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 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.
She said ” We all hold a lot of tension in our hips.”
The she I am referring to is Alee Williams and it was said during this morning’s 5:00am session of Miracle Morning. My next thought was I am holding tension in more places than my hips.
I went to bed late because I knew after this morning’s session, I was off of work because of Election Day. I was tense, worrying about who would be our next President and more specifically, praying for a change in leadership. This person who could influence the country’s trajectory with climate change, equal rights, health care, forming an organized response to COVID-19, the way the U.S. is respected around the world and the future of my beautiful and innocent Black nieces and nephews. I know they are mostly teens but there is so much about this world they don’t fully understand yet. I understand whoever becomes president won’t fundamentally change racism and inequality.
That is a matter of the heart.
But this heart needs hope.
I gave myself some when my husband and I drove our immunocompromised selves, fully masked to the registrar’s office, waited 20 minutes 6 ft apart and cast our ballots over two weeks ago. I did my part. I left nothing to chance.
I hope you don’t.
I am going to gift myself the day to plan writing prompts for a class I am leading tomorrow, read Octavia Butler, pray. nap and distract myself with television that reflects a different reality than the one this country is currently facing–the one we are all facing.
Because I did my part to relieve this tension.
I gave myself hope.
I hope you do your part, too. Remember if it didn’t matter they wouldn’t work so hard to suppress it.
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.
Went to yoga today. Hot Vinyasa yoga. I worked to quiet my mind and devote this practice to myself. I prayed in my time. I thought about how loud and angry someone on our hotel floor was around 2:30am. I thought about the walk Hubby and I took straight from the highway to the track. I asked my body for forgiveness for not moving it consistently for so long. I asked my body for forgiveness for almost never stretching it. As I eased my feet up the wall of the studio, I became aware of the inflexibility of my body and hoped after many months, the rigidity will be a distant memory.
As our guide (as she liked to be called) sprayed lavender water at our feet, my nostrils and my brain wakened, appreciative of the freshness and cleansing properties of the aroma.
She also shared a closing story with us to center our hearts and minds on gratitude. A story about a whale, freed from nets and traps by divers.
I held back tears.
Not sure why. But by the end of class, I knew I would be back.
I think it’s fitting that today is the start of a new year because I devote Tuesdays to all aspects of health. Although I decided to ramp up my efforts at the end of November, like most people the holidays got to me and it is definitely time to recommit. I didn’t stop moving but the raw foods did take a backseat for a couple of weeks.
I began looking for a reset. A lot of people fast, diet and make all sorts of resolutions and promises on New Year’s Day. All I want to do is commit to more raw food. I can’t forget (nor do I want to forget) the way I felt throughout July when I was raw vegan for 30 days. It wasn’t just the increased energy. Anxiety and fatigue seemed like states of being that could never be attributed to me.
So my reset is to cling to what I know: walking, being a high raw vegan embracing juices and smoothies, yoga, dance classes, massages, prayer, therapy and letting go of fears and mindsets that no longer serve me.
Over the past few weeks, I have thought a lot about what I need to do to feel better, to be a better writer, wife and self-care practitioner. I have gotten massages, journaled, spent less time on the phone, gone to church, a yoga class, went to an awesome lecture about laughter yoga, prayed, walked many miles, spoke to a counselor, stepped back on the scale without fear, showed up to doctor’s appointments and lunch with a friend, reached out to friends, listened to inspiring podcasts and powerhouse sermons and even started to accept the reality that it may take all of that to feel completely like myself or who I am growing to be.
Something else was brought to my attention. While I am doing all of these things to reclaim Kristina, I might also need to let up on pressuring myself to do everything right now, as if I am trying to hurry up and solve “anxiety.”
I speak and write and try with varying success to think positively but I also have to do all of that with more patience. There is no snap of the fingers when it comes to “process.” There is forwards and backwards, trial and error and an understanding that it never really ends.
So here I am. Embracing process, trying not to be in a hurry and forgiving myself for the times I have and inevitably will, not treat myself with Grace and Love.
This last weekend, I took time to take care of me. My body told me before I did which is something I do not care to repeat. When I had a bout with panic attacks last spring, I thought I had it all figured out. To some degree, my self-care did get better with the reintroduction of more raw foods, etc. but I let my stress with Hubby’s newer health challenges completely rock my foundation a few months ago. Anything besides going to work, preparing for and being in Alabama at the workshop and going to doctor appointments felt like above and beyond what I could handle.
But I was wrong. I had a moment when panic set in and woke me right out of my sleep. The thing is I told myself that I would be fine and it would pass. I was right. It did. I told myself everything I should to calm myself down. I prayed for peace. But I also realized, at 2:00am that if I am not doing anything but telling myself the right things, it will never be enough and I could only look forward to more sleep-interrupted nights.
At that very moment, I decided to implement change. I knew when the weekend hit, I wouldn’t compromise myself any longer. I made a therapy appointment, got a massage on Saturday, went to church Sunday morning and Body Positive Yoga class for women on Sunday afternoon. I am going back next weekend, too.
My body screamed at me and the only way to roar back is take care of myself before I stopped showing up for my husband and my own pursuits.
I was wrestling with the idea of incorporating a lot more raw meals at the new year. On Saturday night, I asked myself why I was waiting. So I began Sunday.
There were a couple of surprises. I had a little emotional release during my massage and although yoga was incredible, I felt a bit of panic I prayed through. These surprises showed me how deep seated the need for self-care is and how I’ve been neglecting it.
As I am writing this, I honestly don’t feel 100% like me but I feel closer. And maybe the “me” I don’t feel right now is not what I will end up being anyway. Maybe these challenges and me addressing them head-on are supposed to birth something new.
I not only like the sound of that, I need the sound of that.
I don’t have much in me today. I am not sure if it’s because I am 26 days in and it feels a little like I have senioritis.
But there are 4 days left after today so something will be written each day until I have accomplished my goal. So here it goes:
In my post about being whole, I wrote about wanting to start a yoga or Pilates class in the new year. I was talking to a co-worker (and devoted Yogi) about self-care and all of a sudden, I couldn’t come up with a reason to wait. She told me about a studio close by. I found a class on the their site that embraces women of all shapes, sizes and levels. My first class starts Sunday. I haven’t been this excited in so long. When I read the description, it clicked and even if it doesn’t live up to my expectation, I will know I took steps.
Outside of the morning routine habit changes I’ve made, I can finally say that working out has become a new real change for me. Even though I have generally rejected resistance training in the past unless with a trainer, Hubby has gotten me to embrace it, 2-3 times a week. In the past at one time or another, I have been a running, walking, belly dancing, Zumba and Afro-Caribbean dancing, Bikram yoga attending, water aerobics taking, treadmill/elliptical machine addicted exercise person. I am still some of those things depending on which day or month you are talking to me. As more weight comes off (.6 lbs this week even in the midst of water retention!), I am anticipating what I will open myself up to next or be more willing to go back to again.
As I my weight crept up before starting my wellness journey again, it was becoming easier to retreat from high intensity activity and that can manifest as isolation. At least it did for me. Choosing to consciously take better care of myself taught me how to see when I was going down that road. Choosing to be alone is great when it’s truly a choice rather than avoidance. I have always enjoyed my life but it takes more effort and clarity to see how much I enjoy it in the company of people outside of my home and in new environments. It can be hard at first but 9 times out of 10, it’s worth it.
Every step I take towards wellness, towards the power of being complete and whole, is worth it.