InstaInspiration

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration. Where it comes from, how it waxes and wanes, the intensity of some moments when one just has to go write (or run, or dance, or sing). It is a funny thing, inspiration, and it can come from the most unlikely places sometimes. Like social media, and for me these days it is culled from: Instagram.

Towards the middle of February, my staled practice was galvanized into a new form when I stumbled across the different yoga challenges that take place on social media. It was a fortunate find, because I was suffering through bouts of seasonal sadness, and without friends and family around it was tough to stay positive some days. The challenges led me towards a deeper level of study and meaning when I saw all the beautiful yoga postures and wisdom coursing through my feed. Though most days I wake early and practice without struggle, the aspiration to full locust rouses me to it on the days I’d rather crawl under the covers with Mr. Murakami. Practice daily has become a mantra, and my virtual yoga community helps to keep me accountable.

Suddenly, out of no where it seemed, the inspired (me) became the inspirer (also me?!). photo

I moved away from pictures of formless landscapes and material acquisitions and have been putting my own form on display. Followers who I didn’t know gave my pictures a second glance began to comment about their attempts to incorporate more yoga into their lives.

Putting pictures of my Self onto the vast interwebs was hard for me in some ways, simple in others. When I was 20, my body was like a source of shame and the physical representation of a long buried sadness. In the years since, I’ve worked hard (some days and months I’ve needed to work harder than others) to move past my issues with the physical body.

But lately it has been effortless. A conscious choice to remove animal products from my diet (more on my new veganism another time…) has left me feeling calmer than I’ve ever felt, yet so energetic and full of hope. I’m proud of my more than five year progress with scorpion pose, and even though I can rarely hold it for more than half a minute, I am exhilarated by the strength of my muscles and my bones; I do not shrink away from the growth of my body–I am empowered by it.

For me, instagram ignited a circle of inspiration, inwards and outwards. Inside to myself, I reflect on my past, and celebrate my present. Outwardly, I share pictures of my asanas, not because I want to show off my body in a bikini or brag about my forearm stand, but because I want to acknowledge that I am happy, I am healthy, and I am dedicated to my yoga practice wherever I am in the world (right now South Carolina happens to be very hot). The encouragement I get from others inspires me back, and when people proudly tell me about their 30 minute practice on the beach, I am grateful that I am the one they want to share their accomplishment with. An ever broadening circle of inspiration.

I’m alone for much of my day. My son is still pre-verbal, and frankly I get pretty darn lonely. I post and comment on pictures throughout the day to keep myself company. I am wholly delighted that I am obsessed with yoga now, not calories, not shopping, and not comparing myself to others. I never care how many people like my pictures. My practice remains my own, and I always wait until I am done with my daily meditation and asana practice before shooting pictures. That they happen to add to the circle of inspiration that is the instagram yoga community pleases me greatly.


On Unseen & Deliberate Creation, or: A Highly New Age Way to Look at Rejection

(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.

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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.”


National Novel Writing Month

I did it! Just wanted to share my achievement here. 50,949 totally original, unusual, & mostly incoherent words. I really had to stretch it out towards the end, the last 4,500 words are essentially stream-of-consciousness. Maybe I was channeling my literary heroine, Virginia Woolf (maybe we’re related.)


What I Like, What I Need, What I Can Do Without

I got dressed this morning, quickly. In fact, for the last 10 months or so, it has been effortless to get dressed. Whether I’ve been dressing for a date night, work meeting, or a day of play with my son, I’ve somehow become low maintenance, and I can go from sound asleep to out the door in 15 minutes (including eating breakfast) if I must.

Leaving the fickle New England weather is hardly the reason I’m suddenly so easy to dress. No, its more of a self-realization and self-actualization.

It’s that I finally understand my style. Sure, it has taken me the better part of 29 years to know what I like, or if I’m just trying to fit in. I remember when Seven Jeans were really popular my freshman year of college. I went and bought the first pair I found that fit me. I wore them a few times, but I never felt confident in them, and that is the one thing that a really fantastic pair of jeans like sevens should impart. My silly self was about the label then, not the style or fit. But when I go shopping now, I don’t buy a dress just because it is my favorite color by my favorite designer. I don’t try to teeter on heels I can’t walk in, and can’t remember the last time I wore mascara. I don’t need pre-approved adornments to face the world anymore, and I do not feel my authentic self when I’ve masqueraded in others’ ideas of what is acceptable.

With all the leftover time I have now (usually sometimes my husband takes longer to get ready than me) I’ve been trying to observe the intangible aspects of my life through the same lens. I think it’s interesting how I have periods where I feel the need to acquire and possess (I once ransacked the house for one specific bag only to find out I left it at work), and then periods where I just want to strip life down to the barest elements. I’m sure I’ve gotten rid of at least 40% of my closet in in the last year. I’ve given away boxes and boxes of once sentimental clothing, and I ruthlessly throw away birthday cards, candid pictures, and travel souvenirs.

This weeding of my life materialism often mirrors my writing: I’ve written over 1,500 words to get to this point, but I’m only going to publish, 6, maybe 7 hundred words. Whether its words or sweaters, I have weeded out the fatuous, ineffective, and abstruse. I hate clutter, anywhere. Some may call me obsessive: I call it an attention to detail, a character trait I hope will transfer to my writing. I want to compose something fresh and beautiful out of the words that have been around for hundreds of years. I love to organize because I love to prioritize. I like having options, though I hate being overwhelmed–complicated by my insatiable appetite for vocabulary and new outfits. I would rather choose between two than 500. I’ve needed new cross-trainers for weeks now, but every time I go try to pick them out, I end up putting eight pairs in my cart because I can’t decide. I love it when I find a way to wear my favorite t-shirt of the Wave of Kanagawa in a new way; I love playing with words in the same way I used to like playing dress up (ok, I still play dress up for when I have important things like interviews and wedding parties).

The point is, my sweet readers, I feel like I’m closing in on my life’s essence. What I really need–physically and metaphysically. I understand my tastes. It has taken me years of teaching myself to enjoy olives, martinis, corn-on-the-cob, and jalapenos; it took me even longer to learn I have no use in my life for foundation and eyeliner, hot curlers, hi-lo skirts, and cheap jewelery. Words are–without a doubt–less objective, and its hard to know what will work when at what time, but I think I’m starting to hear the voice that is going to tell my stories.

My closet is still enormous. I definitely have more pairs of jeans than I’ll ever need (I’m currently eying these on another open tab), but I can fit at least 90% of my clothes in my one closet now. No more struggling to get duffel bags stuffed with sweaters (or summer dresses in winter) to fit under the bed. My husband even has his own to freely hang his suits. There is–gasp–unused storage space throughout the house.

Too bad I can’t store the extra words I’m not able to use there.


Do not read beauty magazines they will only make you feel ugly.

I know this was a trite adage in 1999.  Yet, 13 years later, I still love it.

I remember first hearing it in my junior year of high school.  I took very little of it to heart, even though I wanted to because I knew these were wise words.  But there were parts that I could not reconcile with my 16 year old view of the world.  My friends and I spent summers at the club trying to get tanner than each other.  My fair skin never could never keep up, so instead of thinking my sunburn would cause freckles, premature wrinkles, or cancer, I cheerfully endured it knowing it would yield a tan.

I was so silly when I was younger, thinking that the outer world would dictate the inner.  All those hours spent organizing my closet, lying in the sunshine, studying articles about how to get straight hair to curl, they were all such futile exercises!  Well, maybe not so much, since it is my penchant for order that helped me realize my professional aspirations towards librarianship.  But still.  All that precious time spent chasing dreams down a dead end.  All just distractions to release me from my swirling thoughts.  I never would have guessed it was motherhood that would bring a reprieve.

Fast forward to tonight.  I sat in the bathtub consciously relaxing.  There was a glass of wine nearby.  A couple of magazines.  Some candles too, but they weren’t lit.  I have only now finished my wine (two hours later) and the magazines…HA…they’ll probably only be read by the babysitter.  To relax tonight all I needed was the warm water and the quiet.  13 years ago (heck, two years ago) I required so many tools to calm myself down.  I used to beg for the inner peace necessary to drift off to sleep naturally when my body was tired.   Despite my best intentions the chatter inside was incessant.

Now I am responsible for this family of three.  It feels like I have exchanged my inner world of chaos and disorder for the present life of gratitude and peace.  The outer worlds have swapped too–the house is never going to be as perfect as I used to require it, and getting to bed before 10pm is practically superwoman.  It is a welcome trade.   It is so much easier to think living in this state near constant inner harmony.

These days my magazines lay untouched.  I floss.  I know this race I’m in is only with myself, and I will win no matter what.  I’m married.  I am my best self when I’ve stretched in the morning.    I have a son.  We dance!  I love and respect my mother.  I am friends with my sisters.  I’ve lived in the city, and in the country, and I know where I belong.  I am thankful.  I am happy.  I am at peace.

Oh, the sunscreen part?  I’m still working on that.  I think this year I’m finally going to put it on everyday no matter what, since I’ve finally found a potion that doesn’t sting: Chanel UV Essentiel SPF 50.


Courage

This week has necessitated a great deal of courage.  Contrary to how I appear at work and throughout my daily tasks, I am shy.  I do not like undue attention, and I typically do not like to be singled out.  However, in the past week I’ve had lots of instances where I’ve needed to forage ahead without considering whether or not my quiet self would be comfortable.

  • I had to explain to a stranger (admittedly, an elderly kind librarian) that I needed a private space to pump milk during our library legislative day at the State House.
  • Trying to help a friend through a bout of depression 200 miles away.  She is usually my comfort, so the role reversal has forced me into unfamiliar territory–I’m usually on the receiving end.
  • Accepting an offer to speak on a panel at the Massachusetts Library Association Conference this year.  Great for my career, not so great for the little voice inside me that prefers to sit in the back and listen.
  • I am seriously thinking hard about whether/when I can share my blog with the world.  I’m overly thrilled by the five visitors I’ve had so far.  But since this is pretty much a running dialogue of my inner thoughts, its kind of like letting the world read my diary.  I don’t want to go back and censor anything, but there are certain facts of my life that I’ve been taught to keep private.
  • Going for a run in the mid morning heat.  My face turned an uncomfortable shade of red, and I had to walk through the lobby of my building to get home.  I should hold my head high fresh off of a three mile jaunt, but I’m always embarrassed by my sweaty post-run look. Fail.
  • Giving the baby a bath on my own!  Success.
  • Drinking chia seeds.  They’re actually delicious mixed with cherry juice.

Settling In

We’re on a roll in this new life.

I’ve slept more than three consecutive hours every night for the last week.

My metabolism is starting to understand that no, I’m not an ultra marathoner, I’m just trying to nourish my baby, and I do not (regularly) require 6,000 calories per day.

My future goals look out more than a week ahead.

The laundry is (almost) all folded. The kitchen is clean. The bed was made until I got in it.

I’ve made it 26% of the way through a book.

There are plans for Saturday that include my mother watching the baby and me going out with old friends.  To a party.  Wearing a dress and heels.  (Maybe I’ll even use a small clutch!)

No major tears to wipe today.

I’m sleepy, and its bedtime.  Maybe I’m going to emerge as a mother even better than I was before.  More determined and focused.  Hey, even if I’m just focused on sleep right now, it is a great start for this previously life long insomniac.

Cheerio!