Saturday, November 30, 2013

Grateful for Yoga and DOMS: 108 Sun Salutations

DOMS is setting in. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

I love it.

When I woke up this morning I didn't think I could move my shoulders. My pec muscles hurt just to lift a hairbrush. Tonight, after a day of walking along the Mississippi River, my hamstrings are screaming at me and I have to be careful to bend my knees as I bend over.

It's totally worth it.

Yesterday I went to the annual Thanksgiving Mala of Gratitude at Midtown Yoga Memphis where I joined a roomful of yogis completing 108 Sun Salutations.

Yes, 108.

Broken into 4 rounds of 27 each, the Sun Salutations are done mostly at your own pace and with any modifications needed. Modifications? Hah! Not for this yogi.

At least not for the first 27. And not even so much the next 27. By the third round I was thinking it would be the right yogic choice to listen to my body and maybe modify my chaturanga's (basically a chaturanga is similar to a push up). By the last round of 27 I have no shame in admitting I was doing modified chaturangas. My shoulders are grateful for that decision!

I've written before how yoga saved my life. I know that sounds quite melodramatic, but it's true. I found yoga at a time in my life I was really lost. My yoga journey strengthened me and prepared me for the year of my divorce that completely tore me down. And yoga has been the one staple in my life that has helped me rebuild myself.

I knew 108 Sun Salutations would be physically taxing, but it's always something I've wanted to do yet never allowed myself the privilege of taking the time away from my responsibilities to accomplish. I always felt I "should" be doing something else on Thanksgiving morning rather than playing around with this little yoga thing.

Now I know that wasn't selfless. It was hurting me. So after a difficult week of physical sickness and some depression creeping back in, I decided I was going this year no matter what.

The first round of 27 Sun Salutations are done in honor of ourself and our limitless possibilities. It was nice to begin that way to meditate on where I've been, how far I've come, and where I still want to go. Hopefully I've released some blocked energy that has been keeping me static in certain areas of my life.

The second round of 27 are done in honor of friends, family and "special jewels". Special jewels is a nice word for those people in our life we are having difficulty with.

Friends and family are the easy part. With six kids and an amazing extended friend support network I was able to dedicate many of the salutations to individual people.

But the special jewels part. Ugh, really? Do we have to go there?

But go there I did. I actually felt a little teary meditating on my special jewels. But, again, hopefully some negative energy was released.

Next we dedicated 27 rounds to our greater community. As someone who often feels very alone yet constantly surrounded by people, it was nice to remind myself that I am part of a much bigger whole.

The final 27 rounds were dedicated to our connection with the divine. It's a connection I have struggled with over the years, especially with my moms death and then again through my divorce. The connection hasn't quite been healed yet.

As I lay there in savasana afterwards, I felt better than I had in quite awhile. I knew I was in the right place and I knew I had made the right choice that morning.

Even now, with muscles sore and tired, I am grateful for yoga and my yoga community.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Last night after dinner me and Kid 6 snuggled in to watch Hulu and get caught up on this season's Glee.

I fell asleep 10 minutes in.

So my Thanksgiving 2013 post is a day late. But it was a very good Thanksgiving. Very different than last years Pizza, Pie and Popcorn Thanksgiving. Although last years was pretty good too, much better than expected in fact.

The day began with yoga - always good. While I was away Kid 2 made homemade macaroni and cheese (with one pound of cheese!) and deviled eggs. Once home Kid 4 helped me prepare the turkey. I somehow convinced him it was an honor to be chosen to stick your hand up the turkey's butt to clean it and stuff it. Shh, let's let him keep thinking that.

Then off to the movies we went.

Except... I never turned the oven on! Thankfully I have fabulous neighbors with a key to my house who I can call and they go over and turn it on for me.

We had two extra people at our table this year. I love extras and always am willing to set an extra plate. There was lots of food, laughter, fun and eating.

A few of my favorite moments:

"John don't throw things at the guest!"
"I'll fight you for the last egg"
And, of course the never-ending discussion of how "Mom cheated this year and bought pies. THE PIES AREN'T HOME MADE!"

The bought pies actually weren't as good as home made, but with enough whip cream on top everyone ate them.

I've listed many gratitude moments involving my family at the dinner table. It is truly one of my happiest places to be.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gratitude November 25 - 27

November 25, 2013

Orthopedic surgeons who say "no dear, I didn't say you were getting old. I said your knees have been through a lot of wear and tear over the years."

November 26, 2013

Actual adult conversations with my kids that show me how mature they are growing up to be.

November 27, 2013

Nights off work home with the kids.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Grateful To Be Able To Write

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your elephant journal. Thanks for being such an independent strong woman, and for allowing me to be in you and your girls lives. You're definitely some one I look up to. (:

I received this message tonight. To hear that something I write touches someone else means the world to me. 

The funny thing is, what I call my "throw away" pieces, the ones I write and I don't think much of,  tend to be the ones that get the most response. My latest Elephant Journal post had more than 1000 views and was shared to more than 40 Facebook pages before I even knew it was published. Like any piece of literature not all the reviews have been positive. But like Bob Weisenberg told me years ago, even if someone says something negative at least they are reading what you wrote.

Positive, negative or neutral reviews I always write for myself first.  I believe writing helps keep my crazy away. Or at least at a distance. 

Please click the link, comment and share the post if you also enjoy reading it.

You can also read my other posts on Elephant Journal here or by clicking the tab up top titled Elephant Journal. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Grateful My Mom Taught Me To Be A Good Mom

November 22, 2013

"Did your mom take you to see your first Nutcracker?"

Kid 6 asked me that tonight as we were waiting to watch Moscow Ballet's The Nutcracker.

Of course she did. Good mom's take their daughters to see the Nutcracker I told her.

"So it's kind of like a tradition," she decided.

I spent more time tonight watching my daughters watch the ballet than I did watching the performance myself.  The awe in their eyes made me a little teary wondering if this is how my mom felt so long ago sitting with me at my first ballet.

I clearly remember my mom taking me to see The Nutcracker probably when I was about Kid 6's age. It may have been a Girl Scout outing because I also remember my mom's friends and their daughters being with us.

I've always said I want to give my kids experiences, not things. I'm certain I learned that from my mom. My kids don't necessarily have the newest and latest clothes, toys or gadgets, but I work hard to make sure they get to experience life.

They've been fortunate to have travelled more than most kids in their classes. Like my mom, I've taught them to appreciate the arts and to enjoy spending time in nature. They willingly entertain themselves with a book - their love of reading comes from me via my mom. My mom laughed, danced, sang and played with me and my sister.

It's exhausting being a single mom working two jobs, but I try every day to fit in a little bit of mommy time. Yes I'm crazy busy, but not too busy to remind my kids I love them. Our newest habit is every morning Kids 5 & 6 crawl back into bed with me for 10 minutes before they leave for the bus. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we doze. But it's a peaceful way to begin our day together - together being the important part.

Just like my mom did, no matter where I'm at or what I'm doing I will drop anything and be with a child who needs me. Even sick teenagers need home-made chicken noodle soup and some extra TLC.

Even as I got older and didn't "need" my mom I always knew I could count on her, no matter what.

Today Kid 4 and her preteen friends launched a text campaign to get me to bring them Subway to school for lunch. She didn't know I had already planned on doing that, so I played along for a little bit telling her and her friends oh no, I couldn't possibly leave work for half an hour to do something as trivial as bring them lunch at school.

I've been told that I'm "too available" for my kids.  Really?

Admittedly my coworkers did look at me a little funny as I left to go deliver lunch, but that's OK. Maybe when she's 16 and hates me she will remember the day I brought Subway for her and her friends. Or maybe when she's a twenty-something trying to be an adult she'll know she's not too old for my chicken noodle soup.

When she has a problem or is afraid, I want her to want to come to me.

I don't ever want my kids to look back and think "my mom wasn't there for me when I needed her."

Someday, I hope my kids will continue the tradition and sit with their daughters at The Nutcracker and remember that cold night in Memphis long ago when the lights went down and their eyes lit up. And maybe they too will get a little teary eyed with the memory.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 19 - 21

November 19, 2013

Comfort food.

November 20, 2013

Doing something I didn't think I could do. Not only doing it, but doing it pretty damn well.

November 21, 2013

Ghosts from the past. And their acknowledgement I hadn't been forgotten.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gratitude November 16-18

November 16, 2013


  • the people
  • the drinks
  • the place to sneak away for a break when needed.

November 17, 2013

1. Sunday family dinners
2. Non-stop laughter during Sunday family dinner

November 18, 2013

Little girls who are way too big to be crawling up into my lap, who crawl up anyway and fall asleep.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Grateful For Kids Who Aren't Afraid Of Work

November 15, 2013

I realized today I have raised kids who understand the value of work. With the many financial changes this year I've had to say no to their requests more than I like. But, I also see now where fortunately the groundwork I've laid over the years has made my "no" to them less harsh to hear and, even more importantly, has given them incentive to find ways to make it a "yes" on their own.

Kid 1 is working full time before he leaves for Navy boot camp in two months. Even last year when he was only working part time while in high school he bought each of his brothers and sisters a Christmas present with his own money. This year he is also buying presents, but when he babysat for me recently I offered him some money to get the kids dinner. "No, I'm working now. I got it", he told me.

Kid 2 is dual enrolled as a junior in high school and a first semester at the local community college. He works part time at the local YMCA in the youth station and child care. He works to help pay his college tuition and car insurance and is never late on a payment. He saved for months to buy his girlfriend a ring. (No, not that kind of ring!)

Kid 3 is too young for a real job at just 15 years old. But he is the go-to babysitter for a friend and her two young children. He also does odd jobs such as mowing yards and helping the dance school owner construct a new dance floor. He still sees the money he's earning as a ticket to Game Stop, but recently he said he is going to start saving part of his pay in a savings account as well.

Kid 4 wants to go on her Honor Society trip this year, but it is just totally out of my budget. I told her if she could find a way to pay it herself she could go. I honestly expected her to just forget about it. But, no, she thought it through and came up with a plan to earn the money herself.

Tonight she really made me proud. Her friends invited her out to dinner and a sleep over. But she had already committed to help a pregnant friend of mine clean her house once per week between now and her trip in June. Kid 3 has been sick all week and couldn't do his regular babysitting job, so kid 4 stepped up to clean and babysit tonight. I wasn't sure how she'd do at first knowing she was missing a night out with her friends. But she didn't once complain. In fact she said, "If I can keep this job for a year I can make a lot of money!"

Even kids 5 & 6 have stepped up to offer their own limited finances when they felt it was necessary. How sweet to have a 10yo offer you his prized $2 bill to help pay for a dinner out for the family. Of course I would never take the money, but just to know they are willing to chip in is all I really need.

I want my kids to enjoy the luxury of childhood and not have the financial worries that I do.

But I am very grateful that they don't feel entitled to luxuries and are willing to work for what they want.

MSOD: My Favorite Yet Most Challenging Yoga Class to Teach

November 14, 2013

Tonight I am grateful for my yoga class at Millington School of Dance.

It is one of the few yoga classes I am still teaching after taking on one full time and an additional part time job this year. There's just not much time left to teach but I was adamant I not lose my MSOD class.

I've written before about my MSOD girls here on the blog and even over on Elephant Journal.  This year we've actually expanded the class to include the teen girls from the pointe class, other dance students, dance moms & dads, students who used to take my classes outside the dance school and the occasional special appearance by kid #5.

With three other competing dance classes going on at the same time, it's not my most quiet, serene class. With the lights on, ballet barres stacked in the corner and dance shoes scattered around the room, it's not my most yoga-studio like class.

It's the only class I teach where I have to use my loud aerobics instructor voice to be heard over the music in all the other rooms leaving me with a strained throat every week.

But it is absolutely without a doubt one of my most favorite classes to teach. I never go in with a plan because I never know what the ratio of teen dancers to adults will be. I will be kind and just say the teens have just a tad bit more flexibility and just a tad bit more ADD than the adults usually do. Although it's one class, I'm really teaching to three or four different populations.

I absolutely love the challenge.

How can I explain the importance of building strength over flexibility to young girls without boring the non-dancers in the room? How can I instruct proper body mechanics to protect the lower back to the adults without boring the younger students who plop into a backbend without a second thought?

Oh and let's not forget the nights I do forget and don't separate the teen boys from the teen girls. The googly eyes looking across the yoga mat at each other and the boys "accidentally" knocking the girls out of a yoga pose are enough to keep me on my toes.

The adults have no trouble dropping into savasanna even with hip hop music pounding from the room next to us. The younger students usually start out tapping their fingers, then gradually even they become quiet and restful.

By Thursday evening I've already worked almost 50 hours for the week and I'm exhausted. But once we all get into the room and lay mats down, my energy is restored. I have never walked out of that class without a smile on my face.

I am thankful to MSOD for providing me a place to teach yoga and students who challenge and inspire me.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 13: First World Problems

November 13, 2013

Tonight I am blessed and grateful that most  all of my problems are first world problems.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 10 - 12 Gratitude: Food, a Warm Home and Doctors

November 10, 2013

1. Big Sunday dinners with my table overflowing with food and family.
2. Friends who collect iPhone cases and give me their perfect condition hand-me-down cases.

November 11, 2013

1. Finding out someone remembered an off-handed remark I made a month ago and suddenly I have concert tickets!
2. A house with heat and the ability to pay the gas bill.

November 12, 2012

1. My job.
2. Midday texts/calls just to say hi.
3. Access to quality medical care.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 7 - 9 Gratitude List

November 7, 2013

1. Help in unexpected places.
2. Friends who have turned into family that my kids know they can depend on for anything.

November 8, 2013

1. Kids who know they can always call their momma and I will be there for them.
2. A job that pays me to do what I enjoy with the flexibility I need.

November 9, 2013

1. Homemade chicken noodle soup.
2. Listening to the laughter of goofy girls braiding each others hair.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

As Usual, It's Friends on the Gratitude List: November 4-6

November 4, 2013

1. Friends who are willing to turn their car around at 10:30pm and comfort me.
2. Friends who make me laugh when I want to cry, even if it means I blow snot out my nose crying and laughing at the same time.

November 5, 2013

1. Days that end much better than they begin.
2. My mom for introducing me to and beginning my love affair with the theater.  
3. Friends who give me their orchestra seats to the theater.
4. Friends who share my love of the theater.
5. Friends who walk me around downtown Memphis at night having dinner, drinks and enjoying a rare evening out. 

November 6, 2013

1. Rekindling my love of teaching yoga
2. Noisy dance schools, little girls in tights and leotards, and loud blaring music that little girls smile and dance to all night.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Month of Gratitude 2013

It's that time again.  Bloggers and others are listing what they are grateful for each day of the month of November.

I've participated for the past two years. My 2011 gratitude list was very different than my struggle to find gratitude during my very difficult 2012. This year I'm in a very different, yet better, place and I'm not sure where my gratitude list will go.

I do know though that these past couple years have taught me, if nothing else, even in the darkest of times there is always something to be grateful for. Always.

November 1, 2013

1. Safely guiding my unsafe car to a place I can pull over and call for help.
2. Having car insurance that includes roadside assistance and towing.
3. A pink mohawk tow truck driver who wouldn't leave me alone on the side of the road.
4. Kids and a staff who were willing to drop what they were doing and come rescue me.
5. Long distance phone calls.

November 2, 2013

1. New friends who willingly hand over keys to their brand new car so that I'm not without transportation to work.
2. Old friends who save me money by fixing my car for me.

November 3, 2013

All the kids piled on my bed waiting their turn for one of momma's back massages.