Whoah, it has been a long time since I last visited this blog, but it seems like a good time to check in, take stock and account for myself.
It feels as if change is in the air: Winter is bursting into Spring, we have an election due in a few months, my beloved son will be heading off to University this year, and even my mother is in the process of moving after 40 years in the same beautiful house.
And me, I sit here feeling happy, content with my lot, planning nothing more complex than a spot of decorating in the Summer, while all this change whirls around me. Don’t get me wrong, this is a GOOD place to be, after so many years of turmoil. I am married to a man I love and respect and who loves me back. I am doing a job which is fulfilling, but which leaves me energy to do other things. I am surrounded by young people creating beautiful, exciting and thought-provoking works of art – I am thankful every day for the path my life has taken.
To be fair, I have experienced change in the last couple of years, not least the loss of my grandmother last year. Although she lived a day’s journey away, which meant I did not see her as often as I should have done, she was one of those constants in my life: the strong matriarch who fought fiercely to protect her family. She was the person I ran to as a child and young adult when I was utterly miserable, knowing that she would simply give me a hug, pour me a cup of tea in her sunny dining room (served in her best porcelain cups and saucers from her silver teapot), and I would feel safe again. You knew where you stood with her, and it was always behind you, fighting your corner! Unless, of course, you did or said something which clashed with her deeply conservative values, in which case you quickly became a silly goose… But even then the rush of irritation was soon forgotten and you would be welcomed back into the fold as long as no mention was made of the matter. At 95 and after surviving a major stroke more than a decade ago and countless mini-strokes, we had almost convinced ourselves that her indomitable love for life would overcome mortality itself.
So it was a shock when the news arrived, and although I feel she is at peace, she is missed. It is as if her passing has acted as a catalyst for change. It was at her funeral that I had a conversation with my brother about yoga, and he recommended Iyengar yoga, which he and my sister-in-law had started practising. I had been thinking about learning yoga for some time, but hadn’t found a class which I could fit in with my working hours. So it was a bit of a road to Damascus moment when just two days later I happened to glance at the notice board in the car-park and spotted a poster about an Iyengar class which I could attend if I left work a bit early. Long story short, I decided this was one of those gifts from the Universe which should be accepted with gratitude rather than ignored or rejected as inconvenient.
I now not only attend my weekly class, but have developed a daily yoga practice, starting every day on the mat, even if it is only for a few minutes. I also try and fit in a longer session in the evening when I get home (easier now that I leave work at 4pm every day). I followed a youtube ‘challenge’ called 30 Days of Yoga on the Yoga with Adriene channel. I cannot recommend this yogini enough – she is the genuine article whose warmth, humanity and humour got me jumping out of bed every day in January (and February!). She is at pains to provide alternatives to those of us who are less than bendy, and also to point out that when she started she couldn’t achieve the poses with the mastery she demonstrates in her videos.
I am delighted to report that I can already notice changes in my posture, level of flexibility, endurance and even shape. But even more important is the fact that yoga is centred around mindfulness, connecting with energy and being aware of connectedness. While noodling around on you tube over the Christmas break, I started to explore meditation, after years of thinking I would never be able to do it. Yoga practice also introduced me to the concept of ‘the edge’ – the place of resistence in your mind and body which can be breeched by breathing into that place. Having experienced my body going beyond the point of resistence, I realised that I could take the same approach with my obstinately noisy mind: approaching meditation with the attitude that I would start, give it a go, and see how it went. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I have yet to reach a complete state of stillness, but I often experience blissful moments of it! If nothing else, my morning yoga and bedtime meditation sessions mean I sleep like a baby for the first time in years, and I am generally much calmer and able to cope with pressure.
However, there is another kind of change occurring in my body which pleases me less. Three years after joining Weight watchers and losing 60 lbs, I have realised that some of that weight has crept back on. Whilst I now look in the mirror and, for the first time ever, can appreciate my body for what it does for me, comparing the lengthened and strengthened muscles shaped by yoga to the bulk created by too many visits to the gym, I know that putting weight back on is a betrayal of all my hard work. So today is the day I stop burying my head in the sand, and I start taking action.
There, I have gone public, put my intention out there, so now the rest is up to me! I have picked up all sorts of useful ideas for goal setting and implementation from a great blogger whose home is Crazyhappygorgeous. She has posted some great guided meditations which couldn’t have come at a better time.
The problem is not what I eat – I eat clean. The problem, as ever, is that I eat too much of it, and I need to get back in touch with portion control and take more care with the amount of healthy fats I consume. I feel good about it this time – I know what to do, I have the willpower, the tools and the time to get back to a healthier weight. My motivation this time is entirely positive – arising from self-care rather than self-loathing. I regard the prospect as the opportunity to be even more creative with the food I cook, rather than as a chore or a punishment. I’ll let you know whether this positive framing succeeds!