My favorite pose so far.

My favorite pose so far.

The first time I tried yoga, I was in college, around age 19, and I had the completely wrong idea about it. My friend and I bought a 10-class pass for just under $100 (what was I thinking, and how did I afford this on a college kid’s budget?!) to a yoga studio just inconveniently located to my apartment. We bought yoga mats, and we showed up to our first class early. I remember an awful lot of chanting, which of course made us giggle nonstop. He farted a lot during class, which made us giggle more. We never ever went back.

I tried yoga DVDs at home, but I never felt like I knew what I was doing. I also thought yoga would help me get into shape and burn calories and be some super skinny bendy girl. I was looking at it all wrong.

Over the next decade and a half, I tried it at home a few more times, never liking it well enough to practice regularly or attempt another class. It felt like a waste of my precious, scarce time. I couldn’t settle my mind enough to relax during yoga. And surely, I erroneously thought, if I wasn’t breaking a sweat, it couldn’t be that good for my body! I fell in love with pilates and walking instead.

Recently, I started taking a class that focuses on balance skills (I’ve mentioned it here and here and here), which kicked off with 4 weeks on mindfulness–something I’d been dabbling in for a little while already. And then I felt opened up to trying yoga again, when a new studio sprung up a block and a half from my house.

I thought, I’m 36, stressed out, and in desperate need of something to challenge and excite me. Why not yoga? It had been at least 5 years since I last tried it, and let’s face it, it’s been a rough 5 years (parenthood, while the best gift of my entire life, has had its challenges, to put it vaguely).

After my first beginner’s class, I felt a twinge, the slightest spark, of “Hey, I actually feel kind of relaxed, and like maybe I’ll go back. Interesting….”

I did go back, but mostly because I instantly felt a connection with the owner/teacher. She made me laugh, which is something I didn’t think was “allowed” during yoga. And she reinforced some of the concepts I was learning in my balance skills class, such as breath work/breathing. (I used to also hate to focus on my breathing, about as much as I hated yoga.)

Last night, I took my seventh class, and I started to cry during Savasana while the teacher read a beautiful quote about loving the child within. I know this might sound cheesy, but I felt like I released some of the pent-up negative emotion that had been eating away at my insides for so long. Let’s not get carried away–there’s still plenty of that left, I know! But I suspect yoga is the thing I needed to help me find a release for it.

On the walk to my car, I texted a friend who has practiced yoga for years: “Serious and embarrassing question: Is it ‘normal’ to feel on the verge of crying during yoga?” Her response began with “Um, YEAH!” and then explained a little bit about the emotional and physiologic effects of yoga. Another friend shared this Yoga Journal article, Emotions in Motion, with me.

When I read that, I wished I’d seen it sooner, because it gave advice about what to do to help you cope should you experience a breakthrough on the mat. Here’s what I did: Panic! Open my eyes, scan the room to see who might have noticed the tear rolling down my cheek. Nobody? Whew! Wipe the tear away and get back to what I was doing. Thoughts racing. Make them stop! I cannot cry in front of these strangers! Stop, stop, stop or I can never come back again!

And then I remembered all the different breathing exercises I’ve learned in the balance skills class and in yoga, and I began to focus on my breath again.

The strangest thing happened on the drive home from class last night–I felt happy. Not the kind of happy I was when I began the day with a cupcake for breakfast, either. I felt happiness in my heart. I haven’t felt that light in a very long time. I cried and laughed and sang in the car.

It’s because of yoga, isn’t it? I wonder what the 19-year-old me would think of the 36-year-old me.

 

photo by: kaibara87
Jesse Rutherford

Jesse Rutherford, from The Neighbourhood (my view from the balcony)

Last Tuesday night reminded me of two things: First, I have forgotten how much I enjoy seeing bands live. Second, age is just a number, and I’m not as old as I think I am, having been so caught up in my number (which is 35).

I’ll never forget being mistaken, at age 19, for my best friend’s neighbor, Lori, while I was in line at a CVS. The next time I saw Lori, I told her about it, and she had the brilliant idea that I could have her driver’s license so that I could get into shows that were for attendees 21 & over. In other words, I could use her legit NJ license to enter bars where all my favorite bands often played. Because I had a musician boyfriend at the time, as well as lots of friends who were 21, I can’t accurately describe to you how brilliant I thought this plan was. I accepted her offer with tremendous excitement and had some amazing concert experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise had. Like drinking a beer with Elliott Smith or hugging Mary Timony from Helium.

I’m showing my age now, aren’t I?

Anyway, after my musician boyfriend and I broke up, the number of shows I attended decreased dramatically, though I still went to plenty during my college and even post-college years. But then motherhood happened, and I was lucky if I made it to even one show a year.

Jax is about to turn 4 now and I’m entering a new phase (for me)—a more independent one. I’m finally beginning to recall who I used to be before I was fortunate enough to become a mother. I was a girl who loved seeing bands live. And last Tuesday night I got to see my current favorite band, The Neighbourhood. Opening up for them at a beautiful venue in Philadelphia called the Union Transfer was The 1975, whose music I didn’t love, but who put on such a great show that I’ve been listening to them nonstop ever since. The singer, with his UK accent, was scrumptious, even with his 90s hair. And he looked up to the balcony where I was standing and he said “Hello there” directly to me.  ;)

So yeah, now I’m crushing on a lead singer just like I were 19 again.

Because I anticipated being out way past my usual 9:00 bedtime (and I obviously think I’m an old lady), I scheduled a half vacation day for the day after the show and planned to go into the office around lunchtime so I could spend my morning napping once Jax went to daycare. But I managed to get 6 hours of good sleep under my belt the night before, so I didn’t neep to nap the next day. I spent the morning doing what I felt like doing, and it was bliss.

The lesson I learned last week is that self-care can come even in the form of seeing a concert and staying up late. In fact, maybe it’s a fantastic form of self-care for someone who has occasionally felt over the past 4 years that she lost her identity a little bit. Music is soothing. I just hadn’t realized the connection between seeing a band live and how good I would feel afterward.

You create a community with music, not just at concerts but by talking about it with your friends.”

~ David Byrne

 

With my husband out of the country for 4 days, I approached the idea of Mother’s Day alone with Jax with mostly excitement about having a lot of time together but also with a little bit of worry about my day potentially going awry due to some toddler tantrum or another. So I kind of split up my Mother’s Day into chunks of time all weekend, beginning on Friday. To kick off Mother’s Day weekend, I left work 2 hours early to give myself a bit of downtime and self-care.

My version of self-care includes wine, journaling, and delicious food (guacamole and black bean chips this time).

My version of self-care includes wine, journaling, and delicious food (guacamole and black bean chips this time).

Saturday, it rained in the morning, so we hung around the house a lot. Eventually, we made it to Target for crafting supplies and snacks, and then we came home and drew, glittered, and stickered handmade Mother’s Day cards for both grandmoms. We ate Oreos.

Glitter + Oreos? Sounds pretty fantastic, right?

Jax selected Disney princess stickers for his grandmoms because "they look like princesses."

Jax selected Disney princess stickers for his grandmoms because “they look like princesses.”

The rest of Saturday, we alternated laying around the house with some outside play. Around 3:30, he finally napped (boy did he need it!) on my lap. I enjoyed the snuggles while I watched something other than Disney Jr on the tv.

It was adorable. I wish he'd nap more often! I got to watch 2 episodes of Arrested Development!

It was adorable. I wish he’d nap more often! I got to watch 2 episodes of Arrested Development!

Jax fell asleep pretty easily Saturday night, and we both slept very well. I believe that’s why Sunday was so fanastic.

Fantastic may not even accurately cover how perfect my day was. I woke up an hour before Jax and sipped my coffee slowly while it was still hot. I caught up on social media and watched a bit of Mad Men (I am SO behind). When he woke up, we went to breakfast with my parents, who treated.

After that, we hung around the house for a few hours. We ended up in sweats, both of us, and cleaning the living room (what kind of a Mother’s Day is this?!). It was actually pretty fun, because in my twisted head, few things make me happier than a clean house. I had planned to take him on a long walk at a park with a long track, and then let him loose on the playground after I got a few miles in, but after we cleaned, he’d started to play by himself, quietly and contentedly, so I opted to not rock the boat. I stayed in my sweats, parked my butt on the floor, and read a magazine and listened to music instead.

My cleaning buddy

My cleaning buddy

Eventually, we got our walk in. First, I hit the Dunkin Donuts drive through for my new favorite drink: the mint chocolate chip iced coffee (milk, no sugar–in case you want to surprise me sometime!). That baby came on our walk with us. We walked for about 30 minutes and then played on the playground for another 30 before returning home. A friend came over, bringing 3 bottles of wine over as a gift for me (so nice!!), and had a glass of wine with me while Jax played on the floor nearby.

These bouncy things are so much fun! But they're very ugly.

These bouncy things are so much fun! But they’re very ugly.

Ok, so maybe I rode one of the bouncy things, too.

Ok, so maybe I rode one of the bouncy things, too.

Jax bestowed me freely with plenty of kisses and hugs all day. He was affectionate, calm, well-rested, and tantrum free all the way until bedtime. At one point, he even curled up on the couch while we listened to music and he rested without a word. This lasted so long I had to check to make sure he hadn’t gotten into the medicine cabinet! I’ve never seen him so calm, quiet, and still (while staying awake) for so long! When I’d look over to see if he’d fallen asleep, he’d flash me a huge grin.

I can count on one finger the number of times he's done this! Ha!

I can count on one finger the number of times he’s done this! Ha!

Around dinnertime, we made a frozen pizza (his favorite thing to do is pick off and eat some of the frozen cheese) because I didn’t feel like cooking. Then a different friend came over, and we had a glass of wine and played in the yard for 2 hours.

Bath at 8, bedtime at 8:30. After some snuggling with me and his newly discovered stuffed elephant (which I bought when I first found out I was pregnant with him), he was asleep by 9.

Mother’s Day was the kind of day my soul craved and exactly what I needed after two challenging days full of toddler tantrums. I am so grateful for having had such a peaceful, relaxing day with Jax. It was my best Mother’s Day yet.

 

Perhaps because I’m lazy, although I like to reframe this as busy, I’m going to opt out of writing another Disneyworld-with-a-toddler recap post and simply share some of my favorite vacation photos today.

How cute is Jax?!

We had a princess dinner in Epcot's Norway, and Jax spent most of it under the table, cowering from the princesses. I think he was intimidated by their beauty!

We had a princess dinner in Epcot’s Norway, and Jax spent most of it under the table, cowering from the princesses. I think he was intimidated by their beauty!

This is what happens to me in Epcot's Italy, with all its good food & wine!

This is what happens to me in Epcot’s Italy, with all its good food & wine!

At the end of a long day, we were all vying for a spot in the stroller. Somehow, I had the energy to push them.

At the end of a long day, we were all vying for a spot in the stroller. Somehow, I had the energy to push them.

I swear, crabs at Joe's were the only crabs I got during my vacation--and ever, TYVM.

I swear, crabs at Joe’s were the only crabs I got during my vacation–and ever, TYVM.

Me & Mom in the Magic Kingdom, first day

Me & Mom in the Magic Kingdom, first day

Mean muggin in the Magic Kingdom

Mean muggin in the Magic Kingdom

I told Jax this was the Easter Bunny. Just kidding. He loves Alice in Wonderland. He knew who it was.

I told Jax this was the Easter Bunny. Just kidding. He loves Alice in Wonderland. He knew who it was.

It's a small world, afterall... (Mom, me, Ian)

It’s a small world, afterall… (Mom, me, Ian)

Jax & the Lorax at Universal Studios. The Dr. Suess section is super awesome! We spent hours there!

Jax & the Lorax at Universal Studios. The Dr. Suess section is super awesome! We spent hours there!

My brother, Danny, and Jax, not afraid of Tic Toc Croc even one bit! (at Epcot)

My brother, Danny, and Jax, not afraid of Tic Toc Croc even one bit! (at Epcot)

Which is your favorite photo?

 

Today, my friend A’Driane is marrying her love, Bert, in the cutest chapel I’ve ever seen.

 

Isn’t it gorgeous?

I’ve compiled some of the things A’Driane has said on her blog about her feelings for Bert into a poem to honor this day. I’ve used A’Driane’s words because they’re as beautiful as she is.

Bloom

My heart just swells with a joy I haven’t allowed myself to feel in a very, very long time,

Dancing, laughing, smiling…I’m giving myself fully to the freedom,

Starting over and changing our approach to life…choosing to live life instead of just surviving it,

The gift of love I’ve found in our family,

Embraced with open arms & a bottle of Merlot,

To have someone see the value and worth I see in myself and decide to embrace and cherish it, cherish me, is the one gift I’ve begged for since I was a child and never received-until now.

Bloom where you are planted.

Reach toward the sun, like I am.

A’Driane, my wish for you and Bert today is that you always see the sunshine together. Congratulations on your wedding day. Xo

(Note: Other friends of A’Driane and Bert have also devoted blog posts to the celebration of their wedding day. You can access links to all of the posts here.)