Hitting the Mat

“The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.” – Albert Einstein

So here is how this is going to work.

There will not be another blog post with a list of action items that I will reflect upon 6 months from now and then whine about when I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do. Been there, done that, over it. I have action items in my head of course (it is a universal truth that nothing gets done without them) but this obsessive list-maker is not going to make a list.

The plan is to actually DO stuff, and if I feel like it, write about it.  I do like writing.  It’s therapeutic, it helps me feel connected to the world. If all goes well, you will see more posts about stuff that I actually DO.

Starting now.

Today, I left the house for my Sunday morning Yoga class.  My favorite yoga teacher in NYC  is back from maternity leave and I am SO happy to be reunited with her. Her classes are 1 1/2 hours of crazy (sometimes confusing) poses, being there for yourself, and thinking about what’s important.

If I had not gone to class today, I would not have heard this reading, which I loved.  Apparently, it was inspired by a cocktail party where the author answered inane questions all night (read more about that and the author here).  I am sure I am breaking all kinds of copyright laws but including here.  If you continue on to read this, you have to agree to bail me out of copyright jail if necessary:

 “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day,and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

If I were a yoga teacher, could I just sit around and think about this stuff all day? Are yoga teachers happier than other people? Every yoga teacher I have ever met seems pretty darn happy.  Until I can figure out how to stand on my head without envisioning my neck breaking and balance in tree pose for more than 15 seconds, this is probably not in the cards for me, but I am going to do my best to hit the mat more often…as a gift to myself.

Deep Thoughts During Savasana

I started taking a Yoga class that is beyond my level of expertise.  When I say “expertise”, I mean “what I learned from 8 years of  Inhale with Steve Ross,” a Yoga show on the Oxygen channel. (That’s Steve below there.  I do love him.  We spent a lot of time together.) I might have over estimated my Yoga ability a bit in Sicily when people who had not done much Yoga were saying to me “you look like you have been doing Yoga for a while.”  When I got to this highly recommended Level 2/3 class, it was clear that I was in above my head.

Yoga is supposed to be about loving yourself and accepting exactly where you are (and probably other things too) but it is really hard for me to love myself when I am the only one in class falling over every time we go directly from side angle to half moon and the teacher is adjusting me more than anyone else.

But tonight, when I was lying in Savasana, thinking (when I was supposed to be clearing my mind) I reminded myself that this Level 2/3 class is taking me out of my comfort zone which is exactly what I am trying to do with my life right now!  If I only do the poses I am good at (which is very few), how will I advance myself spiritually and literally stretch myself in new directions?  I need to keep going to this class and pushing myself to get better and work on feeling like less of an idiot when I fall over.

I also realized that just the fact that I am going to a studio and taking a real live class is a huge step in the right direction.  Yoga at home with the TV is not Yoga.   Better than nothing, but not great. I was going through the motions and not paying much attention to what I was doing at all.  When I am in this 2/3 class, I am not thinking about anything else (except during Savasana, obviously).  This teacher is amazing and fills my mind with positive, powerful thoughts as I am attempting to twist myself in to poses that will align my spirit with my body.  THAT is what Yoga is about (and probably other things too.)

So I will keep plugging away at it which will be a compliment to moving out of my comfort zone in other parts of my life.  It is all coming together….

Surrounded by Lululemon in Sicily

I’m in Italy.  It’s beautiful.   It’s not an Eat, Pray, Love thing.  There will be eating and yoga, but no official praying and not likely any love.  I am on a group trip with mostly women and one man (who is part of a couple) and no cute guys magically appeared next to me on the plane (I swear that only happens in the movies!)  I was introduced to this travel company (Escape to Shape) by a high school friend who knows the owners.    I did my first E2S trip to Morocco 1 1/2 years ago and now I am in Sicily with 17 strangers (and Erica and Francesco who run the show and are the sweetest people and best host and hostess on the planet.)

I am way into the Escape part (and when I say “way in to” I mean terrified to fly across the world and spend a week with strangers but simultaneously excited about seeing new places and learning new things) and the Shape part is good for me and comes with the trip so I rise to the occasion.  Today the occasion involved a 3-mile walk to a small-town food market and a 3-mile walk back followed by a 1 hour lower body boot camp class (yes, after 6 miles of walking).  Before dinner we go back to the mat for yoga, then wine tasting, cooking class, and dinner.   That will add up to more exercise than I have done in a month.  I am a fan of moderate exercise but don’t have one of those “push yourself” personalities when it comes to working out.  This week I will push it a bit and I am sure it will feel great (not during of course, but after.)

As you can imagine the trip attracts mostly single women, around my age (late 30s early 40s).   Everyone is from the US and about half from NYC.  Lots of interesting women that I would never meet in my current circle of life (which is not very big.)   Magazine editor, casting director, financial planner, psychologist, professor, director of operations for the Alvin Ailey dance company, fitness company owner.  A semi-diverse group (for white women who all have enough money to buy Lululemon yoga outfits and travel across the world.)  It is a lot of time with strangers, which can be exhausting for an introvert, but also good for me and aligned with my goals to make my world bigger.  Most people don’t know each other and everyone is friendly and chatty.  I generally do more listening than talking with people I don’t know, but I have gotten in some words here and there.    It’s only day 2 so we will see how it all pans out.

I am already sore from this morning’s workout and it is time to get ready for Yoga.  I might need a little prayer to make it through this one.

Addendum: I survived yoga and Erica taught me this today:  To get across the fire, you have to take risks, and the other side is never as scary as you think it is going to be.  Awesome. Great mental and physical workout.  That is what is awesome about yoga if you do it right.  PS:  Sicilian wine is delicious as was our “pasta alla norma” dinner followed by the best Cannoli I have ever had.