Yoga love, my yoga love

Yes, I’m singing “Baby love” by The Supremes while typing this, and YES, I know. Another post about my love for yoga? Yep. Because last night in yoga, well, it was amazing. A-maz-ing.

No one else in class could hear me silently cheering for myself as I did not one, not two, but three things I had never been able to do before. I wanted to stop the class and say “Look what I can do!!”. And I was in Savasana, I was already taking mental notes for this blog post. And thinking about how things in my life have changed so much in the past 2 and a half years since I began this journey that I never ever ever thought I would.

This practice has taken me from overweight to fit, from insecure to confident, from anxiety to (mostly) calm. Oh I still worry about stuff I can’t control, and have moments of complete freak out, but I also don’t stay in that space for long. I’ve learned to control what I can and let go of what I can’t.

I know a lot of non-yoga people get sooooooo sick of hearing yoga people talk about how great it is. But has anyone stopped to realize they’re singing yogas praises for a good reason?? It’s a body, mind and soul transformation. Not a lot of things can claim all three. I have a few runner friends who feel that way about running. I tried running. I know I can run, which is something I never thought I’d say either. But I had too many injuries and not a deep-in-my-soul love for it. So I get runner love. I hope they can appreciate my yoga love.

And in an effort to remain honest about my practice, yes I almost did fall over last night in a pose I’ve done a hundred thousand times. And I also know why. Because in that moment, that second, my mind drifted and I wasn’t focused. Of course I laughed with Julie because, well, hello? I almost fell over! But after I regained my balance and was realizing what I did wrong, it occurred to me that so many things in our lives are just like that pose and potential fall.

How many times have you lost focus in what you are doing? Things are going well, maybe you start to feel like you can coast a little instead of furiously pedaling, and then you start to swerve. Your resolve starts to waiver and you quickly get jolted back to what can happen if you lose that concentration. Hopefully you can correct your thinking and start again toward your goal. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a hard fall to see that you’ve totally lost your previous determination and it takes a scraped knee or elbow to see how far you fell.

This could be with anything: exercise, diet, anger, dating, addiction, career, kids, spouse, anything. Anything you are trying to change about yourself to make you a better you. Change isn’t easy. There is resistance, sometimes from others who don’t want to see you change, but most of the time, the resistance is right between your own ears. We think things of ourselves that we would never say outloud or to another person. We allow our bad thinking to take over and self sabotage our progress. “I’ll never lose that much weight” or “I’ll never get that promotion” or “I’ll never find someone who will treat me better. I deserve what I’m getting” or “I can have just one (or two or five) and no one will know.” We SAY these things to ourselves!! ACK!

What yoga has taught me is that what happens outside of my mat has nothing to do with me and if I focus on myself and what I can do, nothing can stop me. I can look inside and praise my little victories, even if no one else does. It’s MY victory after all. I can look at how far I’ve come and not be bogged down by how much further I have to go. I can control my mind, my actions, my day by how I respond to my own thinking. Basically, I can get out of my own way.

And by getting out of my own way, I’ve empowered myself. Even if I have a swerve. Or I lose concentration for a second. The more I practice, the stronger I am. The more you have people around you, supporting you, understanding what you’re doing and going through, the easier it is to acknowledge the slip and get right back up. And LEARN from it. Isn’t that what life is all about anyway?

yoga love

Yoga – The Life Changer

I have written about my no-longer-new love of yoga before. But every once in awhile, I have a class where certain things fall into place. I just love when that happens and how something I did to change my outside has transformed my inside.

I can’t tell you the date of my very first class. It isn’t engraved on some healing stone sitting on my bedside table. I’m positive I could ask my Yogi to look it up for me and I could have some sort of anniversary date. I could get it tattooed on my inner wrist to remind myself of the day I took back my life. All I can tell you is that the strides I have made are pretty remarkable when I think back to that first class.

I’ve shared some of this before; I couldn’t even touch my toes, the warm-up was as much “exercise” as I had done in years and I was preeeeeetty sure I was going to pass out within the first 20 minutes. I was sweating from head to toe, and I thought, there is simply NO WAY I was going to be able to do this for an hour.

Guess what? I did it for an hour. It wasn’t pretty, graceful or even in the ball park of proper form. But I stuck it out. And the best part of all? I. Came. Back.

So here we are, now, today, and I have been blessed in so many other ways than just going to a class. I have made friends. I could call them 24/7 if I needed something and I know they would be there for me. I have deepened my friendship with the one who got me there in the first place. She will forever and ever hold a place in my heart and I credit her for giving me the push I needed. I’m pretty sure we would all get kicked out of any other yoga class, as we lay there in savasana and laugh and talk.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post and the thought that occured to me during savasana during our last class. (yes, everything that preceded this paragraph was just the warm up. Sit back, grab your coffee and keep reading.)

As we go through our sun salutations (which by the way, are not so killer anymore and I WOW do I look forward to starting them. Yo has been changing them up some and it’s AWESOME!) she will instruct us to “step forward in to a forward fold”. As we keep going through them, she will say “step or hop to the front in to a forward fold”. I always step. Always. Through all of our sun salutations, always step. So I decided, what the hell. Let’s try to hop. So when we progressed from stepping to step or hop, I hopped. I didn’t come crashing down and the Earth didn’t stop revolving. I simply hopped forward. Hands on the ground, both legs off the ground. Hop. And then I did it again. And again. Through the entire class, each time Yo said to step or hop, I hopped.

Now, I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal. So what? You hopped forward 2-3 feet. Really? This is worthy of a blog post? Yes. Yes it is. Because 80 pounds ago, there was NO WAY these feet would be leaving the ground at the same time. Are you kidding? My arms would’ve crumbled from the sheer weight. But that’s not even the point. My point is that no matter what, you can continue to grow and learn as you push yourself and try to do something you didn’t think you could do. Step OUT of your comfort zone. Step OUT of your own mind that is holding you back.

The second incident is what else happened. We tried a new pose and guess what happened? I fell. On. My. Ass. Fell down.

We started in chair, lowered even further and raised up on to our tip toes. Ok, as if that isn’t challenging enough, we then twisted so left elbow was across right knee. Um yea. Anyone who knows me knows my knees suck. They pop, crack and generally have caused me annoyance for most of my life. I remember being at mass at St. Paul and I would kneel down and my knees would pop so loudly that they echoed through the church.

So there were, on our tip toes, crouched down AND twisted and next thing I know, I’m on the ground. Which goes back to my previous point…..step out of your comfort zone. Try something you don’t think you could do. Because one of two things will happen: You will do it and overcome or you will fall on your ass. Which just means you try again. You gather your courage, take a deep breath in and kick your ego to the door. And you try it. Maybe you have to try 50 times. It might take trying 51 to get it.

So keep trying. Step. Have the courage to try. And keep trying. Because you’re worth it, your life is worth it.



Control. Who ME??

I’ve been wrestling with and dealing with ideas and issues of control over the past few days. Well, longer than that I suppose, but a few things have come up in the past week that really brought it to the forefront. Two specific situations and I would love your feedback on what you think. So feel free to pipe in!

First let me start off by saying one of the first things we learn in Al Anon is that we only have control over ourselves. We can not an alcoholic anymore than we can control the sunrise. This is very true and also very very hard to grasp. We think to ourselves that if only I (insert your choice here: try harder, love more, get mad, take away affection, look through email, drive by where I think s/he may be, on and on) that it will get them to change their behavior. That in itself is a sickness. It becomes an obsession of what am I going to do to change this person. It doesn’t work that way.

Too many times in a relationship, we become so enmeshed with the other person we tend to lose ourselves. We start to think only about “us” and not as separate people. We allow others to look at the behavior of one as a reflection of both. Isn’t it strange how this works with addiction but not other diseases? If a spouse has cancer, it’s not a reflection of the healthy spouse. There is sympathy and empathy and help offered. Maybe addiction is such an anomaly that others outside the family don’t know how to respond? But I digress (as usual! )

When someone becomes so focused on controlling the other person in a relationship, whether addiction is in play or not, that they can’t see what they are doing in their own lives, it becomes dangerous. Delusional. Lost. Only when you can truly come to terms with the fact that you can only yourself that things can begin to change. Strange, right? When you learn to take control over your own life, your own dreams, your own future, that’s when true change begins. True change. And guess what also happens? The other person in your relationship is then free to change too. Or not. But it’s their choice. And that alone is one of the most freeing aspects of letting go of that control you held on to so tightly. When your partner sees change in you, and I’m talking real change, not manipulation, they have a few decisions to make of their own. They can continue to do what they’ve been doing or they themselves can decide to change.

There’s an empowerment that comes with letting go of the control over someone else. You get to decide what you will tolerate and what you won’t. You get to decide if you want to live the way you are or if you want something different. If you want something different, you are in control of your own life to make that change! Do you see how freeing it is? Stop controlling and get out of your own way! Life is too short to be unhappy.

control of life

The second part of this has nothing to do with addiction but much more about parenting and how things have changed in the past, um, few decades. This comes from a discussion over the past few weeks with Michael about Ryan. Ryan seems to have a problem with not texting us when he arrives some place. I know, shocking right? I’m sure he’s the only teenager who “forgets” to text his parents. But it was seriously driving me crazy. After everything that has happened the past 6 months, I think a simple text saying “I made it” or “I’m here” shouldn’t be difficult.

Yesterday I had a little epiphany. He was going to the zoo with his girlfriend. I asked him to text me when he got to her house and again when he got to the zoo. I didn’t think that was asking much. Guess who didn’t text me? Yep. So I texted him. “You get there ok?” No response. Tick. Tick. Tick. “Hello?” No response. Tick. Tick. Tick. So I texted the girlfriends mom. “Ryan make it there ok? I haven’t heard from him.” No response. Tick. Tick. Tick.

So by now you’ve probably guessed that I’m about .03 seconds away from calling hospitals, police, jail, wherever I need to in order to track down my son who I’m sure is laying dead or injured in a ditch and they were only able to reach the girlfriends mom who has now rushed to her daughters side and no thought to call me. Seriously, this is the way my sick mind works.

I finally get a text back from Ryan. “We were driving and just pulled into the zoo.” Ok. He’s alive. Close Google window with local hospital phone number listed. Breathe.

And then it hit me. Out of nowhere. What in the hell was I doing to myself? I got myself in that panic. I was trying to control a situation I really didn’t need to or should control. I started thinking about how when I was a 17 almost 18 year old. When I took my car and told my mom I was going to the zoo or the movies or wherever, I sure didn’t have a cell phone. I wasn’t texting her telling her I arrived at the movies ok. I was holding a device that allowed her to ping my exact location at any given time. I told her where I was going and she would tell me to have fun, be back by curfew and out the door I went. I don’t know for a fact, but I bet she wasn’t pacing the floor every minute I was gone. And look how I turned out!!!! (Ok, that made me laugh!) But why, just because we have this amazing technology, do I use that to try to control my almost adult child? Especially when it does nothing but frustrate me.

So I’m making a conscience effort to let go. He has a phone. He can call if something happens. I don’t need to track or ping or worry. Because I’m only driving myself further insane. I’m not saying he’s going to be given some free-for-all with no accountability. After all, it’s MY cell phone he has and it’s Michael’s car he’s been given with permission, and it’s OUR house rules he has to abide by, but I think I’m going to try, really really hard to not demand a text that I don’t get.

I’m giving up that control too. I can learn to unlearn that behavior. And just maybe, he’ll learn something too.


Hello Blog!

Oh how I’ve missed you! I haven’t written a new blog post in, well, for-ev-er! Life has a way of throwing curve balls just when you think the track couldn’t get any curvier. That’s when you strap in, hold on and find out what you’re really made of.

You also find out who is there and who isn’t when the dust has cleared somewhat. And that’s always surprising isn’t it?

I’m back from vacation. It was wonderful to be away for two weeks and enjoy the sunshine, palm trees and beachy air. We found places in Florida we love and it has confirmed our decision to move. The Florida life is what this girl needs. I think I can handle one more winter here, knowing it will be my last.

Our favorite 2 places were Punta Gorda and Venice. Punta Gorda is a completely different lifestyle as every house has a canal in the back with a boatdock. The canals lead to straight to the Gulf of Mexico. I mean, how amazing is that? Venice has two of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen and the town itself is small and has little shops lining the streets. It reminds me of Uptown Westerville and has a small town feel to it. I could picture being in either location and loving it.

The downside, I ate WAY too much on my two week hiatus and was shocked at the scale when I got back on the first morning. Nothing jump starts motivation than a backward step. I’ve been watching the calories and back to my work out routine (which in all honesty, did not suffer while I was gone. I did yoga, went on bike rides, long walks, but oh dear Lord did the diet go on the back back back burner!) and I’m happy to say I’m only 3 lbs away from where I was before vacation. I know I’ll get there and won’t make that mistake again!

I have my class reunion this weekend too and plugged into my calorie calculator how to lose 20 lbs by this Friday. It kept saying “error” so I yelled at it and put it away. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life!

Oh, and speaking of getting back into the groove of things, I went to my yoga class Saturday and for the first time ever, I “flipped my dog”. After all this time in yoga, I’ve been terrified to even try it. But I did on Saturday, figuring, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I fall? Ok. I fall. Who ever learns something from not falling and failing? But I didn’t fall! I’m sure it wasn’t the prettiest thing and I’m fairly certain I wasn’t doing it completely right, but I flipped and did it. That hand was reaching for the sky baby!

Some day I’ll blog about my hiatus and reach out to others about it, but for now, I’m back! The good, the bad and the ugly surround us all every day. It’s our reaction, and our perception and our ability to move forward in situations that brings us to our knees that defines who we are. And most of the time, when we’re on our knees, we’re there for a good reason. Stay there. Pray about it. Meditate about it. And you’ll be amazed at how you can once again get up and move on with new perspective.


Venice beach

Caution: Politics Ahead

I don’t write about politics hardly ever. It’s divisive, it’s a sure way to piss people off and well, I don’t particularly like getting into a screaming match with people. I’m just not that confrontational.

But I’m going to jump in here. Before I do, I want to make a point that I will continue to make along the way which is, I don’t care what political background you have. You respect me, I respect you. My opposing views don’t make me some extremist, tin-foil-hat wearing crazy person. My views do not make me racist or any other words ending with “ist” that you would like to plug in. Ok. With that out of the way…..

Tracy sent me a link the other day from a Salon article titled “My best friend is a Republican” and it went into how the writer was horrified that her BFF was a card carrying member of the RNC, complete with guns and religion. I read the article and giggled, because Tracy is not what I what call a “left wing whacko” (remember, no name calling!) but she is left of me. In reading that Salon article, it did provoke some issues and how even though we are so far apart in some ideologies, on most bullet points, I bet we aren’t as far apart as she thinks we are.

I am a church going, Christ believing girl. Tracy and I were both raised Catholic. She is an atheist now and tolerates my posts about going to church because she respects me and my beliefs. Doesn’t mean she agrees, but she loves me and knows that’s important to me. I don’t try to convert her. I’m sure she appreciates that. I don’t mail her bibles or send her scripture verses, even though I have seen a few I would love to send her that I’ve seen at Hobby Lobby (Gasp! The horror!)

I believe in the Constitution and smaller government. I do not believe the government needs their greedy hands in every situation in our country. We need them for our military and infrastructure. Build the roads, bridges and dams. Keep the best military in the world and treat our soldiers with the best care and highest regard we can. There should be no VA scandal because it shouldn’t be so big that oversight is near impossible. Cut the bureaucracy and improve care. Simplify the tax code. It just shouldn’t be that hard. Flat tax? Sounds like a great plan to me. Close loopholes that businesses like GE (just as an example) use to pay ZERO taxes. Really? That’s ok?

Keep the government out of my and everyone else’s bedroom. Marry who you love. Gay or straight, makes no difference to me. If you love someone and want to commit to that person, marry away! Be entitled to all benefits and tax breaks that go along with it. What’s that joke? Why should only straight people be miserable? (Or something like that) But the flip side of that is also this, the government should have no right to order a private business to do something against how they want to run their business. Ordering a bakery to make a wedding cake isn’t the business of the government. Go to a different bakery. If you own a bar and want to allow smoking, it’s your business, the government shouldn’t tell you you can’t do it. The free market will take care whether your business is successful or not. Don’t like the bakery that won’t make gay wedding cakes? Guess what? Don’t go there if you don’t like it. Don’t want to work in the bar with smoking allowed? Guess what? Don’t get a job there! Don’t patronize that establishment. See? Easy peasy! I’m just saying the government should stay out of it. Live and let live.

Which then brings me to the taboo subject of abortion. Tracy and I have gone round and round and round AND ROUND on this. It’s a tortured subject. It’s a no win with us, so we usually avoid it entirely. I will throw this out there though, and it’s something that has bothered me for years. How can someone who claims to be a Christian (all the atheists are off the hook on this one) be in support of abortion? I know, the hate mail is going to fly in. But I don’t get it. Nancy Pelosi (shudder) is a perfect example of this. Practicing Catholic, believes in abortion. They are as polar opposite as can be. Are you deciding what to pick and choose from your religion? You get to make that call? The tenants of the faith are pretty cut and dried for you. Would you admit to Pope Francis that you believe in abortion? (And I’m not condemning anyone who has had one. So don’t even go there.) I’m just saying your faith and the liberal point of view do not reconcile to me unless you have decided that you are able to pick and choose pieces and parts of your Catholic faith. Which means your following your own version of Catholicism, right?

So do all of these things make me some right wing lunatic? To some far left people, I guess it will. I think I’m pretty moderate. I’m a registered Independent. Not a member of the RNC or DNC. I pick candidates based on what they stand for, not a letter behind their name indicating some party affiliation. And yes, I actually study the candidates. How many people just vote straight party line and then are shocked when things don’t change? (Hello Detroit? Chicago?) How about investing as much time looking into the actual character of someone and see how their values align with yours? Do you want the government IN or OUT of your personal life, telling you how to live, taxing everything you can put your hands on (rain, wind, air and water will probably be next)

So while I can’t use the title “My best friend is a liberal” similar to the Salon article, we have WAAAAAY more in common than most people would think. And I don’t even have my tin-foil hat on today.


Addiction – The Family Secret

I really wanted to write about this subject today after giving it much thought. I hope I can be succinct and cohesive, but I am also asking for feedback if you would. That’s kind of the point of the blog post.

How many of you have an addict in your family? Any kind of addict. Alcohol, drugs (<– that was whispered like the mom in St. Elmo's Fire….lol), gambling, sex, shopping, eating….anything that causes a problem for the person and the family unit. I bet you do if you're honest with yourself. I bet there's the crazy Uncle you only have to deal with during the holidays because he drinks too much and gets obnoxious or starts telling dirty jokes around the 5 year old kid table. Or your sister who eats her entire meal telling everyone she's not really hungry, but then grabs some extras and hides in the bathroom finishing off another piece of cake plus 3 more rolls. Or the niece everyone thinks is perfect but has been secretly getting high every night and no one notices. What about the guy at work who can't turn down the next project/phone call/email/business trip/etc because he's afraid of not getting the next promotion or being valued enough?

Or maybe it's you. Can you stop drinking? What if you've never been told you have a "problem" before but now you're being asked to stop. Can you? "Well, **I** don't have the problem. My mom, well, SHE was the one hiding bottles through the house, not me. I can stop when I want." Uh huh. But do you? Can you go a month without drinking? Excess shopping? A little weed? A little pill? Working on a day off? What about exercise? Are you addicted to something "good" for you? Do you push it too far? Are you running 7 days a week? Should you?

Anyone who has dealt with an addict will tell you the above scenario is classic denial. There's always always ALWAYS someone worse off than the person you're talking to. Or an excuse for the behavior. And that's a convenient rationale to not admit your own problem. Yes, admitting you have a problem with (insert addiction here) is a first step. Admitting powerlessness over the addiction and that your life has become unmanageable. Step One in AA. And starting at Step One is always the best place to start. The whole one foot in front of the other thing, right?

But what is YOUR role in all of this? The non-addict family member. Do you cover for the gambling spouse who just spent your electric bill money at the craps table? Do you call in sick for the spouse who can't quite make it to work again this morning? Do you explain to your kids to stay away from Aunt Dee because she can't help but to act the way she does? What if it IS your kid? Do you cover and and hide and put on the happy face for the world to see?

Now I'm certainly not suggesting that everyone open up the four walls of their homes and let everything be a gawking free-for-all. Every home has its secrets that most are sure would be horrified if the outside world could look in and see during your most raw, emotional times. That's not what I'm getting at. I AM suggesting that addiction is so incredibly prevalent in our society, and that the old way of thinking is not what is healthy for the entire family. Talking about it, discussing it, sharing it, help to bring it out of the shadows where it can grow and fester. That helps take away that stigma that unfortunately still exists today.

Which brings me back to the non-addicts role. My role. Most of my readers know my husband is an alcoholic. I don't hide it. It's hard. It's difficult. I've written many blog posts about it. I'm active in an Al Anon group. It's been amazing to find that everything I thought I was dealing with alone, someone right down the street was dealing with too. And right around the corner. And all over the city, the state, the country, the world. But no one knows because everyone hides and covers. It's the family secret.

Here's a great saying in AA: "Nothing changes if nothing changes". Simple right? Simple and true. Changing the way WE act and will bring about change in US. Not others. Ourselves. It's a very empowering feeling when you truly start to put yourself first and change the way you think.

I wish I could get more people talking, and in doing that you could realize you aren't alone. You're family isn't the only one. And perhaps helping to shed some light on what is happening will also encourage the addict to seek support and help. Don't let another generation continue the cycle. There's a Step One in AA and in Al Anon. But there's more than one step. Keep moving, keep growing. You can do ANYTHING for a day. Today can be Day One in your life, whether you're the addict or just love someone who is.



Overwhelmingly Overwhelmed?

Have you ever just had a day, where you feel the weight of everyone else’s world on your shoulders? Where you don’t know where to look or who to help or what to do, so the easiest thing to do is close the curtains and pretend you aren’t home? Uh huh. You know you have.

And the thing is, it’s not one or two big things. It’s more a culmination of many many many MANY little things. Sprinkle in a few big bombshells and BOOM, that crushing feeling is upon you. Divorces, family members not speaking to other family members, (some family members just fine with never speaking to a certain other family member again), affairs, lost loves, bankruptcy, cancer, alcoholism, recovery, friends struggling with friends, friends struggling with family, lost friendships, lost spouses, lost pets, children sick, weight loss, weight gain, kids struggling in school, with friends, with peers, with boyfriends or girlfriends…..OMG, I could seriously go on longer and that’s just in the past week!!!!!

This is the overwhelming part for me. And I have cried on enough shoulders and vented enough to my family and friends that I owe them my shoulder in their time of need. At least my shoulder. A few of them need me to call the divorce lawyer and pack up that spouse and kick them out. A few need me to get a shovel and a rural (unfrozen) parcel of land and start digging, if ya know what I mean. The fixer in me wants to wave my magic wand, sprinkle some fairy dust and make those impossibly difficult, narcissistic, egomaniac, selfish people into decent normal human beings. But I can’t do that and watching them struggle with this idiotic spouse/friend/person can be overwhelming.

High school kids are hard enough to deal with on good days. When they get mean for the sake of being mean, and hurtful for the sake of being hurtful, what can you do as parent? Most of the time they don’t want you involved anyway. So it gets tricky sometimes. But when the meanness causes your child to weep, do you step in? When and how do friends become enemies? It’s sad and overwhelming.

No matter how hard you try to be optimistic, or looking for the silver lining, what do you do when it’s hard to find? For the parent who finds their child suffering, suggesting they look on the bright side seems callous. What bright side? But do you allow it to make you become withdrawn? Bitter? Angry at the world? Or do you try to be a friend and walk a tightrope of not knowing what to say? A friend found out her daughter has cancer. How do you comfort them, especially when she wants to push everyone away? I don’t know how to help. It’s heartbreaking and overwhelming.

So how do you handle it? No really, I’d love to know. For me, I’m thankful today is a barre day, because even thought my triceps are still sore from Tuesday, I’m gonna work the hell out of them today! It’s gonna be a “sweat dripping off my nose” kind of work out. I know that I can’t be the fix it person to anyone but me. I can lend an ear, a shoulder, support. But I can’t fix it. Great lesson learned in Al Anon is that I can only be in charge of me and my behavior. No one can change someone else. You can try, but then you’re just manipulating. You don’t want to do that, do you? Cuz that’s just not nice. So I’m going to try to focus on me and what I need (this is the year is ME, right?) and I’m going to go work out. And I’m going to remember this:

Just try to be a good person. That’s enough. ~~ The Dalai Lama