This was the most difficult aspect to capture. Words are so much a part of who I am. Always have been. They were my first friends, accompanying me from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. They whisper me to sleep at night and sing in my ears first thing in the morning. The last thing I'll see before I die is a word.
There is no part of my life where the words are silent.
Finally, I decided to capture a pile of all the words currently lying around my house. Reference books for work. Art books. Travel guides for Spain. Yoga books. Fiction titles. Notepad where I jot down ideas. Magazines. Letters and postcards sent by a friend. Even a printed copy of my own personal project.
My heart beats faster to think all these words are mine.
Never have T.S. Eliot's words resonated more with me.
April has been a long, trying month and I'm glad it's (almost) over. Hip adjustment. Nerve malfunction in my hand (four physio appointments later). Nasty head cold. Hormonal freak-outs. Creakier-than-normal joints. Wonky sleep patterns.
I feel about 107 years old this morning.
And because I've been beholden to the whims of my oft-uncooperative body this month, it means that I've barely been able to practice yoga.
Generally, yoga is my cure-all. No matter how stressful my day is, once I step on the mat, all is seen under a different light. Deeper breathing allows my reactions to soften, my compassion to balloon.
So going through a physically difficult period without my Number One Coping Tool has been a learning experience in itself, because I've had to summon compassion and softness all by myself. No shortcuts. No instant release. No crutch.
It hasn't been pretty, but fighting these waves of frustration has taught me a few things about how I've structured my support system in general. For example, my number one issue is asking for help. I'm terrible at asking for help. My parents trained me to be as self-sufficient as possible and from that, a fierce independence has developed over time.
There are people that I rely on for support, but it's only just occurred to me that I chose the wrong people - that they are rarely there for me when I need them.
Maybe I need to love those people for different reasons.
Maybe I need to choose other people to rely on.
Like I said, it's been a looong month. Here's hoping I make it through the last day without getting into any more trouble.
The greatest advantage - and the greatest pitfall - of working at home is not keeping a regular 9-5 schedule. It means that if I want to take a yoga class on Wednesday morning, I can catch up by simply working a few extra hours on Tuesday night.
The pitfall is that, sometimes my brain gets so tired from a full day of working with words, that it isn't as sharp after 6pm.
My solution? Doing something manual to help my brain reboot.
To rest the intellectual-wordy part of my brain, I made pizza. From scratch. I kneaded the dough and let it rise twice. I made tomato AND pesto sauce from fresh ingredients. And then while my pizza bubbled in the oven, I washed all the dishes.
I returned to my keyboard a few minutes ago feeling clear-headed and fresh - ready to tackle the short translation and revision that awaits.
Heck, I even squeezed out a blog post. With photo!
I've been teaching an Introduction to Yoga enrollment class at AYM for the last 5 weeks - we wrap up next Saturday. Big news, right? The honour of being asked to teach at the school that trained me. The immense confidence being placed in me by the people I respect most...
You can understand why I didn't mention it until now. I was worried that if it didn't go well, I would have to admit failure.
The good news is - the whole experience has been nothing short of great!
Up until March, I've been teaching multi-level and level 2 classes. The challenge has always been how to keep the students motivated and challenged. Although there are always a few beginners that I have to keep an eye on, my classes mostly comprise students with a basic knowledge of yoga and basic body consciousness.
I worried about how I would connect with students with almost no knowledge of yoga and even less body awareness. Not only did I have to slow down my instructions - but I also had to find a new language, new words.
Simplify physical instructions - say "lengthen" rather than "extend"
Avoid anatomical terms - most people don't know where their femur is
Make prop use mandatory
Focus on proper breathing techniques
I had to reprogram my thought patterns, dialing back from Advanced(ish)-brain to Beginner-brain. The trick that helped me make this transition?
Breathing and staying calm to open up the necessary brain space.
I certainly went over my notes and practiced instructions in the silence of my room, but it was the ability - in the moment - to not panic that allowed the skills and knowledge I possess to float effortlessly to the surface.
It's in me - and it's been inside me the entire time. What else can I unlock if I take this grace into other aspects of my life? What about you?
NB. A big thanks to my teachers Allison, Eugene and Jessie, for preparing me these last two years, and to Jeanne for her continued guidance. Their support has helped me to find grace.
Reading is a touchstone for your humanity, but music is the touchstone for your soul.
I tend not to trust people who tell me, 'I don't care much for music'. I assume that they're afraid of facing something. Listening to music is a very physical experience for me. I feel the bass in my belly, the piano up my spice, and each lyric is a taste in my mouth.
No other stimulus can make me feel so thoroughly. I'm that person you see walking down the street, quietly singing along to her iPod, her shoulders swinging with the music. I can (quite contentedly) listen to the same song 7-8 times in a row if it's tweaking a particular feeling.
I've even proclaimed that I could fall deep in love with a man who makes me a mixed tape.
Music can draw me inwards but it can also pull me out into the world. That's why I had the words 'You're my best friend' on the back of my iPod when I purchased it online.
While reading Ian McEwan's "Saturday", I came across this passage:
There are these rare moments when musicians together touch something sweeter than they've ever found before in rehearsals or performance, beyond the merely collaborative or technically proficient, when their expression becomes as easy and graceful as friendship or love. This is when they give us a glimpse of what we might be, of our best selves, and of an impossible world in which you give everything you have to others, but lose nothing of yourself.
Yes, I'm Italian and yes, this may seem stereotypical, but I love food. I consider it to be one of the greatest pleasures of life. I love buying ingredients and preparing it. At a restaurant, I love the anticipation that sets in after you've ordered your food, and then the thrill of seeing the server approach the table with your dish.
The first bite. The rush of flavour that floods your tastebuds.
Food is health and well-being, but also pleasure and comfort. It feeds my body, but it feeds my mental well-being as well. Especially when shared with friends.