Theme for January: What Stays the Same in a Season of Change

On Sunday, January 5th, 2020, I began teaching a 7a yin class at the studio in Maplewood where I had a regular restorative offering.

I got there early, around 6, with a leather bound journal and cleared the room. I set the lighting dim, put the battery operated candles all around and covered the supply shelf with a blanket, added height and dimension. Once the room was set, I put books of ancient text, my mug of hot water and – of course – the leather bound journal & pencil – out on the floor and I sat in the space I created and prayed.

“Backwards, moving, warming. The words are underneath my brain all the while things kept moving…”

Those are the first words I scribbled in the journal, waiting for the flow to begin… to be told what to teach. I approached that Sunday morning yin class as a door for me and others – a sacred opening for us to maybe even come fully alive in a pose or in a breath – and feel that awesome feeling we get sometimes when we are truly fully present: that suspension and peace.

Each Sunday, I held myself to the same practice: preparing the space, sitting and waiting, sketching the thoughts and the poses. Until March 22nd, 2020 – the last class in person before we went into lock down. I remember the 9a teacher arriving early for her last class and our students mixing in the lobby… a few tears… what is going on? Are things really like closing?

2020 was the first year I started with a practice and kept it up until disrupted by the world. I remember considering continuing with a weekly morning email for folks to practice at home. Doing the same thing in my own home and sharing. But it did not feel right. So I did not.

Now we are on the 2nd of January – the first Sunday in January – and having a Sunday morning practice of sitting with an open heart and listening feels right. This year, it is not a yin class I prepare for, but the continual growth of and the four books I plan on putting into the world this year.

I am prepared to let go of any of those four books should the world force my hand while also I am confident enough in what they are and how I know them to say they are what I am doing. This is the balance of effort and ease. Trusting yourself to hold on to something with diligence while being open to the way they will be shaped, the way your hand may be forced to let go, the way creativity may ebb….

And so here lies the January theme:

What do you know well enough to allow to be constant?

What do you know well enough to allow to change?

We get our kids back over the course of this afternoon and the next couple of days from their other parents’ house where they have been for a week. David and I have had a week of hiking, eating well and rest. We feel good. I can tell we feel good. But, when you look around the house we live in – you would see our current crux: our “endless loop” of shifting a room’s purpose and furniture and stuff to work for our family.

Even with all the ideas floating around as to how to set up the family room, dining area and sitting area, I still hung four pictures in the corner of one of the rooms. Because it is where my desk is… This corner is my constant in my house of change. It’s an anchor that will baseline the evolution of how the rest of the house falls into place as well as how the year goes.

In closing, at 40 years old, I have gone through enough iterations of myself with full head on awareness of what I wanted to spin out of or step into that I know one of the tricks is to allow some thing to be constant. Overhaul as much as you want, but keep the thing that works the same. At least try to until the world forces your hand. Because even in that case, the sacred place and priority you gave it will make it fun to see how it comes fully circle.

I believe what you allow to be constant and what you allow to change is a reflection of how you keep your heart and – thus – what your life presents to you as the things you must work through. Think about it.

Nice Wide Turns @ David’s Office in Bellingham 8.4.20

Feeling compelled to write current thoughts after a lunch break comprised of kundalini yoga for the hips & a piece of sea salt caramel dark chocolate.

One of the main themes in my personal evolution is letting go of the need to address change in others. There are things I want our kids to learn (like cleaning up toothpaste on the counter or being considerate of what you leave in the sink) before they turn into college roommates.

Yet, the management of 5 project plans (one per kid) and the coordination of said plans with David layered by the actual household projects and pantry management on top of “work” work, desired creative bandwidth and personal time is just too much.

And… based on recent findings… unnecessary…

On my flight in on Sunday, I had just had one of those glorious crafty moments where I think of a game that is actually a great way to manipulate the kids into doing what I want them to do when I noticed how the plane was turning.

A nice, wide turn.

I felt the control of the plane, the perfect balance of steadiness and direction, and recalled this double stroller I had when Ellen and Lucy were little. It was a high end stroller, a gift from a wealthy aunt on my ex’s side, and it could turn – literally – on a dime.

Crowded zoo? #nobigdeal Packed Saturday market? #bringit The thing was engineered for quick control and change. The plane turned much differently than the stroller.

In my awareness of these two very different calculations of engineering, I realized the fault in my quirky little game that would trick all the kids into doing what I wanted. What I need to bring to this family is not control, it’s indeed a balance of steadiness and direction.

It’s a steady application of everything I am learning by allowing others their life.

Yesterday afternoon, David and I went walking in the park. I had thought a lot during the day of our household and how to set us up for healthy meals and virtual learning. I was excited to share slash just wanted to hear myself talk so I prefaced myself… I said, “Babe, I have been thinking about how I want to manage the household and I am going to tell you about it but don’t worry – you don’t have to have an opinion or feel any pressure to build on or expand the idea.”

He started to laugh. He was so grateful to know I just wanted to talk and he didn’t have to do the whole sharpen my iron thing. I have learned from experience, my zealousness and excitement can put undue pressure on his pscyhe… he ends up problem solving the thing I figured out… we get lost in words… I just wanted to talk to begin with, so this time? I released the valve right away.

After a brisk walk around the lake, pausing only once to social distance / check the view, we stopped by Whole Foods to pick up an order and David was growing hungry. I could tell because, when he is hungry, he exercises his world class ability to be mad at everything and mad at nothing at the exact same time.

I have learned to shoulder him, like how he shoulders me when I am tired and can’t think straight enough to sound anything other than curt.

His hunger also can invoke “hyper management protocol”. (I watch a lot of Avengers.) With the edge of his stomach somehow triggering a survival mindset, he will question  whether or not we need X or have Y, whether I have done X or if I know Y.

Historically speaking, I take this personally and feel a lot of pressure to know answers to all these questions. However – a key thing I have  learned is “No, babe” is the perfect answer and – most importantly – it is 100% rhetorical when he asks me “Now what, babe?” about things he knows I have never done before or places I have never been.

(PS: This is very much unlike when my children ask me where things are in CVS, like I work there.)

I have learned I do not need to take anything of the energetic imagination on; it is easier to smile, to be equally curious, to be kind, to continue.

I am not perfect at this. But I am prefacing and I am adjusting.

That turn into Sea Tac on the final descent was really fascinating to me. I have a feeling a lot of life is going to be served well by remembering the truth of staying steady and keeping my focus when maneuvering my proverbial plane.

With the kids, this looks like “invitational awareness” and tailored choices.

“Do you want to put away the clean dishes or do you want to wipe the table?”

“Feel this dough – it is so smooth!”

“Would you like to hang out with me and load the dishwasher or come in when I’m done and clean up the pots?”

“Next time you’re in the bathroom will you see how many things on the counter – toothpaste, trash, pants, nerf gun, gum wrapper, small plastic spider – are yours and see if you can count them up and then take care of your mess? Let me know if I can help you.”

Because I would be happy to.

I could tell them to do it, to fix it on a dime, but the nice, wide turn feels a lot more accommodating.

It also seems to make way for a lot more believable story as to how they became such a kind, helpful roommate.


You are Going to Be Okay if the City and County Merge

I am growing impatient with stale voices opposing Better Together in the spirit of self-preservation and fear of losing what is “so perfect” and “so good”. St. Louis’ embodiment of familial traits offers a literal investment in the evolution of our city. Evolution with potential so great and profound that those faithful in this region would be wise to consider. Think of your family: you have each individual personality (your Webster, your Kirkwood) and you have your family name. Better Together is positioning our region to be a family. The threat of losing individuality or care for individual needs is not real unless you allow it to be real. Be an advocate for the components you care about (for me, it’s police oversight) but resist being a show stopper. Become educated on Better Together rather than simply reading one-sided fear mongering news. Think about the possibilities for future generations: what if our kids’ kids had a city that is on the map in a way that has re-engineered community for all? Use your voice to influence change, not to stop it. The only thing to fear is limited thinking.