Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

Here we are, 2012. I’m still waiting for the flying car that was promised. I guess Google’s working on it.

My New Year’s Eve was spectacular. I did end up at the midnight yoga session, which was great, and a couple of people I’d mentioned it to also showed up: a co-worker and his girlfriend, as well as my hairdresser. My boyfriend wasn’t too into the idea of yoga, so he hung out and waited for me, which was very nice of him.

Going through that practice was healing. It was yet another chance for me to say goodbye to mom, and it was also a good opportunity for me to slough off everything else that happened in 2011. There was a lot. And now it’s gone. Even though our concept of time is entirely arbitrary, the start of a new calendar year always brings with it a bit of hope for something different, for a change for the better.

I don’t miss mom as much as I thought I would. The acute period of grief was devastating, and I sincerely believe that seeing a therapist during that time helped tremendously. (I’m still seeing her, but just every other week now.) I do find myself wanting to talk to mom about certain things. I miss many things about her and our relationship. That will never change. But I’m able to start moving on, which is good. I’m also able to spend the night away from the little heart containing her ashes (that took me a while).

Of course, there are unintended consequences. I was talking with my counselor about how my emotions have changed, and she asked how much of that was a result of the dissolution of my marriage and how much the loss of my mother. I honestly hadn’t thought that losing mom would affect that part of my life, but I suppose it makes sense that I would fear getting extremely close to people only to lose them. We’re always going to lose them. Nothing lasts forever. That’s life. I’m interested in seeing how these things play out in my own heart and head now. I’m very different than I used to be.

This week, I took another step in reclaiming myself. The question I’ve gotten most often about my divorce is what I’m going to do with my wedding ring tattoo. I was originally going to leave it as it is: it, like my marriage, is a part of who I am, and I don’t regret either. I toyed with the idea of modifying it for a while. But something happened last month where I was signing a paper with my ex and someone asked about it, and my ex held up his hand to show that his matched mine. I realized that I never wanted that to happen again. So I tracked down my favorite tattoo artist (who did our rings initially), and he altered it so that it is now “uniquely mine”–“Don’t go sharing it with anyone else,” he said. And he didn’t even charge me: “Consider it a touch up.” A kind soul, that one. And now one more tie that was starting to strangle me has been cut.

I’ve also been doing well with my training for the half marathon in March. I’m up to eight miles on my long runs, which I think is pretty ahead of schedule. I’ve been doing those out on the Tobacco Trail in Durham. That’s where the race will be, and it is flat and glorious. I could run on that thing all day. I think I’m finally starting to enjoy running, which is very new to me. I go out with the running group at work sometimes during the week: they’re good about making sure I don’t get left behind and lost! I’d been pretty obsessive about my weight before, but I’m focusing solely on this training right now and not so much on what I’m eating. That’s both good and bad. I like not having to be obsessed about calculating calories and such, but I do want to make sure I’m not gaining. Rumor has it that once you get up to running 10 miles on the long runs, you don’t really need to worry about how much you’re eating anymore. A lot of runners say that they run because they love to eat!

Dad has been away this week on a ski trip. I only spoke to him one, briefly. This is the longest we’ve gone in months without speaking to each other every day. I hope he had a good trip and is feeling better.

Anyway, I hope that you all have had a wonderful start to 2012 and that it is a year full of hope, blessings, growth, and rest. I think we could all use a bit of that.


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Merry Christmas, Momma

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Things were very busy with trying to wrap up work before the holidays, closing on the WV house, and preparing for my thesis defense (successful, yay!). And then once the thesis was over, it was like my life just took off. It was nuts. There were a lot of holiday parties, of course, but I also met someone. I wasn’t expecting to or planning on it, but I suppose that’s when those sorts of things always happen.

It’s been great, though, and honestly experiencing those first fun moments of a new relationship (do you remember the butterflies?) made it a lot easier to get through what would have been an extremely sad holiday. It was still sad, of course, but I had this competing happiness in the background to even things out.

I’m really glad we decided to put up the tree this year.

Dad and I went out to eat on Christmas Eve, and it was a wonderful dinner. We had talked about going to church, but after a heavy dinner and quite a few drinks, it didn’t seem right, so we just headed home.

I bought a candle to light in honor of mom so she could be there with us in some way. I’m not entirely happy with the way it turned out, but it smelled nice.

I got my stocking (and the cats’), and then dad and I opened presents. There were a LOT. I had gotten quite a few for dad, and I think dad went a little overboard for me. (Not that I’m really complaining!) The most special gift was one that he got down at the beach. We were in a little local craft shop and I’d spotted some amazingly unique champagne flutes made by a local potter. I must have talked about them enough that dad went back to get them. And there were a couple of things from mom, including a pig statue that she got for dad.

Dad gave me a copy of the book the funeral home put together, which has a copy of the life story I wrote, as well as all the pictures we uploaded and messages people posted on the funeral home obituary. It’s very sweet. I got dad a garden stone in memory of mom, and I got a Christmas ornament too. She was very present.

I think we did a good job. We kept many of our traditions, including a big Christmas breakfast, and made some new ones, like going out on Christmas Eve. (We also went out on Christmas, but the food wasn’t very good.)

Dad’s hanging in there. I know he’s depressed. He’s about to go on a ski trip with an old friend, so hopefully that will help pull him out of his funk and get his new year started off right.

I’m looking forward to a great 2012. It seems like almost everyone I talk with has had a bad 2011, and we’re all ready to start something new. I’m thrilled to be starting my new year with a great job, a Master’s degree, the best father on the planet, and a new sweetheart. My plan is to do midnight yoga on New Year’s Eve so I can really start the year off in the right mindset. As my counselor told me, I deserve a little happiness. I intend to enjoy it.

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I went to yoga tonight because my favorite trainer, Yvonne, was having a “Freaky Flow” class for Halloween. I thought it was going to be an hour and a half, but it was just an hour (glad I checked before I got there 30 minutes too early!).

Yvonne warned me that some things might come up in the class that touched a little too close to home, but that it would be okay. I told her that’s why I was there.

I already knew that Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) is the day that spirits are supposed to be closest to the living. How do some people put it…that the veil between life and death becomes more thin than usual? Yvonne talked a little about this during the class and about how it was the Celtic new year, so there was a sense of looking back to honor what came before while also looking forward to look to what’s to come. She also had a fire bowl where we burned a piece of paper that represented something we wanted to ask the universe to enhance. I don’t know if it’s like birthday wishes, which you aren’t supposed to share lest they not come true, but I’ll tell you anyway: I asked the universe to enhance my sense of loving-kindness-compassion for myself. Yvonne mentioned that since we were asking the universe to enhance something, that meant we all had these things within us already. That was nice to hear.

I don’t know how many of you do yoga, but at the end of every practice, there’s a period of time where you lie in savasana, or “corpse pose” (flat on your back, legs extended, arms usually to the side). Since it’s at the end of the practice, the body is usually humming with blood flow and energy, and, just like at the end of every workout for me, it’s the time when I’m most emotionally open and vulnerable. These days, I usually cry when I stretch (no thanks to Mighty Mike, who keeps insisting on playing sappy break-up songs during the cool-down).

Something very strange hit me, though. I was fully open to the pain that I’m feeling surrounding my mother’s loss, and I just let it sit there instead of trying to get rid of it or let it out or let it overcome me. And I realized I’d felt that exact pain before. I felt that exact pain on many occasions during training for the Peace Corps. It’s homesickness. It’s knowing that you’re too far away from the people who love you the most. It’s understanding that they’re still out there, somewhere, but you have no way to get in contact with them to speak to them.

It made me remember the day I left for staging. My dad said goodbye at the curb. We couldn’t really say anything to each other because we were both crying, and I can’t stand to see my dad cry. Mom helped me carry my bags in. She helped me check in, and then she helped me sit on top of one of my bags as we tried to re-close it after stuffing in my body pillow (allowed on international flights, but not domestic, the bastards). I remember I had to take something out for her to take home; she said she’d send it in her first care package. Then she walked with me to the escalators that led to the security checkpoint. It’s so crazy how extremely emotional moments imprint themselves on you: I can see this happening like I’m watching a movie. She gave me a hug and told me goodbye, probably said that she’d be counting the hours until she could see me again a year from that Christmas. And then that was it. I was going down the escalators and leaving my mom behind with a certainty that we would see each other again, someday, but it was going to be a long, long time.

And now it’s the same, only she’s the one with the overstuffed bags heading down the escalator, and I’m the one who has to go home to wait until I can see her again.

To be honest, I thought I’d be able to feel her. I thought I’d know she was out there, that she was still a part of me. But I don’t. I don’t feel anything but tremendous loss and overwhelming homesickness. The only comfort I can find in that is that her spirit was ready to go home and isn’t wasting any time hovering around us silly people anymore.

Today, I read “A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs,” a eulogy written by novelist Mona Simpson. It was touching to me because the last third of it could have almost been written about my mother. I’d written before about how I thought she was somehow gone before her labored breathing began, and it sounds like that’s what happened to Steve, though he was more expressive about it. It was also nice to hear that not everyone in these kinds of situations just goes to sleep: I still feel awkward about the “passed away peacefully” note in mom’s obituary.

Dad went to get the urns from the funeral home yesterday, so he has them back at home. I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to get my little heart…probably not until the weekend. I still don’t know how I feel about it. We’re going to scatter the ashes from the large urn, but the ashes in the small heart are mine. I used to think that spirits didn’t dissipate until the body had fully returned to the earth. This made me feel bad about hanging onto ashes, like I was somehow holding someone back. But I don’t know if I feel that way anymore. I don’t feel mom hanging around. I really doubt she’s waiting for us to scatter her ashes. I suppose it’s true, that whatever happens now is not for her, but for us, and what makes us feel better. Maybe I’ll keep the ashes in the heart. I guess we’ll see.


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Another week, another Tuesday. Dad had an early appointment, so I’ve been here alone with mom for most of the day. No one was sure whether or not the CNA was supposed to come sometime (they’re moving her up to four days a week, but I guess no one had said which four), but no other visits were scheduled. It’s kinda nice.

I went in to see what mom wanted for breakfast and noticed that she had thrown up during the night. There was dry, crusty stuff that looked mostly like blood to me all down the front and side of her shirt and on the pad underneath her. I did my best to change her shirt (watching me try to take the old one off would have been hilarious had it not been so sad…it’s very difficult to change someone’s shirt when she’s just lying there), and I put a clean pad over her old one while I called to see if the CNA was indeed coming (if not, I’d go ahead and try to change everything). After a few rounds of phone tag with hospice, the CNA called to say she was on her way.

Of course, she came right when I have my weekly (phone) meeting with my manager. The one appointment I have all day. So there’s me with my cell phone pinned between my shoulder and ear, talking with my manager about a matter of procedure, kneeling in the middle of mom’s bed, and helping the CNA slide mom in and up on the bed. Talk about multi-tasking.

Mom’s always exhausted after nurse visits. I’m sure it’s because she gets manhandled and has to expend a lot of her energy. I was trying to get her settled and get her some food since she said she felt nauseated again. She’s on a two-bite kick: two bites of breakfast, two crackers, two bites of sandwich, two spoons of yoghurt or smoothie, two sips of water. I wonder if she’s aware. But that’s all she’ll take these days. Anyway, I got her some crackers, and she didn’t seem to like the way they stuck to her teeth, so I figured it would be a great time to brush her teeth, especially since I’d forgotten to do it earlier. Bad caregiver.

I’ve been working with mom for MONTHS about not swallowing toothpaste. Apparently this is something she’s done her whole life, I don’t know. But the first time I had to help her to the sink a while back, I noticed she wasn’t rinsing and spitting. She was under the assumption that if it’s safe to put in your mouth, it’s safe to swallow. I know she never reads ingredient lists, but toothpaste is not your friend! So now I make a big deal out of “rinse and spit!” I brushed her teeth for her (awkward if you’ve never done that before; all previous times, she’s done it herself) and held up a cup. I must have said over a dozen times, “rinse and spit; please don’t swallow!” I don’t know if she couldn’t understand or was just in the habit of swallowing, but she swished the water around and swallowed. Ugh. I made her rinse and spit anyway, though it was very hard for her to figure out how to do it. When we were done, I asked if she needed anything. “Yeah,” she said, giving me a nasty look. “I want my life back.”


She was sure she had to be somewhere for bridge, either at church or her friend’s house. It took some convincing for her to believe she didn’t have to go anywhere. I put on the TV and tried to get some work done. When I went back, I asked if she was okay…she looked very confused. She said she was confused. I asked what about. She told me that it was like she had two lives, one on the TV that was causing her to miss the other. I turned off the TV and asked what she wanted to do. She said sudoku or read, which is what she always used to do, so I got her the sudoku book and a pen that writes easily.

Boy, that didn’t go well. I don’t know what she was doing, or what she thought she was doing. She started by putting a 1 in a box that already had a 1, then told me I was wrong when I told her she couldn’t do that. So I just agreed and let her do her thing. I checked back on her a few times, and there were some scribbles in a few places, but no numbers. Every time I walked by the room, though, she was staring at it intently. I wish I knew what was going on in her mind.

When I walked by and she was asleep with the book in her hand, I took it away. I got her two bites of lunch, and then she agreed to read a book. She’s been in bed reading for a while. It’s really a small miracle. She hasn’t read, to my knowledge, for a long, long time. It used to be her favorite thing to do. I hope she’s getting some enjoyment out of it.

I also hope she’s getting some sunlight. I opened the blinds in her room. Poor dad…he loves birds, and he said the last time he opened the blinds, a bird flew into the window and killed itself. He just can’t win. (And, yes, he even has those decals on the windows that are supposed to tell the birds that there’s glass there.)

I’ve been doing a little better these past couple of days myself. I went to yoga, which I haven’t done in ages, with an instructor I haven’t seen in months. She was my first real personal trainer. She’s a very kind soul, and I was hoping that yoga with her might help me remember to treat myself with kindness and compassion. I spoke with her a bit after class, and it turns out when she was 16, she lost her mother to cancer. They had a four-month warning. It’s so sad, how many people this disease touches. It seems like everyone. I hope I can make yoga a part of my regular routine. It’s another thing I can’t afford, and I’m horribly inflexible, but it’s a nice way to touch base with what’s going on with myself. Just like meditation, it brings a lot of crap to the surface that can then be scraped away. I hope.

So here’s to small miracles, two bites, and two lives. I don’t know how much longer we’ll have with mom, but I hope she can spend that time doing what she loves to do.

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