My Inner Worlds
John Denver’s song never made much sense to me when I was younger. At one point someone mentioned the high was from drugs, but I didn’t grow up in an environment that explained drugs and didn’t understand the connection. My family listened to John Denver because the lyrics were clean and safe for our conservative home.
Now that I’ve been in the Rocky Mountains for over 24 hours, I understand what John referred to—altitude sickness. I’m weathering it better than Matt is, but I still have to catch my breath if I walk too quickly while wearing my backpack. Last night I woke in a panic unable to breathe, but after realizing it was just the lower oxygen level creating that feeling in my body, I fell back asleep. Matt barely slept and isn’t handling the high very well.
This morning we drove down to Longmont to meet a friend for lunch at Sakura Japanese Cuisine (amazing food and wonderful owners). We were amazed at the difference in mental clarity and the ability to breathe. Estes Park, Colorado lies 7,500 feet above sea level. Longmont is at 5,000 feet. My precious husband and I are used to oxygen levels found at an elevation of 315 feet—a huge difference.
We are supposed to hike in the morning with another friend. I’ve already warned her that we need to enjoy a nature walk or a mild hike. Matt thinks we can handle a real hike, but I’m not so sure. Maybe I’ll get to post pictures of one of us fallen to the dirt trail or having to be fed oxygen in the back of an ambulance.
Four years ago we successfully climbed the Alamos Vista Trail near Santa Fe, New Mexico, a hike that began at 10,000 feet above the sea and ended at 11,100 feet. So what has changed? Does age make that much of a difference? Are we really that out of shape compared to our 44-year-old selves? My goodness, but this makes me rethink my lifestyle choices. I work at a desk (and love my job), I write in a comfy chair, I play Dungeons and Dragons once a month—again in my comfy chair. And I practice yoga two to three times a week. Possibly I don’t have enough cardio in my physical activity.
Tune in post-vacation to see how I mix it up exercise-wise. Something has to change if Matt and I are going to hike Machu Picchu next spring. We have seven months to kick it into gear so we aren’t passing out in the Andes.
Before my morning yoga class I found seven feathers in the parking lot. I gathered them with care and gratitude. Feathers often come to me, and I see each as a gift from the unseen world. I treasure them all and keep them in a special blown glass vase. Since my heart is filled with blessings and thankfulness, I’d like to share that energy.
One year ago I began my yoga practice at Raleigh Yoga Company and have transformed my body and mind into something I wouldn’t have imagined back then. I’m far from where I want my physical and spiritual forms to be, but I’m on a path that works for me.
One year ago I also began writing this blog, starting the journey to find my voice and let myself be seen and heard. It’s been scary, and I’ve had to struggle with the whisper in my head that tells me I’m not good enough, I’m not clever or interesting enough, or—you get it. Each of us has a voice or two that says different things depending on who we are and what we want to become, but the effect is the same. We can listen to it and not break through our imagined limitations, or we can fly free and see the world through new eyes.
Almost six years ago Matt and I started hosting a monthly gaming day with a group of friends I’ve grown to cherish. Not only has our friendship blossomed and intertwined among the five of us, role-playing Dungeons and Dragons characters has helped me break out of the Sarah construct and explore new ways of expressing who I am and who I can become.
Ten years ago Matt and I traveled for the first time to the United Kingdom and Ireland with two of our dear friends. Since that initial voyage, the four of us have traveled twice more to those magical lands. We are now planning our next trip, to hopefully occur in spring 2019 to the mystical site of Machu Picchu.
These are four of the gifts for which I’m grateful, yet I found seven feathers. Does that mean I have three more beautiful things coming into my world? I certainly hope so.
Thank you for being part of my journey. May the feathers that bless me also bless you and your path in life.
Tomorrow marks 48 years of my breathing this planet’s air, consuming nutrition grown on its land, and hydrating from the vast water supply on the sphere we call home. It also marks the day when I honor the call I’ve avoided for the past several years. My creative nature must rise from the hidden dark corner where I stuffed it in my first decade on Earth. I use logic and reason to restrain its growth and expression, and guess what? Like any neglected child, it now has issues and requires family therapy.
When Matt and I signed up for a series of personal integration workshops this spring and summer, I knew changes would happen. Why would we invest in flying to Phoenix, AZ not once, but three times if we didn’t think there would be benefit? Our first training module occurred in mid-April and flattened me for an entire week. I could barely think and felt extreme exhaustion. The second week I felt better physically, but all the trauma and distress I thought I’d dealt with from my childhood came back. Not just to revisit the old material—oh no, I got to see new stuff. You know, the second season has to outdo the first or else the audience will get bored and no longer watch the show. I remembered more blocked experiences and had to process them. I woke from a dream last Friday morning that left me unable to eat much of anything the entire day. I’ll spare you the details. By Saturday I felt better and thought I had processed what the dream meant.
However, today I woke feeling ill because yesterday I did everything “old Sarah” would have done to hide from her feelings. I completely skipped meditation, yoga, and bodywork, while indulging in food, wine, and binge-reading fiction (which ironically was about a grown woman who remembered she was raped as a girl—even in my escape, I can’t escape). I’m tired of avoiding my power, my creative nature, my gift to those who are meant to read what I want to say or write in whatever form it manifests.
Yesterday was a taste of the life I’m trying to leave. I don’t want to be numb anymore. So my gift to myself is to stop running and hiding. Running away doesn’t work, and I’m only making myself and those I care about miserable. I have a structure in place to face my inner self and allow her to shine through the visage I allow the world to see. Do you like the conceptual art that aligns nicely with how I see that inner light?
Dear Tia left her physical body one week ago this morning. It’s hard to reconcile the loss when I sense her presence almost every day. Not everyone believes in life after death, or if they do, they may not have the sensitivity to know their loved one is near. I’m grateful to have that sense of knowing who from the other side may be around, whether it’s my grandmother or my beloved animal companion.
This week has been easier than I anticipated, yet harder in some respects. Aden, the baby brother, lost his pervasive happiness two nights ago and deeply grieved. Matt and I are okay with our own sadness, but seeing a child experience loss for the first time is unbearable. Aden’s smile is ever-present, like he can’t help his mouth hanging open in a goofy grin. However, nothing we did or said gave him any respite from not having his sister with him on the couch. He wouldn’t eat. He sniffed the edges of our duvet where Tia would sneak a nap in the warm luxury of Mom’s bedding, and we could feel his confusion, almost anger, that Tia wasn’t with him. Then he just settled on the couch in an unhappy lump of unmoving sadness where we unsuccessfully tried to cheer him.
His demeanor changed yesterday back to the bright boy we know and love. When I drove up to the house after work, Aden jubilantly raced down the front stairs and ran to my car as I parked. The problem? Our children aren’t allowed outside by themselves. From my peripheral vision I saw Gypsy, our escape artist, madly running down the street towards me. She was a block away, yet her instincts know when Mom is near. I laughed to see Aden so happy and back to his joyous self, captured my errant daughter, and checked on my husband.
Matt was lying in bed, drenched in sadness, and had no idea how our back gate had become unlatched. No dog could open it—I can barely force it open most of the time. To help break Matt’s mood, we went out for sushi, one of his favorite foods, and then watched a three-hour movie (not my preferred activity).
When we arrived home after our spontaneous date night, I opened the door and greeted Gypsy and Aden, while automatically looking to the corner where Tia would have been. I started crying, surprised that I had forgotten she would no longer occupy that space.
We’re one week out. Tears and sadness are normal. But I want the grief to be over. It’s much easier to comfort others than it is to comfort myself. Being in the moment and fully present with my feelings is not pleasant. There is no alleviating the pain except through time. The tenet of Yin yoga is holding an uncomfortable position for a period of time. While I have a physical Yin practice at the studio, I now have a real-life scenario where I get to practice Yin in an emotional place.
I’m grateful for my life—the good, the pleasant, the yuk. It’s this blend that makes me who I am today and creates the potential for a most incredible future me.
Today Matt and I celebrated twenty-five years of marriage with two naps, yoga, meditation, writing, and dinner at my favorite restaurant Cowfish. We planned a low-key day because our gift to one another was being debt-free. For the first time in our married life, we owe no one money. It’s a cool way to memorialize our first quarter of a century together. And in the universe’s supportive style, the title to my car arrived in this afternoon’s mail.
Registration for an integration workshop in Arizona opened up this weekend, and we are set to explore our inner selves more deeply in 2018. Matt has some big professional plans that should unfold over the next several months, and we are excited to experience the change that it will bring into our world. I want to get back into writing fiction, but that resurrection can’t occur until my workload lifts in February. Before anything, though…yoga. Straying from my yoga practice since early November has shown me how much my body needs the regular sweating, stretching, and connective tissue care. That has to come first in my decisions on what I will transform in this new phase of our lives.
Here’s to a happier, healthier, and more integrated year for all of us.
Technically, it’s half a snow day since my office opens at noon. Also, I could work from home, so I really don’t get a snow day. But I’ve taken this morning's hint from nature and slowed down. When the weather shuts down a city (as a dusting will do in the Southeast), it’s wise to also take a moment or two to go inside and see what’s happening.
My body has been whimpering for yoga. The past couple of months have been my busy time at work, so my yoga practice has suffered. I’ve accepted this is the natural flow of the year for me, for as long as I have my current job. Since I love my job, I’m accepting the cycle of church accounting life.
Enter snow day. My yoga mat unrolled itself in my exercise room. My Yin props floated to the floor from the corner where they have gathered dust for weeks. And I enjoyed over an hour of quiet, except for listening to my body telling me that all the progress I made with six solid months of yoga practice will be for naught if I don’t have a plan for a semi-practice during the winter months. Either my yoga instructor sees me regularly, or my chiropractor does. I’d rather spend my time and money at the studio because I feel awesome every time I leave.
As I write I’m eating a hot breakfast, not my usual fare during the week. Taking the opportunity to leave routine is fun. Now I have to figure out if it’s safe for me to drive on this road…
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.