Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Posts tagged ‘yoga’

Yoga, Cows, and A Texan

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Saturday I had an urge, an almost unable-to-resist urge, to run someone down using a Ford Focus …

The car had a few dents, and I had a fleeting thought of “What the Hell.”

It’s been a trying week. We rolled into Frisco, a small Cowtown outside of Dallas, last Tuesday night at 10 pm. Stiff with sitting in a car since 5:30 am in some time zone, getting out for potty breaks and snacks, we stumbled into the apartment, trotting back to pick up the cat meowing in her purple plastic cage.

The next morning, the full force of the move hit me. I am in Texas. Without a job, a yoga home, a writing group, friends. Eeeoogh. Time to make the best of it.

So, I started out looking for yoga studios. This city is obsessed with hot yoga, my idea of a bad time. I come away from their heat mixing with my constitution creating cranky person prone to hissy fits. Then I expanded the search. I found a lovely studio just 25 minutes away in another city/burb/whatever. Entering the information on my phone’s Google Maps, it suggested a tollway. No way. Lots of very tall walls. How do you get on and off? Not happening, and I mapped another route. Getting there was not a problem. Lovely classes – I took two – leaving after 2 and ½ blissful hours in the studio.

Getting home from the studio was a problem – it took 90 minutes, a distraught phone call, and the above-mentioned urge. Without a doubt, I made a left when I should have turned right ending up in another city, full of walled communities, streets with no names or names I couldn’t find on my itsy-bitsy phone map, and limited places to make a turnaround. After cruising one street four times, I pulled into the BMW dealership, driving between two sets of cars to the man talking on his cell phone. He looked like a Texan. Smooth, hair slicked back, aviator sunglasses, and an incredulous look on his handsome-featured face. I rolled down my window. My face flushed with yoga and exasperation, but I smiled at him.

“Do you know you’re driving on a sidewalk?” he said.

“No. Anyway … “

“You are on a sidewalk.” He emphasized each word.

“I didn’t know that I was on a sidewalk. I need to find Preston Road,” I said trying to look friendly and feeling an urge to smack him silly.

“You have to get off the sidewalk.” He ran his hand through expensively coiffed hair.

“Other cars are on the sidewalk,” I said looking around. My hair was sticking to my face.

“You can’t get your car off this area without damaging the undercarriage,” he said waving his phone around.

“Look, there’s a dip in the,” and I paused for effect, “sidewalk. I’ll ease my car off the … sidewalk … if you’ll just tell me which way is Preston Road.” I turned my wheels towards him, inched forward a little bit to show him that I meant business. He backed up, made some vague hand gesture, and got in his car. Maybe he felt the need for some protection. Good call.

Completely confused by this time, I drove off without damaging the undercarriage of the car and with exemplary control having not hit him, his car, or the plate glass window of the dealership. I was protecting the remains of my yogic karma, minuscule as it was.

Against the odds, I found Preston Road and drove to the apartment. Flustered and cranky, I noticed the number of cows out grazing. They looked nonplussed. Peaceful even. One even mooed at me. Okay, I can do this, I thought. Opening both windows, I mooed along with the cow feeling … Texan. Not his kind of Texan, a kinder, gentler Texan-in-training who needs a road map.

 

 

An Epidemic of Entitlement

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On good days, I think the world is in transition. On most days, the world is cultivating an epidemic of entitlement. 

Today I put away my handicapped parking placard. I have had one for a year. The placard swung from my rear view mirror through surgeries, non-anesthetized debridements, surgical shoes, surgical boots, 6 different antibiotics, and 7 different types of painkillers. And pain. I have needed it for the pain. Unable to walk more than 100 feet without excruciating pain.

I needed to park close by. I needed to open my car door all the way to leverage out my unbendable leg. To maneuver my sutured arm out. Sometimes I am working with one side of my body. I never realized how much I needed those slashed lines on either side and the wide parking spaces (access zone for loading and unloading) until I couldn’t move my right side (ankle, knee, hip, and elbow) and had to navigate with a plastic, metal, and fabric device immobilizing my body.

If the handicapped space was occupied or a car was parked in the access zone with slashed lines, I did not enter that Starbucks, Harris Teeter, restaurant, or hair salon. Most times the parked cars were without handicap insignia. The business owners lost my business. 

When I would ask about the situation or attempt to get the person to move their car, I was met with hostility and venom.

A woman, illegally parked in a handicapped parking space, coming out of a hair salon, the one below, shouted at me calling me an inconvenience. I HAD HER ASS TOWED.

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 At the chiropractic office below, the receptionist said, “I’m sure they aren’t our patients. What do you want me to do about it?” Well, you could say something supportive or even put up a sign to increase awareness or encourage your clients to FOLLOW THE LAW.

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While parking my car one morning, a woman in yoga class, yes, I take yoga classes, it’s cheaper and more effective for me than physical therapy, asked if I had enough room to get out of my car. She was parked illegally in the slashed access zone next to the handicap parking space. I asked her repeatedly to move. She moved her car 6 inches. No lie. NO LADY I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH ROOM. YOU PARKED YOUR CAR IN THE SLASHED ACCESS AREA NEXT TO MY HANDICAPPED SPACE SO I CAN’T OPEN MY CAR DOOR. She wouldn’t move her car until the police made a visit. Now in yoga class, she sits behind me, smiling, wanting to be friends. I don’t want to be your friend. Piss off.

See I have this handy-dandy iPhone. Click click. Picture taken with license tag. Call to the nonemergency police number. They ask for information. I have tags, make, model of the car on a time and date stamped file.

Don’t ask me to be nice about this. I am not apologizing for needing that space. I am not apologizing for asking you to follow the law. To think about other people. Grow up.

I am happy you are able-bodied but, realize the world is changing. Aging. Getting more knee and hip replacements. Having more surgeries. Needing wheelchair vans. If you live long enough, and I hope you do, you or someone you love will need a handicapped parking space and the adjacent slashed access zone. Don’t park there. The other option is to park there but don’t be surprised if someone dents your car with their handicap van or takes a baseball bat to your entitled windshield. 

Having done neither, I think I have exercised remarkable restraint.

Weird Times

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I’m at this really weird time in my life – mid 50s where I am working as hard as possible but seeing opportunities land elsewhere. In younger people’s laps.

My friends are talking about retiring, counting down the days, and planning their last great adventure. About five years ago, I realized I would be working until I died. Through a couple of lousy turns of the luck and some bad planning on my part, I will never be able to retire. Not ever.

Being unable to see a retirement in my future has impacted most areas of my life freaking me out. How did this happen? How did I not notice? Maybe it is a combination of my friends being 5 to 10 years older and in the last of the pensioned jobs. Maybe it has to do with being single or the two major downturns, more like plummets, of the stock market. Maybe it is a realization of the probability of being single when I die. Most likely the realization became embedded with fright after last year’s string of surgeries.

My friends are settling into their last homes and having what they consider safe adventures – cruises. Paying deposits for communities that allow you to move through ever increasing levels of care. I look at my townhouse and wonder how I will get up those steps in 15 years when my knees and hips give out. But who will give a mortgage to some one nearing retirement … So I have been told to plan for my infirmity. Like a good old codger, I have. Replacing the HVAC system. Replumbing. Changing out appliances. Getting stuff out of the attic and into easily accessible storage. Definitely must upgrade my refrigerator.

My 30-year yoga practice has changed. I said good-bye to the Level 2/3 classes, taking and teaching them. In class, it seems quite pig-headed to keep attempting something apt to hurt myself to appease my ego. But on interviews for yoga teaching jobs, employers do one of two things. They assume I want the gentle and restorative classes or I get pressured into those jobs.

I’m having to hunt down new doctors – my current doctors are retiring. I understand that my new doctors will be younger than me with little empathy for aging’s undeniable march. For example, my forty-year old orthopedist said, “You will never dance again.” I will dance tango again, even Lindy. Just watch me. “Wear sneakers 24/7.” Not bloody likely. I may lower my shoes’ heels from a 4” to 3” height but I will wear the handmade leather shoes from Italy with a tight skirt and fishnets.

I am the patient doctors keep badgering to schedule a colonoscopy, a skin cancer exam, but no one asks me about birth control or safe sex anymore. Maybe they think I’m too old to still be having sex.

Then there’s the men and dating.

No, I don’t want to go antiquing – never liked it so why should I like it now?

Yes, I do want to go for a hike at a decent pace.

No, I don’t want to have dinner at 5pm and go to sleep at 8pm.

Yes, I like to nap but I have liked to nap since I was 4.

No, I don’t want a sexless relationship. Sometimes it feels as if I have aged out of the sexually active category. I could stand naked by a motel with a sign reading, “The room is already paid for” and no one would take me up on the proposition.

Then there are the well-meaning people sending me articles to settle, for a man, any man who is breathing. No thank you. I deserve love as much as someone in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

I am under pressure to go on that last great vacation. One doctor told me to do everything on my bucket list before 50 because after that I would need really, really good trip insurance. “All kinds of medical things happen.” Wow, groovy, I still plan to go to Argentina.

Maybe, quite possibly, I should replace the word ‘weird’ with ‘irritable.’ I am at this really irritable time in my life.

“Lululemon-Wearing Yoga … “

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A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on a bar stool drinking a lovely cheap Chardonnay waiting for my friends to arrive.

The three of us had survived yoga teacher training together. Getting up at the ungodly hour of 5:45 to make a 7am three-hour yoga class one hated Sunday each month. Yogis emoting all over the place. Wishing I could squeeze out some tears when everyone else was snot and tear-covered. The therapist in me wanted to say, “Boundaries, everyone, boundaries.” But I mentally strangled myself to withhold the words.

Almost five years later, I have taught many yoga classes including a number that have choked me up. Yes, I cried, without the drama of teeth gnashing, wiping away the tears unashamedly in front of the class. I have watched and cared for class participants as they have cried. But it seemed natural and organic and spontaneous. Our tears came from struggle and victory and community.

During my second glass of wine, my friends showed up to sit on either side of me. We caught up on the goings-on in our lives. One friend was enjoying, for the most part, being a mother. The other friend was living on the west coast, creating a new life. I was trying to get back into life after four or five foot surgeries and one arm surgical reconstruction. Each of us was wrestling with how to fit a yoga practice into our daily lives. Lives that were crazy full and a tad disjointed and to some degree fulfilling.

We began talking about going back to our old studio. Each of us had some misgivings about returning. My friend on the other coast had a distance problem, east coast-west coast. I had the issue of being un-bendy and less than fit creating the real, already done that, terror of falling over, taking out people on either side of and in front/back of my mat. My other friend was pondering if she could cram yoga into a full family and work reality.

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Finally my fertile friend said, “Damn Lululemon-wearing yoga bitches.” She was descriptive, wry, and accurate.

Well, we died laughing.

“Bat shit crazy,” I said.

We laughed so much I thought we would fall off our bar stools.

“Crazy,” said my other friend. I’m not sure if the remark’s target was the yoginis or us.

Yoga has developed a culture of elitism. We have forgotten some basic concepts. So here are my thoughts about the distressingly hilarious world of “Lululemon-wearing yoga bitches” –

  • Yoga developed a long ass time ago. Its aim was to keep 14 and 15 year old boys, living in dormitories, out of trouble. We can only pretend to be 14 for so long in our practice before we hurt ourselves
  • Yoga is a method to enhance your life – live yoga off the mat by developing a life
  • Yoga has nothing to do with Kombucha tea gulping, gluten-free bondage, or juice fasting self-abnegation. Yoga has to do with living with the purity and thoughtfulness that aligns with your body and soul
  • Yoga is not all about the poses – the poses are methods to experience yourself
  • Yoga is not about what you wear to class – keep your fucking eyes on your own mat
  • It’s fine if you cry in class and it’s fine if you don’t – who are you to judge the tears or non-tears of others? REALLY

So get a glass of your favorite beverage then think about using yoga to enhance your life, moving yourself out of the “Lululemon-wearing Yoga Bitches” category.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

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My body has thrown down the gauntlet. My thighs, hips and tummy are challenging me to grow up. I am fighting it the entire way.

I am pretty lucky. Through my teens and twenties, when I gained weight, the fat cells, like little mounds of dimpled orange skin, distributed themselves evenly over my body. I was pretty happy with my body. Okay dokey.

Hah. Until I hit 30. Then the dimples hit the fan. The fan directed them to my thighs.

“What the hell is this?” I said.

“Ah aging,” said my husband.

“No but it wasn’t there yesterday … “

“Yeah it was. Get over it. Let’s get brunch,” said my good chunk younger husband.

Still my butt was a rounded curve. My tummy was flat and firm – a six-pack when I was working out regularly.

Then I hit 40. My ass fell. Where did it go? It fell downward. Gravity took a bite. I asked an anesthesiologist for plastic surgeons about my flat butt. He looked at me.

“Not too bad. You’ve lost too much fat.”

“Huh?” I said. “I weigh the same as I did in high school.”

“You lost the fat pad at the top of your hips that keeps your butt high,” he said.

Good grief. Now I need a certain amount of fat to keep my butt in place. This is a bad joke.

I made peace with my thighs and butt. I decided ‘body peace’ beat becoming a gym bunny, perpetually obsessed with how I looked and unable to eat a Starbuck’s Morning Bun.

In my 50s, teaching 6 to 12 yoga classes a week kept me too busy to ruminate about my changing body. I would say to myself, “I am strong. My body is strong.” I learned to love my body. There’s nothing quite like wearing yoga clothes four or five times a week to get comfortable, even oblivious, to fat. I learned to love the different body shapes of the women and men in my classes.

Bodies became fantastic objects – I know we hate that word but the changes to my body feel less and more personal now. Bodies are capable of beautiful movements, showing our feelings, receiving information, and exchanging pleasure.

Two surgeries, four debridements, thirteen types of painkillers, and five months of antibiotics later, I am six months into a period of enforced rest with a prescription for minimal movement and medications that trigger sugar cravings. I have gained weight on my thighs, ass, and tummy. I have a fluffy tummy. Not flat. To add insult to injury, I have wavy arms. Ick. I had to reassess my self-concept.

“Crap,” I said to a friend.

“Crap yourself. You’re healing from the surgeries. Make peace with your body,” she said with an “I’m-not-putting-up-with-this” attitude.

We were perusing the Spanx aisle of the department store. “Aren’t these just light weight girdles?”

“Yep. I remember them from my teens,” she said.

“Holy crap. I remember my mom trying to get me to wear one. Fuck. I felt like a sausage with stuffing come out each end.”

“Well that sounds uncomfortable. Don’t buy one,” she said.

She’s so smart.

So I didn’t buy the Spanx girdle and the funny thing is, yesterday I picked up my body’s gauntlet.

As long as I am living, I will need to have a relationship with my tummy, hips, thighs, and arms – my body. In whatever shape they are. With however much I am fat or not fat. Dimpled thighs, flattened butt, fluffy tummy, and wavy arms, my whole body with its increase in fat, fat cells, cellulite, is mine. I own my shape.

You out there – I’m tossing you the gauntlet …

Mumu’s Away

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One day when I was 45, wearing an expensive equivalent of a Mumu (a linen sack minus the pineapples and war canoes), I went back to therapy.

I said, “Help me make a graceful transition into middle age.” (Okay, so I was running a little late.)

He looked at me like I had grown a third eye right there in his office.

“No really. I’ve watched too many of my friends have difficulty with this change.”

He continued to smile benignly at me. “Why do you think you’ll have a difficulty with it?”

I looked at him like he sprouted a third arm. “Ah, society is not very accepting of middle age. They have two options – become invisible or act like a hypersexual 20 year old.” Internally, I was wondering if we lived in the same culture. Guess it is different for men.

We sat there for a minutes. Me with my third eye. Him with his third arm.

At last the font of wisdom spoke. “Why do you say that?”

“Well, I’m invisible. I don’t feel invisible but I am to men. And women seem to expect me to move into this matronly grandmother role. I don’t have kids.”

“Yeah. I guess that could be confusing,” he said. “I don’t think you’re invisible.”

“You have to say that. You’re my therapist.”

Really? No one else has asked for help around aging? Really?

We worked on the changing role and self-identity for maybe 2 years. I learned some love of my changing body. I discussed Botox with him. I told him about my changing intimacy needs along with the lack of available men. I expressed my frustration with the culture.

“I tell you I could stand naked by a Motel 66 with a sign reading, ‘The room is already paid for’ and no one would notice, not even slow down their car,’ I said.

“I find that hard to believe,” he said looking uncomfortable.

(I love when I can make my therapist uncomfortable – means I’ve struck a cord. He’ll probably go for supervision – a chain of therapists providing for each other’s retirement. Yay!)

“You still look good,” he said.

“What the hell does that mean?”

“You have nice skin and are sexy.”

(Eeoough. Sex with your therapist is a no-no, the big F for Felony.) I knew he wasn’t hitting on me but it was time to end therapy.

So, I went to yoga class to work on my aging but not decrepit body. My yoga practice had changed. No way was I practicing like I would have done in my 30s. That’s disrespectful to myself. And dangerous. I guess I did learn some stuff in therapy …

In this yoga studio, most of the students and teachers are in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s. By this time I was moving towards 50, yes 50 years of middle age. I plopped in wearing the de rigueur yoga leggings and some kind of spaghetti strapped top. The teacher said, “Fix your top.”

Another student said, “You may as well be naked.”

I thought, “Why? Other people in here are wearing a little sports bra and something that might pass for shorts on a preteen.” (Oops, there goes my judgmental self.)

I bounced over to a friend’s mat. She said, “You just exude sex.”

I walked back to my mat. Was I putting out the sexy vibe? My skin wasn’t over exposed. I hadn’t even looked at the men in the class.

Then I realized women over 50 who are confident in themselves, with an integrated sexuality, are a threat. We know things. Things other people want to do. With them. We know how to use words to ask for what we want, to clarify, and to connect. We have developed a proper place for sex in our lives. Sex being only one thing among many things that define us.

Two years ago, well into my 50s, waiting for a friend at a restaurant, I overheard two people from my decade. He said, “There’s nothing like young skin. There’s nothing like youth.” She started to cry.

I wanted to go over and hold their hands saying, “Yes that’s the truth of it. Each age has a particular beauty. Look for it in every one you come in contact with but don’t negate your own loveliness.”

A photographer friend asked me, “What is it about women in their 50s that makes them so attractive?”

“We have worked to become comfortable with ourselves.” Ha!

The therapy worked. I no longer wear Mumus. Mostly I am comfortable in my own skin – that’s my beauty in middle age.

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