Observations on Being Without Power.

 

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Image found via Pinterest.

Our state recently experienced an historic power outage due to winds of up to 60 miles per hour. My house was without power for over 72 hours. Here are a few things I observed.

Of course there is the initial annoyance. No power (and no generator) meant no lights, no heat, no water, no refrigerator. At first, it wasn’t that bad. It almost felt like a reprieve from normal life. But soon, it got old. I went to the bookstore for the afternoon to get warm and charge my phone and laptop. That night, my husband and I drank some wine and played a few games of Cribbage by candlelight. Sweet, fun and a little romantic. But waking up to a really cold house the next morning, the reprieve glow had worn off. I went to the gym to work out and take a shower. My daughter and I tried to find a place to get warm and charge our phones but every place was full. So, we got food to go and went to the yoga studio where I teach. No classes in the middle of the day so we had it to ourselves: warmth, wifi, outlets to charge. All in all, a pretty nice afternoon especially since I wrote over 2000 words on my current WIP.

That night we stayed in hotel where my husband had a business meeting. Perfect timing. Enjoyed a warm bed and a hot tub. Woke up to news that the power was back. Yay! On my way home, my daughter called to say the power was NOT back on. Boo!

I began to notice how easily swayed my mood was by things completely out of my control. I found myself getting incredibly irritated when the DTE app hadn’t updated the repair status and that irritation began to spill out all over the place. It made me wonder how often I let my mood be influenced by things out of my control. How often did I let irritations pile up and feed off each other until I was just miserable to be around for myself and others?

Each time I walked into a room, I hit the light switch. Every. Single. time. It made me realize how ingrained our habits are. It made me wonder what else I do just out of habit, basically on auto-pilot?

As the irritation began to build I realized that I was just waiting to get the power back. Just waiting. Filling time until everything was back to normal That’s what drinking the wine was about the first night. Let’s make this a little less uncomfortable and make the time pass a little easier. I wonder how often I did that, bypassing what was uncomfortable, waiting for things to happen that I want to happen.

As offers to use friends’ refrigerators or freezers to save our food, or their house for warmth or an invitation to sleep in their spare room came in, I found how awkward I felt when offered such gifts. I have no problem at all offering such gifts to others, but receiving is not easy for me. Even when it was my best friend in the whole world. She had me come down to her home for the day where she made me a fresh salad, had bought my favorite tea and crackers. I said, “My gosh you are spoiling me.” She said with a lot of passion that somebody should spoil me, that I deserve it. That I take care of everyone else all the time and the sometimes I needed to be taken care of myself. I heard the words, and I tried to receive them with an open heart but I could feel myself closing up against them. How often do I refuse to ask for help or feel guilty when accepting it?

Finally, being powerless felt like a huge, neon metaphor for how I’ve felt since the election. Certain things are just out of my control no matter how many calls I make, marches I attend, petitions I sign, meetings I go to, postcards I send.

So, with so many things out of my control, what is within my control? Always my response. Always. I chose to get irritated by the power being out. I chose to check the app twenty-five times a days, hoping to see an update. I chose to drink several large glasses of wine to escape the situation in front of me. But I also chose to seek out warmth. To continue my meditation practice even if just for two minutes. I chose to continue showing up to my current WIP, making progress despite what was going around me. Chose to notice when it felt uncomfortable accepting offers of help. I chose to accept the help anyway, learning to get comfortable with it.

Now that the lights are back on, I hope to stay aware of what is in my power, and what is not. To stay awake to my habits instead of sleepwalking through my days. To be grateful for help when it is offered and brave enough to ask when I need it, believing that I am deserving of it. To be grateful for all that I have that I blindly take for granted as I easily flip on a light switch to light up a room or turn on the faucet to receive water or open the refrigerator full of fresh food.

Just like Dorothy, the power is always within us.

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Image found via Pinterest.

 

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#AMonthofFaves2016~ These are a Few of my Favorite Things

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things #AMonthofFaves2016 – eg. to eat, drink, wear, smell, see, do, enjoy, best thing I bought, most used gift received etc, favorite concert, outdoor activity, place visited, most squee worthy moment of the year, biggest change.

So…2016. It’s been called the dumpster fire of years. With good reason. And it’s easy to settle into a permanent state of angst but forward momentum is needed. In that spirit, I am reviving my blog by participating in this challenge that I saw via Andi of Estella’s Revenge.

Favorite home improvement: My writing space! We (and by “we,” I mean my husband and my best friend), ripped up the cat-pee smelling carpet and laid this beautiful dark wood laminate. I got a couple of new, comfortable chairs, displayed the old typewriter my husband got for my birthday and it feels like a whole new space. So much energy and potential. I just breathe easier the minute I step across the threshold.

my-writing-space

Favorite squee worthy moment of the year: My BFF since we were 14 moved to the area! We haven’t lived in the same state in over 20 years. Now, she’s only 30 minutes away. We hang out on random weeknights and have dinner together, go the movies, yoga, the park. She loves to play and go do fun things which will be great for me when my default is to just hibernate.

Favorite item of clothing: This fun, comfortable cardigan from Dry Goods. It is so me!

sweater

Favorite new TV show: “This Is Us.” The characters are so rich, the unique structure enriches the stories and it is just real. I cry almost every week, so it basically replaced “Parenthood.”

This Is Us - Season 1

Favorite drink: Mimosas because we only have them on special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas morning and that means my girls are home! Win/win!

mimosas

Favorite thing I bought: This super cute, super versatile skirt from “The Happy Woman” in Sutton’s bay. The snaps allow it be any size you need it to be. The waistband and skirt are both reversible so it has 4 different looks. Plus it comes with a little purse that is perfect for my phone. Looks great with black tights and boots.I just love it!

skirt

Favorite book I read this year: “The Chronology of Water.” Hands down. It changed what I believe writing can be, what it can do. Read my reflection here.

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Favorite meme:‘Nuff said.

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The Masks We Wear.

 

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Image found via Pinterest.

I don’t remember the first time it happened.

But I’m sure I was young when I first donned that mask that would allow me to be accepted, liked, loved.

Maybe when I pretended not to be upset.

Or laughed at a joke that I actually found offensive.

When I said, “Nothing” to the question, “What’s wrong?”

Or when I somebody asked how I was and I said, “Fine” when really I was trembling with sadness, shame or rage on the inside.

We learn at a young age to mold our outsides to be acceptable to those we love most, to those who don’t even know us at all.

I did it just the other day when my best friend of 37 years came over so we could go to dinner and a movie. I’d just gotten home from teaching, the house was a mess because I just didn’t feel like cleaning. But I did this brisk 30-minute clean before she arrived.Why? She is the last person who would judge me for anything much less having a messy house. I was judging me.

And there it is.

I judge myself harshly and then feel compelled to pretend I am other than who I am.

Yoga has helped with this. Not just the poses. We all know that the poses are the very tip of the yoga iceberg. The more I practice, the more I show up to my mat just as I am on any given day and do what I can do on any given day, the more I am peeling away those layers of masks.

Some days I just need Child’s Pose and Savasana. That’s it. I’m done.

Other days I need to sweat and move and build strength.

The biggest revelation is that one day is not better than the other. They are just days. Days when I show up to my mat. And when I show up to my mat, I show up to myself.

No matter what I do when I show up to my practice, whether it’s Child’s Pose or Warrior or Crow, I am shifting energy. Energy that has gotten stagnant and stuck in my body. When I come out of a pose that has gotten to be too much, I am honoring who I am, not trying to prove I am something I’m not. Same when I pass on going deeper into a pose just because the teacher suggests it.

Yoga has been about learning to trust myself. Trust my body. Trust what I feel. Trust what I need. Trust what I believe. Trust in the Universe.

And when I deeply trust who I am, there’s no need to wear a mask.

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The Art of Finding the Gifts & Lessons in 2015.

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I thought 2015 would end up being a sad, rather empty year.

It was the first year of our empty nest. It was the year of paying for two kids in college. It was the year a back injury took several months to heal.

Imagine my surprise when I looked back and found that 2015 was anything but sad and empty.

It was the year of many gifts and lessons.

A dear friend and I took our daughters to Siesta Key for their senior year spring break. We rented a house right on the beach where we barbequed, read and I did yoga on the gorgeous patio. We walked into town, ate delicious meals, swam in the ocean, walked on the beach.

We moved both of our girls up to school—one into an apartment, one into a dorm. They both finished with very good GPA’s, are in the same sorority and seem to be thriving which is the greatest gift of all as a parent.

We (and by we, I mean my awesome husband) turned one of the bedrooms into my yoga room. I have to admit, I was afraid that after all that work, I’d use it the first week then it would fall off my radar. Not the case at all. I am in there daily, if not more. I can’t express how grateful I am to have this space of my own to practice yoga, meditation and just stay connected with my energy, my thoughts, feelings… with my self.

I was gifted with a new circle of amazing women friends who share the same passions as me. One night our adventure ended up being going to yoga then to a bookstore. Yoga and books! Two of my favorite things! I knew that I had found my tribe. This has actually been a huge gift for me. It is hard to make true friendships when not in school or in an office or when the kids are grown. Truly grateful!

I never thought I’d put hurting my low back on a list of gifts from this year but it has been. I’ve learned and gained so much! I’ve learned to let go of perfection. The house can be clean enough. I can take longer to do tasks whereas before I’d just power through to get them done. I’ve become a better yoga teacher—more connected to my students as I watch them more carefully now, giving very specific cues. I’ve learned to ask for help—not an easy thing for me to do. I always have this fear of being seen as a burden. No longer. When your husband needs to help you pull up your pants, you pretty much get over that fear.

This year I rebirthed an old writing group. The three of us are a perfect fit and are committed to showing up once a month, committed to supporting and cheering each other on. This was another thing on my list of intentions and here it is, in reality. So grateful.

This is the year I made some serious progress on my YA novel. In this last month, I’ve recommitted to my blog, to posting regularly and I am connecting new people, which I love!

This is the year I really came into my own as a yoga teacher. I still have much to learn and much that I want to learn but I feel a confidence and connection that I hadn’t before. I love my students. I love that I can have even the smallest, briefest impact on their day. I love when they connect with a quote or poem I read. I love when a theme speaks to them. I love when they leave a class feeling better than when they arrived—more present, more open, more grounded, softer, stronger—whatever it is. It is an honor to teach and share this path with my students, fellow teachers and peers.

This is the year that I took some tiny steps toward loving my body as it is. Not if I lose 5, 10 or 20 pounds. But right now, as it is in all its glorious and beautiful imperfections. When I look back on my life do I want to see all the things I didn’t do or wear or eat just because I was afraid of how I looked? Uh, there answer is hell no.

I also took tiny steps in the direction of letting go of expectations. How people behave is a reflection of them, not me. However, how I respond is a reflection of me, and the kind of person I want to be. That I can control. The other…not so much.

This is the year that I learned that my husband and I are not only still deeply in love but, more importantly, we really like each other. The first empty nest year can be tricky. Once the distraction of kids and all of their logistics is gone, it’s just the two of you. We found that we enjoy just the two of us. We have time to pursue our own interests and time for each other. Win/win!

Maybe it’s all in my perception. Maybe I’m looking at the past year with rose-colored glasses. Because, yeah, there have been some sad, hard, crappy parts. But, if I can put it all in perspective and find the good in it, find the lessons in it all, grow from it all (even a little bit) then I’ll take it. I’ll take it all.

How about you? What was your 2015 like? I’d love to hear!

 

I Confess: I Binge-Watched “Younger.”

Younger

I admit it. I was prepared to hate, or at least be offended by TV Land’s original series, “Younger.”

The premise sounds like something that I, as a feminist, should loathe. Sutton Foster plays Liza Miller, a recently divorced 40-year-old looking for a job in publishing—a career she had enjoyed before taking time off to raise her daughter who is now in India for her first year of college. After going on  dozen interviews where her age trumped her qualifications or abilities, she took advice from her best friend (played by Debi Mazar) to just say she is 26.

Sure, Foster looks great for 40. Like really great. But 26? The thing you have to buy into in order to enjoy the show is what her friend tells her—that people want to believe what they are told.

So, after a mini-makeover which involved some highlights, make-up and a new wardrobe found at vintage shops, Liza lands a publishing job an assistant to a woman who resents all the 20-something girls who work for and with her. She becomes friends with an actual 26-old junior editor played by Hillary Duff. (Seriously, wasn’t she just playing lizzie Maguire?)

After allowing myself to believe that she could pass for 26, the next thing that hooked me was that they had a Joyce Carol Oates storyline happening.

Joyce Carol Oates!

So, there’s the whole book publishing, writing, author thing going on which I love. But the more I watched, the more I felt that this wasn’t just some fluffy, misogynistic crap. Sure, some of it is fluff, it is a half-hour sit-com. But they address the differences between the generations in a funny yet thoughtful manner long with the reality of aging, especially for women. And it’s given me a different view into the lives of the 20-somethings, which, as the mom of a 20-something, I appreciate.

Since Darren Star of “Sex and the City” fame is behind the creation and production of this show, it focuses on the relationship between women. There is sex and relationship angst, of course, but at its heart (and it does have heart) “Younger” is a show about women and how we can lift each other up or not. And what a loss for all when we don’t.