My 2011 has been like no other year. Good, in most ways – - but also one of my worst years, at the same time. It started out pretty decent and strong with the launch of my new theme shop at Allure Themes and the release of a whopping three books in April, June and October. As if that weren’t enough to keep me busy, the work I do at E.Webscapes and Convertiv kept me hopping and on my toes. In this economy, I am grateful to have so much work and to be able to do work that I really love; being able to do it in my PJ’s if I want to is definitely a bonus.
So, yea – business-wise, 2011 has been pretty stellar and I cannot complain. Personally, however… well, let’s just say that 2011 is a year that I would rather not repeat again, thank you very much. In March, my daughter left home .. not on good terms and not because I wanted her to. It’s a long story full of dramatic details that only matter if you’re the person(s) involved, so I’ll just leave it at this: I miss her, a lot..and I heavily grieve the the loss of the relationship, for the moment and how it will change our relationship in the future. I wholeheartedly hope that someday, sooner rather than later, we can come back together and that our relationship will be stronger for it – - forever changed, but maybe for the better. In the meantime – I’m practicing the art of letting go, which is easier said than done, most days.
In April, my father was diagnosed with liver cancer. I’ve written about it on this blog in recent months, including the eulogy that I gave at his funeral in July. He passed away on July 12, 2011 at 5:35am. To say that my life will never be the same is an understatement, as I cannot begin to put into words how much that man meant to me and how very much of an empty space is left with his absence. It was the greatest privilege in my life to take care of him through the final months of his life. We were fortunate to be able to take care of him in his own home, and with the help of a home hospice agency, my father was able to live through the worst of his illness and spend his last remaining hours on this earth in the privacy and comfort of his own home, with his family.
It’s been 5 months now and not a day passes by that I don’t think of him. Not a day passes that my heart does not ache. I never knew it was possible to cry so hard. People tell me that it eventually gets better, and while I do believe that is true – I am patiently waiting for the day that it does. As I wait, I am trying to help my Mom put the pieces of her life back together, although, I don’t ever think we’ll get there 100%. They were married for 50 years. She met him when she was 15 years old and married him when she was 17. She’s never known a life outside the life she had with Dad … so this time is challenging and redefining on so many levels. Learning how to live life without him is something her and I are learning together, slowly.
So, during the time that I was taking care of my Dad – I hurt my back pretty bad. I was lifting him and transferring him from bed to chair and back again, every day and then again every night. It got so bad that I finally broke down and visited my Doctor in the early days of July. I explained my aches and pains and told him what I had been doing for Dad at home and he gave me a prescription for some anti-inflammatory meds and told me to come back in a month, which I did. When I returned to his office – I wasn’t taking care of Dad anymore. He asked me about Dad and I broke down and sobbed like an idiot and told him that Dad had passed the week prior. He sat and talked with me about it for good long time before we got back onto the topic of my back pain. He told me when I was in his office a month prior, it would not have done any good to tell me to stop the activity that was causing the pain – because he knew that I wouldn’t. He also told me that it wouldn’t have done any good to have the discussion that we needed to have about other contributing factors – such as my sedentary lifestyle (writing books and designing web sites isn’t exactly good cardio activity, who knew?) and my need to drop some weight.
He asked if I’d ever tried Yoga, and recommended it as a good way to start getting some decent exercise and that it would help with the back pain because it focuses on strengthening core muscles (back and abdominals) and the flexibility and stretching would also help me work through the pain and help heal the sore, pulled and tight muscles. He added that it would help with weight loss and finally, that as a secondary benefit, I would probably start to enjoy it as a stress reliever.
I’m not really one for group activity – and definitely have never tried group exercise classes before. But, I was desperate with the back pain issue – - and if it would help with the stress…all the better. I guess I must have really been desperate to resolve this because within the week, I was at my local YMCA class participating in a class called “Body Flow” which is a combination of Tai Chi, Pilates and Yoga. I enjoyed it so much – I actually went back. It’s now December and I’ve been going to class about 3-4 times a week since the end of July. 28lbs later – I’ve dropped some weight and my back pain is virtually non-existent. There are days that it flares up once in a while – - but I would say about 4 weeks into my Yoga practice, I noticed a distinct difference in the intensity and level of pain and now, almost 5 months later – it’s not a daily issue any longer.
But aside from the pain relief and weight loss – probably the greatest enjoyment I get out of practicing yoga is the relaxation and stress relief. It could be that I’m taking 4-5 hours per week and, selfishly, doing something just for myself that doesn’t involve taking care of anyone or work – - it has also given me a greater clarity and perspective, which I attribute to the meditation practice that goes along with it. During yoga, I am in tune with my mind and body and focusing only on those things that matter to me, personally – which is something I have not paid any kind of attention to in decades. It has helped me work through my grief and is a big part of helping me let go and keep things in perspective when it comes to my relationship with my daughter. Yoga has become as much therapy for my mind as it is for my body. I’m actually quite surprised with how much I absolutely love it and now cannot imagine my life without it.
So much so that my goal for 2012 is to incorporate a daily yoga practice. Because it’s not feasible for me to attend the YMCA 7 days a week (plus they don’t have classes every day) – this meant that I needed to start a home practice, if I was serious about practicing yoga every day. Over the holidays, since I have been enjoying a little down time from work – I started in on creating a space in my home that would allow me to do this. This actually killed two birds with one stone because I turned my daughter’s bedroom into a yoga/exercise room – which was actually somewhat cathartic for me. Instead of sitting around and grieving her absence in my life and obsessing over where I went wrong and what I could do to make it all better – - which is something I’ve been doing for many, many months, I decided that it was time to let it go and accept what’s happened .. realize there is nothing I can do to control the situation or even change it, for now. Turning her bedroom into a studio where I can practice yoga, exercise and meditate is healthier for me, overall .. and cleaning it out and turning it into my space was symbolic in letting go.
It was a big project because her room had become ‘that’ room – - you know the one? That room (or closet…or basement … or garage .. ) in your house that you put everything that you don’t want to look at and close the door so you don’t see it? Yes, that one. It had become storage for clothes I don’t wear, boxes of stuff that had accumulated and was beginning to take on a very kind of “Hoarders” feel (I kid you not). It had become too easy to put things in there and close the door, then pretend that the mess was not there. So, for the past week, that has been my project and tonight, I finally finished it! Here are a few photos of my modest yoga room – - I officially christened it earlier this evening with a one-and-a-half hour yoga session in candlelight – and it was beautiful!
I wish you could have seen what it all looked like before I got this all accomplished – it was quite a workout just getting it cleaned up and set up! There’s not much there – - lots of candles, lots of space – a nice sound system to plug my Macbook into for some good tunes – - and my elliptical machine, just so I can throw a little cardio in there for good measure! Oh and the mattress on the floor – with lots and lots of throw pillows, perfect for moments of meditation – - or a place to collapse after a hard workout! Naps are essential, too!
So, wish me luck on my goal for 2012 for incorporating yoga into my daily routine. Now that I have set up my space – I have no excuses!
Oh, and happy new year!