As a yoga teacher I would say that a big part of my job is reading my students. For example if you walk into a room and everyone is buzzing with chatter and acting very excited and you are about to teach gentle yoga, you might want to bring them down a notch. The other is often true if you are about to teach a power class and the group seems to be needing a more gentle practice a teacher needs to be able to adapt to that.
I teach a gentle class on Wednesday nights and it is just that. They sometimes arrive and are all a flutter, chatting noisily and not even realizing that I am in the room. I have on occasion had to yell out to them that we are ready to start. I don't normally like this approach but I can only sit still waiting for so long. They still seem fidgety after a small philosophy teaching so I will sometimes have them lay down on their mats. The simple act of laying in a resting position and allowing them to notice their breath and center themselves always does the trick. They sit up from the mini sivasana and are ready to practice. The puppy mind slowly calmed, the breath acknowledge and the body ready to move.
I am very fortunate to substitute classes. This is something that some teachers don't really like to do. I love it. I walk into a room and get to teach about change and about finding teachers that are different. Exploring what you like or don't like about a specific teacher or teaching style. I am able to rise above the disappointed look on students faces when an unfamiliar teacher shows up. I too have been that student, expecting something and getting something else. It is a life experience that happens all the time, one that is hard to accept. Nothing is permanent and everything is changing.
This week-end I was fortunate enough this week-end to sub two back to back classes for a teacher that I highly respect. I always love to teach at Rama Lotus as well. My first class was a prenatal class. I thrive teaching prenatal it's what I know best and I know that I am good at it. I normally teach for the city and classes are only an hour. The nice thing about being in a studio is I have that full hour and a half. Allowing students to fully experience a practice and a nice long sivasana at the end. I had one woman at the end tell me that she was not pregnant but was trying to become pregnant. That she really enjoyed my class and was hoping that coming to prenatal yoga would be just the trick to help her out. I acknowledge this and told her that she was setting such a wonderful intention for her body and her baby. I've had women tell me that my yoga class was exactly what they needed to prepare for childbirth. I love to hear that they find what they need and can use these tools in everyday life, being that birth is part of the every day.
My second class was a beginner class. You have to be careful with beginners. I've heard many people say that they tried yoga once but didn't go back because it was too hard or too spiritual or they felt out of place. I honestly believe that yoga is for everyone. I tell my students that I am the optional teacher in that everything in my class is optional. If they don't want to do what I'm doing, sit, stand,lay down, go into child's pose or any other posture you like - as long as you're breathing it doesn't matter. I am also huge on trying to help new students establish a home practice. This is whether or not they are my own students or a class I am subbing for. I will often break down a sun salutation and show them how that can become a home practice and it's not a lot to remember. I tell them that a home practice doesn't have to be a luxurious hour and a half and if all they have is 5 minutes to practice, 5 minutes to sit an breathe, that it counts! If they have the 5 minutes they should take it. Waiting for a pot to boil... do a few half sun salutes in your kitchen. Most seem to smile and I don't know if any of them do it but at least the seed has been planted. I like beginners to know that you can't screw it up. As long as you are breathing you are doing just fine. This type of class does not change whether I am subbing or teaching my own regular class.
It was after one of these classes that I was subbing this week-end that a student came up to me and said "it was like you knew exactly what I needed." I said to him that he gave himself what he needed and I was just a guide. Perhaps it was part of how I read people. I am able to see and feel what they need and if they are open to it they get it.
Go out there and get what you need. Ask for it from the universe. Whether it is the universe that is your teacher or a person like me
Even with all of the changes that are going on in my house some times I find the days start to feel a bit like Groundhog Day. Day in and day out, things feel basically the same. How do you find the spark or the interest when things get boring?
Our day basically looks like this. Wake up 6:45. Take quick shower and dress done by 7:00. Kids breakfast, waffles, cereal, toast, bagel and cream cheese.. that type of thing done by 7:20. The kids have about 10 minutes to get dressed. A few extra minutes to fill back pack, ice in the water bottles, help the little one put on shoes and coat, quick brush of the teeth, grab leash and dog to be out for the bus by 7:35. The panic morning that is ours each morning. Bus arrives 7:40-7:45. Walk dog and be home by 8:00am for the child that I look after to arrive. I sometimes stuff my face with some kind of food before he gets in.
After 8:00am things start to calm down... I think? Usually some kind of craft needs be organized. Or Holly dressed in appropriate clothes for nursery school - OK half the time she puts on a really heavy sweater when it's +35 and humid. She also likes to wear a sundress when it's -10 outside. I don't want her to have heat stroke in the summer and frostbite in the winter - nobody likes that!! A light snack is usually asked for. All into the stroller by 8:35 am. Grab the dog again, we're all going out! Drop Holly off at nursery school for 8:45. Nice walk home, usually quick but enjoyable just the same. Home to my house by 9:00am.
Then it all begins, whatever project I can do that includes the little boy I care for. We bake muffins and he is thrilled to watch my mixer go. Sweep floors and he get's to do it too. Tidy whatever room I can get my hands on and he gets to play with new toys. We sings songs, kind of like whistling while you work. This happens until the other child I care for also arrives. Often around 9:30. Some of the activities for us change. Here maybe a snack for both of them. Then we get a craft together, often play dough or drawing. Then out the door at 11:00am to pick up Holly from school. She's done by 11:15 so I add a longer walk sometimes. Our walk home is always fun, the buttons to push and rules of the road to learn. Holly really likes to push the stroller and that takes a bit of direction. It's like teaching her how to drive I guess. She likes to ride on top of the stroller, and sometimes in the trunk. All of the in and out make our walk longer. We sometimes stop at a friends house on the way home to say hi.
Home for lunch by 11:30. The kids play and lunch is served by 11:50 - 12:00pm. Finish up, as most are slow eaters. One little boy to bed for a nap and quiet time for the girls. Well more like reduced play. I dim the lights and they usually get to watch a show, read books. While I clean the lunch dishes and breakfast, sweep floors and do any other tidying. 1:30 the girls often get bored so we head outside and they ride bikes or colour on the sidewalk. This is often when I am chasing my runaway child! Holly loves to go way too far for my comfort and if I try to catch her she keeps going, man she is getting FAST! Oh the boys have to get off the bus, make sure we're around for that. Then it's all about more snacks, waking the napping child. For 2 hours we play outside more, maybe another walk. Squeezing in help with home work and managing the big boys time with suggestions other than "no you can't watch TV". You'd think after weeks of this they'd stop asking! "Can we play the WII or DS"? Again the same answer, which they condescendingly say along with me "we're not allowed to play during the week"! "So why do you keep asking?" I ask this daily! This line of questioning is exhausting day after day. I hold hard and fast! Then day care kids get picked up, long conversation with each of their parents about our day. It's now 5:00pm and I'm getting a little tired.
This is where our family time begins. This is where I think I am making small improvements for our lapses in time. Dinner gets made, it's sometimes healthy and if we're lucky is also taste great. But it is done by 5:30. I removed a small breakfast table a couple of weeks ago so we could start eating together again. It's important to me that we eat together. When I grew up you sat at the table to eat. TV was off, phone wasn't answered and you talked! We laughed and enjoyed our meal together. I am finding that the kids are more engaged in their food. With my eldest Liam he is starting to talk more about what is happening in his life and we find out his newest obsession. He's been holding to Star Wars for months. Reilly is still the joker and mostly cracks us up while he is trying to avoid eating whatever's been put in front of him. Even though if he doesn't eat it now he'll have to eat it later, always the dodger! In all this midst we have to tidy the dinner table and re-assemble our tiny kitchen somehow, I have to get ready to go to work. Yes I said it, my other job.
The job that I love to do. It's something I do love my classes all start around 7 or 7:30. They are my break from reality. I do this three times a week and I love it! Keeps my heart beating and it feels good. I am still in a caregiver role or archetype. But I love it. I get to teach people about yoga and some about birth and they are things I love. I love talking about yoga and it interests me so much. I also love talking about birth and parenting and all that goes with that. It interests me too. I get to meet so many interesting people in my classes and I love this. People from all walks of life and even cultures. I've met pregnant methadone addicts who were in the same class as Pediatricians and waitresses. Ministers and lawyers, teachers and accountants. All together doing the same thing. I once met an 82 year old women who was training for her last Boston Marathon in my yoga class, mother's and daughters, 52 year old veterans, teachers, parents, so many interesting people. These classes end around 8:00 or 9:00pm and I clean up and head home.
I wish I could say I was one of those people who is able to go to bed right away but I can't. I need a couple of hours to wind down and catch up. It's often the only part of the day where I get to be alone. I can check my email and do whatever I have to do for my business and personal. I can make a delicious snack, sit down, eat it and enjoy each yummy bite. I can have a quiet sit and draw beautiful and not so beautiful pictures. I can sit in silence and pet my dog. I get to be quiet and alone. I love that. This is my spark. This and my work. My day at home is repetitive but I find pockets in there that give me joy. Watching my children grow up and being with them every day. Enjoying the many walks I have to take, even if they are out of necessity. Doing something that I love at night and talking about things that give me energy and that I love. I guess when it all comes down to it. To maintain a joyful life you need to acknowledge all those periods of the day that give you joy and then the icky ones won't matter. OR find
Things are happening and change is good! I have restructured the home day care situation and that was such a great thing. I have also decided to convert my living room into a studio space. I am so excited.
I had two one year old boys plus my daughter as of last spring. I had found that the two really little ones was just too hard on my body. The constant picking up and putting down. The carrying around of heavy toddlers was way to much for my back and hips to take. I felt a little trapped in caring for both of these children. It is always so hard to say good bye. I had decided to keep the child that lives in my neighborhood and who I had taken on first. The family that I had to let go was not very happy but I expected that. Change is so hard to accept when it is happening but it usually works out in the long run. I found out they found a lovely day care in their own neighborhood and that the little guy is very happy. Financially one baby was not enough to sustain my family. I still needed a second child. So I put the energy out there! I wanted a three year old girl to play with my daughter. An older child does not require the same amount of physical lifting as a one year old toddler does. Sure enough in a very short period of time I had found my three year old girl. Change is never easy but she is adjusting well. My back is not bothering me nearly as much depending on what our daily activities are. Life is looking up!
The studio was a monster that kept growing and growing. I have this great living room. Big window and a lovely fireplace. The problem with it is that it never gets used. No one goes in there but me. Even at that it has become a bit of a dumping ground for my teaching supplies and yoga stuff. I've been wanting to teach more classes and to offer classes to people in my neighborhood so I thought why not? I will be a slow process but I am hoping that by January all the work will be done. I need to paint, install a door, rip up the carpet and get rid of more stuff. The getting rid of stuff is something I am thrilled with and love to do. I am so excited to paint and make the room look fresh. I can't wait to rip up the carpet and expose the wood floor underneath (I hope it looks nice). I am so excited about this project I can hardly sleep at night. In a slow process I will start by teaching week-end classes after all I still have day care children and my own child at home. Once everyone is in school I will then open the studio up for day time classes. Then who knows maybe one day rent out my own space and have a real studio. Teaching yoga and pre and post natal classes.
More changes to come as I learn more about the business of yoga and the business of pre and post natal. Perhaps some re-branding for the business and perhaps some even bigger changes with me and the person that I am always becoming. Either way
All of these changes were unsettling at first. Getting rid of furniture, ending relationships and starting new ones. But change is good. You learn so much from change. Life gets boring when it's all the same. I'm learning about construction, choosing paint colours, setting up a business plan and of course I am always educating myself on more prenatal and more yoga. This is the essence of what I love. The rest is just nice stuff to learn.
Where is the yoga lesson in here? Hum... perhaps learning from change. That change is not always bad and can often be good. That the universe provides us with lessons... Be present with the change... Pick one.
I notice that when I am away I take everything slow. I stop and smell the flowers (literally). I often pull out my camera, which I always carry, and I take pictures of interesting things. I take my time to prepare food and to enjoy conversations. Even a glass of wine, takes a little longer. I think I'd like to try to take it slow more often. The question is how?
I loved that when I was at the cottage and visiting an old friend, I took time to prepare food. I made beautiful fruit salads in the morning. Granola and yogurt a drizzle of honey. Nothing complicated just comfort in a cup. I like to prepare this at home served in my grandmother's old tea cups. The one's she used when we came for Sunday dinners. The breakfasts at the cottage being the full gammet of what these meals are supposed to be. Bacon (veggie for me), eggs over easy, toast, home fries and maybe something left over from last nights dinner.
We take time for ourselves. One of my favorite things is to find a quiet moment and sneak off for a yoga practice or a paddle in my kayak. The peace that is offered in each stroke of my paddle. Being close to nature. One day I even floated past a blue heron. I was maybe 10 feet away and was in awe of the size of this prehistoric looking bird. Quiet moments on the dock, in love with the scene around me in various yoga postures, or just sitting.
These are the things I look forward to on vacation. These are the things I love.
How can I take these moments of peace, of enjoyment and bring them to the real world. The hustle and bustle of our life. Three children, a day care, one child still at home, two part time jobs and maintaining relationships... how can I take time to slow down. I would love to say that I will take time preparing all my meals. That I will not rush through my yoga practice but I can't guarantee it. I can say that I will try. If we truly learn from what we live, then I must remember how good it feels and how good I feel when I take my time.
There must be a yoga teaching in there somewhere? Maybe it's an investigation into swadyaya? Or perhaps I've reached a bit of santosha (contentment), and maybe there's even a little bit of saucha (purity) in my moments, and tapas (enthusiasm) if I keep doing it. The niyamas, the observances... For now I am happy here and maybe it can become more a part of my practice to do just that, and observe.
It is the start of my vacation with my family and a series of travels that I'm not sure I am ready for. We head off to a cottage to enjoy life by the water. The sun, the beach, swimming and friends. This I wholeheartedly look forward to! I will be home for several hours and head to the other side of the country to visit a friend. This I am not sure I am ready for.
The main purpose of my visit is to be with an old friend who has a dying parent. My purpose is to simply be there for her. I know that plans can be what they are but not to focus on that. I plan to cook some food for her as food is one way I know how to comfort people. I plan to hold her when she cries, as I am sure she will. I plan to sit with her mom who was so kind to me many years ago when I felt I had no one. I plan to be with her mom so that my friend can go out and have a good cup of coffee, alone. I also plan to be with my friend and laugh and maybe go for a walk. I plan to cry myself as I am sure I will be lost for words. I plan to be speechless as I'm not sure what to say to someone who is about to lose their parent. I plan to hug my friend as old friends to, with no expectations. I plan to have no real plans.
I want to be there for her. I hope I am ready? It was just a few months ago that I sat next to my own grandmother and held her hand as she passed away. I'm not sure how close to the other side my friends mother is but this pain is still fresh for me. My biggest hope is that I will be strong enough for my friend to help her through this difficult time. AFter all is this not what friends do? We are there for each other no matter what. How can I tell her that I understand, when really I have no idea what it is like to lose a parent? I fear for her when I leave, who else will be there for her? I will be there to offer a break and comfort but then who will she have when I am gone? Will the few short days be enough to give her strength? She is such a strong woman already, this I know. But at a time like this we need all that we can get and I know she is exhausted. I want to tell her that it will get easier but I know the months after will be hard. I wish we could live in the same city and not different sides of the country as I am sure she will need me more after. I hope she will come home to me and my home a soft place for her to land. A place where she can sleep, eat and not think about anything...
I will try to be present for her. Be there for her and give her whatever she needs. I hope all I give will be just what she needs and that I can give enough. I can't wait to see her and am thrilled that I can do this for her. 10 more sleeps, ready or not here I go!
As a yoga teacher I see a lot of students at any given time. I teach a few classes with regulars but I also substitute a lot of classes. I recently finished one of my "series" classes. The group has been with me since March. We were supposed to end in May but I was able to create another 6 weeks for them and we were all so happy to be able to extend our time together.
At the beginning of our last class, one of my students was asking about how to carry on for the month of August when we would not be together. I tried to assure her and the rest of the group that they would be fine. They all know that I am big on helping my students establish a home practice, even beginners. They did not seem too convinced that they would be able to go it alone, no matter how much encouragement I gave them.
We started the practice anyways as I thought that perhaps the breath, our ever powerful, always there, breath would help us out. I looked out into their faces and a wave of calm started to wash over them. OK this is a start. I took this opportunity to remind them that sometimes the practice starts and ends with the breath. If there is more and it is there, the rest will follow. We moved into very slow, very basic sun salutations. This is where I thought they might start on their own. We did a few rounds together, I called it out and demonstrated while they followed along. Then I left them on their own. I told them to do an entire round, one on each side of the body, following their own breath and their own pace. I could see the panic in some of their faces. I told them that they knew what do to, that they could not do it wrong. It wouldn't be wrong it would just be different, let the body tell you what to do if you forget. I kept telling them that they were doing great, listen to the breath and follow the breath. At the end the smiles on each of their faces was amazing. One person in particular caught my attention. Her grin was bigger than anything and I could see the sense of accomplishment and pride on her face. I was so proud of them myself but it was even more for me to see the pride on their faces.
We practiced some more favorites as requested and as always I threw in a couple of new or variations on postures that they already knew. I let them enjoy a nice long sivasana and our practice was over. The question came up again about trying out other classes. I strongly encourage my students, especially new students, to try lots of different teachers and different styles until you find the one you like - then switch. There is something to learn from everyone. My response was no different "go out there and try more". The follow up question was "do you think we are good enough"? I struggled with this one a bit - my answer was this "you all have all the tools you need to go to another yoga class and know what's going on, if you don't you'll learn something new". I brought them back to the sun salutation - "you all did that on your own" - "you can handle the rest on your own".
As a teacher I think I feel the most accomplished when a student feels proud of what they've done. I love to see the smiles when faced with a new challenged. They've either tried it and fallen over and laughed or tried it and smiled because they can do it. I just want them to try it. If they can't, then do something else. Maybe learn something about your body or something about yourself. Whatever your reasons for practicing, enjoy yourself and be proud!
What a day I had yesterday. Heading downtown to practice yoga with 500 other people. The entire experience was amazing. Driving I decided to take the long route and enjoy the river. I did this both ways and the experience was different each time. The weather was beautiful on my way there and pouring rain on my way home. Both were extremely enjoyable.I parked my car in the Byward market and walked to Parliament Hill from there. The market as locals call it always full of people and merchants selling, honey, flowers, vegetables, art and other wares. I am always reminded of the beautiful city I call home. My walk through Major's Hill Park. The gardens around me, the river in front. The Museum of Civilization to the left as well as the National Art Gallery. Straight ahead I am able to view the beautiful architecture of East Block and the Parliamentary Library, so well preserved. I stopped for a while and observed the changing of the locks. Changing of the locks is an amazing thing to watch and I have been privileged to try while boating with friends. The water released by the locks raises the water level allowing boats to move up through the canal. As a boater it is a bit of work but so much fun. As an observer so incredibly interesting.
My walk continued along Wellington street the fences of the Parliament buildings along the street. The surrounding buildings extremely well preserved and maintained architecture from times of old. The War Monument in all of its strength and glory, huge when observed up close. Tourists stopping every few feet or so to take pictures of the amazing sights around them. Locals out for a stroll or downtown workers getting fresh air during their lunch or walking from meeting to meeting. The energy and buzz so positive as the sun shone so high and hot above.
Approaching Parliament I am again amazed that we welcome anyone and everyone onto the grounds of our most prized government buildings and even into them. I passed the eternal flame and am proud that we allow the light to burn eternally but am at the same time questioning the amount of resources it costs and uses to keep it running. The lawn of Parliament is vast and green. Remnants of recent Canada Day celebrations gone but brown spots of grass remain from stages and even spaces. I was a little early for the practice so I decided to walk up the steps of Centre Block and check out the view from up there. AMAZING! The whole of downtown Ottawa right at your feet, literally.
Oh yeah the yoga. Lululemon sponsors Parliament Hill Yoga every Wednesday and they do an amazing job. They get teachers from all of the city to volunteer their time to teach. I think when I am not running a home day care and needed home I will volunteer to teach a class. Ichih was teaching today and she is a teacher for whom I have great admiration and respect. Several weeks prior I had offered to help her either to demo postures or to offer assists to students. She had four of us and asked that we demo at the front. At first I thought this might be a little bit intimidating but once she started to speak I forgot all about the 500 people before me and surrendered to the practice. To be honest I can't even tell you exactly what the practice was, it was just fantastic. Like being served, not having to think about what comes next, just letting the practice flow. Ichih's classes are often like that for me - which is probably why I enjoy them so much. Her directions are so clear that you don't have to question where to put your hands, feet or gaze, you just know.
There were however a few highlights for me. Being at the front of the group it was truly amazing to be in the presence of over 500 people practicing yoga surrounded by West, East and Centre Block. It was mostly a group of people in their spandex and Lululemon's, already mat carrying. What inspired me the most was this elderly woman, no mat, no spandex - in fact she was wearing a dress and if I had to guess, I would say she was in her 70's. Not your typical yogi but she was trying it out. She joined in and did what she could to her ability and when she got tired (about 45 minutes into it) she stopped. Isn't that what yoga is all about - being where you are and who you are, no matter what everyone else around you is doing. I loved that she did her thing and didn't care what else was happening. Lastly the most memorable moment for me was the OM at the end. I was in the front of all of these people so you can imagine what 500 people and a speaker sounds like when all chant OM together. Being at the front of the group I felt as if I was being hit to the core by the OM - it was incredible.
We rolled up our mats, said goodbye and I was able to experience again the walk back to my car. Enjoying for a second time the beauty of my home city with a new perspective and a spring in my step.
Thank you Ichih for another beautiful practice. Thank you 500 of Ichih's friends for being there and sharing your energy. Thank you to the City I call home for being so wonderful.
We all have stuff in our lives that we say that we "need". But when it all comes down to it, what do we really NEED? Of course the basics; food, water and a roof over our heads. I recently went on a trip to another country and realized that although I packed very little, I still packed too much.
I've traveled a lot in my 36 years. I have traveled and visited almost every province in Canada, either for work or pleasure or both. I've been to many US states as well as Cuba, Mexico and Thailand. I've even moved and lived on either side of this huge country and traveled with little then.
This past week-end I packed up my children and went to spend our long week-end at a the cottage of a family friend. Now this cottage is not your typical run down shack in the middle of no where. It is a work in progress, almost a house. The structure itself is beautiful. Big windows along the front with a sofa facing the lake. The property is a blend of unkempt greenery and bush mixed with small gardens that Margot loves to tend to. The fire pit is often roaring at night and the dock and the water are heaven. All of this beauty and tranquility got me back to thinking what do I really need?
When I am at the cottage I prefer a full nature experience so I always sleep in a tent. I love my bedroll and sleeping bag and waking up to the cry of the loons. I did not enjoy being woken up at 6am to the loud squawking of the crows - but something must have been going on. I like my tent, it is the roof over my head. It protects me from weather, bugs and other animals I am sure. So this leads me to believe that some sort of roof over my head is necessary. I've even enjoyed camping in the winter time and am just as content and warm in my tent then as I am in the summer. So roof, check!
Clothing is also necessary in both our climate and our culture. This is an area that I often struggle with. I have way too many clothes. I've flip flopped in my travels between bringing too much, not enough and just right. I once spent an entire month traveling with just a carry-on and my lap top for work. I switched between the two suits I had and various blouses or t-shirts for my meetings and did just fine. Of course I have also traveled to Vancouver to visit friends and they all laughed at me as I looked like I was moving in and I was only there for 5 days, I just wasn't sure what kind of trip it was going to be. Traveling to Mexico, Cuba and Thailand I brought just enough. One extra swim suit, a couple of extra t-shirts or tanks and a sweater and pair of jeans for night time. Nothing crazy!
Then there is what I pack for the cottage. I always pack too much for the cottage. Of course I need my bathing suit - but do I need 2 or 3 No! I think I bring extra because I am in my car and there is room for extra. I don't need to worry about weight and space. I still end up wearing the same ratty t-shirt, the same pair of shorts or skirt and the same swim suit the whole time. I barely even brush my teeth! I often forget to pack a hair brush and am lucky if I even take my swim suit off to sleep. I still return home with most of my packed items still at the bottom of my bag, untouched. Why do I do this, why do I even own half of this stuff. Why do I think I need to bring it, why do I even think I need it.
So I am cleaning house! I have very recently gone through my drawers of clothing and have one bag ready for donation. I dropped a box of children's clothes off to a local family who just had their fourth child and I plan to go through my stuff again this week-end. I know there's more I can get rid of. I am having a garage sale this week-end and have been sorting through my things for weeks. It all just really is too much. I need winter clothing as it is -35 here in the winter and I need summer clothing as it is +35 here in the summer. Of course the middle ground. I just need to chuck the old clothes that I never wear, the stuff my mom gives me because she never wore it and the things that I no longer fit because they are too big or too small. Don't wear it, don't love it, don't need or want it... off it goes!!
I love that when I travel be it a short distance to camp or cottage or a long distance for work or vacation I am almost always given perspective on what I have in my life and what I need. I often return home and want to light my house on fire and get rid of more than half of the things in my house. I know that I can't do that, I have children and a full life. We do need some things to survive in our culture. I still think we have too much. I know that the work in progress is just that and always will be. I work towards having and acquiring less and slowly riding myself of useless things. This is part of my practice. I hope to one day look into my bag, where ever I find myself and say - I brought just what I needed and nothing more!
My husband doesn't read my blog. In fact he agrees with a lot of people that most blogs are inappropriate sharing of private issues. This got me to thinking that perhaps he is right, but I'm not sure? After all don't I post so that others might see that they are normal? Don't I read other blogs and also see that I am human and normal?
Most people when ask the question "how are you"? Answer the same way "fine", or "ok". Even when they are obviously not. I'm not saying we need to open our souls to everyone we meet but maybe being honest sometimes wouldn't be such a bad thing. Telling someone that you are not having a great day or that you are going though something important, sharing might make us all feel better!
I have had several recent posts about the state of my life right now. It is to be honest in complete flux and a bit of a mess. I spent some time traveling alone and learned a lot about my self, not all of it did I like. I have been sharing. Mostly because as a yoga teacher and mother and prenatal educator and all the other things I do people think I must be the happiest person in the world and nothing bad ever happens to me. I used to think that way until I took a good look at myself, I and they were wrong. This is not to say that I won't be that perfectly contented person again, it's just going to take a little bit of work. I don't mind sharing the process along the way.
My current "career" as a day care provider has been extremely challenging lately. I've had a lot of physical pain from it and it has been emotionally draining. This is over 8 hours of my day being not thrilled. This daily work, of course will spill into other areas of my life. It is not where I envisioned myself being nor where I want to be for the next 5 - 10 years but I am working through it and planning for my future. I have goals that I have no doubt I will fulfill and as a result I will know and like myself better.
My life as a mother is not always what I had thought it would or should be. Some of you read my post where I locked myself in my car and ate chips and cried. Not my most proud moment but sometimes we do what we have to in order to cope. My brother and I were raised in a very quiet home. We are six years apart which meant that as little kids we didn't have a lot in common, we had a lot of alone time and quiet play. I thought that all homes were like that, until I had my own family. We have three loud, boisterous, comfortable in their own skin kids. They fight, they laugh, they play and they need me for what seems ALL the time. This means that I have little time for myself. Little time to know who I am, to find out what my true nature is, little time for me. I am told that this will come one day but now is not the time. I am working through this and finding the time, making the time! It is not always easy but it is necessary. For me to be a good mother I need to be good to myself.
Our marriage is less than perfect. I did not get married thinking that it would be perfect all the time but I can dream can't I. I think all couples go through periods in their life where they feel disconnected. Especially with all of the above things going on it is easy to lose touch with each other. How do you work through that? With three children a house and everything that comes with it all, it can be hard. As with yoga, it starts with you. I don't think a person can be happy in a relationship if they are not happy with themselves. My marriage is not perfect, I doubt it ever will be perfect but it is a relationship that I will have for the rest of my life. If we are married or not, we have three children that tie us together for ever. We can either chose to work through the difficult times or give up - either way we will always be a part of each others lives. I am working on the relationship with myself and my husband in order to find the other side. Finding that contentment that happiness, in me and then hopefully in us. I've mentioned to a few friends that we have lost our way lately and most of them either have or are going through the same thing. Most have suggestions or ask for advice. We are and this too is normal!
So to blog or not to blog - I guess that is the big question. To share personal information or not. To be and show that I am normal. I do not live the perfect life, I am not the perfect mother and I do not have the perfect marriage. Wow I am just like everyone else. I honestly believe that if most people shared even a little bit of what they were feeling, we would all feel better. Will I say I am fine the next time somebody asks me how I am, maybe? At least I know that I am working through as much as I can in order to provide a truthful answer.
As a parent of three children our house is usually... um... chaotic, busy, loud, creative, messy, fun and crazy, did I mention loud. As one can imagine as a yoga teacher and practitioner this is very different from the true nature that I hold dear. My dream day would be spent waking up early to birds chirping, sun over head and nice yoga asana practice, a lovely meditation then breakfast and curling up with a good book. My reality is very far from this.
Yesterday was a very hard day. Aside from my own three children I care for two toddlers. In addition to this my two older children almost always have a friend or two over to play. Our home is a bit of a revolving door and I welcome each guest into our home as if it were there own. However yesterday I did not feel this way. One of the toddler that I care for was having a hard day of his own. I always say that if you want to see violence in action watch a couple of toddlers having it out. They are ruthless and yesterday was no exception. I am going to say he spent most of the day in time out for hitting, pushing, kicking and yelling at the other children. He ate almost none of his lunch, in fact he threw most of it on the floor along with his milk and then barely slept. My own three year old (she'll be three in a week) was also having a day of whining and tugging and a lot of mommy mommy mommy. By the end of the day I had had enough.
This post is about being normal. I am tired of asking people how they are and hearing that they are fine or telling my friends I am fine when really I am so far from it. The thing is that yesterday was a typical day for us. Not much was different. Maybe a bit of extra whining and maybe I didn't get as much sleep the night before as I usually do and maybe there are some other things going on with me that I am trying to work through. But it was a typical day. I got creative with how I handled it. This was not so typical.
I eat a lot of healthy food. This is by choice and I enjoy it. My body feels like crap when I eat junk food and it makes sense but yesterday I needed it. When my husband got home I grabbed the bag of BBQ potato chips that he brought home from the store and took them outside. I sat in my car and munched. I could hear one of my kids crying for me at the door but I had to ignore it. I just sat and people watched. I saw my neighbors coming home from work, people walking their dogs, families out for a before dinner stroll. I did this and ate my potato chips. It was the silence that I craved. The silence that I get when I am underwater or in the shower. Nothing but the noises in my head - they were screaming "why didn't you bring they keys". I should have went for a drive. But no I just sat. When I finally emerged, half a bag of potato chips later I felt a little better but still drained. I fed my children and went up to my bedroom and locked the door. I cried. I think I cried until I was dry. I couldn't even really figure out why I was doing it? I just needed to be done. I don't usually cry, I hate crying in front of people and yet it still feels weird to do it alone. I could hear the hustle and bustle of the family in the house and I ignored it. I needed to do this for me. I needed to do this in order to have a better day tomorrow.
You know what it worked. I finished my alone time. Came back to reality. Went out taught an amazing yoga class. When I woke up this morning to a brand new day all seemed better in the world. I feel better able to handle the violence that is the nature of toddlers and I am not cringing every time my daughter calls "mommy". So the next time you say "I'm fine" when you are not - don't bottle it up - do something about it. Sit in your car or in your room and check in with your feelings. Let them out - you will feel better. I
Jennifer is an RMT, long time yoga practitioner and teacher. Follow her musings as an RMT, yoga teacher, prenatal educator and mother of three.