Sukhasana.

Sukhasana means simple seat or easy pose- how amazing is it? See. You can do yoga too. 

Truth be told- I haven’t practiced in months. Since it’s easier than having personal accountability, I’m going to place the blame on lupus.

Lupus got me down in the dumps- to keep this light. Lupus made me feel weak and it made me forget what brings me peace. When friends asked if I wanted to attend a yoga class, I said no. The reason? One thing that I know to be true about finding a dedication to yoga is that it forced me to reflect. Not going to yoga was for no better reason than the fact that I didn’t want to think about my feelings.

Depressed. It’s an icky word that we don’t like to talk about, but lupus will do that. Do I have your attention now? Why does that word provoke a genuine curiosity? Hearing that someone is depressed creates a mixture of equal parts fascination, equal parts pity. Recently, in a lupus group I’m a part of someone asked: Do you struggle with depression or anxiety? The discussion evolved into a chicken or egg conversation. Lupus will make you fatigued. Lupus will make you inexplicably weak. It will make you struggle to find the words to ask “where are my keys,” because your brain legitimately can’t string together a sentence. It causes physical pain. It requires sacrifice.

I couldn’t go to yoga and face this obstacle. I couldn’t face it by myself, I didn’t want to talk about it with others, and I sure as hell wasn’t about to breakdown on the mat. And then my friend invited me to her new yoga class. And I genuinely wanted to be there and present, not only for her but for myself. I craved what yoga provided me with for years- sheer joy.

photo 1.JPGAs I found myself back on the mat and laying in savasana I made deal with myself to continue my practice.

To keep this vow, this morning I pulled out my mat, got cozy on my floor, and stumbled upon Yoga With Adriene through her YouTube channel.

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Title: Day 1 Practice Ease. And as she spoke, and preached her mantra: find what feels good, I decided I can get behind this. Today I practiced for 30 minutes. It was slow, full of ease, and she left me with something I need to make my own mantra:

In yoga, we cultivate the good space. The more we practice moving this way on the mat, the more we will move this way off the mat. 

Having lupus requires daily effort, but it’s my fight and I don’t quit. Life is complex, but find yourself and your purpose within it – even if you get lost or distracted. Today, as I laid in savasana and found ease, I also found a piece of my heart that I misplaced along the way.

 

Wait, you weren’t invited?

That must have been why I didn’t see you there. Not that too many people were there. Or anyone for that matter. It was actually just a party for one- THE Pity Party of 2016.

I would say that it was better than the Pity Party of 2015 and definitely better than the 2014 Party of Pity. Not quite as good as the one back in 2004, but I’m not sure any of them can beat that banger.

I would even say that I’m not sure if this year’s fiesta has come to an end. It’s kind of like when you are a kid and your birthday manifests itself into your birthmonth. Granted, birthdays are much more rousing than lupus and also contain a considerable amount less self-loathing.

Pity-parties are boring. Stale. Monotonous. Lonely. And I’ve been trying to end the soiree. But I want you to know that having a disease can feel a bit like quicksand in that the more you struggle, the more quickly you become in engulfed in the weight surrounding you. And if you ever are trapped in quicksand, check whether or not you are being weighed down by heavy items. If you are, release them.

Disease can make you miss yourself and ask questions like, where did she go? They can make you forget that you have accomplishments. That you are a fighter. That you have a sense of humor. They can make you forget that you are deeply loved.

Have you ever woken up after an ongoing sinus infection with a clear nose? You probably sat back and thought to yourself – nose, I will never take you for granted again. I love breathing and I will never forget this beautiful moment of nose clarity.

Years ago I started this blog as a reminder to myself to value both the grandeur and simplicity of life. The moment I realized how fortunate I was for my health and that I had the ability to challenge myself mentally, physically, and emotionally.

I hope you are never so unfortunate that you find yourself stuck in quicksand, but if you are take this advice:  if you simply relax, the sinking will cease.

 

 

Year to See.

What happens when you have been flaring for nearly three weeks? Your mind goes haywire with thoughts and mind boggling ideas. Case in point, last week I had an appointment with my  ophthalmologist to get my eyes examined because of the medication I’m on for lupus (see here). Hydroxychloroquine, which is used to treat and prevent malaria, can also be used for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. And for all that it does for my health, the yang to it’s yin is that Hydroxychloroquine can also cause retinal toxicity.

So there I am, sitting by myself with nothing but my thoughts – Never a good thing when you have an overactive imagination. Great when you are a kid. Terrible as an anxiety ridden adult. So I’m zoning out to the point of what-the-shit when a profound thought crosses my mind. Now I need to be transparent for a hot minute before I tell you about that thought. I have not gotten my eyes examined in four years. I am supposed to go every 6 months. Six Hail Marys…? Seven?

The thought that crosses through my mind: The doctor is going to tell me that I’m going blind. My mind instantaneously races on an adventure because now I’m focused solely on how my life will be different as a result of losing my vision.

I decide that I’m going to have to put in my notice at work immediately. They tell me that I can take a sabbatical. John will need one too so we are going to have to tap into our savings. We are going to explore the world and the journey has to begin tomorrow. Our first trip will start with that great United States road trip John has wanted to do since the day I met him but I kept postponing because life got in the way. We will map out a route and see where it takes us, planning only the hotels and motels in advance. Dog friendly only because our pooch rides with us.

“…Ta-lee-yuh? Tail-yuh?” – That’s my cue. For the record though, it’s pronounced Tal-yuh. 

I’m pulled out of my trance and into a dimly lit office with a man with an equally bright personality. We talk about my eyes, he dilates them for tests, I do some Hail Marys, and we praise my excellent vision- to no effort of my own, just genetics.

I walk out of the appointment with my vision fogged and as John drives me home I tell him about the question. I find myself exploding into a frenetic explanation of how our wedding would have to be changed. I tell him that it is going to be offensively bright. And by offensively bright, I mean to say that it borders on downright tacky. Additionally, I need to make it to China because I promised myself that I would. You can stay or you can come with. But I’m going. And I want to ride in a hot air balloon. Our conversation gets to a point where we are actually bickering about the logistics of my make-believe plans. The safest choice is to put the kibosh on the conversation and come back to it at a later date and time.

John expresses how he doesn’t understand my minds ability to operate at such a continuous rate of thoughts per second. I don’t fully comprehend this either because I really would find it preferable at times if my mind looked more like this:

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and less like this:

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All in all, the trip to the ophthalmologist taught me a few things about myself- For one, I recognize that I was challenging my health. This is something that deeply bothers me because I do not encourage it or advise it in any way. I was avoiding going to the ophthalmologist because I was fearful of what they might tell me. Going with the theme of transparency, I hated the prospect of someone telling me the very medication which I am dependent on could be hurting me. Avoiding getting my hair cut for a year to avoid a bad haircut experience only to wind up with worse hair because I refuse to get a haircut is one thing. Losing my vision because I don’t want to hear that my medication could be affecting my sight is another. And while the focus here is about my fear of losing my vision, it is really about losing anything.

Ultimately, the what would you do question could be applied to a multitude of situations and it had me thinking about my own life with lupus. When I was diagnosed I genuinely felt as though I lost something. The idea of giving up any other aspect of my health is what puts me in a tizzy. If someone had given me a years notice on this whole lupus thing, how would it have shaped me? Can we even live in a world of what ifs?

My trip to the ophthalmologist (and mental adventure into la la land) allowed me to reflect on how limiting we can be to ourselves in our adult life. Does it take a health freak out to appreciate what we have and what the world has to offer? We can’t avoid living because life will always get in the way of plans. And none of us can predict the future because we are not ancient Greek oracles. Maybe we have to ask ourselves questions that unnerve us to figure out what it is that we want out of our existence.

I part with this question: Why haven’t we gone on the Great American Road Trip that we keep talking about?

And this answer: We are going on this damn road trip!

And then one last addendum to the original answer: But after the wedding because I feel like I’m really busy until then.  Because I have to be slightly practical.

Reflect: You have one year until _______, what do you do?

Smile

Over the past two years I have fallen victim to the cult of yoga- I chant “shanti, shanti”, om, and listen to a harmonium… it looks a little an accordion and a mini piano had a baby. I wear yoga pants and yoga shirts, and I hate socks and shoes. One thing I love about a good yoga class is the inspiration you can take from it. Every teacher has their own practice and style, but I love a good story before a lesson.

In class today, my teacher discussed the nature of life in general and how it can have a propensity to become overwhelming. She’s a new mom and spoke to that, something I can’t fully embrace at this point in my life, but I’m sure it’s more challenging than a 30lb pug mix. It was an authentic dialogue and wonderful to hear from a yoga instructor when often they appear as though they have it all figured out – like life is simple once you find the balance and can hold a scorpion pose.

I recognize the ignorance in that statement, because who really has it figured out? I don’t want to butcher my teachers words, or put words in her mouth, but today spoke to me. When your life becomes overwhelming it is easy to half-ass (she didn’t say that, but see, you get the message) anything and everything. We become susceptible to falling victim of that crushing sensation and rather than fighting against it, sometimes we give into it. So what did she suggest today? Smile. Persevere, fighting through it, be the best version of yourself and give all of yourself to everything you do.

As the summer winds down and I transition from the easiest days where the sound of an alarm clock is sinful to days of actually having responsibility, I know i will have to fight against some anxiety associated with deadlines and grades and observations. So is life. It’s a generous reminder to myself that when I wake up in the morning I have to thrive and rise to the occasion. We have all had a woe is me moment, and actually, I’m not against wallowing in those waters for a little while. But at a certain point you do have to overcome. I write as a reminder to myself that I am a human, but I want to be the best version of myself that I can be as often as I can be. So let this be a reminder to smile – a mental note on a more taxing day.

Down the Rabbit Hole

My summer has flown by- not in a good way, not in a bad way, but definitely not in a “I worked out religiously (unless you count 30 straight days) sort of way.” Following my 30 day stint with Bikram, I wanted a break from the expectation of working out. I wanted to sleep until 11 and not have any responsibility associated with sweating or doing laundry. I realize that the last two are obligatory in the summer. Whatever.

The other day my dad came into town from Florida so the family got together for our yearly barbecue. There were a lot of “so, what have you be doing lately?” kind of questions. I couldn’t actually think of anything other than finishing yoga! I did not bike ride around as frequently as usual, or run, or see people from far away. I have no idea how I spent my summer, and that is scary! What have I done?

OK, truth be told I did plan a lot of my wedding. Dress, bridesmaids, their dresses, DJ, florist, photographer. As a result, I have also gone off the deep end on the internet- the rabbit hole, so to speak. Hours would go by and I had created a new Pinterest board, but I didn’t have anything to really show for it except for a make believe fantasy wedding that looks pretty much like every other rustic chic Pinterest wedding. And today I hit an all time low and I went shopping on amazon:

Pug-Dogs-Cake-Topper-Figurine--CLONSure, it’s cute, and yes I love pugs, but girl- you need a life. Time to get off the couch… put some makeup on, make myself presentable to the world. I think I’m even going to go crazy and go into Manhattan. I need a little culture in my life.

Marmalade Skies

Why is it so challenging to capture a beautiful sunset?10982850_10101804355414242_7238045040149848758_nThe kind of sunset that made beach goers and volleyball players pause their games to watch the sky light up in bubble gum pink, fuchsia, and gold. Last night I wrote about the connection between those that go to Bikram yoga, despite whatever difference we have on the surface. When we stand under the same sky, as the sun sets over the seemingly endless ocean, I love the light in peoples eyes. It’s the same wonder we all once had as children.

My Second Love

A few days ago my friends and I ordered a pizza. They had a long drive home so I won the leftover pie. I am on day three of pizza.

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Just turn the chicks head into a slice because I am becoming pizza.

Usually I have some self control when it comes to pizza. I fake blot my slice[s] to get the “best part off.” I don’t know why people love the grease, but they do. And usually the grease grosses me out, but the past three days have come and gone with zero blots. So here I am, in love with pizza.

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Zero. slices. given.

Yoga: All Day Erryday

As some of you may or may not know, my friend Jess and I got into yoga at the same time. One of us became a yoga instructor, one of us did not. It was me, I did not become the yoga instructor.

Either way, Jess is a pretty special person and we have a great time doing yoga together. Rain or shine, but mostly in the shine.

mejess

Because she wanted to be even cooler, she also started to do stand up paddle board yoga.

It was a long time coming and today was the day she decided to not only organize a trip out on the bay to do stand up paddle boarding, but also a free yoga sunset session on the beach.

Because she is an overachiever.

I had a dilemma at hand: How can I go to three sessions of yoga? Can I? Will I die? Are there enough hours in the day?

At 10 a.m. a group of us girls went out for a paddle board session and had an amazing time. Usually she is an instructor through Skudin, so check them out if you are in the area and are looking for something fun to do.

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I always repeat this, but stand up paddle boarding is not as easy as people make it look- unless I’m just as spastic as I do look. And yes, you can look spastic. I am covered in bruises on the regular. I particularly took pleasure in watching my friends fall into the water. But that’s just me. A few of us grabbed some lunch and upon realizing that a towel was left back at the beach, we went back and hung around the area for a little while.

When was the last time you went on a swing? Because I went today and cannot remember the time before. My butt definitely did not fit in the seat the same way it used to, but swinging is a good time! I also tried to re-learn how to dive. Diving is another one of those things that people that can do it will tell you is easy, but somehow you [and by you, I mean me] suck at. It was the kind of day that reminded me of being a kid.

Today is day 19 at the Bikram studio and from there I will be heading straight to beach yoga. Peace, love, and yoga ya’ll. See you on the zen side.

Boring People.

I call myself lazy all of the time- this is usually as I’m sprawled out on the couch, phone by my side, iPad on lap, TV blaring Shahs of Sunset, or some other garbage Emmy Award deserving show that I’m not so secretly obsessed with. I’m not actually a lazy person by nature, but sometimes, in these moments, I feel like I could exist on a downward spiral of Bravo forever and be perfectly content. In other moments I’m zipping around the house, restless: Where are we going? What are we doing? I’m bored. I’m bored. I’m bored!

Please, universe, do not give me a child like myself.

I’m probably not too alone in the conundrum of the do everything and the do nothing person- but it’s exhausting. Can’t I just be balanced? It’s when an entire day has passed me by and someone says: “So what’s new?!” And suddenly, I feel like the most boring human in the world as I stare at them blankly as though the only words I can muster are “well, I’m finishing Orange is the New Black Season 3.”  Which is true, and I think it’s alright. Not as good as season 1, but what really is?

But there is a lot to share!

Today I finished day 12 of my challenge. The room was hot, beads of sweat burned my eyes, I took two breaks, but I finished. I want to tell you that it gets easier, but it doesn’t. Some days are easier (the days I take the “shorter” class, the 60 minute classes) some days are harder for no rhyme or reason. I have spoken to veterans of the practice that will tell you the exact same thing- maybe it’s what I ate before I went? Because I haven’t eaten in too long? I had too much water? Too little water? The time of the day? The humidity outside? The variables are extensive and have a great deal to do with your practice that day.

At the same time, there are constants.

I love hearing my heart beating in my ear and feeling my breath slow down as I’m practicing being mindful of my breathing. I love the exhaustion felt as my chest and stomach rises and falls in each savasana. I love reciting “namaste” to my teacher followed by the last savasana as the once brightly lit room has been dimmed and I can lay with zero thoughts, something I struggle with on a daily basis. I love when my practice is over and I stagger a bit out of the hot room to feel the sensation of the air conditioned studio. It is one of the best feelings I have ever experienced- 105 degrees to room temperature? Sign me up. This transition is a taste of heaven and it’s a reminder that you are a survivor of Bikram. And you do more than just watch hours of television.

It isn’t easy. If it was easy everyone would do it. And remember, only boring people are bored!

Now, off to the city to watch my little brother do improv- now that’s brave!

I just wanted to say hi and tell you this:


Woohoo!

Time to be realistic?


My heart is smiling. And it has been for over one month. I’ve been meaning to stop by and say hello. Miss you, blog. I’ll be back around soon!