound like much, but it's much more than I've averaged lately. The problem is at hour four I'll wake up with a bad dream, some of my dreams even qualify as outright nightmares. Last week I called out in my dream and my 17-year-old came in my room to wake me up and be sure I was OK. How horribly sweet and horribly sad.

I don't need Freud or a psychologist to analyze my dreams. They are pretty obvious. I'm in a place in life I never saw coming, never expected and never wanted. I'm scared and uncertain of my future. I'm scared and uncertain of my children's future. Certain parts of my life are completely out of my control right now, and for a controlling person like me that is hard to handle.

As I walk the house and check on my sleeping kids at night I know logically we are safe. The locks are secure and I've added deadbolts to the doors. I've got two big dogs sleeping soundly, yet ready to sound ferocious at the first unusual noise. The danger though isn't in the form of a boogey man, but rather in the unknown.

In a strange twist to my insomnia and nightly nightmare dilemma, last night I finally dreamed about my mom who died about a year and a half ago. I've been stomping my feet since she died pissed off that she hasn't visited me in my dreams or in my waking moments. Finally, last night, in the middle of what was one of those dreams that qualifies as a nightmare, she finally came to me. What she told me in my dream has been in my head all day. Did she say what was the truth of the future? Or did she tell me what is already in my subconscious? I guess only time will tell. I do remember even in my dream being grateful for the opportunity to talk to my mom again. I only wish our conversation had been about a more pleasant topic. I realized as I awoke from my dream I was crying real tears onto my pillow. The tears were for my nightmare, my current situation and for my mom.

"The night is the hardest time to be alive and 4am knows all my secrets."
-- Poppy Z Brite

Saturday, September 1, 2012

One Month

What I've learned in the past 31 days:

  • The moon taunts me as I lay in my bed watching the clock tick the minutes away. Yet the same moon calms me as I sit outside on the porch swing in the darkness.
  • Middle of the night TV is nothing but infomercials for exercise programs, diet plans and cooking appliances. If I wasn't so exhausted I'd find some humorous connection in that.
  • Cleaning and organizing every nook and cranny in the house is obviously me just trying to find control in an out of control situation. But it helps to at least accomplish something.
  • When you feel like you can't stop crying it's because there are so many tears built up inside you the dam has finally burst and all you can do is hold on tight and let the tears bust through and flow out.
  • Telling me a lie does not lessen or take my pain away. It increases it exponentially.
  • When actions and words don't match, the actions are the most meaningful.
  • "You live in the South, let people help you" is just a kind way of saying "Quit being so stubborn and let your friends be your friends!"
  • My friends have been my lifeline this past month. They have been willing to sit and hug me, listen to me, not judge me, offer advice or just shut up as needed. 
  • I really miss my mom. But I am totally impressed by the way my dad has been there for me in her place.
  • Decisions, discussions and actions based on emotions rarely work out well.
  • When I lash out it's because I'm afraid. 
  • Decisions, discussions and actions based in fear rarely work out well either.
  • Cucumber slices do not decrease puffiness in your eyes. But they feel cool against your eyes and are actually quite soothing.
  • Not eating and not sleeping will eventually catch up with you. I have wonderful students in my classes who not only catch me as it finally catches up and I start to pass out from dizziness, but who will hand me a power bar and tell the rest of the class to just keep going.
  • My job is one where I am constantly giving to others. I just don't have it in me to give right now.
  • Anxiety is real and it's scary.
  • The places your mind can take you in the throes of anxiety and depression are even scarier.
  • It's very easy to slide downhill. It's very easy to stay down. It takes work and commitment to climb your way back up. 
  • I may be very lost right now, but I have not forgotten who I am.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Purging the Pain

I took advantage of a unique opportunity tonight and drove into Memphis to attend a Lululemon-sponsored yoga class on the rooftop of the Peabody Hotel.

I didn't tell anyone I was going. I didn't think I actually would. I'm not doing well in big crowds lately. Truth be told I'm not doing well anywhere lately. In fact as I lay around the house this afternoon it was kid #2 who said "oh just go you know this is something you'll think is cool." And as I walked out the door he hollered "and don't turn the car around and come back!"

Damn, my 15-year-old is being forced to become wise beyond his years.

As I pulled into the city parking garage I received a phone call. It was a call I'm always hoping and waiting for, yet when I hung up I felt nothing but the blanket of sadness envelope me again. But I'm already parked so I might as well walk over to the hotel to at least check it out.

Memphis skyline at sunset
The class began as the sun was setting. Almost 100 local yogi's with their mats placed in a circle moving and breathing with an amazing view of the city and the Mississippi River. The Memphis air, as always, is humid but there's a nice breeze blowing off the river. I actually hear birds chirping, something I've never noticed from the noisy streets below. Although the class was accompanied by cool blues music from a DJ, I could also hear live music wafting up from Beale Street below.

I should have been in heaven. I'm not. I'm in hell.

It's a hell I never expected. A hell I never wanted. A hell people tell me won't last forever. Right now I can't believe that. I feel like I'm going to suffocate. My chest hurts and I'm nauseous. Classic symptoms of a heart attack. But this isn't a heart attack. It's a broken heart.

And it's real. And I feel like I might die.

I now understand how cutters can cut themselves. It has nothing to do with the act of taking a razor blade to flesh and drawing blood to inflict external pain. Rather it's to release the internal pain that is so deep inside it has taken over your body and your soul. You become desperate for a way to get it out. Tears don't help. Exercise, vomiting, purging don't help. The pain is there and it is slowly killing you.  You don't know how to make it leave.

My yoga mat has always been a space of solace for me. Not lately. I've avoided it because any time I step foot on the mat, I fall apart. And I do that enough involuntarily now that I'm sure not going to sign up for it. I've done OK while teaching my classes, only a few have noticed when I need to take a moment and swallow back tears. But when it's just me alone with myself, I break down. But I'm here on the roof and I'm going to practice along with all these other smiling yogis.

I'm doing OK at first. I was moving, I was breathing, I was doing as I was told. But as my hips became looser, my second chakra begins to open. The second chakra, known as Svadhisthana, is located in the hips, lower back, reproductive organs of the body. It is associated with water and the place where, especially women, store their emotions. I'm flowing through the practice yet now I'm crying.

I try to control the sobbing and pretend I'm wiping sweat as I try to wipe away the tears. But I can't stop. The pain is too much. I finally drop to child's pose and for a minute I wonder what others think as they see my back heave with each sob. I can't think about it for long because once again I feel like I'm going to suffocate. My chest is hurting. The physical pain is too much, I've got to get out of here.

As we lay back in savasana the tears are freely flowing down my face and I really can't breathe now. I'm trying to slow down and deepen my breath but I can't. The night sky feels like it's laying heavy on my chest.  I have to get off this roof now. I'll jump off if I have to.

Just as I moved to get up, the woman next to me reached over and held my hand. This was a woman I only see once per year at yoga events, who knows nothing of what my pain is, yet she held my hand and she held tight. She wouldn't let go as I tried to pull and run away. Eventually as I lay atop the city, I gazed at the moon and slowed my breathing and stopped my tears. The sky became more open, lighter, not as suffocating. For a brief moment I was able to let go and relax.

I see now I needed to be at that class tonight. If for no other reason it got me to the place I was ready to sit and write again. These words were going through my head as I downdogged and back bended.

It is a small piece of the pain ready to escape.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thoughts & Tears For Colorado

My heart has been heavy all day with the news of the Colorado shooting at the midnight showing of the new Batman movie. I don't live in Colorado and I don't know anyone involved, but still I grieve along with so many others.

At 11pm last night I said goodbye to my three teen boys as they headed out to our local midnight Batman showing. I've never seen teen boys so excited, they were practically pacing the house all night watching the clock. I gave them my usual instructions - have fun and be careful. I knew I wouldn't be waiting up for them so I told them be sure to wake me when they got home.

After all, what could possibly happen in a movie theater only ten minutes from my house?

And then this morning I woke up to the news out of Colorado. My first thought was how many other moms waved goodbye to their kids last night with the same thought. What could possibly go wrong? Just wake me and let me know you're home.

There but for the grace of God go I.

It's been hard to avoid the news and analysts today. All the talk over whose fault this was - politicians, gun control, Hollywood, society. No. This was the evil work of a mad man pure and simple.

And I can't imagine that the grieving mothers tonight give one hoot about political parties. They just want their child to walk through that door and say "Mom, I'm home."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Thank You Starbucks!

As of tonight I don't care if anyone ever again calls me a Starbucks junkie or an iPhone addict. Tonight Starbucks and the iPhone saved my kid from starvation!

OK, he probably wouldn't have starved, but still, he was hungry.

Kid 2 left Atlanta today after a week away at rugby camp, If everything went according to plan, he would be dropped off at the Atlanta airport, I would finish work here in Memphis, zip over the airport to pick him up and then we'd go have dinner somewhere. 

Except his flight was delayed by 20 minutes. And then delayed an hour. And then cancelled. And then back on but delayed 90 minutes. And then delayed indefinitely. And then... you see where this is going right?

I told him, no worries, I'm sitting in the Memphis airport and I'll sit here all night until you get in.

"But, I'm starving," he said.

So go get something to eat. You have money left right?

"No. I've got like $2 that's it."

You only have $2 with you? What were you thinking travelling with just $2 cash?

Oh come on, he's 15 years old. He was thinking mom will buy dinner when I land in Memphis. And there have been times I have recklessly travelled with not much more than $2 in my pocket. Sorry, kid, you're going to have to have a growling stomach until you land.

After yet another hour or so of delays, Kid 2 calls me again.

"Hey, if I download the Starbucks app on my iPhone can't I use your account and buy something here?"

Hmmm, my little computer hacker might just be on to something!
Go for it, try it! While he downloaded the Starbucks app I reloaded some more money on to it from my end. I texted him my user name but had no idea what my password was.

Within a matter of minutes, called back. He had food and drink in hand! 

So thanks to Starbucks and a hungry but tech savvy kid, his five hour delay was made at least a little more comfortable. 

Now I just have to remember to change the password on my Starbucks mobile app before he has sudden hunger attacks here at home too.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Supper - Stuffed Zucchini

I grew up eating my Nana's stuffed peppers so when I saw this recipe for stuffed zucchini I was definitely intrigued, especially since zucchini is one of the few vegetables everyone in my house will eat without complaining.

Bell Squash
But, since I can't leave well enough alone, I decided to make a healthier version of stuffed zucchini. My first dilemma though was it was going to be a total pain in the a** to stuff cut rounds of zucchini. Then on a trip to the farmers market this weekend I discovered these little beauties - the farmer called them Bell Squash - but really they are just bell shaped zucchinis! Perfect to just cut the tops off and stuff!

I also decided to make two versions of the recipe - a healthier meat version for the kids and a vegetarian version for myself.

I used a spoon to scoop out the zucchini bells
leaving a flat bottom. The insides were used
to bulk up the filling.
The most obvious way to make the meat version healthier is to cut out how much ground beef I used. I read through the recipe twice to figure out what she did with all the zucchini meat she cut out of the zucchinis. Why would you be wasteful and not use it? So I cut the amount of ground beef in half and used the extra zucchini meat to help bulk up the stuffing.

Also, two cups of shredded mozzarella cheese? No. I used one cup of a lower fat colby jack blend - less cheese but more taste.

For my vegetarian version, I skipped the 90% lean ground beef altogether and instead used an equal amount of pre-cooked quinoa. I also chopped up some asparagus I had in the refrigerator that needed used.  Next time I think I'll also add in some diced cauliflower. Yes, I realize the cheese is the only thing keeping these from being vegan. I'm OK with that.

For some reason the little kids liked the
boat shaped stuffed zucchini more than
the round ones. I think they just
liked saying they were eating zucchini boats.
I had a lot more stuffing than I anticipated so I pulled a couple regular zucchini out of the refrigerator and sliced them in half, scooped them with a spoon and made little boat shapes out of them to stuff. I didn't pre-cook the zucchini because I didn't want it to get soft or squishy. Mine only needed 15 minutes to cook ( everything in the stuffing is cooked so really you just need to heat the zucchini through).

Of course the test comes when I call the kids to the table. And the answer is...
Yes - they loved them. OK, maybe love is a little strong. But all six kids ate them and no one complained! That is a successful recipe in my house!  I served them with a salad and cup up watermelon (also from the farmers market) - a perfect summer meal.

Vegan option on the left. Meat option on
the right.
Stuffed Zucchini

Using a bit of olive oil, saute diced onion, green pepper and minced garlic. Add in diced asparagus or any other vegetable you choose. With just a minute or so left, add in the zucchini meat to heat through. Remove from heat and place in a bowl.

Brown extra lean ground beef. Drain grease.  Allow to cool slightly before adding to vegetable mixture. ( To make this vegetarian use quinoa instead of beef)

Add in a half jar of marinara sauce and a 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Stir all together.

Scoop into zucchini bells or boats. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Top with a dash more cheese and heat until cheese is melted.


Friday, June 8, 2012

The Apples Don't Fall Far From The Tree

Tonight as the sun was setting I sat on the front porch swing with my two girls; kid #4, who just turned 11, and kid #6 who will be 7 next week. Although they are both little minnie me's, the 11 year old is almost an exact duplicate of me.

This isn't always a good thing. The eye rolling, drama, competitiveness and mean girl tendencies are all too familiar to me. She has to be in charge of everyone and everything - and if you've read this blog for any time at all you know she gets that from her momma.

Tonight she was still excitedly playing with her iTouch that she got for her birthday. She wanted to play me a song she discovered. Well, not only was it not a new song, but it was a song I knew all the words to and used to sing out loud all the time.

At first she was surprised I knew all the words. Then the three of us sat on the swing together and sang the song. And then we sang it again.

I guess our neighbors thought we were nuts. I don't care.  Me and the girls were singing and putting flowers in our hair.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yoga For Sinus Relief

Thanks to Jamie ( @saphiremist77) for requesting a yoga for sinus issues blog!

I'd never really had sinus or allergy issues until moving to Memphis - the number one city in the country for allergies. Yeah Memphis! When the cotton pops in September is usually my worse time, but year round I'm often blowing my nose in the middle of class.

Treating sinuses with yoga is a two-fold approach; 1 - relieve the pain and pressure and 2 - keep the sinuses clear and draining properly. Here are a few yoga remedies I use for my own sinus issues:

Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breath)
Bring your right hand in front of your face and lower the first two fingers. With your thumb, close the right side of your nose and inhale through the left. With your ring finger, close the left side of your nose and exhale through the right. Keeping the right side open, inhale. Close and exhale through the left. Inhale left, close and exhale right. Continue with the left-right-right-left pattern.
Have a tissue nearby to blow your nose when finished.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) 
I like downdog better than a full forward fold to allow the sinuses to drain without causing as much head pressure. Downdog also expands the chest allowing for deeper breathing.

Halasana (Plow pose) 
Good to unblock the sinuses.


Setu Bhanda (Bridge)
Good to unblock the sinuses and more accessible to most people than halasana.

Sirshasana (Headstand)
You might be unsure about going upside down if you have a sinus headache, but it really does relive the pressure and drain the sinuses. If full headstand isn't available to you, try this supported version on two chairs. Note: if you've never done a headstand, find a qualified teacher to assist you until you are ready to go upside down on your own.

Neti Pot Rinse 
Yes, I know it looks weird. And yes it does feel a bit weird at first. But if you have sinus or allergy issues, the neti pot will be a huge relief. I don't Neti Pot every night, usually only when I'm feeling stuffy, during cotton season, or if I've spent a lot of time outside. The secret to successful Neti'ing? As the water is flowing through your sinuses, whisper the letter "K". When you say the K sound the back of your throat closes and therefore no water can drip down your throat. 

Headache relief
Sometimes, the headache gets too intense and you need a restorative pose for relief. Please read my previous post on Head Wraps and Restorative Poses.
Head Wrap

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Head Over Heels - For Good Summer Reading

My latest Elephant Journal post is up!

Head Over Heels: A Book Review

It is, if you couldn't tell, a book review of the second in a series of books set in a Los Angeles yoga studio. It's a fun, easy read. The perfect book to pack for your summer vacation when you just want to relax and laugh a bit.

Please also check out my other Elephant Journal posts.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Momma Heart

My momma heart is heavy tonight. Each of my three teen boys are facing some battles and disappointments and there's nothing I can do about it.

Neither of the boys are guilty of anything except growing up. And growing up involves some tough life lessons:

  • Life isn't fair
  • People aren't always honest
  • Bad things happen to good people
  • Sometimes dreams don't come true

Tonight I'm just their mom. I'm old and I can't possibly understand what it's like to be 13, 15 or 17 years old.

Except I do. And I am old enough that I've been through all those life lessons - usually more than once - and I know that:

  • Life isn't fair - but hard work does eventually get rewarded. Sometimes the reward isn't what we expected, but it will be what we need when we need it. 
  • People aren't always honest - but I've found that most people actually are quite honest. And in times of great need even strangers will step up and lend a hand.
  • Bad things happen to good people - and there's not always an explanation for it. Being mad at the injustice takes energy away from loving the good person through their bad time or remembering them after they are gone.
  • Sometimes dreams don't come true - but new dreams are born that you can't yet even begin to imagine.

I know my boys don't believe me tonight, but they will make it through this and someday their heart will ache as their children have to learn these lessons themselves.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Yoga Cures by Tara Stiles: And The Winner Is...

Thank you to everyone for reading my review of Yoga Cures by Tara Stiles and to those who posted a comment hoping to win their own free copy.

I used a very scientific method to choose the winner:

  1. Read through everyone's comments and smile at all the ways yoga has changed their life.
  2. Write down everyone's name on a scrap of paper
  3. Fold and place papers in a hat
  4. Except I couldn't find a hat so I just put all the folded papers in a pile on my bed
  5. I picked out one paper and the winner is....
Erin who blogs at Scrambled Eggs!

So, Erin, please email me at so I can forward your address on to Crown Publishing to have your own copy of Tara Stiles Yoga Cures sent to you! Congratulations!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Yoga For Achy Knees

I have a lot of runner friends - like serious half marathon/marathon type runners. Their dedication amazes me and sometimes confuses me (running in the rain/snow/extreme heat)? Almost all of them also complain about their knees.

I've had some pretty good success in converting them to running as cross training and I look forward every year to teaching a 6-week Yoga for Runners session leading up to the annual Munford 5K race. And now with race season really heating up, a few of my friends are in danger of being sidelined by knee pain.  It's even slowing down Natalie's training schedule for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. And since Natalie is part of the running crowd that doesn't like my advice to back off their training schedule and rest, instead I suggest some extra yoga.

When knees begin to hurt, I first look at what's going on in the hips. My students know I say all the time "it's all connected", so an imbalance in one area will certainly cause problems in another area. Because of the repetitive motion, running often causes tightness in the hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, IT band - which can all lead to pain in either the lower back or knees. When I design a yoga class for a runner, I like to not only stretch but also to strengthen the muscles supporting the knee.

To strengthen knees:

  • Virhabhadrasana II (Warrior 2) with a folded up yoga mat under the front toes. Placing the front toes on a folded mat relieves pressure on the front knee while strengthening surrounding muscles.

  • Virsasana (Hero's pose) full hero's pose isn't available to most people, especially runners with tight quads and hips. Try placing a folded blanket or yoga block underneath for additional height and support. A few years ago when I hurt my knee, I sat on a stack of books twice a day. I gradually lowered the height of the books as my knee got stronger and eventually was able to sit on the floor again.

To stretch/strengthen the surrounding muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings, IT band, hip flexors):

  • Anjaneyasana (Lunge) option for the back knee either up or down, but very important to keep the front knee behind the toes. Stretches hamstring, groin, hip flexor

  • Parsvottanasana (Pyramid) excellent for the hamstrings

  • Dhanurasana (Bow) great quad stretch, but be sure to keep the knees in line with the hips rather than letting them flare out to the sides

  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One legged king pigeon) - again, the full version of the pose probably isn't accessible to most people just starting out. But modified versions are just as effective.

  • Vriksasana (Tree) - opens the hips, strengthens ankles, improves balance and coordination. If the knee is in pain or uncomfortable, lower the foot to the shin so there is less flexion in the up knee.

To strengthen the total body and mind:

Observe the first Yama of Patanjali's Eight Fold Path - Ahimsa.

Ahimsa is translated as non-violence, but really it just means do no harm. Practice ahimsa to yourself and your body. Know when to challenge yourself, and know when to listen to your body's signals, back off and rest.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Yoga Cures by Tara Stiles

A few weeks ago I received an email from Crown Publishing Group asking if I'd like a review copy of Tara Stiles new book Yoga Cures.

Would I? Absolutely!

Tara Stiles is the owner of Strala Yoga in New York City (one of the studios to visit on my yoga bucket list), author of Slim Calm Sexy Yoga and star of yoga DVD's and YouTube videos. Ms. Stiles has gotten some flack from the snarky yoga snobs for being just another "yoga star" - and to those people I say Get Over Yourself.  Stiles approachable style has allowed many, many people to find yoga who otherwise would never think of walking into a studio.

Yoga Cures is a series of yoga routines anyone can do anywhere to remedy a list of ailments most of us will face at one time or another including anxiety, insomnia, PMS, shin splints, tension, broken heart, thyroid imbalance and many others. Each practice consists of written instructions as well as a picture of each of the poses, making it super easy to follow along.

My favorite part of Yoga Cures is Stiles doesn't just emphasize the asanas - physical postures. Most of her routines include the importance of beginning each practice with time for meditation. Stiles says meditation is nothing more than "calming the mind by watching the breath... The more we do it the more we realize that everything we need is right there inside."  Like she says,  we just have to do the work and the yoga will work for us.

The beginning chapters include some basic yoga info, a brief description yoga benefits, the Eight Limbs of Yoga, and the scientific evidence that yoga works. Everything is written in a light and easy to understand way - no fancy terms or scientific jargon.

The cures chapters include anecdotes from her students of how yoga helped has helped them and medical proof where applicable of how yoga can help with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and fibromyalgia. Most of the cures routines are three to five poses and easily doable on a daily basis.

For those looking for a longer practice, the third section of the book is a series of 'At Home Yoga Retreats', both active and restorative for morning and evening time.

Crown Publishing has generously offered to send a copy of Yoga Cures by Tara Stiles to one reader of this blog. Simply leave me a comment describing how yoga has helped you with an issue you have dealt with and I will randomly select one person to receive your own copy of Yoga Cures!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Self Determination - And Yoga - Prove the Doctors Wrong

This video is about five minutes long. It's worth watching.

You've heard the excuses. Maybe you've even said them. I can't do yoga because...  I can't lose weight because....

This guy will show you how wrong you are.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Queen Academy - Because Success Is Waiting For You To Grab It

I've been very protective of this blog as my own personal space. I've turned down offers to promo products because they weren't something that I personally believed in and I've sent back merchandise that I didn't feel delivered on what it promised.

Tonight, though, I want to tell you about my mentor and a woman I'm honored to call my friend.

Wanda Marie is a certified master coach and founder of the Queen Academy, a site dedicated to "helping women find their way." A place where women gather to support each other, pay blessings forward and empower each other.

Wanda Marie offers a variety of different courses including Building Your Own Website, Jump Start Your Business, Embrace Your Power and Write Your Book. In fact, Wanda Marie is the one who gave me the encouragement to finally sit down and get my book started. She's also the one who keeps gently reminding me that there is some good stuff in my book and I need to get it finished! I'm working on it, really I am.

The Queen Academy is starting a new series of classes next week and registration is open now. All you need is a computer with high speed Internet access, a cell phone and the desire to start living your best life. My favorite part? Wanda Marie believes personal empowerment and success is out there for everyone, so her classes are very reasonably priced. Donation-based classes are available to those who can't afford to pay.

If a full course isn't in your schedule right now, you can schedule a private coaching session with Wanda Marie where I give you my guarantee her intuitive sense and advice will leave you feeling stronger and more empowered.

You don't have to feel stuck in your life - the Queen Academy can help you get moving on a better path.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Living The Dream

Earlier today a younger mom friend was struggling with her toddler and new baby when she turned to me and said "why did you have so many kids? What were you thinking?"

At the time I was concerned about a few issues with one - or more - of my own kids and so gave my standard answer of "I have no idea what the hell I was thinking."

The little secret no one ever tells a young, pregnant woman is that sometimes, often times, raising kids sucks. It's hard work. It's exhausting. It's never ending. It's actual work!

When my sister and I are frustrated with kids and life with kids, we'll text each other a sarcastic reminder that we are 'living the dream, baby!'

But sometimes, when you least expect it, if you can let go of how exhausting it all is, you get a reminder that you are indeed living the dream.

Tonight was that night for me.

It started out pretty normal: rush home from work, make dinner, rush off to Tae Kwon Do, mentally calculate the cost of upcoming belt testing and new equipment needed, push money concerns aside as we rush home to eat dinner, notice gas light is on in car and mentally calculate how many miles left to home, eat dinner, clean up kitchen, take dogs for a walk, notice dog #1 is really beginning to struggle with her old hips, push dog is getting old and may not have much longer thoughts aside....

And then, dog #1 took off running after dog #2 who was chasing kid #'s 4 & 5 as they rode their bikes.  The kids started laughing and I started laughing.

As we made our way back home, kid #'s 2 & 3 were in the driveway shooting baskets. Normally I would have rushed everyone inside to begin showers and night time routine. But instead the weather was so nice I sat down on the porch swing.

Each of the kids eventually made their way to the porch swing with me, where for the next hour they had races, played games, danced to music, laughed, didn't fight, cheered each other on and just had a fun time together.

I wondered as I sat there enjoying myself and my kids how many times I had missed out on nights like this because I was always too busy rushing everyone ahead to the next activity or next chore to be done? Why was tonight different?

Because I was too tired to think ahead. I was forced to stay in the present moment. And, surprise surprise, I really enjoyed the present moment.

For a couple delightful, present hours tonight, I was indeed living the dream.
Me and my gang

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ghosts of Generations Past

I arrived a bit early to the community center to teach my early morning yoga class today and as I dragged my big bag of props in,  I realized the center was preparing for a quilting show. At first glance this doesn't sound very exciting, and everyone who knows me knows I am the not a crafty person. But something drew me to these pieces of art. It was more than just the dedication and craftsmanship put in to them, it was the memories they evoked.

As I walked along the rows of handmade quilts, I mentioned to one of my students how I wished I had paid attention when my grandmother tried to teach me to quilt. She said her mother quilts and she also had no interest in learning, but treasures the quilts she does have.

In fact, just last week I took my grandmothers last remaining quilt off my bed. It was getting too shabby and was falling apart. I want to save what is left of it, but need to find a better was to save it rather than just stuff it into a closet somewhere. I know for a fact her quilts are meant to be saved. They are one of the few things that survived Hurricane Katrina when most of our other household possessions were ruined.

The memories of my grandmother got me to thinking how I also wish I had let her teach me to bake bread. Even now, more than 12 hours later, my memory can still bring up the smell of bread baking in her kitchen and I've got a serious carb craving going on.

Later, I received the invitation to my Godfathers memorial service in the mail. There was a brief bio of his life along with a picture. This is a man whom I spent so much time with growing up, yet I never knew he was a medic in the army. I wonder if that's why my dad - his younger brother - became a corpsman in Vietnam? My oldest son has been talking to recruiters and is seriously considering enlisting and going to corpsman school. He came up with this plan on his own, not knowing there was a family history.

As I was making dinner, I carelessly reached over and grabbed a hot pan with my bare hands. As I said some not nice and very unyogic words, I realized I not only used the exact words my grandfather used to say, but I said them in the exact same tone.

So what was my first thought to do with all these ghosts coming up today? Call my mom of course.

But I can't. She's also gone now, alive only in my memories. Another ghost.

A few weeks ago, I sent this picture to my sister:

It's my grandparents with each of my kids. And if you look carefully in the right corner, you can see my mom and part of my dad in the picture too. The picture is only eight years old, but three of the adults are now gone, and the kids are no longer kids. A couple are making plans for college and military. And the little ones only know their grandparents and great grandparents by the stories I tell them.

I'm not sure what to make of all these ghosts and memories today. Is it my loved ones trying to reach out to me or just my realization that time is indeed flying by way too fast?

Friday, April 13, 2012

I Accept This Award and Pass It Forward To...

I've been a little behind on reading both my Twitter feed and favorite blog list, so it took me a couple days to realize my fellow blogger Yoga Crystal had written a post making me one of her favorite bloggers and offering me a Liebster Award.

I have to admit, I wasn't sure what  Liebster was at first or if it was a good thing. Turns out it's quite a good thing. Liebster is a German word meaning "dearest" and the award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers.

To Yoga Crystal - thank you, I'm honored to be included amongst so many great writers.

As part of the award, I now get to pass it on to five of my favorite bloggers. Please, go check out these fellow writers:

1. Transformation Information. My dear friend Jilda writes daily about yoga, her dogs and her life. I'm privileged to know Jilda in person, and every time I'm in her presence I feel calm and peaceful. That serenity comes through in her writing as well. And although he has too many followers to be eligible for the Liebster Award, also check out Jilda's husbands blog Life 101.  Rick is a local newspaper columnist in Alabama and he writes real life personal interest stories.

2. This Is Who I Really Am. Travis is a runner, yogi and big time music lover. Each week he writes about a song that inspires him and finds a way to relate it to his - and his readers - life. Read his "Music Monday: Bully" post from April 3, 2012. It's powerful.

3. The Pondering Yogini. I have no idea why Meredith only has 60 followers. She is a fellow yoga teacher who often writes about applying yoga lessons to her life. She's also one of the founders of the Twitter Yoga Book Club. Her meditation posts always inspire me to sit and get quiet myself.

4. Slimming Down to Sexy. Honest, humorous writing from Natalie about her weight loss journey. She details her successes and her failures in a way we can all relate to.

5. YIOM. This one might be kind of cheating because I'm going to sneak in two great blogs in one here.  The YIOM (Yoga Inspired Online Movement) site is a collaboration of yoga bloggers, a list of their blog sites, and once a month a review of the months writing. The YIOM site is cared for by Thais who writes one of my top favorite blogs at Living In The k(N)ow.

6. Yes, I know I'm supposed to only have five. But I have to mention French Christmas. Noel is a writer I met two years ago during #reverb10. She sent me encouraging and touching messages as I wrote about my moms death from cancer. She is quite a talented writer.