I have a question, and I would really love some feedback on this, my dear & sweet readers:
Is there such a thing as too much yoga?
In the last few weeks, I’ve been randomly asked how many hours I practice per day by numerous people. The answer, in case you’re curious, too, is: 3-4 (meditation and physical asanas). I want to meditate more, but right now it is between 20 and 40 minutes each day total (post-wake and pre-sleep sessions). I utilize the day care at the gym–my son enjoys his time there as much as I enjoy my 1.5-2 hours practicing. Then, I usually follow up at home for another hour to an hour and a half with certain poses I want to explore and track progress on while my child naps. In addition, I practice again when he is in bed for the night, often the shortest sessions of 30-45 minutes. Sprinkle in a few classes at local studios, and of course my ubiquitous beach yoga sessions, and I spend the majority of my free time doing yoga.
Is this too much? I still go about my other daily life activities. I don’t put off any essential responsibilities. The way I understand it is, I’m here in this new state with few friends, zero extended family, and a husband who often works long hours. If the option to hang out with people arises, I shorten or skip a session without a second thought. I don’t write as often, though. And I don’t run or play tennis. I haven’t been doing much css study, and I’ve permanently put my nano novel out of my mind.
So readers, I need some advice. Should I be reading more? Studying child rearing? Memorizing recipes? Cleaning the base boards more often? I don’t really know. I want to be a well-rounded person, and I’m either really excited or really afraid that I’m starting to identify as a yoga practitioner and structure my days around it.
I think I need to work on giving back to the world more. When I was working as a librarian, it was gratifying because I was working to further a societal institution. I’ve been volunteering in a library a couple of hours each week, but maybe that is not enough.
Related: I wonder if Betty Friedan would have done yoga if it was as accessible as it is today? I just finished reading this book, and it was fascinating!!
(I have been thinking about writing this post for quite a while.)
There are possibilities everywhere, and it is hard not to let the mind wander toward exciting uncharted territory. There are the possibilities we actively seek out, taking their shape in goals, cover letters, bruised wrists, and brazen moves out of state. Then there are the possibilities that we can only wish and pray into being. We all wished to win the lottery (it helps to buy a ticket though), we wish natural disasters don’t occur, we wish for lovely weather when our far away friends visit; and I wished that I said the right thing in the right conversation that would have landed an offer of employment.
The HR rep greeted me warmly, and reminded me to “just breathe,” which I brashly shrugged off.
I could have used another breath.
I sat down parched, then thankful to see paper cups of water in front of each place. As the deputy director was going over some initial details, I gratefully sipped my cup. It slowly dawned on me that, in fact, there was no paper cup of water for me. I had just touched my lips and tongue to the executive director’s cup. Burning with apologies, I tried to move on from my error as the interview trio politely shrugged it off. There was probably a way I could have recovered from that egregiousness, but whatever it could have been was beyond me. Those interview questions I should have practiced would have come in handy then.
I walked out of that interview more defeated than I’ve felt in a very long time. I wallowed for the evening, and the next day. I perked up here and there, convincing myself my errors really weren’t all that bad. But they were. Oh reader, they were heinous.
This was April 1. For many reasons that I hope to go into with another post, I joined an instagram yoga challenge. So when I finally got that email that said, “thanks, but no thanks,” I had something else to think about. It was a moment of unseen, though very deliberate, creation, and it has re-ignited my buried passion.
I’ve done more yoga in the last two months than I have in many years…maybe ever. It has helped me realize that job was not my dream job, it was just a job. Looking back, I see my hesitations.
Self-sabotage of the best sort.
How did that spark inside me that trained to be a yoga teacher five years ago get so obscured? It is a little strange for me to be on the cusp of the next decade of my life, and still not know precisely what my career will look like. But I’ve been opening to new possibilities that I never would have seen if I got this 9-5 job I lusted after. Teaching yoga. Getting a 2nd Masters. Going to the beach every beautiful day with my son. Volunteering with the troubled local school system. Going to France and to live in a little cottage by the sea. Meeting and celebrating my new niece this summer.
Anyways, I felt like I needed to document this episode of my life, and thank you for reading. It is reassuring to know there is no such thing as a dream job, for me, right now. That position for included zero discussion of creativity. And yoga, definitely no yoga in the job description. So I’m settling in for a summer of possibilities manifesting, and setting the stage for a happy next decade of my life.
Surely Hafiz can’t be wrong:
“This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.”
Sometimes I just want time to stop. Or at least slow down so I can savor the day’s moments before going on to the next one. The azaleas, camellias, spirea, Dutch iris, anemones, and redbud blooms that all peaked last week are already colorfully decorating the ground. I thought I had time to enjoy them before they gave way to their hearty green leaves.
Milestones don’t stop happening when you become an adult. There are times that we grown ups finally learn to let in understanding, forgiveness, happiness. Maybe it doesn’t happen all of the sudden (maybe it does). Lately, I think of growing up akin to the process of letting my muscles become loose enough to comfortably sit in hanumanasana. It is said that the human body is innately flexible, that under anesthesia a doctor can contort his patient into any shape; but, the conscious nervous system prevents us from touching our toes when we want to, or flopping into double pigeon before a proper warm up. Little by little as an adult, I am learning what it means to hold grudges, to allow toxic people to influence my life choices, to be genuinely happy for the (seemingly) stress free life my sister lives. As I come to these realizations, I wonder if my busyness (you know, the pull to the iPhones, the computer, the newspaper sitting unread on the kitchen table) has been interfering with my ability to grow as a human?
This is a lofty question, and I do not intend to solve it on a quiet Sunday evening. But I am making a resolve: Sundays will be the day I unplug. I’m going to leave my phone where I don’t look at it when I am unoccupied for 30 seconds. I will use my real cameras. I’m going to stop checking social media on Sundays, devote this day to my family, my self, and the calming of my mind for a week ahead.
Upward and onward, is how I try to think about life. But sometimes, you just want to stay in bed. To rewind time and relive the amazing day you had with your family. Go back to the age of 1.5 and take back all the times you refused to nap and line them all up for an epic lie in. I’m not a lazy person, but who doesn’t long to linger in savasana? With this time I dust together on Sundays, I might make a dent in the to be read pile that is higher than the nightstand, finish a pot of tea, reuse the leaves and drink a second pot. On Sundays, I will stop hurrying the dog through his morning routine, and I might finally pot all the plants that are rooting in glass jars along my windowsills. I’ll read more books to my son, keep reading aloud even when his attention fades after five minutes. On Sundays in savasana, I will let myself cross that visible barrier between consciousness and sleep. I might fold laundry too, but only if I feel like doing it mindfully. No folding laundry begrudging the amount of socks my family wears. I can resume my despair of sock matching on Monday, but Sunday should be a day of peace. A day of action within every moment of inaction.
Don’t you agree?
Things NaNoWriMo Taught Me
- I enjoy meticulously obsessing over the wording of each sentence and phrase.
- How to write a great quantity of words each day.
- That when I write in a hurry, I lose track of my plot.
- How much fun it is to get wrapped up in a story and characters of your own creation.
- The types of background noise that is acceptable. I particularly enjoy foreign background music, like this, this,and this; and of course, the elusive sound of silence.
- Research is half the battle.
- Procrastination isn’t as terrible as it is made out to be.
- I can do amazing things with an hour to myself in the middle of the day.
- Anne Lamott doesn’t know everything, and though it pains me to admit it, Ian McEwan isn’t perfect either. A writer is as good as his flaws.
- I think faster than I can type.
- Longhand is a great tool too.
- I enjoy non-fiction writing as much as fiction.
- The bed is a fine place to peck out some words, but a proper desk and chair, and preferably one without a cushion, is the best place for me to focus for long periods of time. Add a cup of coffee or tea and I could sit for hours.
- Getting outside to be among the trees is important for letting creativity loose. So is proper sleep, though a certain amount of fatigue elicits a certain amount of honesty.
I am a terrible
stay at homemother.
I just want to admit it publicly, because too many people think I have it all together and apparently it looks like I know what I’m doing. Sure, I take my wee boy to play groups, feed him nutritious vegetarian meals, encourage him to express himself at the frustrating age of one. We go for daily walks, read for the prescribed 25 minutes each day, identify colors, practice sign language, sing songs. But I get bored spending 12 hours with a toddler every day. I’ve minded him in his room while playing words with friends on my iphone hidden in my lap. I do not always test the temperature of his bath water before dipping his toes in. I’ve found dog hair in his mouth, in his snot, in his diaper. His favorite hang out is the dog’s crate, and I’ve caught him putting his face in the water bowl. I’ll turn his stroller forward facing so I can have time to myself on walks. I use babysitters for no reason other than to catch a yoga class, or go downtown to get drunk with my friends. I’ve eaten the last piece of burrata I know he’d love. My bathroom needs come first when we walk inside after a long day. He cried it out. He has not tasted bacon. I
secretly can’t wait until he wants to watch Sesame Street and doesn’t need my undivided attention.
Of course he is my joy, my beautiful son, and it is so rewarding spending my days with him, blah, blah, blah, but really, honestly……rare is the day I put him to bed and feel deeply fulfilled. I’m often overwhelmed and exhausted, even today, when I had 15 hours off in between shifts. It is this time, pecking away at my laptop, or the 30 minutes before this when I was on my yoga mat, that give me servings of self-hood. I genuinely enjoy being a mother, but most days are frenetic and full of haphazard attempts to entertain my capricious offspring. I was a great new mother, monitoring and observing every change to his tiny body. But he’s now five times his weight from his birth day, and we’re necessarily becoming more independent and less reliant on each other. He’ll always be a part of me, but not in the same sense he was when developing from a fetus to an infant, or an infant nourished by my breast milk. Most changes are gradual, but they’re visible to us mothers all at once since we see our children every day. I didn’t notice that his top 4 teeth were rupturing his gums until they were visible baby fangs. I used to rue being a “working mother” during his infancy because I was so afraid I’d miss a first. But the truth is, the first time something happens doesn’t have to be our official recognition of the event. The first time daddy saw him walk is a precious memory to my husband even though he’d been doing it all day. I feel like personal development is as important as time with my son now because we’ll get bored otherwise. He needs to see other faces than mine all day, lest I have a 29 year old living at home with me in as many years!
So when I write, or practice yoga, I regain my mother courage, to step away from my son and let him grow and learn about the world without me hovering above. Writing and yoga are chances for me to step back and look around, or look at myself inside. Everyone has their own definition of what makes them happy and there are many opinions on what constitutes a nurturing childhood. I think I am doing my very best to give my son what he needs. Sure he entertained himself on my ipad for 15 minutes after his bath tonight, but earlier today he looked at squid and jelly fish, touched a sea urchin, watched an underwater pumpkin carving contest. I’m not trying to justify my parenting deficiencies, just making sense of who I am and what I am capable of as a mother. I’m happy to bake some peanut butter banana muffins for our weekly play group (with coconut oil and South Carolina peanuts, of course), but I am not so sure I will be a rapt observer each soccer practice, and karate kick that I once assumed I had to be. There are all sorts of trendy labels people give their parenting style. Maybe my ever growing album of “baby-in-a” pictures (baby-in-a fountain, baby-in-a kitchen aid, baby-in-a purse, baby-in-a miniature Ferrari) could give rise to some witty name. Container parenting. Shifting boundary parenting. Senseless parenting?