Tuesday
Nov122013

Tuesday

It was a quiet, wonky practice this morning. Only four other students turned out for Sam's 6 o'clock class. My legs felt heavy and weak, I toppled unexpectedly to my bottom during a basic transition and bonked my head on the sloped ceiling after class. But there were deep inhales, longer exhales, laughter, because who doesn't laugh after falling, and savasana. Always savasana. 

Say hello to the morning regulars at Elmo's. And the ginkgo trees.

I came home and showed Kent a pose I finally figured out late last night after weeks of trying. I crawled into bed early Monday, like most nights, but jumped out an hour or so later after I stumbled on a video made by a new friend (and yoga teacher) who demonstrated a different way into eka pada bakasana or one-legged crow. It's a pose I've found remarkably difficult. Until now, I always started in crow then tried to slip one leg out and up. I always dropped unsuccessfully to my knees or belly, convinced I lacked the core strength to find air.

But last night, I lifted my leg from a down dog position, fumbled once or twice positioning my knee on my upper arm and immediately went up. Boom. It wasn't as effortless this morning, but I'm on the road now. 

My patience with the kids was tapped by 9:04 a.m. and when I looked at the clock, I thought, "Good god, this is going to be a long day."

Back to Home Depot for more bathroom tiles and this time I didn't need to separate anyone.

Someone lied about Halloween candy and no one would fess up so I chucked all of their bins. I expected histrionics but there were only a few unconvincing tears. 

We stocked up on books next when we made our weekly pilgrimage to the library a few days early. Then after lunch, we ventured west toward the mountains and the middle of nowhere Virginia to a giant warehouse filled with wall to wall trampolines. 

Turns out, I shouldn't have wasted the money to buy myself a pass because my back can't take the jumping. I bounced three or four times before walking back to the side, then watched jealously as the kids bounced themselves silly. I tried again a few minutes later but, nope. The pain was sharp and immediate and just like what I experience when I try to run. 

I'm grateful as all get out that I can tie my shoes without crying and take my yoga practice as far as I have, but I'll admit to great sadness at the very long list of things I can't and likely won't ever be able to do again. Trying my best every day to accept the limitations gracefully. Like my yoga practice, I'll keep trying.

Monday
Nov112013

Monday

 

Every morning starts here at Elmo's, unless it starts on the third-floor of my neighborhood yoga studio then I come here second, flushed from a vigorous practice. No judgment from the Elmo's crowd. Not for my bed head and sleepy eyes or, alternately, my sweaty, exhausted look. 

It takes me four minutes and seven seconds to walk here. I timed myself today. The short walk is one of my favorite parts of the day. Uma used to come with me every morning and we'd say hi to all the other early-rising neighbor dogs. The neighborhood is so quiet first thing. Depending on the season, it's either pitch black or just starting to blush with light when I head out. 

Today, the trees in the park lit up in fiery red hues and electric orange. The line of ginkgo trees across the street looked to be nearing peak neon yellow.

For months after Uma's death, the walk to the coffee shop was awkward, her absence so keenly felt. I fumbled with what to do with my hands without her leash. I felt self-conscious when I saw her friends. I was surprised by just how long this sense of not-quite-rightness persisted. Maybe it still does to a degree. Our house is wanting of another dog.

I sat in the corner of the couch in the front room and drank my coffee while the rest of the house slept. No school today or tomorrow. Teacher conferences instead. I started at Tobias' preschool where his teacher told me of some trick he was doing on the playground.

"What are you doing?" she asked. "Imitating a frog?"

"No, I'm working on my crow pose," he told her. 

It seems the kids are as consumed by yoga as I am these days. 

Monday is the day I shop for food. It's a mixed bag now that the kids are back to school. On the plus side, I don't have to police four children as I fill the cart. The drawback: I have to carry seven tons of groceries into the house by myself.

I treat myself to 13 malted milk balls on Mondays. Any less than 13 and my belly wants more. Any more than 13 and my head starts to ache. 

Conferences at the elementary school were next. Esme's teacher said she's equipped to be whatever she wants when she's older. Desmond's teacher told us he explained a math problem in a way she'd never heard but plans to use with her students from now on. Josephine's teacher marveled at her writing. We told her about the poem, "The love dove," Josephine wrote for us last night: 

"The love dove is high up in the tree's spreading love to all the bee's. The love dove is happy to help a mate find a date. Kent was a gent and he found the best date."

I dropped Kent at the Metro, made lunch, then took the kids to Home Depot to buy tile for a new bathroom in the basement. With the exception of about eight months in Raleigh, Kent and I have always lived with one bathroom, so it feels like an absolute luxury to have a second one constructed. Never mind that the basement is short and Kent can't actually stand in most of it. It will have a bathroom. A SECOND TOILET!

So, I won't complain about the kids behavior and the fact that I had to forcefully sit one child at one end of the Home Depot aisle and plop another at the other end to keep them from fighting while I tried to pick tile. I won't (even though I did, just there).

Oh look, the coffee shop again. This day needs more caffeine.  

I finally ate my malted milk balls and listened to the kids climb the silver maple in the back yard. Josephine wandered in at one point to ask where Esme and Tobias went. I looked out the window and saw Esme climbing the fence, shouting to Tobias whom she directed into the neighbor's yard. I didn't know what they were up to except no good.

Meanwhile, at the front of the house... Desmond once told me that books saved his life. I think they continue to, every single day. 

I lost my patience at 6 p.m. and finished with the day at 7:09 when Kent walked in the door. I'm in bed on a heating pad now. Living large!

*This post was inspired by a blogging pal and should be the first of seven meant to show you what a week looks like for me. 

Wednesday
Nov062013

One-minute Handstand

The other night I couldn't sleep, couldn't slow my thoughts or temper my energy so I got out of bed, unrolled my yoga mat and practiced some poses I've become enamored with. This is happening a lot lately, this excitement and restlessness. This sense of adventure and fun. 

The next morning, Kent told me he could hear my ujjayi breathing. Hear my feet hitting the mat.

I've been inspired by new teachers and new classes, by yoginis unknown to me just weeks ago whom I've found on Instagram. 

Who's that celebrity famous for saying "I've got the fever?" The more cowbell guy from Saturday Night Live?

I've got the fever and instead of cowbells I want yoga. There's a web site I've found recently called Yoga Dork. That about sums it up.

On another of my restless nights I sat up, alone, making a list of 14 yoga poses or transitions I'd like to do one day: dragonfly, visvamitrasana and one-legged crow among them. Another: a one-minute handstand. I read somewhere that in order to do a one-arm handstand, you first need to hold a handstand for a minute. So, I put it on my list. 

First, though, I needed to figure out how long I hold my handstand now. I catch some good hang time now and then, but I've never timed myself. Today, I set up my tripod in the back yard and pressed record. 

41 Seconds from Dana Damico on Vimeo.

 

I have to find another 19 seconds to reach my goal.

Thursday
Oct242013

Handstand Press

I did something in yoga class I've never done before, something I've never seen anyone else do either. I shouted "Oh my god! Oh my god!" as I lifted myself into a pose I thought previously impossible, then I high-fived the teacher immediately after. Like I was a weightlifter or soccer player or some other athlete drunk on adrenaline, not a yogini.

It wasn't just the physical breakthrough that stunned me, though it did! The emotional one was even more unreal. I'm not an effusive person, at least I don't think I am. I think most people would describe me as calm. Reserved, even. But there I was, in a quiet yoga studio, making a fool of myself with a teacher whose class I'd never taken. 

I was still high hours later. And still thinking about it the day after. 

Sometimes, many times, I struggle with sharing things about myself. Recently, I asked Kent for advice and he told me to 'let my beauty shine.' What he meant, really, was fly that freak flag of yours with pride. So, I did that day. I felt like I let it fly in the yoga studio too, in a moment of unadulterated and boundless joy I couldn't have contained if I tried.

I don't know what's driving the transformation - yoga teacher training, maybe? age? - but I dig it. I walked home from the yoga studio smiling and laughing and the absolute best part, I didn't tell myself to stop.  

Handstand Press from Dana Damico on Vimeo.

Tuesday
Oct152013

Monkey Mind

Something unexpected - and unsettling - happened to my yoga practice when I started yoga teacher training. My mind no longer goes blessedly blank when I'm on my mat or stills when I unfurl in savasana. It chatters. On and on and on and on like Tobias who hasn't stopped talking since the day he learned how.

In Buddhism, it's called the monkey mind and luckily it's something I've never been cursed with. 

I have a teacher who is fond of telling the class to stop thinking of their day ahead or the day before. Stop writing to-do lists, she tells us. Stop rehashing old arguments, past grievances. Focus on this moment. Right now. The burn in fierce pose. The muscle shake in plank.

I always smile. I am here, I think to myself. I'm on this mat now and nowhere else because this mat is always where I want to be.

I hear my breath. I see my gaze. I feel my body. I am here. 

Except, I'm not as much anymore. I still get lost during the practice - mostly - and I still fail to see friends on nearby mats. But I don't float away in savasana like I used to. I can't place my thoughts in the imaginary basket that washes them down the stream anymore. 

Maybe it's because I feel overwhelmed by the information we've been fed these last few weeks - philosophy, anatomy, sutras, the flow, cues, hands-on assists. It's muddled my mind and thrown me off balance, in actual practice and, to be honest, outside the studio too. 

I skipped class today. I think I'll skip again tomorrow and maybe even the next one too. I may dig in the dirt or, better yet, go for a ride through the woods, take my yoga practice away from the mat for a few days, see if I can outride the mind monkey.