Give Yourself To It.
I spent a summer immersed in the things I love. I realize how incredibly lucky I am to be able to write these words. The pandemic which has been a time of incredible anxiety and sadness, has also been a time of joy and gratitude. In June, I was so grateful to be mostly well, back in the studio, out in the garden, on my yoga mat, and frankly just off the couch; that for awhile not much else mattered.
As always the universe decided to teach some lessons. The first great lesson came in early June as my stepson moved back in with us for the summer. His lease another pandemic casualty. The patience required to live with a twenty four year old night owl, when one is a deeply middle aged morning person is infinite. Add my hearing, which is like a bat’s plus my light sleeper mode, and we had a recipe for disaster. I am proud to say we made it through, no blowups and perhaps some growth. Mostly by me as I realized I am perhaps not easy to live with either. I still continue to be amazed by the amount of food consumed; apparently, there is no wrong time for meat, especially sausages.... but I digress.
The second great lesson was allowing myself to go with a gut feeling; I am rarely spontaneous. I love lists, pro and con columns; I am not one for surprises or change. But one day in late June, I got an email about a yoga teacher certification course, and within the hour I was enrolled and ordering textbooks. What a time I have had relearning asanas (poses), revisiting yoga philosophy in a much more meaningful way. How terrifying it was to take tests again. How awful to realize (again) that the faster you cram info into your brain, the faster it flies out. Studying and taking unit quizzes in Anatomy was not easy, and though I did well, I purchased anatomy index cards to have with me at all times. It’s good to know what you don’t know (hello rotator cuff), and that was another great lesson.
I wanted to be done with the course before fall started and regular teaching started up again, as I chose to be optimistic about life continuing to reopen. This called for discipline and time management; two strengths. It also called for not getting distracted or losing time trying different poses, getting lost in minutiae, or ideas from the webinars; not a strength. But somehow it all came together, and life was a kind of amazing blend of yoga, dance, gardening, nature, and the people in my bubble. I had my world and it was a pretty good one.
Labor Day has passed and it is now in my mind, fall. That crisp time of new beginnings and fresh starts. The studio has started strong, most of my classes full or close to it. Class sizes are limited and that has been a tough adjustment as some favorite students are on waiting lists. St. Michaels students are doing their part and there are (as of today) zero positive Covid tests. All my yoga work is under review and I have two private clients who are bringing me a joy and satisfaction that is taking me by surprise. My oldest dancers came to class this week with a maturity and focus that is inspiring me; we may not be able to perform in public, but we can be amazing in the studio. So much to be grateful for in this beautiful life.
The final lesson of this summer was the lesson of letting go. I have found a new peace in not trying to control everything and have let go of so many of my precious judgments. As always, Mama Maria has been the main reason for this. After a summer of trying to change everything for her: diet, activities, housework, and even people she was seeing, I have let it go in a way that would make Idina Menzel proud.
It was the mints that finally did it.
All summer I have worried about my mom, her safety, her memory, her stability and her diet, have all been cause for concern. Being me, I thought I could help change her diet. No veggies, little fruit; lots of classic comfort frozen meatloaf. Her fiber intake consists of oatmeal cookies with nearly invisible scraps of raisins. Her main source of calories is mints. She tells me peppermint is good for digestion. This would be true if the mints she was eating had real peppermint; nope, these are the mints you get at restaurants. Red and white, dye and sugar filled sweetness. She loves them. Maria has rituals around eating them during Yankee games. Two strikes on a batter, chomp on one for luck. A home run, down a few in celebration. Every moment is a mint possibility. My mom was going through the mints like a woman possessed, and I was alarmed. Yet, we are now sending her five pounds of mints every ten days, yes, we are pandering. Why, because it makes her happy.
I had a revelation. It makes her happy is reason enough. My mom is 89, if she wants to eat 50 mints a day, so be it. I fully got there a couple of weeks ago, just my regular daily call, but I finally learned something. My mom sounded euphoric. Maria euphoria is rare. She sounded happier in fact than I could ever remember. She was happy because she got her huge bag of mints from “the Amazon”. She had been mindless, and watching the Yankees without crowds in the stadium and mints in her mouth, was just too much disappointment. She got the mints just in time for the days game and was thrilled, beyond thrilled. I was humbled. So what if she is ingesting all that sugar, the joy is worth it. As always, Maria is some sort of savant for living, she is finding joy in a little mint. Who am I to judge? The rest of us are struggling in every possible way and one Brach’s bag of mints resulted in an explosion of joy for my mom, that then spread to my sister and I. No more delays, no more running out of mints, just a constant supply of jubilation, that is my the new plan.
We all find our joys in different ways. I finally am letting go of the judgement and letting Maria be. I will add that when I told her I was teaching yoga now, she did ask in an incredulous tone “if I liked that”. When I told her I loved it, she paused, popped a mint in her mouth, crunched, and said, “well, that’s good I guess”. I laughed as I realized I had been bemoaning her “small” life, and she was wondering why I didn’t just sit down. Judgement is a laughably learned behavior. Her life is exactly as she wants it, and how many of us can say that.
I am on to week 3 at SMC, and week 2 at Spotlight. Still waiting to get certification results, but starting to plan yoga classes and get a small business going. I have found the world I love and am giving myself to it.
I am going to keep my mom in mint joy, and hope that all of us can keep living a life we love. Your joy is yours alone; own it, and give your self to it.
May we all continue to be smart and safe as we keep moving forward through these hard times, peace.