Where’s your happy place?

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We’ve all been there.  You wake up in the morning and feel somewhat stiff and sore.  The Flu?  A cold coming on?  Some kind of illness that you’re sure will keep you from leaving your bedroom all day, let alone your home.  Your mind starts to clear from the hazy slumber you just woke up from and then you remember.  YOGA!!

I was going to become a yoga guru in the new year.  My resolution – become more in tuned with my body while nourishing it through the ancient art of yoga.  Great idea?  Yes, I thought so!

In my mind, Yoga was stretching and a light, relaxing form of exercise.  I could wear something fashionable and cute and not even break a sweat while getting into amazingly sculpted shape.  It would benefit both my mind and body.  And, my friend and I could not wait to get started.  One of my bestie’s and I signed up for a 10 week beginners yoga course.  It was all set for Saturday mornings.  Ten in a row.  We’d be fit and fabulous in no time at all.

We agreed to start the first Saturday of the New Year.  Oops.  That was Superbowl weekend.  OK, we’d start the 2nd weekend.  After all, what was one more weekend of indulgence after a long holiday season with no regard to nutrition or health whatsoever?

So off I went on the designated start day.  I drove to the trendy yoga studio, feeling quite smug, looking around at the other drivers on the road at this early morning hour on a weekend.  I wondered where they were going.  Well, they weren’t going to yoga like I was.  Ha!  One point for me!

I walked in with my fancy, new, Costco discount yoga mat slung around my back like all the young girls I saw.  I was ready to get my Yoga on.  I had beat my friend to the class so I signed in with the bright pen that was decorated with a big daisy on the end of it.  Very groovy!   I turned and headed towards the sheer fabric panels that I saw hanging from the ceiling.  They acted as a divider between the front reception area and the actual studio.  I walked through them and entered the studio area.

Looking around, I noticed that the room was not as big as I imagined it would be.  It was actually a little tight on space.  There were yoga mats laying all over the place in random order.  The air smelled warm and damp from the previous class that had just got done.  I turned towards the back of the room and found a space in the corner of the crowded room. I unrolled my mat and plopped down on it.  I saved the space next to me for my friend who had still not arrived.  Everyone around me was stretching and warming up.  I decided to do the same.  The girl next to me was sitting crossed legged and bending over her thighs.  She was folded  almost in half, so low that her forehead almost touched the ground.  OK!  I’ll do that, too.  I mimicked my neighbors position and tried to bend down. I didn’t get very far.  I don’t even think I got halfway down.  I was stuck in an almost 90 Degree angle.  I used to be so flexible.  When did this happen? 

I heard my friend’s voice as she entered the studio and waved her over to me.  We were next to each other on our mats, looking around at all the others bending their lithe figures this way and that.  We decided to just chat about how great we looked in our new workout gear until the instructor got started.  Don’t we look great?!  Yes, we do! 

The instructor walked in, dimmed the lights low and got started.  The people all around me had their socks off to prevent slippage.  I kept mine on.  I had not thought ahead.  If I took my socks off everyone would see my 2 month old pedicure that had grown out almost midway to the tips of my toes.  It was chipping and peeling.  Who knew anyone besides my hubby would be seeing my toes during the snowy, winter months?  Mental note: get pedicure before next class. 

We warmed up with a few easy poses.  OK!  simple.  I could handle this.  No sweat!  But after about 10 minutes, things started to get a bit sticky.  We were bending ourselves in all kind of unnatural positions.  We were doing planks.  And, doing Ab work.  My abs had not had a relationship with an exercise, well, since I had my kids 20 years earlier.  I was starting to sweat.  I could see the perspiration droplets starting to show through my new, trendy workout gear. The instructor had earlier told us to work with our eyes closed and at our own pace.  I opened mine and peeked over at my friend.  She was dabbing the sweat off of her brow, too…  dab dab dab.. The instructor caught me looking around the room and reiterated that nobody should worry about anybody else’s performance level.  But how could I not notice and be amazed at the little skinny thing in front of me.  She had her ankle behind her neck.  Good Lord, It was like something straight out of Ripley’s Believe it or Not.  I looked at my friend again and she was silently mouthing something to me…. these poses are humanly unnatural…  I nodded and agreed.  I could hear pops from different parts of my body and prayed that I wouldn’t throw anything out of joint.

After 55 minutes of putting our poor, out of shape bodies through torture and hell, we finally got to the cool down.

Ahhhh.  Now this I could handle.  Granted, we were just lying there sweaty on the mats – silently.  Eyes closed, hands at our sides, palms facing upwards.  My heartbeat began to return to normal.  My sweating slowed down from a steady flow to a little drip. The instructors soothing voice washed over us.  There was quiet music playing in the background, swirling around my brain.  I had actually become relaxed.  I had gone from challenging my body like it had not been challenged in a long time to extreme relaxation.  All in a matter of five minutes.    As the entire class lay there silently she made us aware of all of our senses.  Moving from one muscle group to the next.  It felt like heaven.  In a way, it was spiritual.  She told us to let our breathing return to normal. To concentrate only on going to a place in our hearts and mind that made us happy.  A beach.  A recent or long ago vacation.  A memory.  It could be anywhere.  Or with anyone.

I was sitting on a large tourist bus in a seat next to my mom.  We were perched up high over the road.  Traveling through the countryside of Italy on our way to Rome.  We were traveling with a choir group from one of my girlfriend’s church. She had invited us to come along.  There were extra seats available. It was my Mom’s and My first trip to Italy.  A place where we had both always wanted to go.  And, we did.  My mind remembered that the choir on the bus was singing.  They were practicing the hymns and church songs that they were going to sing in Churches along the way.  It was beautiful.  My memory shifted over to my My mom and I looking out the window at the rolling hills of Tuscany.  We saw tall trees all around us.  Those tall, pine-like ones that are so familiar to the Italian region.  The ones I had seen in books and magazines all of my life.  The houses were different.  Stucco with tiled roofs.  There was livestock, mostly sheep, roaming around.  Our bus chugged along silently through the countryside over the hills.  It looked simple. And lovely.  My mom and I were talking all along the way.  We were sitting arm in arm.  And, we were laughing.  Remembering experiences from the night before in Florence.  A restaurant that stayed opened for us during the traditional Italian siesta time.  The opened bottle of Limoncello sitting on our table  Bottle’s of Italian red wine.  Our new friends sitting across from us.  We did not know them before we boarded the plane in Chicago.  Now?  We were close with them.  And, traveling across central Europe with them.  A bond had been formed.   It was soothing and it was the happy place that my heart had gone to for that moment…..

 

And then, suddenly, the instructor invaded my happy place.  I was back in the present.  With my dear yoga buddy next to me.  We were told to sit in an upright position and show the sign of thankfulness.  Hands held in front of you.  In a praying position. She told us to take with us something good for the rest of the day.  Something that will make us shine, inside and out.  To remember why we had come in the first place.  Why we had walked through the door.  That we were there for a reason and not out of randomness.  And, she was right.

We had made a pact to better our minds and body in the new year.  And now that I had been through the challenges of the first class and the spirituality of the cool down, I knew this was the place for me.  I wanted to come back again.  And, again.

 

Namasté

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Until death do us part

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It’s Tuesday morning.  It’s been my norm for years and years to get up early.  Very early.  Usually between 4:30 – 5am.  Since I decided to retire early – last December – I’ve gotten into the habit of sleeping in late.  Well, late for me.  I usually wake up around 7am.  This was alarming to me at first.  I felt shame and guilt.  I felt lazy.  As my Mom used to say to me, “half the day is gone!”  It must be an Irish thing.  She used to get up early.  For as long as I can remember, she was up before the sunrise.   She would have half of her housework done by 7am.  But, I’ve gotten used to the luxury of sleeping in “late.”

So, its morning.  I’m having coffee.  I’m sitting at my kitchen counter and looking at a blank, white screen in front of my sleepy eyes.  My blog is calling to me. It pulls me in.  But for the past few months I’ve had a sort of writers block.  Clark says I’m forcing it – that when I’m ready to write again, it will come naturally.  Like it always has.  And, he’s right.

Brian – my youngest son – has said to me in the past that when I don’t have anything to write about, perhaps it’s because I have not been doing anything “write worthy”.  He’s observant.  I believe this to be the case of my self-proclaimed block.

 

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I could chalk it up to the transition of summer into fall if I really needed a scapegoat.  The changing of the seasons.  The fault could be laid at the heels of that happy sad place we find ourselves in when saying goodbye to one season and welcoming in the next.  I always feel a little bit melancholy as the seasons change.   And when I’m melancholy, I tend to take a break from writing.  Oh, the changing seasons is a cycle of life that I love – one that I really do not think I could live without witnessing year in and out, but still, it’s a constant reminder of how fast time goes.  The seasons speed by.  You blink your eyes and time flies.  Really, it would be unusual to go through an entire Summer without hearing at least a dozen times…that old familiar phrase..”I can’t believe the Summer is almost over!”  And it’s true.  It’s always a shock to see how fast it went by and how the next season has miraculously arrived without you noticing that it snuck up on you.

But, there it is.  Fresh and new.  A new beginning. A new cycle.  A new Season.   A fresh start.  With all the promise and excitement of what lies ahead for you.  New resolutions. New untapped energy.  Come on New Season…I’m ready!

 

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However, If I am going to be honest, my writer’s block could most likely be chalked up to the Clark Factor.  My better half tends to be around the house more than he used to be.  Right now he is upstairs snoozing.  He took the day off.  In all honesty, he takes a lot of time off of work these days.  He is somewhat semi retired.  He usually golf’s on the days he is not working, but I had a mini empty-Nester melt down last week and accused him of not wanting to spend time with me.  Suddenly, this week he decided to spend his time off with me rather than hitting the links with his golf buddies.  Coincidence?  Nah, I don’t think so.  But, I didn’t fight it.  I decided to soak in the attention and enjoy spending some quality one on one time with my Hubs!  YaY!!

Booo!!  By noon on the first day that we spent together,  I was wondering what in the world I was thinking when I practically bullied him into spending his day off with me rather than the guys.  In theory, I was going to love having him around!!  Hurray!! Us time!!   In reality, it didn’t quite work out that way.  He was in my space.  All.Day.Long.  It’s not that he was actually doing anything wrong – I just had not realized how much I liked my days to myself and my routine kept in place.  I didn’t want to spend my day running to the hardware store with him.  Or, dropping him off at the car dealership to get his car looked at.  I didn’t want to eat lunch at 10:30am or watch the financial station on TV all morning.  Or worse yet, watch golf on TV.  And, when we went to the grocery store together, it took some getting used to watching him plow the cart down the center of the aisle and getting into some sort of freakish road rage event with the other shoppers.  *Holy Cow!!*

By 3pm that day, I started to suspect that he was purposely trying to tick me off so I would beg him to please.. please, for the sake of our marriage…go golfing!!!  And, I did.  I told him to go golf with his friends.  He was happier,  I was happier.  I realized that having him around gave me an odd sense of feeling all out of whack.

Slowly (and Thank Goodness!!)  eventually he reverted back to his old ways.  I once again became a (happy) golf widow.  And more importantly, I was able to write again.  He still hangs around somewhat in the early mornings before he heads out for his day with the guys, but that’s a compromise I can live with. 

So now, these days when I am happily alone at home and carrying on with my usual routine, I wonder about what full retirement will be like.  How do retiree’s do it?  How do they learn to live together all day long without driving each other crazy??  Is it something that simply takes getting used to?  And if so, how long is the transition period?

I Love My Hubs!!  He’s my better half and my soul-mate and for better or worse, he’s my best friend!!  Until Death Do us part!!!  But, I pull my hair out when he’s around all day.  I feel like I’m losing my ever-lovin’ mind!!  I can not be the only one who goes nuts when your loved one suddenly decides to spend the day with you.  Can I?


 

 

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