After the Storm

It’s a Tuesday morning and usually I am in the middle of my Fitness Walking class at this time of day. However, a hurricane (you may have heard about her) came through my life recently and now things are upside down. Disaster tells you a lot about yourself as an individual, as a human, and who you are in your relationships. First, I’d like to preface this post with some good news: My family was very lucky and had no great loss during this storm. You may say that that means I have no right to say anything more, but these are just observations and musings from having lived through this storm. Just a recount of my blessings and relief.

September 10th was the last day I taught a class. People had already started preparing for what was supposed to be a Category 4+ storm to hit very near or directly at our town. See, I live in Wilmington, NC and hurricanes are second nature to the people who have grown up here. I have not. I’m a midwest girl used to the Mississippi flooding its banks and tornado drills in the basement. A hurricane brings both of those things plus wind. We made a decision to stay put this time even though it would be the biggest storm that I and my children would have lived through. Again, we are lucky that it hit near us at only a Category 1 storm, but it still came. I bid farewell to my students that Monday and came home to start prepping.

We had already purchased water (because of the Gen X problem in our area) and packed up on snacks to last us 5-10 days. There were canned beans and pears and crackers and granola bars and a couple of loaves of bread and peanut butter and trail mix and the like. We had bought a generator to save what we could of our freezer full of my husband’s fishing and hunting spoils. We boarded windows and sandbagged the front door. We moved every item off of our main floor floor that couldn’t be replaced and put things in storage bins and space bags. We tarped things and moved things in the garage and tied up fences and parked the soft top in the garage and put my car in the front yard away from all tall trees. We hoarded batteries and flashlights and prepared our kids for what was to come.

The last class I taught that Monday was Yoga I in which we covered Awakening Poses. My body was alive with energy that week. The storm didn’t hit until overnight between Thursday and Friday and the wind was loud, but I felt calm and safe in our house. My kids’ mattresses were on the floor in our room and they slept through it all. We didn’t lose power right away, but once it was gone it would be 4.5 days until it returned. A tree from our neighbor’s yard had blown down on top of the kids’ swingset and broke it. In the days after the actual “hurricane” there were tornadoes (one took the rest of the swingset out) and rain. There was a lot of damage all around us, but still I remained calm.

A few days later we took the boards off the windows in order to let in the light and assess the damage. We opened windows for fresh air as the temps were in the high 80’s each day. It was a lot of sweaty, slow moving time we spent. My kids seemed unphased by most of it. We played UNO each night by flashlight and they learned how to play solitaire after I played a million games to pass the time. They played with toys that had sat unused for awhile. We took daily walks around our neighborhood. We took a few drives in the Jeep to see what had happened around us. Eventually, one day, we got a pizza from a place nearby that opened its doors. We went and waited in line at Walmart (my least favorite store) to pick up a few new snacks and see about buns for cooking up burgers. We hit the grocery store when it opened up as well.

Everywhere we went it was worse than at our house. Every store was filled with people who looked run down and desperate and angry. I kept thinking how grateful I was that we were all fine and together. The heat was getting to people. The lack of help, lack of supplies, lack of the unknown was getting to people. Our friends who had evacuated were anxious to see what was left for them. And for us, at least 4 families we know are without their house at the moment. When our power came back on it was a glorious celebration of showers and clean clothes! We slept coolly that night on clean sheets. Again I felt blessed and serene…..but also guilty.

I have tried to help out our friends in need at this time. I have offered what services we have (though limited) to those who do not have any. You get that kind of survivor’s guilt when you have so little that has gone wrong in your life comparatively. The yogi in me kept trying to get others to feel the same sense of blessing and relief that I feel. I compare the situation in Eastern NC with the people of Puerto Rico who are still suffering a year after Hurricane Maria. I think of what it would be like to be a year without a home, water, food, medicine, electricity, etc. I think about how hard it would be to not be able to bury your loved ones when they perished during the storm. The survivor’s guilt grows, but it also centers me.

For the past 14.5 years I have been living and growing in yoga. The way I responded during this storm, the way I continue to feel as it is over for me, has been because of the gift of yoga in my life. I am gracious and calm. I am looking inward for peace and outward to give back. I look forward to this coming Monday when I can welcome my students back to our classroom. I look forward to speaking to them about the Yamas and to teaching them Sun Salutations. I look forward to giving them the gift of healing through breath, movement, and reflection.

If you’d like to help out with some of the people who I personally know have suffered from this storm, please feel free to donate to any of these fundraisers:

https://www.gofundme.com/help-the-hebert-family

https://www.facebook.com/events/326713261470222/

https://www.facebook.com/donate/273023619983318/10216772330678669/

Hoping you and all yours are safe after the storm. Namaste.

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Modeling

Well, it’s Thursday and I still haven’t finished How We Live Our Yoga, but I did start to find some anecdotes that spoke to me. Maybe the back portion of the book is meant to be the best so that if you actually stick with it it will be worth the time?

There was one passage by Judith Hanson Lasater in which she talks about how her yoga changes over the years and about being a “Swami Mommy” As my youngest is starting Kindergarten on Monday and I move into the next phase of my own life, I realize why my kids need me to do my yoga just as much as I need it. They need me to be patient and ever evolving along with them. My life is changing and so is theirs. They also need a mom who is flexible both mentally, emotionally, and physically. I need to grow and change and listen and able to keep up. Continue reading “Modeling”

How We Live Our Yoga

So, I’m reading this book called How We Live Our Yoga which is edited by Valerie Jeremijenko. I picked it up a few weeks ago because it’s been on my reading list at the library for some time now. But, honestly it’s not been that enjoyable. The stories are supposed to be about teacher and practioners’ journey into yoga, but they haven’t been inspiring to me. I haven’t learned anything. So, I didn’t bother saving this book for a Fave Reads Friday post. I’m tempted to give it up altogether, but I’ve only got 70 pages left. So, I will finish it out.

Today was my first yoga class in awhile. I’m back at CFCC and sooooo entirely thrilled about it! I had a few bumps in the road today because I haven’t been there in a year and I forgot to do a few things in prep for the semester. There was the usual cleaning up of the storage closet (aka moving Brazilian Ju Jitsu Club’s stuff out of my way), setting up mats (forgot the cleaning wipes and am missing mats and and blocks), and the awkward quiet as students filter in to my insanely warm room (either I sweat a lot more now or it’s just that I forgot to put in the work order for the temp to be low). But I got through two classes and I had a few smiles by the time everyone left. Continue reading “How We Live Our Yoga”

Meditation Monday #52 – My 108 Sun Salutations

Welcome to March!

I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile now….unsure of what all to write and which day to post it under. I’ve got a lot to write about this week and so I thought I’d start here with some yoga. Last fall I started building up to performing 108 consecutive Sun Salutations. Don’t know what a Sun Salutation is? Check out my post about how I do mine here. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #52 – My 108 Sun Salutations”

Meditation Monday #51 – Impromptu Meditations

Last Thursday my youngest didn’t want to go to school….it’s preschool and to some people that doesn’t “really” matter. However, I have to go to work on the days that he goes to school. I specifically scheduled work while he was in school so that I don’t have to have childcare any more. I also pay for his preschool and it’s not cheap. At preschool he’s learning A LOT of important lessons and by making him go to school (even when he doesn’t want to), I’m trying to teach him another lesson: sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do.

On Thursdays I usually workout after I am done teaching. Sun salutations or swimming are the norm, but this Thursday I had another matter to deal with: parking ticket. I went to the parking office and appealed my ticket. I won. It was a good day. This left me some extra time before the little guy was done with school. Because he hadn’t wanted to go in the first place I had promised I would pick him up early. Once I arrived at his school I thought about the importance of two things: keeping my promise and his need to be in school the full time. I opted to pick him up only slightly early (I’m usually one of the last parents to arrive for pick-up) to meet both.

So, I took a seat on the bench outside the school. It was a nice day and no one was around. I sat in Sukhasana (easy pose), closed my eyes, turned my face up to the sun, and started an impromptu meditation. I haven’t spent enough time meditating lately. I’ve done a lot of journal writing, which has been good for my soul, but is not the same thing as meditating. I decided that day that I needed to just listen to the world around me and within me.

In general I recommend that you have a focus for meditation before beginning. However, I know the need for impromptu meditation is strong; especially in the world we live in today. So, I encourage you to take the time today to be in the moment. Give yourself the present of impromptu meditation…..maybe even this minute. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and listen. Listen to the sounds around you (or lack there of) and be aware of your present surroundings. Listen to the voices in your head (don’t think about them, but hear them passing through). Listen to your body and all the things you ignore that are both good and bad. And, if like me, allow yourself to smile or cry or both.

Life is tough for me these days….hence the reason I stepped away from the blog mostly. However, life is also life and being alive is good. Impromptu meditation reminded me that warm sun, the sound of garbage trucks/traffic flowing by, and the ability to breathe freely are all great things in life because it’s life itself.

Happy Monday! You’re alive!

Please feel free to share your impromptu meditation moments or any other thoughts in the comments section below.

Change of Priorities, Lack of Interest, Laziness?

What causes you to quit things?

It’s New Year’s Resolution time and it’s almost quitting time for many people around the world. We all have been guilty of making them and dropping them and remaking them and the cycle continues. Some people make the same resolution year after year and fail at it year after year. There’s a lot of articles out there about how to stick with it and lots more about why we fail or why we shouldn’t make them in the first place.

I’ve been thinking about this since last Friday. I’ve been debating what to write….if anything on here. Am I too lazy to post? Have I lost interest in blogging? Or are my priorities changing? And if the latter, is it temporary or permanent?

For me, though, the blog problem is two fold.

First, it’s hard to maintain readership on a blog if you don’t regularly write relevant material. When I was posting more about yoga I found that I had a lot more readers and clicks and views and all that jazz. However, the blog has never been just about yoga. It’s been about my fitness and yoga journey. It’s been about my desire to build a community to share that experience with much as I feel I build small communities each semester I teach….but this would extend beyond the semester. It would foster real connections.

And that brings me to the second problem. My own journey. I put a lot of myself out here on the blog. My successes and my failures. But, I don’t share my whole life here and currently my whole life needs a different outlet than the blog. I love that I have started this Year of Wellness and I intend to follow through with it. It’s been very enlightening to read the articles on the Wellness Inventory and to journal my feelings around the material in my scribbled little notes here and there. I want so much to share that with you all on here……but that brings me back to my first problem.

I feel that I can’t regularly commit to writing about something substantial without feedback and involvement. So, for the time being, I am taking my journey off the blog. I don’t currently feel the urge to write openly for the world that doesn’t connect back. I feel like my journey has reached a point of personal vs. communal. I cannot determine how long this feeling will last, but it’s here for now.

This past week I read a piece by John W. Travis, MD, MPH entitled Become a Beginner – Simplify and it said:

Wellness is……..unburdening yourself of all that prevents a natural state of basic healthiness.

So, I have to decide what is preventing me from being well in all aspects and ditch it. I have decided to allocate that “space in my planner” that was reserved for blogging to something else at the moment. I am leaving the blog up and I will be back at some point, I just don’t know when.

I intend to write when the mood strikes me, to keep reading other blogs, and to keep on my journey for the whole year. Who knows where it will take me…..

Be well. Namaste.

Meditation Monday #50 – Wisdom from Within

A lot of Gates’ writing in this section of the book talks about discipline (tapas) and turning inward. In Day 82 he notes that we all start out learning from others, but eventually have to trust our own judgements. Thus is the story of life.

Discipline is about creating our own path by following in the footsteps of others before us. Our parents probably taught us differently and therefore we have a skewed vision of the word. But think about it…..

If I am your parent, teacher, trainer, etc….and I want you to follow what I do, then why would I punish you? Instead I should model and teach you to be my disciple, to follow me, to cultivate your own discipline.

I’ve learned a lot about myself through yoga and I’ve learned a lot from others teaching me. In the end, it’s all about choosing what is right for me in life. This is a lesson I’ve learned along the way in blogging too. The “right way” to blog may not be my way.

So, this week I am taking off to enjoy Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. I am taking my own path. I have a pre-scheduled post for Friday, but other than that you won’t see me here until next Monday. My family, my friends, and myself have taught me that holidays are for enjoying. I encourage you to find joy this week….away from the news, the internet, and other things that force us to disconnect from those directly in front of us.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

Meditation Monday #49 – Answers Within

In the Day 81 Reading Gates writes

….we always have everything we need. When we fail to believe this, we suffer. (p.109)

How many times have I looked inward for the answer, seen it, and still kept searching? External validation doesn’t equal internal happiness…yet, it’s a hard cycle to break.

Today when I was doing my 68 Sun Salutations (more about why I’m not further along on Thursday) I asked my youngest to help me finish them out….because doing them with someone else somehow makes them easier to finish. I suffered and struggled through the first 67 and there it was…ease on number 68 with his little arms and legs moving beside me.

But, I need to listen better to myself because I am sure there are signs that I’m ignoring. This takes discipline….tapas

Are you still stuck in the cycle of seeking answers outside of yourself?

Do you know that the end to your suffering is within you?

What is always easier for you to do with someone else?

Meditation Monday #48 – Paradoxical Yoga

A short post for you today on Tapas….

In the Day 80 Reading Gates writes

The desire that is tapas comes from wanting…a place of lack…yet yoga is about detaching from the outcome (paraphrased p.106)

So, through the practice of yoga we become whole and fill the internal hole.

Sometimes, in my life, there is a disconnect between what I want and what I have…I am always faced with the question of

Can I get what I want or can I be content with what I have?

The answer still hasn’t come to me in all situations, so still I ask.

Desire, ask, believe, receive.

Stella Terrill Mann