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the best part

The best part of my yoga class is the part at the end when we lay on the floor. 

That’s it. 

We just lay there. 

Flat on the floor. 

There’s some music playing in the background. My eyes are closed. The room is not too warm and not too cold and I’m just laying there. 

On the floor. 

If I’m being honest, it’s not just the best part of the class, it’s the best part of every Wednesday; sometimes the entire week. There are other good times, fun times, great times – but nothing else that quiets the noise like those five minutes on the floor. 

Because it’s easy. Because I don’t need to think or react or have the answer or know the next step. There are no expectations, no anticipation. 

Just me and the floor and the quiet. 

Surrender. 

My yoga teacher uses that word and it always touches something inside of me. At no other time do I feel myself surrendering to anything. But for those five minutes, on the floor, that’s exactly what I’m doing. 

While I’m laying there I ask myself why I don’t do this more often. I mean seriously – it’s not difficult, it doesn’t cost any money or need any fancy equipment. Me – laying on the floor – done. 

I don’t have the answer. Maybe because it’s easy to do the things we have to but hard to do the things we want to. 

Surrender. 

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choose

A month from now I will be forty. 

Less than a month actually, but one month from now I hope the dust will have settled and I can just be done with this whole thing already. 

I’ve never been one to make a big deal about the number. Instead I’ve been firmly entrenched in the “it’s more important how old you feel” and blah blah blah. 

That was me, before now. 

Now the number is a big deal…because the number is big. 

In my head I get it, believe me I do. I know it doesn’t really matter and it’s fine and I’m fine and forty is fine. 

Fine. 

Until I think about it. Until I sit down and roll the number around in my head and suddenly I’m standing on the front lawn of my childhood home in my pyjamas looking at the pink flamingos my mom’s friends put there for her 40th birthday. 

My mom is forty, I can’t possibly be forty.

Can I? 

My bestie turns 40 two weeks before I do and she’s embracing it just the way I hoped I would. Eyes open, arms open, jumping two feet in and if you don’t like it then get out of the way.  I know that could be me, that I could do that too but something gets in the way. I feel like I can see it over there on the other side of the glass but I don’t know how to get there. 

She said I just need to choose it. It’s really that easy. Stop feeling what you think you should be feeling. Be happy if you want or sad if you want or somewhere in between if you want. It’s all fine as long as you decide for yourself. 

It doesn’t matter what you choose – she said – just make sure you choose it. Don’t fall into it or let it happen or go along to get along. 

Choose 40 and figure out what it means – for me. 

Choose adventure and learning and different; or choose tranquility and quiet and the same. 

Choose to write something I’ve written before and not care that I’ve written it before; or choose to write something brand new even though the words look weird on the page. 

Choose to spend time with the people I want to, not because I have to but because  they make my life better and in their eyes I can see myself more clearly. 

Choose to ask myself the questions I can’t answer – or don’t want to answer; or choose to cut myself some slack and not answer them at all. 

So I’m trying. When things get hard and I can’t see a way to the other side of the glass I’m trying to remember to choose. 

Choose to watch through the glass or climb over the top or walk the long way around or sit down on the grass and try again another day. 

I’m trying. And sometimes it works better than others but I’m choosing to keep trying. 

Choose forty. 

ass backwards

I went to a conference on Wednesday and the final speaker spent an hour teaching us how to be happier. In truth, because of the type of work I do, he was actually teaching us how to teach other people how to be happier because happy people make happier workplaces. But whatever. 

You may have heard of him – Neil Pasricha. He’s written a couple of books including the Book of Awesome. 

There was actually a lot of great stuff in the session. Most of it, as is often the case with these things, was common sense. 

Of course I feel happier after I’ve taken a walk outside. Of course I know I should journal and focus on gratitude and make time for things I enjoy. 

I get it. 

I know. 

But then he actually got to the crux of the issue for me – the motivation part. He pointed out that so many people think they have to be motivated to do the thing, before they can do the thing. That the “want to do” comes before the “do.”

If I buy the right Moleskin notebook, I’ll want to write the book, and then I will write the book. 

Ouch. 

That one hit a little close to home for me.  

I have a dozen “right” notebooks…and just the right pens to go with them. All the right tools but no closer to having actually written anything. 

Then he explained the way it works. 

Do the thing. Do it badly and wrong and one word, day, action at a time, but do it.

When you do it – you realize you can do it and then an amazing thing happens. 

You want to keep doing it.

So you keep doing it. 

Apparently I’ve had it ass backwards the whole time. 

this time

Am I the only one?

I sit waiting in a cozy booth at a restaurant. A table for four occupied, for the time being, by only me. They’re on their way – I can’t wait to see them. An evening with hubby and another couple, no kids, good food, maybe even dessert.

But for now I wait. And waiting involves thinking.

I play a game I often play – “last time / next time” I call it. What was the last time I was here? Can I remember – how many details can I recall? And then, try to imagine, when will I be here again? For a birthday? Just because?

It takes me a minute to remember the last time. Dinner with friends? Was that it? No wait, it was a birthday. Right.

It comes back to me.

A night that started off well but didn’t end that way. Details not worth rehashing here but I re-live them in my head. A disagreement, a misunderstanding. Everyday things that happen every day.

But it makes me wonder (again). Why can I remember the difficult times so clearly? I can remember the nuance, the look, what was said and left unsaid. The ‘bad’ memories rush back so much more quickly than the ‘good’ ones.

Is it just me? Am I the only one who does this?

It’s like I etch these moments so deep in my mind that the good memories have less room to stick – and instead fade so quickly.

I remember words said in anger, criticisms that made me flinch, sighs of exasperation and looks of frustration. I remember the 2 things I did wrong; but not the 8 that I did right.

Tonight will be a good night, I’m sure. And I will try to hold the memory close, the sound of the laughter, the feeling of connection, and hope that it stays.

I will try to colour over the last time with new memories and maybe, just maybe, they’ll stick.

goodnight

They’re finally in bed.

The battle that started 90 minutes ago with my first request to get in the shower has now ended with their last ask for a glass of water.

Tonight – like every night – I’m not sure who won the war.

Turn off the lights.

Check the lock on the door.

Up the stairs, a bowl of cereal balanced in one hand and a glass of juice wedged under my forearm.

Into the bedroom.

Exhale.

The blissful sound of the door clicking shut. Checking the box on another day.

Baseball game on in the background. Flipping through the hangers for something to wear tomorrow. Something, anything, as long as it doesn’t need to be ironed. I just don’t have the energy.

‎A spoonful of cereal. A few pages in a magazine. My mind wanders – to all the things that didn’t get done.

Oh well.

I’ve gotten better at letting things go. The perspective I often lack in the daylight hours at least cuts me some slack in the dark.

Pajamas from the bottom drawer. The ones with the hole in the leg that I should throw out but can’t bear to part with.

Teeth brushed, contacts out. Then stand back and survey the damage in the mirror. Not bad – could be worse. Probably because everything is blurry without my contacts in, but I won’t think about that too much. Sometimes being your own biggest fan needs a little help.

Under the covers.

Head on the pillow.

Silence.

Bliss.

Is it wrong that my favourite part of the day is the very end?

Goodnight.

thinking

I’m a thinker.

When something happens, I need to think about it‎.

Or when something doesn’t happen, or might happen, or I want something to happen, or not.

On and on. You get my drift.

In a world designed for those who can multi-task, making dinner while checking homework, answering email and posting a stunning #nofilter picture on Instagram, I feel constantly, perpetually, emphatically, behind.

But the problem with all of that, with trying to do all of that, just to keep up, to keep my head above water, there isn’t any time to think.

I can’t come up with an answer to your questions until you give me time to think ‎about them. Real time – not 30 seconds or 5 minutes but as long as I need.

Go away, I’ll get back to you. The store is closed, come back another time, there’s nothing for you here.

I think that’s one of the reasons writing has always been so good for me – it’s like my button to pause the world. I can’t write about it if I’m not thinking about it – whatever ‘it’ might be today, in this moment.

But the flip side is that in sitting down to write about ‘it’ I have to force myself to think. To stop hiding from whatever issue is nibbling at the edges of my brain, and sit down, pull it out into the open to examine from every angle, dissect it.

If I don’t write about it, I don’t have to think about it. So when I’m not writing, I’m not thinking‎. When the page is blank it’s because I’m running full speed – not necessarily away from something, but not toward something either.

I’m running because I’ve forgotten how to do anything but.

There’s been a lot going on these days that I should stop and think about. Part of me relishes the chance, and the other part is inherently fearful of what the thinking will bring with it.

But either way, I know it’s time.

early morning

It’s just after 7am and the house is quiet.  This is everyone’s day to sleep in (at least a little bit), but I found myself awake early, staring at the ceiling.

I woke suddenly, opening my eyes and not really knowing why or when or where; disoriented in my own bed.

Then I remembered it’s Saturday – and I really don’t need to be awake yet.

Then I remembered it’s my birthday.

And then I remembered she’s gone.

We got the call yesterday evening, my grandfather (as is his way) waiting until after dinnertime to call with the news.  Little does he know we had just sat down to eat, our schedule and timing pushed later than his standard 5:30 meal time.  The phone rang and hubby said to ignore it – 90% of the time it’s about duct cleaning.

I looked across the table at my mom and we both stopped.

We knew what it could be.

I knew I had to answer.

I saw his name on the screen and knew – in the way that you can know these things without ever really knowing.

I answered and he asked to speak to my mom.  I found it kind of funny he couldn’t tell me, but understood.  There’s a pre-defined pecking order when it comes to death and grief.  The daughter trumps the granddaughter.

I get it.

We knew it was coming, tried to resign ourselves to the fact that, in reality, she’s been gone for a long time.  Her, the grandmother, mother, wife that she really was – back when she was still who she really was.  We tried to tell ourselves we’ve really been saying goodbye for years.  It worked for a little while; it made sense in our heads but not so much in our hearts.

So now it’s 7 in the morning and I’m sitting in the basement, tears streaming down my face, the doors of an old cabinet open beside me.

Years ago my grandfather wanted to get rid of the dozens of old photo albums my grandmother put together over the years.  He, not the overly sentimental type and she no longer able to recognize any of the faces staring back from the pages.  Me, a lover of all photos, family ones especially, carted box after box of them to my house, refusing to let them go anywhere else.  And for years they’ve sat in a cabinet, stacked haphazardly, just waiting – for what I’m not sure.

Waiting for this morning, apparently.

Laying there in bed, tears in my eyes, it came to me that this is where I wanted and needed to be, even if only for a few minutes.  A few precious minutes before the rest of the house wakes and it’s time for breakfast and hockey practice and celebrating a birthday that I don’t like celebrating even at the best of times, and definitely not today.

For right now I’m here with her.

The her that she was when she was still her.

Flipping through pages of vacations and weddings and Christmases and birthdays and barbecues in the backyard and regular moments captured for all time.  Most are labeled with her neat printing – the who, the where, the when, the what they ate.

It’s all so very her, and I know this is where I will always be able to find her.

And so I sit, for just a few more minutes.

Saying goodbye.

I love you Nannie.