Yoga Church

by Alicia on October 28, 2014

On purpose, I am not religious. My adult years have given me a spirituality that I’ve adjusted & readjusted as times change around me. This particular time of my life called for yoga. And I have graciously & humbly found in yoga some of the things I missed about organized religion.
  1.  Community: I’m one of those introverts you don’t see coming- I like to be the centre of attention riiiiight up until the moment I want to curl into a ball under the covers and be dutifully ignored for 72 hours. Joining a studio was actually intimidating to me. I’m not a team sport girl, and didn’t want to be run by someone else’s schedule on when I should be practicing. Luckily for me, I found a wonderful space right around the corner from my house. The first couple nights I kept to myself. Awkward to be stepping into a space that felt filled with friends with old stories to share. But there’s something about settling into the practice surrounded by these folks who are here for their own personal reasons. You develop a way of coexisting, of nurturing & encouraging in a very simple manner. You look for the people that come to the same classes as you. You watch their practice grow, you ask how their daughter is or how their marathon went or if their foot is still hurting. And they look out for you. In the kind of way that’s very sweet & not overwhelming. The idea that you are enhancing each other’s experience for that hour, just by virtue of being there.
  2.  Tradition: yoga goes back centuries. Meditation is spiritual and has deep roots in the beginning of civilization. Yoga classes revolve around breath, and the ability to look inward and pay attention to something more innate about yourself. You set intentions (spoiler alert: mine is almost always strength.) You seal each practice with a one word acknowledgement of yourself and your commitment & your community. Yoga taught me to value repetition, and more importantly it showed me how to grow with repetition. I need those parts of yoga, they round out the experience for me.
  3.  Awareness: before yoga, I never realized how much I clench my jaw. Left with nothing to think about but each facet of my body, I’m very aware of the places I hold tension, the detriments of the terrible way I sit at my desk, the reasons why I shift my weight so often when standing in a long line. Beyond the physical, yoga has proven where my brain holds it’s tension too. I’m not sure I’ll ever master the art of letting go of my outside world and being only in the moment. I have hope, but I will tell you I am SO far from there now! However, what this hard lesson is teaching me is how to acknowledge That Thing and then let it go. It may come back & that’s ok. I’m learning ever soooo sloooowly to categorize stressors into What I Can Handle, What Gets Shelved & What Gets Trashed.
  4.  Forgiveness: of self. To be honest, none of you exist on my mat but me. I don’t have room for you, because I have a lot of learning to do about me. Yesterday I could hold Crow for 15 seconds, today I can’t even get both feet off the ground. My frustration with myself is fiery and fast. I’m learning to slow it down & be patient with myself. Not having to live up to the standard of yesterday or last week. And recognizing that growth isn’t linear- that what can look like stagnation in one area is actually just making room for growth somewhere else. Like yesterday I held an unassisted handstand for 6 entire seconds. BAMF.
I urge you to give yoga a try. A real one. Take no less than 7 classes, try to mix up styles and teachers and times. Explore the plethora of options out there, and then commit to yourself.
Yoga came to me out of necessity. Like, I needed it. I need it still. Let’s dial up the drama here: yoga might have saved my psychological life. And as a wonderful bonus, it has given me a spectacular ass.

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Funny for your Friday

by Alicia on September 19, 2014

So this is a short post, but it’s just meant to be a bit of a funny for your Friday.

If you’ve never met Maëlle, I beg you to reconsider. She is hysterical. But the kind of hysterical that just happens without trying. She’s witty and doesn’t even realize what that word means yet.

Case in point: the area where we wait for the bus has a hill. This hill is strangely configured and has a bit of a divot that runs from the top, all the way down the side to the flat grass. The hill ends up looking identical to a butt, is what I’m trying to eloquently get across to you here in adult-like-language. Ahem. This point is not lost on Maëlle. Ahem. (Mostly because I pointed it out to her one day, because I have the brain of a 12yr old boy that sometimes leaks out in real life. Ahem.)

This morning, we were waiting for the bus. About 15 kids and parents, morning rush faces on, checking watches and phones wondering if the bus would be on time. Stress and activity. Maë takes off to the top of the hill about 30 feet away. Screams from the top of her lungs: “LOOKIT MEEE, I’M IN THA BUTTCRACK! IT’S MEEE, WALKIN DOWN THA BUTTCRACK MUMMA!” She’s loud. No one could miss that. All it took was one nervous glance from another mom and I burst out laughing. I mean, come on. That is funny. Delicate, sweet little blonde Junior Kindergarten young lady shouting about inappropriate anatomy before 8:30am? Comedy gold. I shouted back to her, “Oh Maë, I just love you so much!” and reaffirmed my badge of That Mom We’re Not Too Sure About.

I do love that girl so much. Cause 12 minutes later she told me that a snail she found wanted to look at her face but would hide from mine because he was rude. Rude snails. Then she sang me Fancy by Iggy Azalea, and got on the bus without waving. #ohMaë

Mae at the busstop

(I, like, want to be friends with her. She’s the coolest.)

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To know they were here.

by Alicia on September 16, 2014

I have kept close with exactly two friends since kindergarten. They live so close, and yet I only see them like thrice a year. We seem to talk either not for a few months, or a whole whole lot at one time. This past week was one of those latter times. My dear, sweet, strong, steady friend Amie, lost her 30 year old sister Kari to cancer on Thursday, September 11th. (Fuck cancer, though. Fuck.It.) Amie called me on drives to and from the hospital, we had been talking on and off from diagnosis until that horrific morning. Because what else do you do? No, seriously…what else is there at all to do?

Talking and listening seems like you’re standing still. But you know what? Maybe that’s the most comforting part of all. Because Amie and I talked about how when tragedy strikes, your personal world grinds to a halt. Everything urgent on your to-do list takes an immediate backseat, you no longer worry about anything beyond your current circumstance. Yet the world keeps moving around you, Life keeps happening and all the other parts that were spinning before are still spinning it’s just that you’re standing still and trying to remember to breathe. And as simple as that sounds, it is one of the things I find most frustrating about dealing with tragedy, stress and death: you just want the world to pause for one minute and acknowledge the weight of what you’re going through, to stop and give you a minute…but it doesn’t. Emails keep coming in, bills are still delivered to your house, lunches have to get made, people still say “have a nice day” in the drive thru. So perhaps the greatest thing I can do for my friend is stop my time and give it to her. To acknowledge that what she is experiencing defies logic, that her anger and despair and confusion are valid, there are no skills which I possess yet that will make her feel better. Support feels good, true. But better? No. The only thing that would have made her feel better is the impossible. So I can stop my time and make sure she knows that she is all I’m thinking about, while all she is thinking about is Kari.

The hard part now is the emptiness. When Kari’s family feels the unforgiving weight of the empty time that they formerly spent focused on Kari. The loss of her is unfathomable. It came at me in waves during her funeral, the finality of it all, but really I found myself searching for Amie’s face in the massive crowd. But the weight of having loved and lost a sister, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a cousin…I know a little of that.

Kari wore a bracelet that read “No one fights alone”, and oh I love that message so much. It’s so far-reaching. Kari didn’t fight cancer alone one second of her too-short life. Amie won’t fight through grief alone. I don’t fight through my own battles alone…I often need reminding of that. We see our friends, we see those we love. Maybe that’s all you can do, see them. Know they are here, prove that they aren’t alone, that what is happening to them is real and important and you care about it too. Sometimes support can be small in appearance and large in importance.

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Timelines. (Mostly how I’m the only one who cares about them.)

September 10, 2014

“Sweet mother of MERCY Maëlle, if you don’t find that damn blanket in like 2.2 seconds we are leaving without it!” And I watch that beautiful blonde head just roll around her adorably still-somewhat-baby-plump little body and I want to shake her wrap her up in a love hug…(I don’t shake my kids, guys. Put [...]

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“I don’t know, really. I just do it.” A Parenting Philosophy

July 24, 2014

A friend asked me recently how I handle raising three kids, three daughters specifically. I blew it off of course with my usual “oh it’s a challenge, alright” laughraiseeyebrowsshrug. But then I had some time to think about it. And I just sat there. Dumbfounded. I have no strategy. I’m a planner by nature and yet, [...]

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