The Unexpected Gifts

I’m in Chicago with my family. The last few visits have felt really good on lots of levels. It feels good to be able to show-up and be here for my family and not push this away.
 
Dad Oxygen

My dad getting oxygen during PT. For the first time he let me help him in my capacity as a yoga therapist. Together the three of us helped him with his physical therapy.

The pictures are of my dad, who is dying. I’m here for a week to spend time with him, to help my sister with some of the work, to be present with what is.

 
Yesterday, I helped him reschedule a surgery, cleaned out his fridge, straightened his room (which he won’t let anyone do, but I didn’t ask permission), helped with his PT, met with his social worker and ironed out our understanding of his benefits, made friends with his nurses, whom he has done everything to piss off, and just sat with him.
 
A difficult person throughout his life, it’s not surprising that he has alienated most of the staff at his care facility. He has been labeled a difficult patient. They told me yesterday that they hate having to go to his room. I told them I totally understood, which I do, but it also breaks my heart.
His facility is top-notch, though,  and despite hating it, they do administer to his needs and maybe even in some little way care for him.
 
So my job today is to just sit with him, to make him feel a little less alone in his last months here. And believe me, the person who is benefitting the most is me. To be able to walk my dad to the end is a gift. To be able to be gracious and accommodating to his tirades and pain and discomfort and fear is an honor. 
It is not an honor bestowed by him. It is an honor I bestow upon myself. I am someone who does not want to push away life. I want all the feelings, all the experiences, all the emotions. I want the difficult, the ugly and the bad. Not only because they make the glories and the celebrations so much brighter and sweeter, but because I want the entirety of life. I do not want to look back and regret or wish.
While I am honored by this gift, this privilege, I realize that not everyone gets this. Loved

PT Dad

The man who once weighed 250 pounds and was almost 6 feet tall, seems tiny, weak and frail. 

ones drop dead instantly or are killed in accidents. Not everyone gets the softer, more vulnerable side of their parent. While his comes with bouts of anger, irritability and plain bitchiness, his vulnerability and softness is still a side I don’t know. In our 48-year relationship I am learning new things about him, experiencing him in a different way. That is a gift.

I also am privileged in a way that my sister is not, in a few days, I will fly back to New York. I get that.
 
It is a wonder to me that my rage and hostility towards this man does not fill the hospital room. Somehow, though, I’m able to be present with what is and feel some peace with him. We can sit quietly and watch television. We do not talk about sexual assault or harassment, the president, Roy Moore, Russia or net neutrality. We sit and watch black and white movies and football. We don’t talk that much. Sometimes he tells me about his friends that I haven’t seen since I was a child. I work on my computer. It’s peaceful.
 
Tomorrow, he has surgery and at his age, with his heart, that’s always risky. So, today I’m going to sit with him and then when he gets transferred to the hospital, go with him. THEN, at the end of the day I’m going to have drinks with childhood friends, people that despite not seeing me all that often, know, love and support me. Oh! and people who’ve gone through this too, so they get it.
 
Today, the toolbox is wide open and there are tools scattered on the floor. I am coloring outside the lines to manage my own anxiety and PTSD and stay compassionate and open to him. Despite the difficult history and the past behaviors, this is not about me. My job is to hold space and to bear witness. I will have time to process, but this moment is about allowing myself the freedom to feel love and peace towards someone who may not deserve it. This is my strength and my growth, which will ripple for years to come. 
 
Advertisements

A Letter for Moments of High Anxiety

I’m working hard on updating my online courses that are coming up in January, BreatheEcourse and BreatheOnline. So, I thought I’d share an older post that is still very relevant. In fact, I wrote something very similar to a client last week. I guess I should look through my archives more often. Enjoy!

A Yogi Kitchen

This post popped up as a memory on Facebook. I originally wrote this on December 2rd, 2014, not a year ago as I originally mentioned on Facebook. . It’s a good one for re-sharing. Enjoy! 

A letter to one of my favorite clients who is the midst of loss and anxiety. Writing to her helped me see myself, helped me see the progress, the work still to be done. Working with wonderful people like this mom helps me heal myself as much as anyone else. Thank you for trusting and being open and honest, vulnerable and willing to do the work. Thank you for the the honor of your presence in my life. 

Dear Mom Who Is Feeling Really Anxious Today,

I hear that you’re struggling and I know how that feels. I hear that you’re frustrated and sad, edgy and lonely. I hear you and know that it’s okay. I’ve…

View original post 671 more words

Image

Tis The Season for Connection

It’s December and this is when our lives are full of connection. Connection is why we look at this time of year so fondly. It’s when we made cookies with Great Grandma, when we went with our parents to see Santa, when we schemed with our siblings to figure out what we were getting for Christmas. Later, it’s when I spent late nights whispering with my husband about what would bring that look of delight into our daughter’s eyes.

Years after those childhood baking adventures and well after my marriage ended, I still feel connected by engaging in those same activities. I learned how to make pepper nuts from my former Mennonite MIL and I feel connected to her and my daughter, who loves pepper nuts,  by baking them every year, even though my ex’s mom is no longer family.

This is the season we connect. But let me suggest a better solution to this one-time-of-year-connecting. Let me suggest, that most of us take these weird MIL and extended family connecting

as a way of getting the big fix to carry us through the year.

Let me suggest that while this holiday connecting is a wonderful, wonderful thing, it is not where we should be planting all our connection energy. How many of us go into hyper-mode for the holidays and then feel like we need January to recuperate. Then we’re depressed in February?

Why are we depressed in February? We’ve taken a step back from everyone and lived on the couch for month. Our brains need consistency and stability. Choosing to connect in December and then disconnect in January is not good for us.

So, how can you do this differently? As humans we are really big into binging. Netflix makes billions off of this habit.  We love eating ice cream until we can never eat that flavor again, drink until we need a whole day to recover and work until we need TWO WHOLE DAYS to restore.

What if we found some moderation? What if we took tiny bites and baby steps interspersed with some deep, loving, self-care? What if we coped ahead and saw busy times ahead and planned ahead for the ups and the downs. What if we thought about balance and moderation? What would that look like?

What if you did the most healing yoga pose you know, every day for the next 3 weeks?

What if we didn’t feel obligated to do everything everyone else thinks we should do during the holidays? What if we did special things just for ourselves? What if we snuck away for an hour or two every weekend till the end of the year and did something that we really enjoy, like look at the windows in the department stores with a cinnamon hot chocolate. No kids. Go to a favorite restaurant and have a glass of prosecco and the most decadent appetizer. No partner or bestie. What if we did special fun things just for ourselves? What would that feel like?

If this makes you cringe or start to get edgy just thinking about it, don’t worry. In February we’re going to work on love. SELF-LOVE. Stay tuned for the Self-Love challenge. If you don’t like A Yogi Kitchen on Facebook, Go There Now and Join us!

 

Until February, think about joining me for the Free BreahteEcourse! We start January 7th!

 

 

 

 

 

Image

Kicking The Fuck-its In The Ass

So it’s a new day and the fuck-its passed. They always do for me. I’m lucky in that they are never around for days or weeks and they haven’t spiraled down into hopeless often. It has happened, though, and that’s not pretty and it feels awful, so I work really hard to kick the fuck-its in the ass as soon as I recognize them and not move into hopeless.

img_1701.jpg

The fuck-its passed, as always, and I got to do a little work with cava before meeting friends for drinks.

One of the things that I do, that I didn’t write about earlier in the week,  is find inspiration that helps to kick the fuck-its.  Inspiration has been on the back burner, simmering, for a long time. Years, I think. Talking about inspiration feels really vulnerable to me. Maybe it’s because inspiration; what you think about, where you find it, what you like about it is so highly personal. The song that makes me jump out of bed and want to kick-ass, may be the track that makes you laugh and say, “how can anyone like this song?”

So I’m going to stick my toe in the inspiration pool. If you go to A Yogi Kitchen’s Facebook page this holiday weekend, I’ll be sharing songs from my Melissa playlist.

I’ve always had a Melissa playlist. Even back when it was on Napster (oh, Napster. Sigh.), the Melissa playlist was songs that could get me out of the fuck-its. They are songs that make me feel most like me. They are songs that make me want to jump out of bed and write a bestseller, run a marathon and  open a new restaurant all at the same time.

Do you have something like the Melissa playlist? Do you have something you read over and over? A song you listen to? A place you like to go that makes you feel calm and grounded and most like you? Share here in the comments. Share on the FB page. Feel free to text or email me.

If the fuck-it’s  happen a lot for you, I’m teaching both the Free BreatheEcourse and BreatheOnline in January. Join me for skills and tools to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD using mindfulness, yoga, dbt and nutrition. All are welcome, you need not have a diagnosis and it doesn’t matter whether you are medicated or not. These tools are helpful for everyone. 

Image

The Fuck-its Or, Double Fisting on Monday

Happy Monday! I started my social media interaction this morning sounding more bright and cheery than I feel. If you don’t know me personally, or haven’t figured out by my online presence, I’m a pretty happy person. Bubbly, I’ve been told. People think that I’m one of those people who whitewashes my FB feed so my life looks perfect, which is really surprising to me because when I look at my posts I don’t see perfect. At all.

This Monday, I’m not feeling it. I’m not feeling bubbly or even energetic. I’m dragging, I’m sad and I’m feeling a bit….it’s not hopeless, cause that would be bigger than this. I think I have a case of the fuck-its. It’s that place where I feel like I’m the only one who cares about the holidays, so why bother. I just had to postpone my workshops and two of my clients with depression are really struggling, so why bother? The whininess goes on.

It’s a crappy place to be, but I’ll get to the other side. I always do.  The thing about the fuck-its, is that they can lead us to some dangerous places. They can lead us to some pretty destructive behavior.

Getting Quiet

Getting Quiet and finding connection are two great ways to chase the fuck-its away.

So, what do you do? Here’s what I know. Catching the fuck-its as soon as you can identify them and doing something about them is way easier than pulling yourself out of a bottle of gin and another bad-choice-sex-encounter. Catching the fuck-its before you get to hopeless is going to save you a lot of billable hours at your shrink’s office.

I also know that the more aware you are of your ups and downs, the more honest you can be with how you’re feeling body/mind/spirit in any given moment, the easier it’s going to be able to see the fuck-its and move around/through/past them.

Managing the fuck-its means loving yourself and nurturing yourself with self-care. It means doing for yourself first. It’s time to stop putting yourself on the back burner and taking care of everyone before you

So, here’s what I’m doing today. I’ve been on the run for a few weeks and dealing with my dad being hospitalized twice in the last two months, and is on his second acute care facility. I’ve been working long hours, flying a lot, driving to Salem every weekend for four or five weeks. I’m tired. So, today, I’m not juggling. I’m just doing some work and taking it easy. Cause when we’re constantly in multi-=tasking mode our brains get tired. Really tired. When I’m in Lawrence, I have out with friends and drink more often than I normally would, over a shorter period of time.

Double fisting

So, today, I’m double fisting it. I’m having hot, strong, black coffee, cause i love it and it doesn’t feel like morning if I don’t have some. I’m also drinking Gingerade Kombucha, cause I’m probably dehydrated and because living foods helps me bounce back. It helps even when I’m just flying, it’s a super-tonic when I have ALL these things going on at once in my life.

Dehydration makes everything bigger and harder. It makes your physical ailments harder to manage. Pain is worse, tight muscles get tighter, tension gets more tense. Dehydration can be the cause of sleepiness, fogginess, even inappropriate hunger.

I’m sleeping extremely well these days and I’m not someone who likes to or believes in over-sleeping, so I’m letting myself just do it. I’m letting myself just sleep as much as I find prudent. Now, if I were someone who really likes to sleep, who finds sleep a welcome escape, I would do the opposite. Hypersomnia can be a real problem for those of us with depression and anxiety and indulging in too much sleep can be a slippery path.

I’m making sure that I hang out with friends and family a lot., The fuck-its like two options; isolation or hanging out with other people with the fuck-its. That makes the fuck-its sing and dance.

So, for today, I’m double fisting coffee and kombucha at the library. I have two friends I’m waiting to hear from to see if we’ll meet for lunch or a drink later. Until then, I think I’m going home to nap.

 

Want to connect with me more? I’m all over. Join me on Facebook for tips, tools, skills to make your life more manageable with mindfulness and yoga. Work with me one-on-one. See my travels, cooking and eating on Instagram or see what I’m thinking on Twitter, search A Yogi Kitchen for either @BreatheBostonNY or @BreatheLawrence. Looking forward to getting to know you better! 

 

 

 

 

Image

What is BreatheOnline?

This post is from a few weeks ago. I’m working with everyone who signed up for this course privately. It’s just the way it worked out. So, there’s no group class happening currently. The next course starts January 21st.

In 2018 prices are going up, cause they haven’t in quite a few years, but you can catch BreatheOnline at the 2015 price for another two weeks. Sign up by December 1st for just $150. Check out the video and description on the website and read more here to learn about BreatheOnline! 

 

I’ve been teaching in some way or other for most of my life. Speaking in front of groups comes fairly easily to me. I’ve taught art for grade school, pre-school, yoga for pre-schoolers, teenagers and adults and I’ve even taught a few cooking classes.

I started teaching online last year.and have enjoyed it in a very different way than teaching face to face. It poses so many interesting challenges and I love to problem solve.

BreatheOnFBNov

So, it was a little surprising when I decided to record on Anchor this morning about what BreatheOnline is and what it isn’t.

Okay, if you haven’t heard yet, over the weekend I discovered this great new app called Anchorfm. It’s basically like SnapChat for sound. Starting Monday (yesterday) I started recording morning check-ins and this morning I went to record answers to the questions  that my clients and students have been asking about BreatheOnline.

I am not someone who has trouble talking. I’m actually more shy than people think, but I’m the quiet kind of shy. I’m the say too much kind of shy. I don’t often have trouble talking.

I had a little trouble describing what BreatheOnline is and what it isn’t. What? that seems ridiculous right?

And then I recognized a core issue for me. What I write about BreatheOnline and how I talk about BreatheOnline are two different things! This course starts on Sunday November 12th! I’ve taught it before! How can this be?

So, I did a lot of work last night and this morning getting quiet and really working on streamlining what BreatheOnline is and isn’t. I think the issue is that I want to be everything to everyone, so I never rule anything out and it’s exhausting trying to cover everything.

So, what is BreatheOnline? Head over to Anchor.fm and find out. Also, join me Monday, Wednesday and Friday forMorning Meditation, which will be check-ins for the next six weeks.

Check-ins are a great way to grow your awareness of what is and set intention. It’s also a great tool for feeling connected, body/mind/spriit. Feeling that connection and being mindful in the moment is the core of BreatheOnline.

We’re starting Sunday November 12th. Yes! That’s in five days. All you need is a journal and an open mind and open heart. You don’t even need a yoga mat! Join me!

 

S

Image

I am going way out of my comfort zone and putting myself out there.

Over the weekend I discovered Anchorfm. It’s a little like SnapChat, but for sound. It’s in its early days, so I feel a little less pressure trying it out. Honestly, I’m having a blast. I think there’s a little part of me that really likes the idea of connecting with a larger audience, more frequently and more personally. If someone asked me to do this, I would say No Way, not my kind of thing. I’m actually fairly shy.

So this has been a lot of big growth. Learning to be afraid and do it anyway is something I learned on the mat and slowly it crept into my everyday life.

So head over there, hear my newest plans for My new station. I also shared some of the music that I teach and practice with. Enjoy!

“Hi, I’m Melissa!” from A Yogi Kitchen on Anchor: https://anchor.fm/ayogikitchen?at=1064822