I uttered those words to myself during a yoga class last night as instructed. I must spend a lot of time apologizing for the space I take up because I choked up every time I freed the sentence from my mouth. I must have been apologizing internally while shifting on the couch or the bed or scooting past someone on a trail or a sidewalk without even realizing it. Or every time I said or wrote or posted something that had the possibility of upsetting or making another feel discomfort. I like to think of myself as someone who wasn’t apologizing or shrinking but I am not that good of a liar.
And I shouldn’t be.
I don’t want to get good at lying or suppressing the truth to myself. It all begins with me. It all begins with how I choose to talk to myself.
How I choose to take up space.
In class last night, we spread our arms wide. I moved my outstretched arms and open palms left to right in my darkened guest room. I forgot about all the other people in virtual community with me on the screen and felt the wind from my back and forth motions.
I set my intention to be free for 45 minutes.
Even when my arms trembled from strain. Even when my breasts and belly blocked my view of the screen. Even when grace did not find me.
I was outside on a walk today. Since the start of the pandemic, the frequency of these walks have decreased. All those walks I took last year while participating in the 75 hard challenge seem like they happened at the turn of the century. Back then, I used walking as a form of exercise and meditation. I used it as my time away from the hectic schedule of work, gym, writing, get togethers, church and endless errands.
I don’t need the time in the same way anymore. I find myself getting too comfortable sitting inside, weighed down by blankets, napping, thinking, daydreaming about the ocean or deep tubs to soak in, reading, scrolling or watching TV.
I mistook all this newfound down time to provide the same thing. But it isn’t. I forgot the power of forward motion in sunlight can change perspective, take away some of the blues and the tendency to self-sabotage.
I can’t sabotage or hide. Movement awakens energy, gives the static a place to go. I become electric in the forward movement. Pounding pavement and weaving through children playing in the streets today reminded me where I am supposed to devote more time.
That is all it took. Throwing on sneakers, a jacket and stepping outside by myself to drown a little of me out and let the quiet in.
My word of the day is rest. My idea of raucous activity today is stretching, sipping everything hot I can find and sleeping. Typically, when I get rundown and the coughing ramps up, I know it’s time to be still. I had to learn the hard way (a few times) if I keep pushing, convincing myself “it’s nothing”, I end up in a worse place, physically and emotionally.
The bed calls on mornings like these and I listen. I have a big day coming next week. The last thing I need is to be ushering in a milestone birthday, sniffling and exhausted. But even while feeling like this, I find myself rolling over, reaching for a pen and notebook on my bedside table. I jotted down thoughts about a possible song to use for my upcoming class and I am writing this post. It was comforting to have my creativity running even while I rest and recover.
I am not going to pretend I feel normal. Tuesday has been going on for a few days. I purposely stayed away from current television and scrolling through social media to avoid hearing any election news. I watched Half and Half and Sex and the City so I could fool myself into believing it was 2004. Not that anything was perfect then but the country’s allegiance to the notion of white supremacy wasn’t so boldly proclaimed, at least not from the White House. I also didn’t have to wonder if I had a sticker supporting my candidate of choice on my bumper that there was a chance I could be boxed in by maniacs and screamed at by people claiming to be “Christians.”
Maybe there wore more people willing to wear the mask back then. Maybe I prefer the mask.
After avoiding incoming results, I went to bed but was only able to sleep for an hour. My restlessness continued until my wake up call for 5:00am Miracle Morning. I considered skipping but I am glad I didn’t.
We ended up listening to Amanda Maynard speak about mental wellness. She guided us through a powerful meditation but what really resonated with me was the group exercise. We were broken out randomly into groups. Each of us was tasked with stating our fear and then the rest of us were to suggest a solution to combat the fear.
One of the other women struggles with the same fear as I do: The fear of being seen. This may come as a surprise because I don’t have a problem with my work being seen. I separate Kristina from Kristina’s writing. I can press “Publish”, post a blog on a social media site or share my latest work or soon class with the people in my life. But constant networking? Going live? Though it’s not true, it feels inauthentic to me, as if I am pretending to be an outgoing bubbly person for the world.
As if I really believe all the world’s a stage. Since I truly want to be more engaged and have work coming I will be proud to share with the world, I need to be comfortable with being seen.
That whole breakout group revelation was before 6:00am. I logged out carrying hope with me and was finally able to sleep before starting work a couple hours later.
I am glad I got the little rest I did because it empowered me to be present for virtual self-care activities. My friend guided us through yoga class which eased the tension snaking up my back to my shoulders. I also facilitated a writing session with my co-workers I soon hope to repeat. We all showed up with our vulnerability and willingness to share of ourselves. I was honored and humbled to lead in this way.
I know “Tuesday” is far from over but I am leaning towards hope and acceptance. I am inspired to be ready to do my part, no matter the outcome, to be more of an empathetic leader and an agent for change in the world around me.
I was the coy but sexy temptress waiting at the bar.
He was a local boy looking for local trouble.
And we clumsily became actors.
Who does this?
We do this.
When my skin fell apart and I often left traces of my pretty brown on the bathroom floor, in the sheets and on the furniture, he undressed me, applied salve all over my body–back, arms, neck, breasts, legs, ears and told me he wished he could take it all away from me.
Last Saturday, Hubby and I went to a salt cave for the first time. Months ago, I looked at a couples massage in a salt cave for a weekend getaway but didn’t end up going. When I saw a deal on Groupon for a local salt cave, I jumped at the chance to try it for the following reasons:
“Halotherapy is known to help relieve skin conditions, stress, high blood pressure, respiratory infections, hangovers, and allergies. Salt is a natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial.”
And also because I didn’t want to shut down any modes of therapy that may prove beneficial just because I don’t know much about it.
I set a 45-minute appointment for two chairs at a spa that primarily does float therapy and has an infrared sauna. The cave was dimly lit with 4 cream-colored reclining chairs. We were surrounded by bricks of Himalayan salt from Pakistan and the floor was also covered in salt. We were each given a fresh pair of socks to wear as to not track salt back into our own shoes after the session.
I don’t know if it was the gradual release of salt-infused air into the cave but I drifted off easily when I chose to use the wireless headphones provided to us.
When our session was over, I just thought it was a great way to get quality rest. However the next day, that changed.
I don’t know if I can attribute it to the salt but the nagging pain in my left ankle from the light sprain and the strain on the left side of my right knee disappeared. It’s been a few days and it hasn’t come back. I am willing to explore it more because I have heard of the healing properties for people living with psoriasis.
Since the completion of 75hard, my desire to experience life more fully has only grown and I am glad it now includes halotherapy.
My hot Vinyasa yoga teacher read a gorgeous piece at the end of class. I should have asked who wrote it because I cannot seem to find it. I will ask next week. The sentence “Turn your face to the sun” repeats several times. It was a charge to be more grateful, acknowledge all of the smiling eyes and prayers made on your behalf no matter the trial.
I needed the encouragement. Though it wouldn’t usually bother me, I felt a sense of shame not being able to get into many of the poses. I felt exposed, as if I was a fraud. The insecurity of having “too much” body. Believe me, I know better but the feeling arose a few more times even after telling myself to shake it off and that those thoughts do not get to make a home here.
This is my quiet time. My prayer time. My stretch time. My solo practice in the midst of all of these sweaty, bendy bodies. Even though I was never completely settled, the piece spoke to my insecurities and reminded me of why I intend to keep coming.
Why I intend to keep coming after all of it –the last 5 days of 75 hard, the last week of bloglikecrazy, teaching, writing and training for Spartan.
I haven’t written anything related to wellness in months. Not since I decided if I wasn’t doing anything about it, there was no need to write about it. I was starting to feel like I was recycling posts and not offering my readers or myself anything new.
Last week I listened to a sermon about what I ask God for. The pastor talked about how some people tend to ask God for small things (and take small action), when we need to go bigger. And he wasn’t just referring to material success, either.
I can (but don’t want to) pray to survive the night or just be thankful to wake up. I want to ask for and declare dreams and health that make me tremor to say out loud, even when I am alone by myself. I opened my mouth and felt the weight of my BIG ask.
Lord, heal me. I am asking for a healthy body that runs races, dances for hours and easily starts with a “1” again, days and nights filled with writing workshops I get to attend and teach, many, many books sold and a bank account so healthy all debt is paid off, endless miles traveled and the ability to give back in ways I cannot currently imagine is a reality.
I was even more specific when I asked big by myself. All of those details belong to me.
However, I will say when the pastor pointed out how we do that, he said something that struck me. He called the small, desperate prayers “sick prayers”, said they had “the flu.” I am one to believe in prayers and action together but since I have recommitted to whole foods again without the pressure of putting so much on a scale these last couple of weeks and I have been reading and researching what a writing workshop that I would teach looks like, I am placing my faith in the big ask.
I am placing my faith with works and I feel very much alive.