I've got just two weeks left at The Institute of Moves, Muscles & Eternal Optimism. To honor this space and prepare for my transition to the next phase of my work life, I'm getting some of my favorite women together to lift. I love the energy and friendship that is created when women get together to move their bodies.
Your mother complains that the landscaper filled the yard waste bin too full. "It's too heavy to move," she says.
"I'll do it," you say.
"No way! It's too heavy," she says.
"You forget who you're talking to," you say.
"I'll bet you it's too heavy," she says.
"How much?" you ask.
"Five cents," she says.
So you go out to the side of the house and grab the handles and see for yourself: It IS so heavy. But you ain't detoured. You pull and you push and you deal and you wheel that heavy ass bin up the driveway and park it on the curb as your mom watches from the porch.
"I owe you a nickel," she says.
Damn straight! 'Cause you're fit!
“Left foot. Right foot.”
It was five o’clock in the morning when Joe whispered in my ear. I was still dreaming, but the birds were already serenading the sunlight’s dance toward the sky.
“Yes,” I murmured in response.
Left foot. Right foot.
It is June. In the first week of this month it was 80 degrees one day and 63 the next.
Last month, May, I celebrated the 3 year anniversary of my beloved studio, The Institute of Moves, Muscles & Eternal Optimism.
In the month of May, I also learned that I am losing that studio, because the home where it is based is being sold.
Left foot. Right foot.
In the month of May, I married my playmate, my soulmate, my muse, my man, my Joe. We had planned to elope quietly to the courthouse downtown, but when friends caught word of this, they pleaded for a party.
We planned a wedding in 5 weeks. Family attended from out of town. We had music, art, delicious food. We wrote our own ceremony and vows that we recited on the warmest evening of the month in front two redwood trees as a pair bald eagles soared overhead. The next morning we woke, looked at each other and laughed so hard that tears came.
I love being a newlywed, a wife, in a way I never anticipated.
At the same time, I am grieving the loss of my sweet studio, feeling anxious about the changes I am facing surrounding my career.
I am also feeling optimistic about the doors that will open when this one closes.
Left foot. Right foot.
My tendency when ocean tides roll over my life is to either swim as fast as I can against the currents or to go placid while the waves pound me again and again onto the shore.
In other words, I run frantic trying put everything back where it’s “supposed” to be, where I can feign a sense of control. Or, I freeze, lie in bed binge watching and eating bags of corn chips and pints of ice cream. I bounce between the two states, and both choices leave me exhausted, disassociated from my body and depressed.
I am happy to say that with age (at nearly 40, I’m finally catching on to my antics) and with the support of compassionate partner (after three and a half years together, he’s catching on to my antics), I was able to hold my center quite well through the month of May.
Left foot. Period. Pause. Breathe.
Right foot. Period. Pause. Breathe.
It’s how you’ll find you moving through the month of June.
I am slowing down. And I am not stopping. Both, together.
And once again, summer is almost here.
Google maps tells you to drive to your appointment. "You'll be 12 minutes late if you walk." Hogwash! It's sunny in Seattle for the first time ever. You walk and arrive 2 minutes early. Of course you do cause you're fit.
When you are fit, you respect your body's "No!" even as your mind tries to override. You trust the cycles, the spirals, the seasons. When you are fit, you know that life is not a line and up is not better than down.
Reflections on movement as self care:
It's much simpler than you think.
The only rule: Don't stop.
In other words: Keep moving.
Not in a frantic or obsessive or punishing way.
Move steadily. Move with patience and presence. Soft persistence.
Be at once invigorated and relaxed.
The golden ticket: Find the place where effort and ease meet. Live there often.
Play your edges from time to time, but mostly hold the center, find moderation. Learn to be comfortable in moderation. This is an act of rebellion in a culture addicted to extremes and novelties.
You must move every day. You must move a lot. You must make every shape you can make. How many shapes can you make today? How many times can you make all those shapes today?
Because bad ideas come from those who sit still, who stare at screens all day.
Affirm your life through movement. Refresh your brain. See things new. Breathe deeply. Move!
Do some squats. Do some push ups. Learn to climb a tree. Move to music. Take a long walk.
But don’t run a marathon.
Unless running a marathon is the deepest longing in your heart. In that case, do it.
But don't do it because you think you have to in order to prove yourself or in order to make yourself worthy or because you believe that this thing ~ this marathon or whatever it is ~ is the thing you must to to be healthy and vital.
There are so many ways to care for your body with movement, but the essential rule is that you must like what you are doing. If it does not bring you joy: Stop. Find another way.
Do the unglamourous thing. The thing that will not be hailed or recognized. Trade ambition for attention. How does light move, air taste, your sweet one’s smile start? Indulge in the places where meaning is made.
Because you know how your body feels when you tell a lie: Not right.
It’s May, sweet friends. Don’t forget you are alive.
My car got hit in the middle of the night.
When I took my car in to the body shop for its estimate, the receptionist said, "When you drop off your car for its work, we will call the rental car company to come pick you up."
"I can walk to the rental car place," I said.
"Are you sure? It's a far distance."
"I've got it," I said.
When the rental car company called to confirm my reservation the guy said, "...so we'll come pick you up once you drop your car off at the body shop."
"I'm going to walk," I said.
"Are you sure? It's like a mile and a half."
"I got it."
When I dropped the car off at the body shop the receptionist asked, "Are you sure you want to walk?"
So I walked. And the cherry blossoms bloomed their fullest. The air smelled its sweetest.
When I arrived a the rental company, the man at the desk asked, "How was your workout?"
"It was a mile and half walk," I said.
"Wow! That's a lot."
When you are fit, a mile and half is not a lot.
When you are fit, you never pass up an opportunity to walk amongst the blooms.
The cherry blossoms have finally bloomed in Seattle. I have spent every day of the past two weeks walking under their flirtatious, fluffy canopies. I am smitten.
I have also spent every day of the past two weeks preparing for an upcoming workshop that I'll be teaching in two weeks at Seattle Yoga Arts. It’s a workshop about movement and breath and creativity and philosophy. It’s also about how to build a strong butt and strong core.
Here's an excerpt from the handouts and a sneak peak at the posters I’ve created for the event:
I was introduced to yoga not through my body, but through my mind.
At age 9 my stepfather was forced to leave his hometown of Vienna due to impending Nazi occupation. He and his 5 year old sister went together, without their parents, to a foreign country where he didn’t speak the language.
Thus began the journey that would consume the rest of my stepfather’s life. He became a spiritual seeker: How can there be such evil in the world? How does one find joy in this world? What is the soul? What is the divine?
He and my mother met when my mother was in the midst of an existential journey of her own: Coming to terms with the oppression and shame associated with her childhood religion, with the death of her first husband, with the realities of being a single mother.
My stepfather brought books when he moved in with us. Books about Buddha and Jesus. Books about Tao and Chi. Books by Hafiz and Emily Dickinson and Carl Jung and Ram Dass.
When I was 13 I slipped a slim paperback off his shelf. I took the book to my bedroom and I read. As I did, every cell in my body vibrated the way cells do when you encounter something that cuts straight to the truth, the real truth, the eternal truth.
This book, entitled simply “YOGA,” was not about how to perform physical postures, how to twist my spine and loop my limbs. Rather this book was about how to remain connected to myself, my divine nature, while living in a human body in a world that would have me forget my soul.
I was transfixed and I was forever changed.
When I was 16 I began practicing yoga asana, and over decades my relationship to this physical part of yoga has been capricious: I have been in turns enamoured, devoted, fanatic, mystified, bored, hurt, humbled, annoyed, indifferent.
On the other hand, my relationship to yoga as a philosophical framework, as a state of being, a way of living and moving through all of life, has only deepened, steadily, consistently.
At a moment's notice you can take the road less traveled.