Yoga is often an allegory for life. Such is the case for me right now.
After my cast came off , I graduated to a sling type contraption. I was finally able to put weight on my foot and, after about three weeks, it was feeling really good. I decided it was time to head back to yoga. I took it slow, starting in gentle and yin classes, but I quickly learned that taking it slow was not the issue. The issue was transitions. I can do all sorts of poses, like downward dog, warrior poses, cat/cows and more. What I couldn’t do was move from one pose to the next.
I’m not a yoga teacher and I’m not very familiar with anatomy so I can’t really explain why this is happening, but it is. Being the stubborn person I am I forged ahead and within 2 weeks was in excruciating pain. I’m back in the sling, staying off my foot, icing and elevating, and chowing down on tylenol. In fact, I’m in more pain, and in more places on my foot, than any other time during this ordeal.
All this got me to thinking about my life in general. I’ve been out of crisis mode for 9 months.
- Divorce – check
- Custody issues – check
- Business sold-check
- Taxes done-check
- New home – check
As it turns out, crisis mode is easier to navigate, just as it’s easier to hold a difficult yoga pose than to move on to a new one. Who Knew? (everyone but me??)
It has to do with decisions. When I was going through the divorce, selling our family business, selling our family home, decisions were required. There was little time to overthink decisions. When I sat at the table with my ex I had to make swift choices – did I agree with the proposal on the table or were we headed to court? No wiggle room, yes or no, once and done. Selling the house was cut and dry. Pick all the current colors and paint, then paint some more, then clean……just do it: quickly and often.
Some of these decisions have had a dramatic influence on the quality of my life, but I had to make them. I had no time to think about the ramifications; I chose based on my thoughts and feelings at that point in time.
Now, I have all the time in the world, and the decisions are endless. Colors, light fixtures, carpets, bathroom vanities & mirrors – an endless array of decisions, and an ever growing mountain of choices.
It’s the difference between Wawa (my local convenience store) and Wegmans. When you walk into Wawa you know your choices are limited, and you accept that fact. You know that whatever choice you make will be one that fits that moment in time only. You head in for a lunch on the run, and it’s one meal; no big deal. You go into Wegmans though and you’re making choices for the entire week. What will you want to eat in 5 days? Organic or not? Vegan or gluten free? There have been times I’ve stood in an aisle so confused at the plethora of options I’ve become paralyzed. Sometimes it is so overwhelming I leave the store. (Just me??)
This is the case with yoga. There are many ways for me to adapt my practice, to move from cat/cow to downward dog, not using my bad foot, but which is best? What is the best way for me to adapt crescent lunge? What is the least hurtful way for me to move from plank to downward dog? More importantly, when and how should I start using my foot to strengthen, not hurt it. So many choices!
As it turned out, I made some bad choices, and I’m now living with the consequences. And the consequences are painful. So I think back to the choices I made and berate myself for each one. Stupid, stupid choices.
I am back on my sofa, staring at my new townhouse, trying to make decorating decisions. Thrust back into this endless world of choices I am paralyzed. I managed to pick most of my light fixtures with no regret, except for my foyer chandelier, which has me spiraling down the rabbit hole of Stupid Choice. It’s not right, and I’m on a limited budget, so it feels like a big mistake. The feeling is bigger than the choice, of course.
Now I have every single color chip spread out on my dining room table, and my brain feels like my foot – broken and useless. I can’t even pick a color family! Blues, yellows, red, purples………I’m at a loss.
Initially I was really annoyed that I was making such a big deal out of this. How did I make it through 3 years of Really Big Decisions, like what was an acceptable amount of child support, only to flounder now over paint colors. What is that? Crazy, right?
Until I put it together with my experience in yoga. The choices I recently made in yoga have had a tremendous impact on not just my practice, but my overall well being. Not being able to practice means I’m out of touch with my spiritual being as well as my physical being. It’s an unpleasant place to be. What makes it worse than the months I spent on the sofa with a cast? The transitions. I was given a plethora of choices to make during each transition, and I made the wrong ones.
When I broke my foot I knew that there could be permanent damage; that this could be an event that changed the quality of my life. But there were no choices for me to make. I could choose the color of my cast and how high my foot was elevated. Other than that, it was out of my hands. It was like being in Wawa. My choices were limited, so if my life took a turn for the worse – well, how much could I really blame myself? Not much. Once the cast was off I was into thrust in the Wegmans of life, and I blew it.
I can’t get past the thought that the decisions I make about my new home are as significant, and difficult. These choices are forcing me to figure out who I am. Now that I’m not doing what everyone else likes, what do I like? Now that I don’t have a spouse to please, or rules to follow, what should I do?
I was reading an article suggesting we all need to unwind. Initially this seemed silly to me. Of course we need to unwind. We are all doing too much, expecting too much, working toward unreasonable goals. As the day wore on I began to see this word in a different light. In the beginning of the day I easily identified the ways I needed to unwind. No need to rush my dog on her walk so I can get to work early. Craziness racing through the opening procedure of the yoga studio, only to sit for 20 minutes waiting for the students. Why on earth was I wound up about a meeting over which I had no control? It was easy.
As the day wore on I dropped more and more examples of events during which I was too tightly wound. Suddenly though, I was faced with a problem: If I’m not wrapped up in truely irrelevant life details, who am I?
So this is where I am. Asking myself the question – Who Are You? What do you like? What do you want to do with your time?
I wish I could blame this on my ex-narcissist. It’s always easier to find a place to land blame, right? Unfortunately I can’t. Looking back I realize I was not living an authentic life when he entered it. I suppose this is part of what made me a great target for him. It is really easy, when faced with someone who is lost, to convince them you know who they are, and that’s what he did. He molded me into a person that he liked and that, if I’m to be honest, I liked. I liked playing the role of the happy career mom, the girl who had it all, the one who worked all day, fed her kids healthy meals, took care of the laundry and threw awesome birthday parties. I was comforted that I knew my role, it was well defined and choices were minimal. I was living in Wawa, not Whole Foods.
Today I will concentrate on settling into the uncomfortability of transitions. In yoga we often talk about reframing. Getting divorced? You’re not losing a spouse, you’re gaining possibilities. Always a silver lining. Less laundry, bed to yourself, freedom to watch whatever you want. Divorce reframed.
I will concentrate on reframing my current transition. I’m not reinventing myself, I’m delving in to who I am at my core. Turning my townhouse into an investment? No, I’m just choosing decor that I like. Picking the right colors? I’m picking colors that speak to me. I hope it works, because honestly, I hate transitions!