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Hello friends –

Thanks so much for the kind words these past days.  They warm my heart, buoy my spirits, and are truly appreciated.

Something else that keeps me aloft, and that I mentioned in that last post, is yoga.  I began practicing eleven years ago, answering the call to a $5 class at a tiny hot yoga studio on Ankeny Street here in Portland.  That first time was a singular experience.  The room was crowded with people, and I worked earnestly and completely alone for ninety minutes, sweat dripping from every pore.   It felt wonderful, and I enjoyed this new and sometimes baffling way of moving my body: the clarity and stillness of mind, and the particular sense that I found something right for me.

This sense of right came from the fact that I was not yearning to be elsewhere or wondering how much longer it would take.  I was immersed in being the postures.  I was (and remain) gratified, intrigued, interested, and excited by my body and its capabilities (more with each day, though sometimes less – it’s funny like that).  With every other form of exercise, save walking, it is a means to an end with a hyper awareness of time.  One dozen bicep curls, a hundred sit-ups, a thirty minute run, spin on the elliptical, or row.  Everything is measured.

With yoga, I choose a sequence, and go.  I honestly have no sense of time, only the flow of the postures, the challenge and sheer pleasure of each asana.  It is never a nuisance or a chore to practice, and a day with yoga is always better than a day without, no matter how troubled my mind.  I am nourished, relaxed, and rejuvenated, if only during the space of my practice.  It tickles me pink as a summer peony.

There is an expression (Buddhist, I think), “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Yoga is my teacher.  It opens my heart, teaches me patience and perseverance, and gives me a flexibility and strength I never imagined possible. With yoga, I am better able to see with clarity, live in the moment, and love what IS.  So much for just twisting like a pretzel!

p.s. Yesterday was number seven of twenty-one of the challenge.  I am in love and held a back bend, with a smile on my face, for one long minute.  It doesn’t get much better, at least for now…

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So, I’ve been in a bit of a funk these past few months, mostly depressed with a chance of mild gloom and occasional laughter and smiles.  There have been ample examples of feeling the sadness switch come on a hair’s breadth after a moment of sincere joy, bursting into tears in public for no good reason, and spending long spans with my eyes squeezed shut against the world.

Some of it is a sincere longing for accomplishment in my life.  I want my novel published!  I want to contribute financially to our household without doing crap work I don’t like.  Is this ever going to happen?  Anyone?  The rest, I blame on genetics, as the melancholia, like the Force in Luke Skywalker, is strong in me.  Thankfully, it is at its menacing worst only every few years, but dang, when it is here, it’s H-E-R-E, no matter what I do.  Just in case you’re wondering about medication to get me through, no thanks.  I’ve been down that road, and it was pretty awful.  The side effects distracted me from my sorry mental state, to be sure, but certainly were not worth it.  I lost hair, felt sick to my stomach much of the time, saw spots in my eyes, felt like I was on a merry-go-round every time I sat down, not to mention the literal and rather unpleasant taste in my mouth.  It took my liver years to recover, and that, mind you, was before my fondness for whiskey!

Now, for a bit of cage rattling (like not posting a spotlight today – they’ll come when they come) and my friend Camus.  I got to thinking about myself as Sisyphus and my gloom the rock.  It should be punishment, right?  The rock is heavy and burdensome and only comes rolling back down.  But what if, like Camus, I didn’t see it as a burden but a struggle worthy of filling my heart?  That’s life, isn’t it?  It is my job to keep the rock going.  I can do it with appreciation and joy at being given another day to do it, or I can focus on poor little me pushing a fucking rock.  My choice.  I choose happiness, whatever version that may be.  A glimmer seen at a distance, a whole day of sunshine, or a fully belly laugh, I’ll take it.

I also choose to nourish myself with good habits.  Instead of beating myself up for being depressed (so helpful!), I’m really trying to just acknowledge its presence and keep moving forward.  Though the photo shows me about to indulge in a Beef Wellington (our delicious Christmas meal), I am eating healthier than ever – less sugar, less junk, more goodness.  As well, I am shaking it up physically.  The hubster and I are off to a big-band dance tonight (gotta love the Norse Hall), and, as of Monday, I started the Yoga Journal 21-Day Challenge – practicing every single day.  I am eager to propel my body and mind to a new level of fitness, grace, and ease.  Who knows, maybe I’ll push that rock right over the top!

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