Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mommy, why you so busy?

Today I woke up at 4am. I knew immediately that I wouldn't be going back to sleep. Brutal, I thought as I ticked off the 18 hours ahead of me. It was one of those days. Too much to do. Too much to think about. Too much. Put the mail on hold. Find the birth certificate. Finish health care paperwork. Update financials for work. Find something to wear for the concert. Pack for trip. Hang new blinds. Package toffee for the neighbors. Change Lucia's sheets. Might as well change my sheets......

I thought that once Lucia started Kindergarten I'd be like a suburban house-Frau. I'd play tennis (or start playing), have luncheons, go shopping, create a pristine garden, live in a clean house. I have had a few good rounds at Goodwill, but none of the other parts of my fantasy have been realized.

I must get something from existing in this busy state, because once I have a moment of time, before I know it, the moment is filled, like water in a sand castle moat. Zzzjooop. The time is gone. I'm volunteering in Lucia's school or planning a party or writing a blog.

I proposed my too-busy dilemma to my on-again-off-again therapist. I imagined that he would have time management tips for me or some analysis of how I was escaping into busy-ness or instructions for extracting X or Y or Z activities from my life. But he didn't. He said that as long as he's known me, this is my resting state. He said that my busy-ness would be less stressful if I simply accepted it. Essentially, he was telling me to not judge it, to just be in it and take away the added energy of trying to change it. "Basically," he said, "you are going to be this way until you are someway else." What!? I have to live like this?

The truth is that, outside of paying bills and doing laundry, there is nothing in my life I want to give up. But I'm tired. So how do I reconcile this? Surprisingly, the same way I deal with my feelings. I just let my busy-ness be. I stop detaching myself from my busy-ness, stop treating it like some sort of plague that's ruining my life, and ride the wave. So what if I end up going into work on my day off or wearing the same socks two days in a row. It happens. The more I stress out about being busy, the less I enjoy the things that create the busy. I get to go to The Nutcracker with my daughter for the third year in a row. I get to run a yoga studio that I adore. I get to see my 92-year-old neighbor Lois smile when Lucia delivers a bag of treats. I get to start 12,000 craft projects that maybe I'll never finish, but while I'm working on them, give me moments of ecstatic joy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Let's do nothing

This morning I heard the same story on KUOW for the third time in three days. The odds of this made me think that there must be a reason behind it. Why was I hearing the repeated weeping of the surviving mother of an Iraqi war casualty three times in three days? Maybe I was hearing it because my 6-year-old is pushing every button in my body and I feel unmotherly feelings of less than love for her! Maybe there was a message for me in this woman's tragedy being aired on public radio?

I'm always surprised by what I hear. So often the radio or a conversation at a party can be white noise for me, with just snippets becoming audible. This happens for me constantly in yoga. Last night I practiced in a state of exhaustion, which is often the most relaxing kind of class for me. I love it. Mostly Kristen's voice was background music, but periodically I heard, "Let it go" or "Let your muscles relax." Different instructions that began with "Let." It was the perfect combination for me in my fatigued state. I didn't have to do anything, I just had to let myself be some way.

It was kind of epiphanic for me. Instead of telling myself to relax or release the tension in my neck or my toes, I just had to let myself do nothing to get to this natural state. We all have this capacity. It's like a baby sleeping. Their shoulders and hips and knees seem almost double-jointed in their relaxed state. It's because they aren't doing anything with their bodies. They are void of all the repeated movements, traumas, stressors that we adults have quietly absorbed in our years of development.

So, when Kristen told us last night to "Let our jaws be slack" or "Let our brows soften", I heard it anew. "Don't do anything" I told myself. Do the opposite and see what happens. So far so good.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"I'm sorry I'm so emotional......."

My partner Nancy said to me the other day, "I'm sorry I'm so emotional, I just got my period." Being one of a cluster of sisters and a gaggle of great women friends, I have heard this sentiment thousands of times in my lifetime. For some reason, on this occasion, I heard the words differently. I got indignant, borderline angry! "You don't have to have a reason for being emotional!" I snapped. "Maybe it's hormones, maybe it's the holidays. Maybe there is no explanation for why you are emotional." Clearly a personal button had been pushed.

In the land of emotional indulgence-- therapy, self-help books, 'find yourself' workshops-- it is natural to want to understand the origin of our feelings, to want to dissect our emotional patterns and find "a cure." Full disclosure-- I am a big fat fan of therapy and self-help books but, I think there is another way to navigate emotional terrain, a (dare I say it) better way.

It's exactly what we learn in yoga every day. Let go. Be in the moment. Find your present self. Be in that experience. Blah blah blah. Only it's not blah blah blah. It's brilliant. The phrase that catalyzed the writing of this blog, "All feelings pass" explains it. The problem is, most of us are impatient or over-analytical, or just simply too uncomfortable to wait it out.

What yoga teaches us is to wait in a different way, not like waiting for a plane to land or waiting for GRE scores. It is a totally different kind of waiting. We learn to wait for the unknown. It sounds crazy-making, but the truth is, it's the easiest thing in the world, and really the most logical. If I spin my wheels and wonder why I am emotional and belabor the topic with everyone in my wake, I am still waiting to get out of whatever emotional gridlock I am in, I am just doing it way more spastically.

If, on the other hand, I refrain for labeling or judging or explaining my feelings, if I just give them a break and let them live in peace for a while, eventually they will change. They will move. It's a choice. Hunker down, get comfy with your feelings and know that they're going to stay for as long as they're going to stay or run around like a rabid squirrel.

I'm not a pro. It's way easier for me to preach this stuff than to actually practice it myself. What I do know is that practicing yoga is my every day reminder. For example, I struggle mightily with Standing Head to Knee Pose. Progress is slow. I worry about my left knee. My right hip is perpetually tight. On the contrary, I adore Standing Bow Pulling Pose. I know that I can't race through Standing Head to Knee to get to Standing Bow Pulling. I have to wait for it. I trust that eventually my sad posture will end and my happy posture will arrive.

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