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Adventures in Yoga

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“It’s got my pigtail!” I squealed. This was not how I pictured a relaxing afternoon of yoga. My husband smiled and snapped a picture of the goat munching on my hair.

Lately, I’ve been exploring some adventures in yoga. I’ve always loved yoga. From the time I was two years old, I would practice yoga with my mom as she watched Lilias on TV with her long braid stretching for the sky.

Since moving to Georgetown, I’ve found my yoga home in The Studio, which is my weekly respite of peace and tranquility.

But, seeing some unusual yoga offerings pop up, I decided to give them a try.

First, was Castle Yoga. Unusually, someone built a castle in Central Kentucky. Long privately owned, few people have been on the property until recently when under new ownership, they started having events.

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For Mother’s Day, I tried their Yoga on the Castle Roof. It was divine. They served mimosas, bellinis and appetizers. The view from the roof was spectacular. The breeze felt wonderful and at 9 a.m. the sun wasn’t too hot in the sky. It felt magical – like being a princess for a day.

Goat yoga, on the other hand, was something else entirely. We entered a corral of yoga mats and goats. I had pictured baby goats, but most of the goats were full size. The instructor strained to talk over the braying of the goats. A thunderstorm whipped up in the background. It was truly a practice of being calm in the midst of a storm.

It was hard to keep from laughing as goats hopped from back to back. They would randomly poop and a woman would come by and sweep it up. It was a little painful. At one point, I had 3 goats trying to climb my back. I was like “Ah, hell no.”

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I will admit my worries ceased to exist, there was simply too much going on to have time to worry. “Where is that goat and what is he doing now?” I would think as I tried to close my eyes in savasana.

Afterwards, I laughed and laughed and cuddle a baby goat. It was kind of entertaining, but I don’t know if I would do it again.

I think I’ll stick to my practice of tranquility and leave the goats to the barnyard.

 

 

 

 

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The Awareness of Eleven

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He starts middle school in the fall. How is that possible?

I don’t feel old enough to have an eleven year old, when in reality I could be a grandmother. Time flies quickly that way.

The blessing of having a short child is you can believe they are little for longer.

He wants to wear deodorant – Old Spice Krakenguard. It’s manly and cool. He goes in to the bathroom in the morning and fixes his hair on his own. He’s worried about his clothing. The anxiety of adolescence is approaching.

He wants me to wait outside for the bus with him – but go inside before it reaches the house.

He worries he’ll be stuffed in a locker next year. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books have rattled his nerves about middle school.

I see the devastation on his face when he doesn’t win an award or doesn’t get invited to a party. I want to fix it. But, I understand all too well he must find his way to handle the disappointments of life. So, I listen and hug and pray that’s enough.

He’s in love with the tallest girl in the class. He’s the shortest boy. We need to watch “The Flash” because Addy likes “The Flash.” We drove to her house to drop off a birthday present for her. She rejected him as a “boyfriend” so he pretends he doesn’t like her anymore. But, he has a picture of her taped to his wall. Oh the pain of unrequited love.

His teachers say he’s growing more confident and asks more questions. I take him to school events and see how patient and kind he is – he opens the doors for strangers and helps out little kids. I feel not so much proud that he is smart as proud that he is kind.

I know I will become less and less cool. Already, he puts up his hand and says, “Mommy, you’re not in this.” He retreats to the computer and asks Alexa to play him some music. He still wants to snuggle at night. And I find that a blessing.

I didn’t think he’d like me this long.

So, now a new chapter begins. Little by little, it will be time to let go.

His future is full of unlimited possibilities.

I can’t wait to watch it unfold.

Cubicle Wars

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It all began in 1995. I decided to decorate my office cubicle for Christmas.

Before I knew it, the smack talk had begun.

“Oh isn’t that cute? It looks like a first grade classroom,” taunted my coworker.

I added fake snow and built a chimney and fireplace up the cubicle wall. I smiled with competitive satisfaction.

The night before judging, my coworker, all the while plotting my demise went into winner mode.

I came in the next morning to a light display around his cubicle that most assuredly raised the office electricity bill and most likely tripped the breaker.

A dome of blinking colorful lights arched over his entire cubicle.

I felt the taste of defeat.

Do I stop trying?

No – never, never give up.

Once again – I have a cubicle.

Once again – there is a cubicle decorating contest.

The smack talk has begun.

My son goes with me to scour dollar stores for creepy zombies and blinking skulls.

I will not go down.

I will taste victory.

I imagine it tastes like caramel corn and sweet tarts.

Bwa – ha – ha – ha

 

All or Nothing

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I’m lucky enough to have enjoyed creativity in my work. I’ve directed plays, taught Creative Writing and designed web sites. In my current position, I take photos, write success stories and film videos.

For a time, I dropped out of the 9-5 world to pursue freelance writing and published my first novel.

For me, it’s always been all or nothing. I wanted the ultimate creative life or I took the safety job and stopped pursuing my own writing.

Both roads have lead to depression. No matter how creative, the safety job always leaves a sadness. My soul wants to create its own vision – not someone else’s – and when I don’t listen, I feel a persistent inkling that something isn’t right.

In contrast, the freelance life offers freedom  – but also so much risk. The burgeoning creativity is subjected to criticism. Mistakes cost money. Catering to employer whims is replaced by catering to client and audience whims.

Could there be a middle ground?

Do I need to sell my soul?

Or could I let it play for a while?

Let it grow?

Nurture it daily until it flourishes before subjecting it to the harsh wind and rain?

Gently, simply – one day at a time – write the words and let the story write itself.

 

Frank the Duck

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I have a new friend at work. His name is Frank.

A few steps away from the office is a pond where a flock of ducks live. Frank is a black and white duck. The rest of the ducks are brown. At last count, there were fifteen and two baby ducklings. I named the ducklings Sally and David.

When I get stressed at work, I walk on down to the pond and talk to Frank.

He gets it.

Sometimes he quacks in support.

Frank likes to do his own thing. I’ve seen him swimming around the middle all by his lonesome while the other ducks rest on the shore. At times, he follows the other ducks, but at somewhat of a distance.

My friend Nicole and I have taken a break to feed the ducks a couple of times. Frank likes peas. It’s fun to watch how excited they get about food.

It’s kind of like watching me eat.

But, mostly I like visiting the ducks because watching how happy they are in the present moment helps me.

Frank just paddles around in the same pond day after day.

If his feathers get wet, he shakes it off. He isn’t worried about deadlines and meetings.

When everyone at work is in a frenzy, I can go see Frank and know that really everything is O.K.

Don’t worry about fitting in.

Just keep swimming – and every once in a while, shake your tail feathers.

 

 

 

Kindness Rocks

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What a beautiful day to be outside! Sunny, 75 with a slight breeze – that’s my kind of day. The kind of day where I like to take a walk.

A friend of mine recently told me about Kindness Rocks. It’s a nationwide movement where people paint rocks and leave them for people to find. I love this idea and I’ve been doing it the last couple of days.

Every time I take a walk (good for me and the dog), I mindfully look for a nice rock. I pick up a nice one and take it home. When I have time, I paint a rock and then return it to where I found it. Then I get the added joy of either seeing my happy rock the next time I take a walk or feeling the joy of knowing someone else took the rock.

My walks have become a game. My neighborhood has become an adventure. Sometimes I have to play with my mind to do what is good for me.

It’s always more fun that way.

For more info on Kindness rocks, visit http://thekindnessrocksproject.com/

Baby, You’re a Firework

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I forget who I am all of the time.

I’ll walk around thinking my life has somehow been done to me.

I have to…grumble, grumble.

They’re making me…grumble, grumble.

I can’t because so and so…grumble, grumble.

I read a line in a book today about reframing obligations as conscious choices.

I have to tell you – I think that might make life more enjoyable.

Yes, I have obligations – but suffering is optional.

I bought a $5 drink holder for a grocery shopping cart – revolutionized my Saturday.

I wear a cozy cardigan so I’m not cold in the grocery store. I get me a nice beverage to put in said drink holder. I tool around Kroger like I’m on a shopping adventure.

Sure beats thinking, “Darn it – I HAVE to go to the grocery store.”

We’re not here to agonize day in and day out.

Life is too short for that business.

Find a way to make the things you HAVE to do, things you WANT to do – or at least more pleasant.

Dance in the kitchen while you do the dishes. Drink your favorite coffee at work.

Instead of watching the news, go out and catch some fireflies.

Your smile might just light up the sky.

 

Ten is Terrific!

tenNick (after noticing his birthday decorations):

“Mommy, Thank you. You’ve worked really hard.”

Who is this young man with compassion who thinks of others?

Ten is a golden age. The tantrums are fewer. The understanding is greater.

He knows more about science and math than I do. He tells me so, too.

He still wants to snuggle – but not in public – and don’t tell anyone, Mom.

He’s nearly up to my nose. In a couple of years, I’ll be looking him in the eye. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

He wants to know when we can go on more adventures.

Many days, he comes comes home and wants his video games.

But, more often, he wants to have a hose fight in the backyard, swing on the tire swing and play Legos with Michael.

Mommy gets pink in her hair and he rolls his eyes.

But, he still wants to tango with me.

He has suddenly noticed girls. He’s in love with a girl named Addy. He wrote her a note with a broken heart on it when she chose some other boy.

“Mom, how do you get girls to like you?” he asks as he’s falling asleep.

The clothes I pick out for her him are no longer cool enough. He wants Nike and Adidas. He wants to fit in with the cool kids.

The struggle for independence has begun.

But he’s still a child. His belief in Santa is strong.

He’s more than half grown. My letting go process must begin.

But just a few moments longer…please.

The Roaming Gnome

gnomeWanderlust – a strong, innate desire to travel or roam about. Mine started with the Travelocity commercials or perhaps the movie, Amelie.

I wanted to be that gnome sipping a pina colada on the beach, skiing down the mountain, causing all kinds of mischief and shenanigans while my “owners” sat dumbfounded wondering about my whereabouts.

I tried to sneak out of the house once in high school. I had the back door open, felt the warm air on my face – and then the grip of my mother’s hand on the back of my neck. She’s stealth when she wants to be.

I feel that hand on the back of my neck every time I want to escape and can’t. Those days when the hours at work drag by so slowly that you can hear the minutes click on the clock. You look out the window, see the leaves fluttering in the breeze and think, “I have to get out of here.”

My gnome wants to be in New York City walking past Times Square at night. It wants to sit on the beach and listen to the ocean waves. It wants to sip chocolat in a Parisian cafe. It wants to go whitewater rafting and go hiking on a long trail. It wants to do yoga with goats.

One day soon my gnome may just up and go do these things.

Where does your gnome want to go? #gosmelltheroses

Staying Flexible

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I injured myself in January. It was either my gung-ho full-on Melissa attitude toward my New Year’s gym resolution or typical Melissa clumsiness falling over a gate. Either way, for months, I’ve been unable to sit cross-legged or move my thigh to the left.

For a person who likes to do yoga and play with a rough and tumble 9 year old boy, this doesn’t work for me. More than once, I’ve had a flying child land on me as I scream in agony.

I went to physical therapy today. I kind of enjoy being told to bend this way and that way while people take notes. I feel like a circus performer or a research subject.

“You don’t use your core muscles,” she said. “You are overcompensating with your back.”

I had a lot of time to think as I laid there being poked and prodded.

Core. What is the core?

The core is defined as “the central or most important part of something.” How often in life do we find our strength from our core? How often do we overcompensate by using all of the other parts of ourselves until they are weak and depleted?

I know I overcompensate a lot. I could draw my strength from my core power, but I don’t. I try to do it a million other ways.

Where are we stiff? Where do we need movement? Where is our thinking rigid and locked into place? Where are we open? Where are we not?

I think the body mirrors the mind. Often when part of my mind tightens up, there has been a tightening of my mind around a certain issue for a long time preceding it.

Oddly, as the therapist rotates my leg around in circles, I felt more hopeful and more free.

Connection? Perhaps. Either way, something to think about. That – and not tripping over gates.