Friday, June 20, 2014


So, this is the year of the horse in Chinese astrology, right? Big changes supposed to happen for lots of us. Very unpredictable energy, so we've got to just hang on. But I'm not feeling big changes - I'm just feeling weirdness.

Is weirdness a type of big change? Maybe.

Colden had his first all-day field trip today, down to an amusement park in Lake George. It's not a short ride - Lake George is a good 90 minutes from school. That's a long ride for a bus full of kindergarteners and first-graders.

And of course, the anxious mind in me starts freaking out: what if he gets hurt? What if there's an accident on the northway? What if, what if, what if?

Part of me wants to tether my little boy to my side for the rest of my natural life to keep him safe, but there's another part of me that wants to push him out, to encourage him to see the world in all of its beauty and diversity. I want him to understand that life is all about the experience, but at the same time, my Momma Bear instincts want to keep him close.

Then there was last night and my inability to fall asleep, despite the fact that I was absolutely exhausted. Believe me, I tried EVERYTHING, but I couldn't calm my racing heart enough or relax my body until well after 2:30 a.m.

At 5:30, I heard my husband calling me: "Jen! It's 5:30! Get up!"

I was torn between wanting to stay in bed, my head resting comfortably in the puddle of drool on my pillow, and wanting to get up and kill my husband.

I got up, but my husband is still alive. (Thankfully.)

This is just how it's been for me this year, how my life has been. Daily activities interrupted by strange curve balls and things over which I have absolutely no control, forcing me to find ways to work around them and still maintain a level head.

Now that I've taught this morning's yoga class and procured a container of incredible lunch-y goodness in the form of spanikopita from the local natural foods store, I am headed down for a quick nap before I go pick up the rugrat from school. I know he's going to be hot, cranky, covered in bug dope and sunscreen, and probably tired from the day's adventure. But at least I feel like whatever happens with him this afternoon, I can handle it.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Not a Happy Post

I woke up to some unexpected news this morning. My best friends' father passed away over the weekend. I've known these two since the 8th grade in Catholic school, when we had to wear those stupid uniforms with plaid skirts and synthetic-fiber vests and knee socks with ugly shoes.

It made me aware that there is a growing number of my schoolmates who are now part of the "one surviving parent" club.

This is the part where we watch our parents die.

My mom died 6 years ago this July. And I think there are times when the tragedy of her life is still too much for me to think about.

I wore a piece of her jewelry today, a quartz crystal wrapped in wire and hung from a chain. It gave me a small comfort, a connection, a tiny bit of hope.

And I feel completely helpless as I sit and watch my schoolmates and friends go through the same thing. Our parents are growing old and leaving us.

It's the normal order of things, of course, but that doesn't make it any easier.

Some of us will have to deal with estates, nursing homes, assisted living, hospice, attorneys... Because that's just how things work.

So as we sit and keep watch through these life transitions, I wonder: in our 40-odd years on this planet, what have we learned? Have we learned anything at all, really?

What are we doing for our kids? What are we leaving for them?

What kind of experience are they going to have when it's their turn to watch us die?

I can't say that I've known this all along, but what I know to be true tonight is that all we have is this moment.

This breath.

These eyes.

This soul.

And nothing else...none of it...really matters, anyway. All that we have, truly, is this.


And I was lucky enough tonight to have a safe place to go to sit with all of this that was swirling through the chaos of my mind, a place where I could go and let the tears come along with the fear and the other hard stuff. I had a place where I could go and just let it all go.

We identify so much with our parents. We feel as though they will be there forever, because they have been there forever, right? So when they just suddenly...disappear...what's left?

Just this.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Mirror

Yesterday, I started teaching a new yoga class - all on my own, outside of the studio in Keene where I like to teach. It was this lovely little arts theater that's literally a five minute walk down the hill from my house.

The last time I was there, the upstairs space in this theater wasn't "finished", and they were using it as a room for art workshops. This time, it was apparent that the arts organization that owns the theater had made improvements and turned it into a dance studio, complete with bars along the walls, and - ugh - mirrors.

Right before I got pregnant with Colden, I did bellydance with a friend once a week, and it was great fun. And I really didn't mind looking in the mirrors. Usually, I was so focused on trying to make my body move the right way that what I saw in the mirror didn't bother me.

But then I was pregnant and had an 11 lb. 2 oz. baby and a c-section and my body just changed. Every inch of it, inside and out, was not the same as it was before. And we all know how easy it is to deal with change, right?

One of the things about yoga is that I love how it's all about the way you FEEL, and not so much about the way you look. I can't stand hot yoga or Bikram that's done in front of mirrors. For me, anyway, it's just so distracting to look into the mirror when I'm trying to focus on my breath and keep my eyes closed and find stillness all at the same time.

So I kinda freaked out when I saw the damn mirrors in this space. Ugh. I was worried that the students for this class would freak out, too, so I tried my best to keep us facing AWAY from the mirrors.

About 3/4 of the way through class, while demonstrating a standing pose, it happened. I caught sight of myself in the mirror, and I totally freaked out. All I could see was belly and butt - and they were huge! Enormous! Nothing at all like what I imagine I look like when I close my eyes and settle in to a pose.

When I'm practicing at any one of my other favorite studios, I don't have to worry about what I look like. I make the adjustments to my body as I feel them, I close my eyes, I come back to the sound and rhythm of my breath, and I FEEL my poses.

In my mind, I feel strong. I feel light.

I looked neither strong nor light when I looked at myself in the mirror that day.

I tried to laugh it off - ha ha!, I said. I said this was a good time to close your eyes and turn your attention inward so you wouldn't have to look in the mirror.

But I was surprised at what came up out of me, all the negativity, and the discontent, bordering on hate for my body.

Where the hell did THAT come from, I wondered.

Here I am, thinking that I'm so comfortable in my own skin for the first time in ages that I can swear SPANDEX! (Didja happen to catch the flying pigs that day when I wiggled into my first pair of Spandex yoga leggings?) I haven't been obsessed with my weight or with my clothing size or any of that crap. I felt graceful and light and strong, and...

All of that flew out the window when I saw myself leading that class.

I thought about maybe bringing sheets with me for the next time we have class there, so I can cover up the mirrors.

But, no. On second thought, this is going to be my practice from now on. If I'm going to be okay with how I look, it means that I have to be okay with what I think when I look at myself. I need to look at myself - on so many levels - and change that dialogue.

So, the mirrors stay. Uncovered. And we'll see what they uncover next.