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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Steering into the Skid or Plate Not Required


I am hateful today.  Hateful and cranky with a side dish of morose.  I blame it on those pesky female hormones.  It doesn’t matter why.  I’m hateful today.  I was walking through the CVS all glowering and irritated and I thought, if I saw myself right now how I normally am, all chipper and happy and smiley, I’d probably hiss at her.  Hiss at her like a sleeping cat suddenly doused in cold water.  Hisssssssssss.  Teeth bared, back arched.

How ANNOYING I must be with my usual can-do attitude and easy smile.  Ugh.  I could just punch normal me in the ear right now.  Hateful.  Everyone has these moods, some more than others.  Some darker than others.  But we all would rather NOT feel this bad.  Especially if it’s for no other reason than because you stubbed your toe in the morning or you ran out of coffee.  Again.  But, counter-intuitively, I think, sometimes the answer is to REVEL in the bad mood.  

Really get down and comfy in the mud of your ire.  Get dirty.  Really FEEL the ickiness.  Steer INTO the skid.  There are kitten-video bad moods and there are ‘steer into the skid’ bad moods.  Sometimes all you need is a laughing baby or a surprised kitten video to feel better.  But when that doesn’t work, and faking it makes you want to leap off of tall buildings (really only one is necessary) with a single bound…then you know you need to settle into the badness.  Dig out your old leather jacket.  Rescue your old wide black belt from the basement.  Put on your black boots.  Get down with your bad self.  ‘Course if I were a REAL bad-ass that black belt would have metal studs and the leather jacket wouldn’t be pleather…from Reitmans.  On sale…

Anyway, acknowledge the sad.  Do what sad, angry people do.  Glare up at the dark sky while periodically raising a fist in anger and muttering to yourself while writing angry poems.  (Ah, this is easier to do without the baby strapped to your chest….)  Or listen to industrial punk music really loud.  I’ll be honest here I don’t really know what that is but you should listen to it if you do.    Also easier to do if your super-cute and precious baby isn’t babbling happily away in the back seat.  

Evanescence is my ‘angry’ music.   Or Alanis Morissette.  No judgement here.  A bit of advice though?  When this kind of mood hits you may feel like it’s the PERFECT time to expand on all the things that annoy you about your spouse/partner and all the perceived slights and failures of your relationship….it is not.  No, no it isn’t.  Not the perfect time at all.

It IS the perfect time to dress all in black to warn the world you are crazy today.  It IS the perfect time to listen to angry music and/or watch zombie movies.  You SHOULD check out of life for the day (or an hour) and coddle the angry little girl/boy that’s taken over your normally enlightened self.  Just warn all your loved ones to stay far, far away…and eat cake.  Lots and lots of yummy, surgery cake.  Plate not required.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Some People’s Kids or…Paying it Forward with Smacks Upside the Head


Luray.  It’s a sad town with just enough bright signs to lure you in, and enough closed and shuttered store fronts to remind you the country has just been through an ‘economic downturn.’  It’s sad to see the evidence of good people’s hard work not bearing fruit.  Dreams that had to be abandoned or at least deferred echoed in the darkened and empty Main street.  

We visited Luray Caverns this weekend in Page County and unlike most people (I suspect) we stayed in town instead of making a day trip out of it.  It was here, in this forgotten town, that someone anonymously slipped the manager 20$ to go toward our bill at Speakeasy Restaurant off Lee street.  We were amazed.  Who does that!?  They said they wanted to make things easier for us, who were ‘doing the right thing’ by our little girl.  (By feeding her??  By not forgetting her at the B&B?) I’m not sure but you don’t look a $20 gift horse in the mouth.  Some people’s kids are amazing!

We decided to pay it forward.  I wanted to put the $20 toward someone else’s meal that night but we couldn’t agree on who to give it to.  (I wanted to give it to the young couple, him to the older couple beside us).

We decided to pay for someone else’s ticket at Luray Caverns the next day but we forgot.  (Of course).  I was reminded of a quote I heard one of the yoga teachers say once - ‘Be quick to be kind’.  The intention (ambition) to do a nice thing gets lost when we wait.  So, on the way out we paid the tour guide a 20$ tip - a young kid going to college and working as a guide for the summer.  There.  Responsibility to pay it forward complete.  Easy peasy.

Ellie was a champ, she slept through the whole tour of Luray Caverns (an hour walk beneath the good soil of Page County).  I had her in the carrier strapped to the front of my chest so i got a good work-out too.  There were two larger ladies (mom and daughter) behind us having a bit of a hard time of it and I felt sorry for them until the daughter asked if they could go walking Sunday nights and the mom said she’d rather sleep.  

Then, I felt REALLY bad for the daughter.  Trying to be healthy and not being supported AT ALL.  I wanted to turn around and tell her I’D walk with her!!  Being overweight is a pretty touchy subject these days, lots of ways to offend, and really not any of my business at all.  Maybe I should have ‘paid it forward’ by smucking the mom upside the head.  Get real mom.  You want daughter to be heaving like you are in ten years?  Ugh, but NONE OF MY BUSINESS.  I don’t know why overweight people tend to get more judged than other people with equally visible unhealthy habits.  (Smoking, drinking too much, etc).  Or why we judge them at all.  Maybe because for most of us the dozens of small choices we make each day (whole wheat instead of white, yep lets take the stairs instead of the elevator) add up over time and draw us in a healthier direction (sure let’s try a game of tennis, feelin’ good!) and we assume that because it feels easy for us they must just be really lazy to not choose the same things.  

Habits are hard to break.  Habits surrounding food even harder, as I know all too well in my quest to get off the sugar roller-coaster.  Because we live in an age where knowledge of how to eat and act healthy are easily accessible we assume changing those unhealthy patterns is the easy, logical next step.  Logical maybe, easy, no way.  I always say I’m a three hundred pound woman stuck in a 130 pound body.  I like to eat.  A LOT.  And still that is not half the battle lots of women face every day.

Speaking of yummy bad habits…we stopped at Spelunkers in Front Royal - oh my gosh sooooo good.  We’ve stopped there before, Bill has the Cavern burger and I have the grilled cheese.  Because I’m still 8 years old inside.  Anyhoo, I overheard three older ladies behind me gossiping about someone they knew who was a nurse.  She got ‘really healthy’ lost ‘a ton of weight’.  “Then I saw her two weeks ago she’d put it ALL back on.”  (Imagine an older lady, a nudge past chubby, with thick glasses and a thin, mean mouth clucking her tongue in mock dismay).  “What?  Why!?”  (Tall older lady with frizzy white hair pulled back in a severe pony-tail, long thin nose, small rimmed glasses).
“Well she dated a few men, said they were all jerks and she gave up.”  Chuckles of agreement around their double chocolate frozen custard waffle cones with sprinkles.

I had to wonder though how much of that was true (she just needed a bigger dating pool!) and how much of that was nonsense meant to throw off unwanted questions from nosy neighbors and to make light of an incredibly painful (personal) battle?

Paying it forward with money is easy.  Paying it forward with a genuine attitude of caring for people you don’t know and who you aren't invested in?  Almost impossible.  And delicate.  Paying it forward by telling other people what you REALLY think of them?  Probably not a good idea.  Should I have smucked that mom upside the head?  Probably.  The nosy neighbor?  Certainly.  They both deserved it.  But I’m not invested in them, they’re strangers I will never see again.  And maybe that’s my argument TO say something.  (Go for walks with your daughter!  Don’t be such a gossiping nosy nelly!)  I should do everyone who knows them but can’t say anything a favor and clue them in.  I’m sure the point would be lost.  I’d get yelled at (or worse) and the story would be…remember that really rude little girl who told us we were being jerks?  Does she EVER need a smack upside the head!  Some people’s kids…

Monday, April 13, 2015

CHANGE - BRING IT (If you feel like it)



We've been so busy getting the house ready to sell that I haven't had a chance to get to Radiance (my most favorite yoga studio of all time) for a class in over a month.  I was excited Saturday to finally get a chance to grab my mat and go to the 830am class. I was so stoked for a wonderful, relaxing kundalini/meditation class.  I got there and for the first time I'm not a staff member so I pay full price, which I was expecting but makes me sad - not because of the money I'm glad I'm supporting such an awesome studio but because I'm officially no longer 'part of the team'.  It had to be done though, between taking care of Ellie, Bill’s long hours at work and getting ready to move I haven't been in to work a shift in weeks.  

The lady at the desk didn't know me, which made it worse.  This was my space, behind that desk, my second home and now I'm a stranger in it.  "I used to work here."  I blurted out.  I don't know why but I needed her to know that.  She doesn't respond.  What did I expect her to say?

I shrug it off, that's life.  Change is the only constant, and I get settled in with my mat.  I look around and realize I don’t recognize anyone.  Kundalini yogi’s are a tight-knit group for the most part - the same beautiful faces show up time and time again.  I padded back out to the desk.  "This isn't Kundalini is it?"
"No, it's core strength and stretch."
“Nooooooo!!”  I say, probably too loudly.  I think I actually stamped a foot.  I was so looking forward to the warmth, the love, the comraderie of a kundalini class.  I didn't want the rigors and work of a core class with people I didn’t know!

"There a kundalini class later today." She said helpfully.  How could she know that this was my ONE chance to get out the house and get to class this weekend, that I had a baby at home and a husband itching to get back to work (on the house, our taxes, there's always something).  It's a 24 minute drive there, 24 mins back, I'd never get out again the same day and we had plans for all day Sunday.  

"No, I have a baby I can't just come back when I want."  I said, irritated, disappointed.  I try to shrug it off again.  As part of my deepening yoga journey I’ve started to trust in mistakes.  Sometimes you get what you really need when you get what you didn’t want.

"Ok I'm here.  Guess I'm lucky there was a class at all.  Core strength and stretch it is.”  I say to no one in particular.
"You may regret that."  Someone said with a rueful smile.  Greeeeaaat.

The teacher came over and introduced herself.  I can't remember her name because I was obsessing over the fact that when I introduced MYSELF I said my name was Angela, not Angie as they knew me around the studio.  The formal, distancing of my name that I use when shy/nervous or trying to be professional.  A barrier between me and whomever I am talking to.  Once again for reasons I can't explain I blurted out that I used to work here but then had a baby.

Change.  I usually love it.  Today I hated it.  I try to let it remind me to appreciate the way things are here, right now, because I will never be back here again in this time, in this space, in this house, in this state, in this world the way it is right now.  Off to class I go.

And of course it was exactly what I needed.  All the physical work and stress of moving had really taken a toll on my body. Then there is 'that moment.'  THE moment, half-way into class, when my body is warmed up and my frenetic, self-absorbed thoughts finally stutter to a slow crawl is when ‘it’ finally happens. 

Joy.  

Then gratitude.  Or maybe its the gratitude and then the joy they’re all mixed up together.  That feeling washes over me and the world shifts.  For just a fleeting second or two my mind is centered, my body reveling in the transitions between warrior one and warrior two.  I feel playful and grounded and whole all at the same time.  I am reminded that although the world spins crazily around me changing everyone and everything I know, there are some things that never change.

The sunlight streaming into the windows didn’t change.  The fans lazily twirling didn’t change.  The candles, the love and thought that went into the design of this most cozy and inviting of spaces didn’t change.  

I don’t know how many times I will get a chance to practice here before we move but I will savor every one.  Even if no one in the room knows me, even if the class I signed up for wasn't the class I wanted.  

I am reminded how sad I was to leave Moncton, how much I miss my friends and family.    (Robert Louis <ahem> Stevensen...)  

But if I had never left I wouldn’t have found this studio, or discovered Kundalini Yoga, or met Masuda, or Tina, or all of the wonderful teachers that helped me deepen my practice.  I am so grateful to all of them, and to have had this experience.

So, Change, BRING IT.  I’m ready for you.  I mean, if you’re ready I’m ready.  You know, if you feel like it, or whatever, if not, it’s cool.  Maybe give me a couple more downward dogs and some headstands.  THEN I’ll be ready.  Then Change, then you can BRING IT.  Yeah.  













Monday, April 06, 2015

The Love of Family

I’ve accomplished something amazing.  I’ve survived another weekend in New Jersey with a dog, a baby, and a husband busy all weekend working on his dad’s house.  I don't know if it's the painting and cleaning they've been doing or the obvious joy Ellie gives Grampy Yeh (Ojiisaan) but the trips have gotten a little easier. Or it's the fact that we're only able to go one more time before we move. Yep. That definitely helps. 

Suddenly though I find myself looking around and realize she won't be surrounded by the love of her aunts and her Ojiisaan soon and that's too bad. She sits in the center of attention of her family right now where every coo, laugh, and dropped cheerio are met with rapt attention and amazed laughter. It was Easter this past weekend, usually a time when mom and I would splurge on new outfits for Easter Sunday service. I miss my own family more on holidays that's a given, especially with a baby but I will miss my 'new' family too. 

Family is important to me, and to keep those ties long distance isn't easy.  Especially when I’ve got two teenage kids back home in Canada that I love and miss like a mama misses her cubs (even though they’re getting too old to be considered cubs and I’m not technically their mama).  My heart doesn’t understand the technicality and it makes me really sad they won’t be able to be big sis and bro to my little Ellie.  Not to mention aging parents (well, you are!!) who should have my help now more than ever and a brother with two kids of his own I never see anymore.

I am missing out on birthdays, anniversaries, graduations (graduations!!!  So proud) but Ellie will be the one who is really missing out on all that extra love and attention both from my family back home (natural and adopted) and her paternal side of the family. (What!? She SAT UP!? AMAZING! Incredible! Look she's SMILING! She just WAVED at us!) What kid doesn't lap that up like the sweet honey that it is? Families are full of stings and hard work and uncertainty but the love that binds us no matter where we are from or what sort of family we belong to is the same. It's the salt in the ocean, the wick in the candle, and I will miss them, all of them.

In a totally unrelated aside, April is National Poetry Month.  I wrote this after Bill cooked me his Tofu soup for the first time.  Here you go…

Bill’s Tofu Soup

I’m in a war with my hubbie
Over eye-balls in my soup.

I’m in a battle with my love
Over shrimp eyes in my lunch.

Today is a Wednesday and what will it bring?
I’m in a ceasefire status with my mate, my match,

Over eye-balls in my soup.

I was almost to the end before I saw the gleam
of tiny little eyeballs floating in my soup.

They were black and round and mushy
he insists they taste terrific.

They stared at me in horror and I back in shock
I’m sorry little shrimp, I’d rather you were a rock

That was the end of Bill’s Tofu soup for me

I’m sorry little shrimp, while I ate you I hope you didn’t see.