Category Archives: until now

WTF, TCB, IKR, TSAFP, and ILY: the Alphabet Soup of My Life

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I have been thinking about writing here for a while, but just haven’t been able to make myself do it since November.  It’s been an interesting couple of months.  Life is surprising and wonderful things pop up where you least expect them that can turn your life around most profoundly, but regardless of how wonderful these things might be, change takes time to process and there’s a whole lot of “what the fuck” that goes along with it.  Life moves forward and you gotta roll with it.  You have to take care of business.  Sometimes it’s exciting, sometimes it’s frustrating, and sometimes it’s just so mind-numbingly stupid all you can do is look around and the closest equally bewildered person and say, “I know, right?”  It gets overwhelming, this thing called life.  It’s not always easy.  Sometimes it’s ice-pick through your pupil painful.  It can be wildly unfair.  It can hurt.  It can be depressing as often as it’s wonderful.  Here’s the thing: this shit ain’t for pussies.  Figuring it out can be the hardest thing until you realize that there really is nothing to figure out at all because the minute you figure it out, things change.  Everything is in constant flux.  Just when you think that you’ve found your solid footing, guess what?  That damn rug gets pulled out from under you again.  Better to just learn to float.  And that is when the only real thing that matters are 3 words: I love you.  Saying them to someone.  Hearing them from someone.  Saying them to yourself.  Whatever. I love you is the same as Thank you, but kind of squishier and fuzzier and, well, you know.

My life has fallen into these 5 categories.  I know it’s been a long long time since I’ve been here, so here’s a run down of some of what has been filling the categories of my days.

WTF

When we bought this house 11 years ago and started packing up our stuff to move, I came across a box of my hold high school stuff. I was ready to throw the whole thing out unopened, but Brian insisted we go through it.  Inside I found programs from operettas, old notes, pictures, the publications that had my poetry in them, senior pictures of my friends, my diploma, a high school memory book and assorted other flotsam and jetsam.  The memory book was barely filled out – even then I wasn’t the type of person to get too sentimental about that kind of stuff – but there were a few things written in it from friends.  I found it funny that probably 60% of the people mentioned my “funky style.”  I thought back.  While I certainly didn’t think it as particularly odd at the time, I suppose I did have my own flair.  I was almost always in jeans, white v-neck tshirt, flannel, and combat boots like most of my friends.  The only difference is that I would wear that outfit with pearls and with my long hair in a french twist.  Or I would wear a fancy dress with an army jacket, little black dresses with neon tights, flowered shorts with actual bowling shoes I stole from the local bowling alley.  Okay, my boyfriend stole them, but whatever.  I was also one of the first people in my crowd to have a tattoo.  In 1993, kids didn’t have tattoos.  I felt very comfortable in my skin and my clothes, but I got lots of “what the fuck” back then and now, 21 years later, I’m getting it again.  While my youngest son now wears my Doc Marten boots and I no longer wear an army jacket, I am still expressing myself visually.  I got my tongue pierced.  I got my septum pierced.  I got a full chest piece tattoo.  (You can see all this stuff on my Instagram.) They all mean something very important to me and I love each one of these new pieces, but it seems that folks wonder WTF has happened to me.  The answer is simple: Everything and nothing.  I am still the same person I always was.  And I change every day.  It makes me do my own version of wtf: what the fuck does it matter to you?  Maybe I’m a little sensitive.

I wrote not too long ago about an event that shook my little family of three to the core.  While that event got squared away, it spawned some other WTF moments.  One of the people who perpetrated the original awfulness decided to sue me.  It was the most outlandish, egregious, poorly thought out decisions I have ever experienced first hand.  There are a few people who know the details, which I will not expound upon here, and all of us collectively shouted to the world, “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK???”  This time, my sweet kiddos got in on the act and actually contacted and shook some sense into this person and the lawsuit was dropped rather quickly, but let this be a lesson to you all: crazy is as crazy does.

My girl dog, Audrey, has decided that she gets to get on the furniture now.  We’ve had her 2.5 years and she never got on the furniture before, but now she does.  WTF?

My main tv remote no longer controls the volume nor the power.  WTF?

I bought a new vacuum and love it more than any other appliance.  WTF?  (okay, maybe I have changed.  A little.)

TCB

I have been feeling the need to make some professional changes in my life for a few years.  Yes, it’s been a long long long time coming, but today I took the final step.  I am no longer involved in any of the managerial or secretarial duties at Yoga Sol.  I just teach and I have to say that, while it was a wonderful run and I’m grateful for the experience, I’m relieved to have scaled back.  The person who replaced me is doing a much better job than I did. It’s better for the studio, and it’s most assuredly better for me, as well.  Teaching will always feed my soul and I couldn’t function without it.  I’m grateful to be able to focus on that fully.

While I haven’t been writing here, I have been writing.  I am spending quite a bit of time on my other love: live music.  I’ve been blessed to fall into ranks with a community that supports, creates, and promotes real musicians doing genius stuff independently from huge labels.  I have been attending shows, interviewing artists, laughing and dancing and writing and living and … wow, it’s so much fun!  You can find interviews I’ve done over at MoonRunners Country and I look forward to more experiences coming up.  These people I have met have become my family and I couldn’t be happier nor prouder of my association with them.

IKR

It’s fucking cold and I fear Spring will never arrive. I could go on about other things, but that particular item has me so depressed that everything else doesn’t matter.

TSAFP (in which I violate the TSAFP code.)

A few years ago, two of my best girlfriends and I sat down at a coffee shop to discuss a rather unpleasant happening in one of their lives.  “Rather unpleasant” is putting it mildly, but discretion being the better part of valor and all, I’ll leave it at that.  While there wasn’t a solution then (and there isn’t a solution now,) we pretty much summed up the whole experience by saying This Shit Ain’t For Pussies.  Sorry ladies, I just released the code out into the world.

While I have learned over the years to not take on the troubles of others, I am a very compassionate and empathetic person.  Some of the people I feel closest to in the whole world are dealing with some serious stuff right now: addiction, domestic abuse, mental illness, divorce, declining health of elderly parents, poverty, serious physical injury, abandonment… it’s all really heavy stuff.  There isn’t much I can do but care, and oh, how I care!  Having been to the bottom and having pulled myself part of the way up, I relate to how hard things can be.  This Shit Ain’t For Pussies, but I’m with you.  I care.  I’m here.

ILY

Every single morning, when I walk out of my bedroom, I am greeted before I even make it to the bathroom by love.  Zeus, the puppy, stands up on his hind legs, puts his paws on my shoulders, and hugs me.  That’s 89 lbs of puppy love.  At least he has learned to jump higher than my bladder.  A few minutes later (after I’ve taken care of pressing matters,) my oldest child puts a cup of coffee into my hand (coffee that he doesn’t drink, but makes for me every single day,)  and kisses my forehead.  He’s taller than me now, and it’s funny how the role has been reversed.  “Good morning, Mom!  How were your sleeps? (a throwback to our conversations when he was a tiny one.) Did you have good dreams?”  I ask him what he has been reading that morning and tell him what our plan for the day is.  A little while later, the youngest comes out.  He sleeps a lot these days – growing so fast is tiring work.  Some days I’m lucky – some days he will still curl on my lap for a snuggle.  Other days, he kisses my cheek and stumbles, bleary eyed, into the kitchen to get his own breakfast.  He’ll usually bring me a glass of juice.  We talk a bit as they eat and eat and eat (teenagers!) About the time I pour my 2nd or 3rd cup of coffee, I either send or receive a “Good Morning” text to or from a person who fills many of my thoughts.  The last text of the day and the first text of the morning is usually interacting with this person and it’s a heartwarming feeling.

I go about my day, working on the kids homeschooling projects, making meals, making plans, making the most out of every minute.  I look at the calendar and see who is coming into town, which concert is next, what article is due.  Emails, Facebook, Instagram, each one filled with something that makes me smile.  Dog kisses, fresh warm laundry, the perfect cup of chai tea, lunch with a friend, memories flashing like shooting stars, music so raw and so pure it makes me have to remember to breathe.  Old friends and new friends texting, calling, checking in or asking me if I want or need to check out for awhile with them.  Asking “how are you?” and really meaning it and knowing that the people who ask me the same really mean it, too.  Impromptu dance parties with my littles who are far from little anymore.

I cannot count the number of times a day I say or I hear “I love you.”

When it all boils down to it, those are the only letters of the alphabet that matter.

Hangover

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We’ve all been there at one point in time or another.  Waking up and peeling your eyelids open and wondering at what point during the previous night did you eat a cat.  The light hurts, your stomach spins, and you pray to whatever you believe in that, if you could just hold onto the bed long enough to keep the world from spinning, you’ll never ever have another night like the one before. Until you do.

We often think of hangovers just in terms of alcohol consumption, but the reality is that we more often that not have hangovers that have nothing at all to do with booze.  We have mental hangovers, emotional hangovers, anxiety hangovers, trauma hangovers.  Those hangovers, believe me, are just as much of a bitch as the happy juice kind, maybe even more so because alka seltzer, a nap, and a greasy cheeseburger don’t do a damn thing to help them.

They say “hair of the dog” is what will cure you when you’ve had too much booze.  You know, the whole concept of “what got you in will get you out.”  Not so with the other kinds of hangovers.  While we might do things that feel or sound good or appropriate at the time, eventually the moment of reckoning comes and all we’re left with is doubt, guilt, shame, anger, anxiety, fear, or any combination of those.  In those circumstances, doing what got you there most certainly will NOT get you out, it will only get you in deeper.  It can be a horrible cycle of trying to explain things and that only makes things worse.  Kind of like when someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it does no good to clear up the situation by simply repeating yourself over and over again or, my personal favorite, saying the same things LOUDER.

For years, I have taught “hangover yoga” the day after traditional days of celebration: New Year’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, Homecoming, Halloween, etc.  Those classes were centered around asana that would cleanse the body of toxins, lots of twists, pranayama, forward folds, gentle inversions.  About 6 weeks ago, I realized that we all need to detox from our emotional and mental hangovers as well.  We need to learn to stop beating ourselves up over and over again.  We need to let go of the shame or anger we feel for ourselves or for others.  We need to let go of the poison.  We need, in other words, to get the toxic shit out of us so that we can forgive and move on.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but forgiving myself is the hardest thing in the world to do.  I often do things in the heat of the moment that cause me to feel shame or regret the next day or next week or next whatever.  It sucks.  It REALLY sucks and I have long moments of absolutely hating myself for it, but you know what?  We all do that.  We all do that because we are human.

1378623_10153428801170192_1386442562_nOddly, it’s not the original act that hurts us the most, it’s the squirrel cage circular thinking that does the most damage. There is a basic tenet of yoga called Ahimsa which essential means Do No Harm.  Listen, like I said, we’re human.  We’re going to fuck up.  The sooner we accept that, the better we’ll all be.  BUT here’s the thing, we don’t have to keep harming ourselves over our fuck ups.  We don’t have to make the situation worse on ourselves by reliving our mistakes over and over again.  We don’t need to keep beating ourselves up.  If we keep ourselves filled with shame, there is no room for acceptance.  And if there is no room for acceptance, there is no room for love.  We have to learn to let it go.  We might never ever be able to remedy what we have done.  Somethings just can’t be fixed, sadly, but we can keep the experience from hurting more than it already does.  Sadly, there is no AA for emotional / mental hangovers.  They are going to happen.  We have no choice over that matter.  What we DO have control over, however, is how we deal with them.  Feel the pain.  Feel the shame.  Feel the embarrassment or anger or anxiety or whatever it is, because if you don’t feel it, it will come back to haunt you.  Feel it, and then step away.  Ahimsa – don’t pour salt on the wound. Salt is for margaritas.

Are You Talking to Me? Obviously Not.

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I have debated writing about this for several days.  I have tried to gradually move this blog back into more of a yoga / mindfulness blog and less of a grief processing blog, but as I stated in my first Brian post, I just can’t separate the two.  Ultimately, this is a blog about my life and how I see it and what I learn from it.  Lotta strands in old Duder’s head. – and they are all tangled together.

While I wouldn’t say that this past week has been the hardest of my life (not by a long shot,) I can with certainty say that it was a fucking nightmare created entirely from the twisted minds of other people.  Yes, I know, I should be able to stop this post and my squirrel cage thinking with that sentence.  NOT MY DOING.  The end.  Easier said than done. While I have espoused for years the mantra of “what other people think of me is none of my business,” and I believe it, the fact of the matter is that when people take actions based upon their erroneous beliefs, the results can be devastating.

While my kids and I came out smelling like roses, there were about 36 hours of complete and utter terror in my house last week.  No one needs that in their lives, but it was especially traumatizing to us since we are all still trying to recover from the trauma of Brian’s death.  I won’t get into the specifics about it because to lend power to the events would be to lend  power to the instigators, but the details don’t matter so much to the lesson.  I will say this – one of the most painful parts of the whole thing is knowing that this egregious assault on character and lifestyle came from people who could have and most certainly should have spoken to me first, rather than making asinine, unfounded assumptions and acting out of misconstrued truths.

At any given point, the instigators of this horrible week could have spoken to me about their concerns, asked questions, voiced their opinions (not that their opinion would have swayed me one iota,) and asked for clarity and / or more information.  These people chose not to do that.  They chose instead to gossip amongst each other, gathering hearsay data and mixing it with their own judgements, and jump to ghastly inaccurate conclusions.  The result?  My children and I were hurt and traumatized and have taken the actions necessary to prevent ourselves from further injury.  The result for them?  They don’t get to be a part of our lives.  Honestly, I think we got the better end of the deal.  When someone shows you who they truly are, believe them.

Satya and Ahimsa.  Speak the truth and do no harm.  We need to talk to one another instead of talking about one another.  In this situation, everyone hurts.  Had there been open and honest communication, we could have all been saved some pain.  Sadly, the other parties involved chose to hide behind other people and sneak around like thieves in the night to fulfill their agenda.  I won’t lie – there were days when I wanted to lash out and retaliate against these people for the agony they caused and the fearful distrust they have created in me and my children.  I’m human.  I wanted them to hurt as badly as they hurt me, I wanted them to feel the slap of betrayal as clearly as we have.  I wanted them to suffer, but (gratefully) I have learned to give things time and space so that I can act instead of react.  As I write this, my feelings at this moment are those of pity for them (and, admittedly, righteous indignation,)  but also pride in myself and my children, in our ability to see through the fog, in our ability to stop playing the dreaded “Telephone Game” of our youth and go straight to the source, and in our ability to make the choices that are best for us and the lives we want to lead.

Talk to each other.  Speak the truth.  Do no harm.

It’s really that easy.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

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It’s been a long time since I have written.  I have been struggling with getting my thoughts together. Hell, I have been struggling to get myself together! Sometimes life just gets away from me and I get lost in the shuffle.  Lately I have been running 90 to nothing and feeling like I haven’t been getting anything done.  Is that a grief thing?  A life thing?  An ADD thing? A depression thing?  An age thing?  I don’t know for sure, but I’m certain that it’s definitely a thing.

The 9 months since Brian died has been a total roller coaster.  Just when things seem to get easier, something comes up and knocks us all back down.  Not as far down as we have been, of course, but it’s still a fall. I can say with all honesty and without a doubt that this experience has been the most powerful and educational experience of my life.  I have learned so much about life, about death, about other people, but mostly about myself.  The biggest lesson I have learned is this: I am not Superwoman.

I have been fiercely independent my entire adult life.  I still am.  I am the woman who will fix her own plumbing, carry in all the groceries in one trip, work on my own household projects, open my own doors, pay my own way, etc.  Asking for help is almost impossible for me – it’s just not in my makeup.  My parents tell the story of taking me out on a boat with friends when I was three years old.  The adults were waterskiing and, at one point, I attempted to jump into the water screaming, “MY TURN!” When I was 8 months pregnant with my oldest child, my husband came home to find that I had not only assembled all of the nursery furniture, but had also rearranged our bedroom by myself.  I have painted houses, built fences, moved furniture, held a breastfeeding baby with one hand while plunging a clogged toilet with the other, and superglued my finger back together after I cut it to the bone, but I’ve learned that, as much as I wish I could, there are some things I cannot do.

I cannot process grief or love by myself.

I cannot heal my depression, anxiety, panic, or lack of focus by myself.

I cannot be both mother and father by myself.

I cannot pretend that I’m not a nervous wreck every moment of the day by myself.

I cannot pretend.  Period.

I cannot take care of my children and myself 24/7/365 completely by myself.

I need help.  I hate that I need help.  I mean, I really hate it.  It goes against everything I have ever believed about myself, but it’s my truth now.  I need friends and family to help me with the kids.  I need therapy and medication and meditation to help with my emotional and mental health.  I need to be heard and understood as I process this new life I’m trying to create.  I don’t want any of these things, but I need them and I have learned how to ask for them. Okay, it’s more accurate to say that I am learning how to ask for them.   When I do ask, I am given what I need.  It’s a whole new kind of DIY lesson, but I’m trying. 

Who is this bitch, anyway?

Circle

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When I was 18, I fell in love with a guy who was 21.  We spent a wonderful summer together and it was brilliant.  Things happened that summer, however, that changed who we both were.  Towards the end of that “committed relationship,” he wrote me a letter as I was visiting my father out of state.  The end of the letter said, “If you ever wonder how I feel about you, listen to Edie.  She says it all.”  (sidebar: it’s been nearly 20 years since that summer and he and I are still friends.)

Ahhhh, the Circle.  Nothing’s good enough for anybody else, it seems.  We notice you don’t come around.

To say that my life has changed in the past year is a wild understatement.  EVERYTHING has changed.  Recently, my older brother came to visit and he was here for a couple of weeks.  He told me (and others) that he had to get to know his new sister.  I had to chew on that awhile.  Am I a new person?  Or is it possible that I am the same person I have always been, but *I* am  now visible again after all these years because, well, because “BrianandSarah” is no more?

I have discovered that I am either one of two things to almost everyone I know: I am either exactly the same as I have always been, or I am totally different.  The fact of the matter is that neither of those statements are true.  There was a time in my life where I only listened to punk music.  There was a time in my life where I only listened to country.  Okay, that’s a total lie – I have never ONLY listened to country, but certainly listened mainly to country (always classic stuff or underground stuff – never radio stuff.)   There was also a time in which I wouldn’t do anything if it wasn’t totally organic, natural, hippie-dippie stuff.  And, yes, there was a time when I disavowed television and all screen time.  All of those times were just that: times.  Times pass.

The truth of the matter is that, in the wee dark hours of the morning, I would occasionally find myself missing the gal who didn’t go fishing, who would have rather blasted death metal than listen to crickets, who took care of her business and, once that was taken care of, took a ride.  I have always wanted adventure and excitement and to live out loud.  Now that I’m doing it, however, I’m seeing that some folks don’t recognize me.   I get it.  I am just learning to recognize myself again.  It’s a process.  It’s a circle.  And, honestly, there was a part of me that didn’t come around anymore.  She’s starting to show up again.  She has to.  SHE HAS TO.  And she’d like to be welcomed back by someone other than herself.

I think this is the part of yoga that is so wonderful and so difficult.  When you’re on your mat, there is NO WHERE TO HIDE.  All of you comes up and slaps you right in the face.  You have to see it.  You have to acknowledge it.  You might be sweating because you’ve done 17 Surya Namaskar B’s in a row, but what you’re sweating out isn’t just salt water – it’s the salty truth.  We can either choose to notice our circle and spin around and around, or …. well, we’re going to spin whether we acknowledge it or not, but it’s our choice to take the ride with eyes open or eyes closed, and it’s our choice to step off the ride and not come around here anymore.

I’m still here.  I might be on a different arc of the circle than you’re used to seeing, but I promise you – it’s my circle, and I’m coming back around again.

 

The Power of White

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When I was a kid in school, I was in special classes for “gifted” kids.  I always have hated that term.  Aren’t we all gifted?  Anyway, in these courses, I was given the opportunity to do incredible things.  I wrote two “books” before I was in Jr High School, attended court cases, took trips to botanical gardens, got out of regular classes to do hands on learning, and was able to meet some wonderful professionals.  When I was in 7th grade, I had an experienced that changed my life.  At the time, I had no idea how powerful it would be (who knows these things when they are 13?) but I have never forgotten it.  One spring Saturday, my “gifted” group and the similar groups from other schools piled into the auditorium and listened to an author speak about the writing process.  He spoke at length and answered questions and, honestly, I don’t remember very much except the one thing that has guided my life: “You must conquer the power of white.”

Before you go getting all steamed in your bloomers, this has nothing to do with race or color or anything other than writing.  You have to remember, I’m older than dirt.  When this event happened, people didn’t write on computers.  Most folks wrote on a word processor or even, gasp, on paper with a pencil or pen!  What the author was talking about was the terror, the complete and total block that comes when you sit down in front of a white sheet of paper and suddenly cannot think of a single word to write.  The whiteness, the purity, the blank sheet is too overwhelming and everything that you might think about writing starts to seem wildly inane and insignificant, so you sit there drooling on yourself like an idiot and get nothing done.  The white has won.

His suggestion? Get the paper dirty.  Scribble on it.  Spill something on it.  Smudge it.  Do anything – ANYTHING – to destroy the power of white.  When it’s not so blank, things start to happen.  It’s the same as waking up in the morning to a blanket of pure white thick fresh fallen snow.  You want to go out and play in it (okay, I never do, but I hear that most people want to,) and yet you don’t want to ruin the perfectness of it.  A perfectly frosted cake.  A pristinely made bed. A perfectly wonderful life, a perfectly profound grief.  They all can become all you see and the fear of changing it, even a tiny bit, is horrifying.  Adding humanity to it, adding life to it, adding (or subtracting)  ANYTHING to it risks fucking it up irreparably.

It’s been quite awhile since I have written and I couldn’t find out why I was struggling to get words onto the page.  I stated something along those lines on my FB status and got some insightful responses.  The one that struck me most profoundly, however, came in the form of a private message from a friend who suggested that maybe I am not sure what to write about now, how much of my own life to include in the story, is because I have been so very bold and open with my grief and my process and, now that it is taking on a different color, I’m feeling the need to protect it.  My life now has it’s own power of white.

Last time I wrote, I mentioned that I am now in a relationship with a wonderful man.  The feedback from that has been interesting, to say the least.  Most people who say anything at all to me about it are INCREDIBLY supportive and excited.  Many of my friends and family members have met him and it’s clear to them that this is a good thing.  It’s very clear to us that this is a good thing.  That said, there are several people out there (quite likely more than I know,) who are not so thrilled with this turn of events, who feel that it is disrespectful of Brian or of our marriage or whatever.  I realize that, for a long time, I was more terrified of what other people would say or think than how I would feel.  That, my dears, is utter bullshit.   Their feelings are their story.  My feelings are mine.  I’m the one who gets to scribble on my page so I can overcome the fear of writing a new story.  I took a breath, took a chance, and scribbled like mad and, guess what?  My story has a new plot, a wonderful, exciting, sincere, honest, compassionate plot that doesn’t dismiss my story with Brian, but has added onto it.  My story is still being written.  Had I not taken the chance, had I not scribbled, I’d still be dying daily while sitting on my couch.  I did that for months and months and months.  Brian wouldn’t have wanted that.  My kids didn’t want that.  *I* didn’t want that, but it was happening.  I messed up that perfectly blank sheet of grief and somehow, a story of life started to unfold.  I stopped dying on the couch and started, slowly, to live again.

I have been picking up additional yoga classes as the other teachers at Yoga Sol are vacationing.  Getting back into a more active teaching role has helped me scribble on my yoga page as well.  After Brian died, everything I did was colored by my loss.  It is absolutely impossible to avoid that.  Fortunately, it worked well for me and it made my teaching more … profound?  Intense? Real?  I don’t know what to call it, but for a long time it was even more of an extension of me as it has always been.  As I began to heal (and I’ll be healing for the rest of my life,) however, it started to feel like I was stuck.  Again, the power of white was blocking me.  I was too comfortable with the blanket of grief teaching and it became all I could see, even though it didn’t fit anymore.  One day, I did something I hadn’t done since Brian died: I ended the class with the singing bowl and a chant.  I scribbled on my class and, oh how the story started to pour out!  I have been doing yoga for more than half of my life and I have taken just about every kind of class you can imagine, but it was suddenly like I was a beginner again.  Beginner’s mind, yo.  Everything was new and wonderful and exciting and vibrant.  The grief hadn’t gone away, but suddenly there was the opportunity for much more than grief!  I think the same thing applies to all yoga students.  It might not be grief they are experiencing, it might just be complacency, or even incredible bliss, but if nothing ever changes, nothing ever changes.  I have had the pleasure of having new students in my class recently.  Yesterday, a lovely yogini arrived to my Flying Friday class and confessed that she had attempted to come the week prior, but got scared before she walked in and left without taking the class.  White white white white white.  Yesterday, she stayed, she took the class, scribbled al over her mat, and started to bloom into a million colors.

We can get blinded and paralyzed by extreme joy, extreme grief, extreme pain, extreme ambivalence.  It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks – it’s their story they are writing, not yours.  Only you can write your story, but you have to write it.  You have to take a chance, mess up the page, conquer the power of white, and get it out there. You never know how wonderful it will be unless you start letting it pour out onto your own page. Let it have colors.  Let it have adventure.  Let it have flavor and texture. Let it have music (I’m fond of the mandolin.) Let it be bold or timid, but let it be.  Don’t hide behind the power of white, get out there and start scribbling and be amazed at your own brilliance!

The Night the Rice Went Out in CoMO: How yoga taught me to wake up and get some freaking sleep.

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Okay, so I was going to embed a video of the song “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” but all that popped up at first was Reba McIntyre’s version with her lovely but weird jaw thing and then a bunch of losers saying it is a Tanya Tucker song and then way down at the bottom was Vicki Lawrence and I swear, if you don’t know it’s actually  Vicki Lawrence who did it originally and who deserves to be at the very top, well, I just don’t know what to think.  So, when in doubt, trust Julia Sugarbaker to bring it on home. 

Moving on…

Like most Americans, I had a love affair with sleep when I was younger.  I was in my early to mid teens when I finally dragged my sorry behind out of bed one day and declared that “Sleep is my friend and I like to visit it as often as I possibly can.” Little did I know that my visits would be fewer and further between until one day they would almost disappear all together.

A lot of things changed in my life as I aged and matured.  My hair and my waist grew thicker, my arms and my beliefs grew stronger, I became kinder and less rigid, and I stopped smoking, screaming, and I stopped sleeping.  Yep, I stopped sleeping.  What was once easy and assumed in my life became my biggest trauma – I developed a severe crippling case of insomnia in my mid-twenties. It started mildly enough: I’d fall asleep easily and wake a couple of times in the middle of the night for 15 or 20 minutes.  Then the spaces between waking up and going back to sleep got longer and longer.  There would be days when I would sleep fine and others where I wouldn’t sleep at all, but there was always an issue. For years and years.  I tried everything – yes, everything: no caffein, no sugar, walks, baths, melatonin, teas, yoga (!!!!!,) meditation, accupressure, Benadryl, NyQuil, sleep aids, Valium, Ambien, chanting, hynosis, massage, the works.  Things would work for a week or so, but even then they didn’t work completely.  It was awful.  Imagine it – we’re talking about 10 years of not having a good night’s sleep. Zombie bitch, that’s me!   For most of these years, there was something nagging at the back of mind telling me that there was a better way to fix this.  Something was telling me that if I made a change, everything else would change, too, but I ignored it.

Sometimes I can be really dense.

About a month ago things got to a point where I wasn’t functioning.  I was struggling to teach.  I was struggling to parent.  I was struggling to do anything.  I would be driving around and feel stoned out of my mind.  I’d end up in places I had no intention of driving.  Just … out of it.  I was a mess, but life goes on, you know?  I kept on keeping on and trusted that something would happen.  And then, one day, something really fucked up happened and it changed everything.

I was in Savasana after my home practice one day and I truly heard something say, “It’s not what you do, it’s what you eat.”  I’m telling you, sleep deprivation does some crazy shit to a person.  I dismissed it until a couple of days later when the exact same thing happened. “It’s not what you do, it’s what you eat.”  I desperately looked around for Shoeless Joe Jackson.

No baseball players arrived on my mat.  sigh.

It happened one more time and, as daft as I can be, even I don’t ignore the power of three.  I started paying attention.  On the nights I had the worst time sleeping, I could look back on the day prior and notice what I ate.  I’d like to say it was clear to me what the problem was, but I can’t.  The log wasn’t perfectly clear, but something kept telling me to cut the grains from my diet.  ALL grains, not just gluten. All of them – rice, oats, barley, wheat, EVERYTHING.  No pasta, no crackers, no chips, no rice, no breads, nothing.  I don’t know why this made sense to me, I don’t know why I was getting this message, I don’t know why it was so urgent and clear and insistent, but it was.  My yoga practice has taught me to listen to myself.  To trust myself.  That greater, higher things speak to me through myself, so I better listen up.  And I did. Finally.

Almost 2 weeks ago, I cut ALL grains from my diet.  Cold turkey.  Gone.  I have replaced rice and even pizza crusts with cauliflower (gross, right? I thought so, too, but you can do AMAZING things with cauli.) I do eat quinoa because it is a seed and I have even ground that to make “flour” for binding bean burgers, etc.  Eggplant and zucchini make incredible “pasta.” Lettuce or Kale leaves make the perfect “bread” for sandwiches.  Anything you’d put in a wrap can be put on a fork. It has been easy for me to do this, which makes me think it’s the right path.  What makes me KNOW it’s the right path for me is that I haven’t used a sleep aid in 2 weeks and I have been sleeping deeply, soundly, uninterruptedly, for at least 6 hours straight a night for the last 10 days.  6 hours might not seem like enough to you, but remember, I was going on 2!  Not only that, but I feel like I’m going to soon be able to sleep longer.  My dreams are vivid and reassuring, empowering, healing, entertaining. They are fun!

There has been another benefit from all of this.  If I can’t eat grains, I also can’t eat 99.9% of all convenience or fast foods.  I am eating almost exclusively whole foods made in my kitchen.  No cans or boxes.  It’s fresh.  It’s healthy.  It’s real and it shows.  My skin is clearer, my hair is even longer and thicker (sorry,) and the ridges are starting to leave my fingernails.  I didn’t realize this side effect until yesterday. My family went camping Tuesday night and I ate a bratwurst that we had grilled over the fire.  Tasted great, no problem.  Yesterday, however, I had the most blinding headache I’ve had in a long time – it was because of the processed bratwurst!  Eye opening, for sure.  When I put it all together, I laughed and laughed and laughed.  It’s hilarious to me that I was eating all that junk all those years and not only did they make me crazy, they made me sick and I didn’t even know it.

While yoga alone wasn’t enough to cure my insomnia, it was a key point in it.  Yoga brought me to the place where I could see the way out, just like it always does.  Yoga isn’t the light, y’all.  Yoga is the road that LEADS to the light.  Had it not been for my practice, I’d be sitting here drooling on myself in exhaustion.  Because of my practice, I am awake, alert, and aware.  Oh I am aware!  Yoga built it and awareness came and you can bet that tonight, when the lights go out, I’ll be just fine.

Namaste

IMPORTANT: This is just my experience.  I don’t know if you need to stop eating grains.  I don’t even know why it works for me!  Please please please don’t change anything you’re doing just because some wingnut (me) on a blog said that she stopped eating spaghetti and can now sleep.  And also insert all that other stuff that medical disclaimers state.