My Inner Worlds
One year ago I ran across a review on Goodreads of “Our Earthquake Experience: We Will Rise Again” compiled by Shannon Robak and written by the children of Maitidevi Boarding School in Nepal. I purchased the book that same day, even though it is only offered in print format. I exclusively buy electronic books because of a marital ultimatum on how much space I’m allowed for my library. Due to the handwritten nature of this book, a Kindle version isn’t feasible. So it’s now one of the few hard copy books I own—at least until I let someone borrow it and then they pass it on to yet another friend.
Today I decided to enjoy this pre-Thanksgiving weather and finish reading the accounts of the older children in the school. One of the twelve-year-old girls wrote that she wants to be a doctor. Her story is one of the longest in the book, and she focuses on the people around her and the deaths that occurred. She even talks about things a doctor would (body parts, but I don’t want to get gross), reminding me of my sister who is now a doctor of emergency medicine and loved to show us graphic pictures of diseases that normal people would never want to see. (I love you, Lisa!)
I didn’t realize I was obsessed with earthquakes until Matt mentioned not everyone subscribes to the USGS Earthquake Notification Service , a handy tool to stay up-to-date on the latest earthquake locations and magnitudes via email alerts. A friend of mine introduced me to this resource back in 2003, and I’ve been a subscriber ever since.
Tomorrow the United States partakes in a tradition of thankfulness. I am grateful that my family and I are blessed with safety and security. I'm also grateful that I have never actually been in a large-magnitude earthquake.
This year Matt and I have taken Thanksgiving week off to recharge and recalibrate. I’ve canceled all my recurring activities and appointments to more effectively reset my inner landscape. Leaving the familiar can help us find something new, yet subtle, that we would normally overlook in the busy activities we create for ourselves. And I’m great at creating activity. My challenge now is to be still, to be mindful.
One of the projects I’ve wanted to get back to is scanning old family photos. Three years ago I began digitizing boxes of photos my parents had stored in their basement for over a generation. It’s neat to go back in time and imagine what life was like before even my parents were born. The oldest photo I’ve found thus far is of my maternal great-great grandmother. I haven’t touched those photo boxes in two years, and I miss dipping my fingers in that ancestral heritage.
This photo is my earliest Thanksgiving memory. My mom dressed me as a pilgrim when I was three years old, and I posed with my great grandmother before the family feast. I don’t think I remember the actual day, but I do remember my fourth Thanksgiving. I felt confusion because Mom didn’t put me in my pilgrim outfit. I associated the holiday with dress-up, not realizing I had outgrown my costume from the year before.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and followers.
It’s been nine weeks since my last official check-in regarding my yoga practice. I’ve learned that the summer months allow for more time at the studio because my job gives me flexibility during that season. Now that year-end approaches, my work demands my attention. By the time January 1 rolls around, almost all my waking hours will be devoted to my vocation. It sucks, but I love my job and the slow summers make up for winter’s hard work.
I’ve just pulled back from five classes per week at Raleigh Yoga Company to only three. I’ll practice Yin at home as my schedule allows, but I can’t do Bikram without the hot room and an instructor taking me through the twenty-six poses. The past several weeks have been difficult to make all five classes, so I’m practicing kindness to myself and setting more realistic expectations.
Yesterday’s Advanced Hot Yin class with Laura Frey was incredible. There were two other yogis present besides me, and I enjoy practicing with them. Sometimes having space in the room allows for a more connected class. To be honest, being in a crowded hot room with people I’ve not practiced with can feel claustrophobic. Once I get to know a person’s energy, I’m fine the next time we’re together. With a full room it’s unavoidable to not touch your neighbor in certain postures, so it’s nice if you know the person whose arm you just smacked or whose mat you’re sweating on. And yes, I have sweated on a stranger’s mat before and felt mortified for having my face resting on his towel for a five minute posture. Frog pose forces intimacy with one’s neighbor, and I only hope my fellow yogis understand.
My knees are healing and strengthening. While the right knee can usually tolerate what I ask it to do, the left still needs care and modified forms. I’ve found that I don’t like wearing high-heeled shoes to work anymore, which disappoints me. I like the look of heels, but my knees and back can’t stand the way they force my body into unnatural alignment.
Bottom line: I’m learning that my yoga practice will go in cycles and that I can’t hit it as hard as I did in the beginning. I’ve also learned that my body is slowly strengthening and opening, allowing me to do more advanced work. The final thing I’ve learned is that I can successfully do Yin yoga at home, despite the dogs barking or Matt making noise. My years of building a focused mental environment are paying off and helping me embrace Yin. The more the mind shuts off during the postures, the greater the benefit. I look forward to seeing how I feel next June at my one-year anniversary.
Today would have been my grandmother’s one-hundredth birthday. Dad reminded me of the century mark this morning during his “wellness email,” the daily communication that lets three of us daughters know he is awake and safe, which we insisted upon when our mom moved into an Alzheimer’s residence.
Grandma Webb was a mystery to me. Quiet, unassuming until you sparked her anger (i.e. young Sarah not wanting to take a nap until Grandma scared her into staying in bed for the required hour), not sharing her emotions. Grandma was renowned for her lemon meringue pies, and the family looked forward to dinners (desserts!) at her home. The times she made chocolate meringue pies were heaven to me.
When I was fourteen Grandma presented each of her seven grandchildren with an afghan she knit herself, in colors representing the birth month for each of us. I didn’t like the colors of my afghan at the time, but I felt grateful for the present. When I became an adult and lost Grandma, I treasured that memento of her love. I use it every day to snuggle with the dogs on our living room couch as I read or watch TV with Matt. After warming five dogs over the course of twenty-four years, it’s needed some repairs to close holes made by puppies who don’t understand Grandma’s afghan can’t be replaced.
I honor my ancestors and am glad to have known all four of my grandparents. Not everyone has the opportunity to learn that quirks and characteristics are passed down generation to generation, either through DNA or environment. Grandma was a quiet woman, and my dad is a quiet man. I used to be quiet, but really can’t call myself that anymore (must not run in my genetic code).
Happy birthday, Grandma. May the candle I light for you shine wherever you now call home.