Invisible Girl

Father’s Day approaching is bothering me so much more than usual this year. Faithful readers know I hate it.  I’ve said so here and here.  And probably other times I can’t remember.

Why is this year worse, you ask? Well, for one, last Christmas, we heard from a previously unknown (at least to me) first cousin, who kindly offered to send us some things of my father’s they had from sorting his belongings after his passing.

We said yes, and she sent the boxes. I think the items our cousin sent are important to my sisters, and I’m happy they have them.  But I’m angry and hurt and dreading that damn day.  Again.  Because when I began looking at the box’s contents, there was not one photo of me, not one mention, nothing.  I was erased.

invisible_woman_by_bishiegiraffe-da47lw5So invisible me is getting anxious already. The ads are multiplying, the celebrations are being planned, and I don’t even think that I existed for my father.  Or as I described him recently during a medical history “the sperm donor”.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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Dear Secretary Clinton

Thank you.

I know that not winning this election is probably one of the hardest, if not the hardest, things you have ever survived, but that you ran, and that you are clearly surviving, helps me.  It helps all of us.

Thank you for setting the example that a woman in the United States can go further than we believed – for fulfilling a large part of my childhood dream.  At my age, I have lost most of the strong, loving women who raised me.  Thank you for being there when I needed to know there are still those women “raising” us.

Thank you for showing the world, for so many years, what a smart, talented, professional woman looks like, even if they refused to see.

Thank you for being imperfect,  but still fighting on.  We are all imperfect, and your courage as you dealt with consequences gives me courage.

I will always be with you, and as the amazing Amy Ferris wrote, in many ways, I am you, but this may sum up my next steps best – I wrote it on Facebook shortly after the election:

Dear friends:

This may anger some of you, and I admit I am still processing what our country has done to itself. But no, I will not join in with the #NotOurPresident chant. Do you remember when that charge was leveled against our current President? Do you remember how it deepened the divide?

The divide in this country is clear. I do not think any of us really saw it for what it is, and we need to work hard going forward not only to mend fences, but to prevent our President-elect and those around him from making it worse with the type of policies he outlined in his campaign.

Taking to the streets, but without a plan to action, can be incredibly satisfying, and I would never say not to do so. But I will say that without a plan, such energy often dissipates quickly and leaves more bitterness behind. I wrote much the same about my concerns during the Democratic primary, and it boils down to one sentence: Revolutions are hard fucking work.

I am ready to do that work. I hope you are too.

You helped me see the necessity of those words, while still fighting the good fight.  And while I feel sad and scared and angry, you showed me we can go on.

So thank you.621951848_hillary-clinton-zoom-5bf026cb-ebbc-4a1b-b647-4614139b82a3

Love,

Me

Why Amherst?

Wow, I got asked to blog elsewhere! (Well, I volunteered.) But still!!!

So Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions – I’ve written about that before – but it is a reflective time of year, and lately I’ve been thinking.  A lot.  Some would say overthinking.  The end result of all this thinking?

A want list.  A very personal, very selfish want list.

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.

1.  Health, or the semblance thereof.  Many of my Bikram Yoga teachers will say, as we are in savasana, to “visualize yourself in perfect health”.  I want that.

2.  Staying with a theme…I have noticed that almost all my Bikram teachers compliment the same things about my practice every time I see them (and I basically see the same teachers every week).   And for whatever reason, those things are the ones that come a bit more easily to me.  In the meantime, I’m over here all like “hey, did you notice I didn’t fall over even ONCE in the balancing series?”  Or “I stayed in Rabbit despite being so far into it that my cleavage inhibited my breathing”!  Crazy, I know.  I want them to notice the things that are so hard for me that I am surprised.

3.  I’ve been thinking a lot about love.  I would like to know that there is someone – maybe more than one – that loves me (whatever love means, anyway) without it being an assumed condition of our relationship.  (For example, I love my family, even when I don’t like them.  Would I love them if they weren’t my family?  Well, some of them, sure.  Would they love me if I weren’t family?  Well, some of them, I think.)  Love, offered with no conditions, is something I want and want to give.  And I think everyone deserves it.  (And before you say it, no, I am not talking about a romance.  Sigh.)

4.  One thing I want I completely control.  2016 will be the year I get the weight back off.  I won’t say “get back to my goal weight” as I’m not sure what that is anymore, but I will be at the right weight for me in the new year.

5.  I also completely control my reactions to the bad behavior of others, and I want to stop letting others’ bad behavior get to me.  Both friends and strangers, in fact.  I may want to talk about it, but it is not going to upset me any more.

6.  I want to remember to be nicer to my cats.  And myself.

And, oh, World Peace.

May your 2016 be the year of getting just what you want.

Not (necessarily) what you deserve. 

 

Moving Too Fast, Or The Toughest Week Of The Year

On June 25, 1986, we lost our beloved Uncle Mickey.  On June 23, 1995, we lost our beloved mother, Betty.  On June 23, 2005, we lost our beloved caretaker and adopted grandmother, Louise.  Certainly there have been other losses over the years, but the week of these “anniversaries” (is there a better word?) is always especially hard.

It can’t really be so many years, can it?  I remember each of them as though I saw them yesterday.  They are in my thoughts, in my dreams, in my prayers.

Heart-Love-Sky-Hands-Silhouette__1920x1200

I think about the times we shared.  I blush with shame when I remember the times I let them down.  I blush with pleasure when I remember the times I made them happy.

Whenever I wonder if there is an afterlife, I feel there must be.  Because I cannot abide the idea that those we’ve lost don’t continue – not as “angels” in any religious sense, but in our hearts and minds.

What better afterlife than to be remembered with love?

 

The Hallmark Effect

With Thanksgiving just past (I hope yours was wonderful), we are now officially in the hell that is supposed to be the best time of the year.  Yes, the Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa/whatever holidays are here.

Holidays are hard.  Just a few possibles…I can think of dozens!:  you may or may not be with your family (and you may or may not want to be); you may be missing those who passed, especially if it’s the first holidays without them; those you are with are not inclusive, or actively disapprove of your choices; you may be unable to meet the expectations of HAPPY that we are told we should feel (yes, that’s the Hallmark effect)…

And it’s the last one that gets me, every.damn.time.  I’ve written before about New Year’s Eve, and Valentine’s Day, and in general, I think you can probably tell how I feel about high expectation holidays, even manufactured ones.

Don’t get me wrong…I love my family and my friends.  I was pleased and lucky to be invited to several “Friendsgiving” feasts, and was made welcome at the one I attended.  I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with my sisters and other relatives, and seeing a few friends.grinch

But even if that were not true, it’s near impossible to say so without accusations of Grinchiness (Dr. Suess has a lot to answer for on that one).  But know that if you are feeling that way, you’re not alone.  In fact, I sometimes want to spend the weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s under my bed, only emerging for (of course) my birthday.

So take some time for yourself, and understand that the holidays don’t have to meet some Hallmark standard of perfection.  Enjoy the time the way YOU want to, even if that is embracing your inner Grinch  – and to hell with expectations.

 

 

Yoga Is Not Life; Life Is Not Yoga

The title of this post may surprise those of you who know how much I love my Bikram Yoga practice, and how it has changed my life.  And it’s not like I haven’t written just a bit about that.

Yoga-Equals-LifeBut lately, I’ve had a few thoughts about how much yoga is not like life, and how it’s important to recognize the differences…so of course I had to share.

The big one, at least to me, is that in life, unlike yoga, getting each step right is not as important as getting to the finish line.  The Bikram Yoga dialogue emphasizes, in many postures, that as long as you get to a certain point (your head on your knee, even with a bent leg, for example), “you’re getting the full benefits of the posture”.  Life’s not like that.  I can only imagine saying in the workplace “but I was trying the right way!”

Which leads to my second point…time.  In yoga, unlike life, you have all the time in the world to keep trying.  I’ve been practicing Bikram for nine years, and no-one gives me a hard time about the fact that I often still fall over in the balancing series, or that I can’t get both legs off the floor in Locust.  Well, I give me a hard time, but no-one else does.  At least to my face.  The fact is, the underlying philosophy that trying is as important as succeeding is a very sweet idea, but it really doesn’t hold up in day-to-day life.

And it’s important to note, in light of the preceding points, that in life, unlike yoga, you cannot always stop and take a break if you get overwhelmed.  Imagine taking a knee during a family argument, or stopping during a tense meeting for savasana.  As lovely a thought as that might be, you usually just have to get over yourself and get on with it.  Though maybe that’s a place where yoga should be more like life?  I’ll have to think about that.

Finally, for now, at least, in yoga, unlike life, it’s okay to let your emotions well up and spill over.  In fact, the openness that allows that to happen is valued.  But most of us know that free flow of all emotions in our daily lives would cause more friction than freedom, and would probably be downright embarrassing.

But take heart, all of you who believe that your practice is a metaphor for your life…even I agree there is one thing that for me is exactly the same in both…the need for “English bulldog determination and Bengal tiger strength”.

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