First Class

I did it.  I finally got in the car and drove myself to a yoga class. A therapeutic yoga class- just what I'd been looking for, it would be gentle on my body.  It would help me stretch my muscles and my comfort zones in new ways. I walked in the door of the yoga studio and dutifully noted the signs posted warning me to enter using a quiet voice. A woman greeted me enthusiastically from behind high piles of papers on the reception desk. She welcomed me and pointed me toward a place to leave my shoes and then waved her arm in the direction of the bathrooms. There was paper work to fill out, of course, but my new friend said that it could wait.  Settling in to the warmly lit and beautifully simple surroundings, I rounded the corner and plunked off my shoes. With about 8 minutes left before class, I headed to the bathroom.

The studio is in a large and recently constructed building in the kind of urban community where businesses of all types share some walls and common spaces. In an effort to be more green or to save money, or perhaps one of those moments where both were possible, the businesses don't have private bathrooms. I remembered this only as I walked in my sock covered feet through the door marked "bathrooms." I opened the door and left the clean wood and cork surfaces behind and entered a dark hall of cinder blocks. I quickly stepped back into the friendlier space, second guessing my need to use the bathroom. But my body had other plans, so I turned back towards the hall of mystery. My eyes were adjusting and looking for signs to the bathroom as my hand reached behind me to close the heavy metal door. Its heavy and decisive closing click caused me to jump a bit. I stopped and reached back to try the knob. It mocked me by refusing to turn. "Well, this would be the way," I thought. "I made it here. And now I'm going to spend the class time locked in a dark deserted cindered hall." The kind of laughter that begins nervously in the back of your throat and then spreads into your chest and before it begins to shake your whole body- you know the kind, right? Well, that laughter found me in the dark utilitarian hallway. I made my way to the bathroom still laughing almost hysterically. While wiping laugh inspired tears from my eyes, I heard someone else enter the bathroom. Saved! I'd make it to class after all.

As I walked back towards the studio, I thought back to that early January day when I decided that one step in my healing journey would be starting the yoga practice I've long craved. I found this class and over the last month I'd exchanged a series of emails with the instructor. Each message further reassured me that this woman could help me. Her responses to my questions were calm, useful and insightful. Unlike my dvd sessions with poor Rodney Yee, I probably would not mutter and occasionally shout at this kind and responsive teacher. To my relief, this proved true, I was a much better student for my new three dimensional teacher. For an hour and 15 minutes today, I turned my phone off and stepped into a quieter, slower space. I loved it. It has taken me 13 years to get there, and I'll be there again next Thursday morning.



A few visits ago, my acupuncturist talked about the energy that it takes to live as a victim. I cringed inwardly as he spoke the words and thought to myself, well this isn't Patti Digh's insightful acupuncturist, is it?! For a week, I laughed that he had even brought that concept up in my presence. A victim? I'm not a victim. Well, I have been, but I've moved on, of course.

During the next week I began to sit with the idea a little more. It is true that there are a lot of stories from my past that I spend time with. I pull them out like party tricks to make people laugh and distract their attention from me. Slowly, I started to accept that perhaps his comment was not just a random statement uttered in my presence.

Over the last few days, I've admitted that I do often hide behind these stories from my past. I could use opportunities to tell these stories as a way to move through them and past them. Instead, I weave these tales and memories into the protective clothes that I wear daily.

I do not want to walk through my days as a victim. I choose to change the way that I present myself and my life to the world. These stories are a part of who I am, but they are not all that I am. And tonight, as I ate a delicious dish of gluten free duck breast and risotto, this all seemed simple and clear.  Perhaps this clarity came from the three weeks that have passed since I was first handed the idea. I admit that it is also possible that this newly acquired understanding simply came from my glass of Chianti.


Seeking Balance

I long for balance and moderation. 
They are shiny ideals that elude me. 
If I'm honest, I often forget to pursue them.
Instead, I linger in bed for precious extra morning hours
later wondering why I don't have time to paint and write. 
I watch hours of news broadcasts from Egypt
forgetting to move the wet laundry up into the dryer. 
Hours pass while I forget to eat a bite of food,
then hunger arrives and I nosh on the first thing I find.
But I do know that each and every day is day 1
Tomorrow, I will get out of bed an hour earlier. 
My heart will again visit the streets of Egypt
as my hands will prepare for my own day.
I will create a beautiful breakfast
and pack surprises to share 
during my time with a young friend.
I will breathe a little more deeply 
and watch where I place my feet. 
Perhaps I'll find something shiny on my path.


Dangling Signs

Watching for all signs of life on these gray wintry days.

Driving into my building's dark and ominous parking deck, my muscles immediately clinch up. I feel tightness in my jaw as I flick my headlights on and grip the wheel securely, headed for the first close and often perilous turn. Today as I made it to the top of first narrow ramp dividing the levels, I encountered a handwritten sign hanging from one of the many sprinkler pipes running overhead. On it was just one word: Will.

Shaking my head, I thought "well, it has come to that...people are labeling their parking spaces now." Placing my hands back at 10 and 2, I returned my focus to the task of climbing up to my level of the deck. As I reached the top of the next ramp, I felt that halfway there feeling of accomplishment sinking in. Looking ahead, I saw another hand written sign dangling. This one matched the other sign's style and again held just one word: You.

Well, how wonderful! Maybe one of my many neighbors was sending a message to all of the careless drivers who speed through the deck or the people who put their greasy, cheesy pizza boxes and overstuffed trash bags inside the recycling bins. Smiling, I drove forward eager to see what word this clever soul had placed next. For the first time in my year of living in this building, I felt the buzz of positive anticipation instead of dread as I rounded the tight turn up to the next level. Looking up in surprise I saw a ladder and two men working to hang the next word: Marry.

And in the imaginary privacy of my own car, I burst into laughter. Letting go, I laughed at myself and at my guesses until there were tears flowing down my cheeks. By the time my car passed under the sign that contained the word 'me,' I felt a smile stretching across my face. What a wonderful reminder that perception and expectations color every experience. A humbling and heartwarming welcome home. A rare personal view of two neighbors in a building where speaking to one another is an aberration.

I hope the answer is yes.