Wednesday, March 27, 2013

on the beat now

I take every opportunity I'm offered to make a wish.

When I was 7 I read a story that detailed the rules of wish making. It offered legitimate things to wish on, like seeing a white horse, as well as operational rules, like the more often a wish is wished the more powerful it becomes.

I began looking for things to wish on.

I don’t remember what I started out wishing for but I do know I kept the maxim ‘be careful what you wish for’ in mind and by high school I was constructing very specifically worded wishes. My wishes were optimistic, open-ended enough to allow for them to be fulfilled in amazing ways that I couldn’t imagine, and tied to specific events so I could wish the same wish for a period of time and know when to look for its granting.

I don’t remember how specific events I was wishing towards turned out but I guess my wishes went well because in my senior year I decided to create a wish that I could wish for the rest of my life. I can’t tell you what I came up with (everybody knows that if you don’t keep your wish a secret it won’t come true) but for nearly twenty years I’ve been saying the same seven words, at least once a day, every time I find myself in a magical moment.

My wish has not shielded me from sorrow or difficulty, but it is always there for me. The highlight of some of my days has been when I notice the clock turn 11:11 and I find something red to touch so I can make my wish. I had a lot of days like this in my first few postpartum months. Especially early on wishing offered me a moments respite from worrying about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is no joke. It might be the most natural thing in the world, but do you know what else is the most natural thing in the world? Going to a secluded location and digging a hole in which to take a dump. I wish that people who pass judgment on the decisions a mother makes in regards to feeding her newborn would be forced into the wilderness in the dead of winter during a sleet storm after drinking eight shots of espresso.

But I digress.

Today I got to lie in bed with my daughter and after we played for a bit she had a mid morning snack. I kissed her crown as she made satisfied sounds and I marveled at my own satisfaction in the exchange. I used to calculate the days until she could be weaned, now it is a thing of wonder that I can enjoy breastfeeding my baby.

I was feeling fine when I rolled out of bed and noticed the time. Of course it was 11:11. I found something red to touch and for the first time in my life made my wish in the same moment as noticing it had been granted.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

spooky action

My main concern after breaking my elbow last year was getting back to handstand.

My decision to have surgery & my commitment to physical therapy both were informed by the fact that I wasn’t willing to give up my status as a handstander.

Handstands are great. For me keeping my balance when I’m upside down is a matter of noticeable undulation. I must be aware of what’s working to keep me from toppling over and while perfect balance is rare and fleeting it cannot be ignored and is completely exhilarating!

Handstands are also very easy for me in the sense that I’m not afraid of inversion. Many people, I’m told, have fear associated with going upside down. Because of this handstand can be a way to do what scares them and as one begins to understand what approaching fear feels like in the yoga room one can imagine how that would look in other parts of life.

The scariest part of my handstand practice is having to admit that it is very much a pose of ego for me. I don’t need encouragement to come into the pose… I get instruction once I’m there. I’m a person who can do handstands and I took the fact that it is a boundary-pushing pose for some go to my head. Like, I can go upside down, I’m perfectly comfortable outside of my comfort zone.

I recently experienced life changes so big that I questioned if I would ever be comfortable again. That’s what it took for me to understand that just because I am naturally capable of doing something that is a major challenge for others doesn’t give me challenge immunity.

Last night in yoga class I attempted handstand for the first time since my injury. My teacher instructed the class to strap the arms ‘”if you are afraid your elbows will buckle’ as my titanium radius head gave way and I found my self grounded.

I am a person who can’t do handstands. But the pose still poses me no fear. I’m not afraid that my elbows will buckle; I know they will and I know how to take care of myself in my practice of the pose until they don’t.

I’ll continue to practice and I’ll get that sense of balanced freedom some day and it will be great, but it won’t be the same kind of great that someone who never thought they could get upside down experiences when they come into down dog with their feet at the wall and walk their legs up and get their torso to vertical.

One of the things facing fear means is to tap into power. I’m coming off of six of the most brutal months of my life. I never thought I wouldn’t survive, but spontaneous bursts of ‘what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’ shepherded me through many moments and today I am mighty.

Today I am ready to go into the yoga room and approach something that scares me. I don’t know if I’ll ever stand so tall that my hands touch the floor, but I do know how to try with all my honor.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


3/20/13 Author's Update: I am grateful for this forum where i can publicly display my personal beliefs and how the act of sharing helps to refine my voice. This post is about the recent events in Steubenville and some of the reactions to those events. My refined voice has found these words for my beliefs: I'm struck by the fact that in every moment we have the choice to see the humanity in another person or see them as something other than human. Each one of us has the capacity to cross the line as far as was crossed by everyone involved in that situation and what keeps us on one side or allows us to cross to the other is our tolerance for inhumane activity, tolerance we build by the attitudes and actions we choose to take and the example we see in the actions and attitudes of those around us. The habit we make when interacting with others sets the standard of what is acceptable.

A couple of people were recently informed of the punishment they must serve for the horrible things they did to another person. Lots of other people have lots to say about the whole situation, a lot of it about how they think society needs to change in order to insure horrible things are not enacted in the future.

A popular argument in the reactions I’ve seen begins with the thesis that the current culture, focused on educating everyone who may become a victim how to protect themselves from victimization, is antiquated, unfair and downright ineffective.

This is the start of a movement I could find myself getting swept up in.

The call to action then goes that we should instead be educating every single possible victimizer on every single possible way victimization might occur and letting them know that that behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

In my experience the opposite of a problem is rarely the answer to that problem.

This reaction, like many other reactions to this and many other tragedies, ultimately calls for predictable order in the outside world and that is ultimately never going to take place. Society might be something like an invisible structure we are all living in, but at the same time we are actively constructing it and it is through our own internal shifts that we will begin to see change.

A fact of this case that caught my attention was the report that those who were punished extended apologies and that the victim was not ready to offer forgiveness at this time, this made me think about how compassion may be shown to those who do horrible things to other people.

In this case I ultimately see two people who completely forgot another person was a human being. And that is something I do on a daily basis. When the car in front of me is going too slow, when the garbage sits in the garage on trash day, when I read something I don’t agree with on the Internet. I have the capacity to forget that behind each of these things is a person with the capacity to laugh until they are crying and hot and light headed with joy, as well as to feel alone and afraid and as unsure as an four year old spending their first night away from home.

At the very least this case has focused my attention on my thoughts and actions. As I commit to the practice of treating every person as a multi dimensional human being this treatment is extended to me and I unexpectedly find the space where I can feel safe to feel free.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


At least one of the textbooks on the shelf to the right of my fireplace states that the most effective way to deplete homophobia is for a phobic to get to know a homo.  We witnessed this reaction last week when a politician switched his stance on gay marriage after his son came out to him.  I think this effect is what people are driving at when they ask 'how would you react if you found out your kid was gay?'

I don’t believe gay is a choice or a sin or a defect. I don’t have first line of defense deflector shield levels of homophobia to chip through.  I do have numeral best friends, some of whom are gay, and I can honestly say I do not know how I would react if my child came to me and told me they were gay.

I know many gay people but I’ve only known three people before and during the time that they were coming to understand themselves as homosexuals.  Looking back I have to admit that my role in all three of their journeys was at best unsupportive and at worst downright cruel.  While I supported the fact that they were gay I was annoyed by their process of discovery and wanted them to accept the fact of their life that I could already see.

I can blame my behavior on youthful inexperience.  I can see that my actions were prompted by my longing for these people to cross the finish line and just be themselves already.  I didn’t understand how grueling the race toward truth could be.   I don’t know how or if my attitude had any effect on these individuals.  I do know I now have a person in my life who is wholly affected by my attitude and that all I can really do with my mistakes is learn from them so that I may do better in the future.  And this learning, it is a process.

When she was just a few days old our daughter exhibited behavior that wasn’t congruent with the idea we had about how our child would be.  She started sucking her thumb.  In that moment, during that time of overwhelming change and personality crushing stress, her thumb was forcibly removed from her mouth and she was given frantic direction about unacceptable behavior.  And then I hugged my daughter and I allowed her to follow her instincts and I cried out for help.

In that moment I broke.  I broke one of my connections to the societal ideal.  I broke the reaction I normally have after following a habit.  I broke into a place in my heart where I hold spots as soft and tender and vulnerable as a newborn baby.

In that moment I understood another facet of the human experience, one that ever person I have every judged has the capacity of feeling and one that will inform my every interaction from here on out.  Looking back on that moment I know that if my future holds the moment after my daughter tells me she is gay I don't have to worry about what my reaction will be.  I know can give the best support I have to offer in her endeavor towards the most important thing, being who she is supposed to be!