Is it Hot in Here?

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

For the past 6 months, my husband and I have been attending classes at a Bikram yoga studio. If you aren’t familiar with Bikram, here’s what you need to know:

It’s hot.

Okay, okay. It’s more than that. For people like me, with digestive tracts made of rotting garbage and fire, it’s actually very beneficial. It releases toxins through the 3.72 gallons of sweat I provide during each 90 minute class and it also increases the blood flow to my ungrateful pancreas and ill-tempered liver. A bummer for me, however, is that heat exacerbates my digestive disorder in some pretty spectacular ways. It takes the worst parts of my illness and amplifies them.

There are classes where I feel like a Zen-master. I bend and stretch and ohm in ways I didn’t even know my body could, and I feel great. I barely notice the 104 degree heat and that it’s so humid in the studio that it’s about to rain. Then there are the other classes. The ones where it’s too much work to just lay like a melted marshmallow Peep on the mat, and my internal dialogue sounds something like this:

“Why did you do this to us?”

“Shut up. It’s good for us.”

“I am going to make you pay. I’ve been talking to Stomach and Colon, and we have a plan.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“Try me. Look at your husband back there. HE’S not panting like a Chihuahua during a thunderstorm. What’s YOUR problem?”

“It’s not a competition.” (silently competing harder)

(Instructor) “Now, let’s move on to Wind Removing Pose.”

“Oh, no. NoNoNoNoNo. Dear Jesus, please put your hand of embarrassment-prevention on my belly. Silence the evil of Stomach and unleash your righteous fury on Colon, telling him to ‘just be cool, man.’ I know I’m not supposed to bargain with you, but if it helps, I will cover myself in sackcloth and ashes and sing of your mighty works on Monument Circle—just please, please get me through the next 30 minutes with my dignity intact.”

Jesus, in His infinite mercy, always heeds my prayer and I make it through. I roll the dice again in the next class, not knowing if it’s going to be 90 minutes of magical, organ-compressing bliss, or of pure, vomity torture.

When the heat gets intense, my worst parts act up. It’s the same way in my non-yoga life. As work and motherhood and day-to-day pressures start to make me sweat, I am no longer the flexible and focused wife, mama and stepmama that I want to be. Anxiety and crabbiness start pouring out of me and my inner dialogue gets downright mean. So how I do silence it? I am slowly learning, but I have a long way to go.

More than anything, I have to ask for help when I need it. I’m going to make a confession to all of you: I enjoy a little self-imposed martyrdom now and then. I just do. It’s easier to let myself wallow in my “Poor me! I have to do this all by myself!” than it is to just ask for help and admit that I can’t stand the heat of life. Don’t be a grumpy hero, y’all. Ask for help.

Secondly, I need to let go of the way that I do things and realize that my way is not necessarily the best way, and it’s certainly not the only way. I can’t tell you how many times I have refused the offer of help from my husband or one of the kids because I thought “I’m just going to have to do it over anyway.” Why? Because they put the bowls in the top rack of the dishwasher instead of the bottom? Because they use a little too much furniture polish when they dust? The horror! Instead of letting the people who love me most show me that love by helping me when I need it, I load the dishwasher and dust the furniture my way, and then feel sorry for myself because of it. Goodness. That’s embarrassing to see in print, but it’s true.

If you find yourself doing the same things, I hope you can join me in the effort to let go of the grip we have on our to-do lists and just ask for help when we can’t take the heat. Like Bikram, it takes a ton of practice and patience with yourself, but we can do this. Namaste.

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You’ve Been Rejected

Posted by on Aug 28, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Every quarter, we have a blood drive at our office. I always sign up to donate, having received blood before and knowing that I will likely need it again in the future, given my frequent visits to the hospital for my GI problems. Seems like a sound investment. As I was filling out the questionnaire today, I checked the box that asked if I have recently traveled outside of the United States or Canada. As the rent-a-tech du jour, Blood Collector Chuck was going over my answers, he asked where I had traveled. I absently said “Mexico” as I scrolled through my emails on my phone. Mayhem ensued.

“MEXICO?!?” shrieked Blood Collector Chuck.

“Um…yes?”

“Well, are you FEELING okay?”

“Um…yes?”

“Do you know that you can get MALARIA in Mexico?”

“Um…yes, but I—“

(whispering) “—you can get MALARIA.”

This last “malaria” was said reeeeeeally close to my face. I could almost feel each syllable on my skin.

“Look, Chuck—I wasn’t like in Mexico. I was at a resort with my husband, and we didn’t drink the water, or machete our way through the uncharted jungle, or hang out in any murky pools of mosquito-infested swamp water or anything.”

He looked at me with one eyebrow raised, and then dramatically slashed a huge “X” on my questionnaire, writing “REJECTED” at the top of it.  As if that didn’t communicate the point clearly enough, he sat up straight in his judgment chair and said “You have been REJECTED today, but don’t give up.” Having delivered this swift blow of blood-rejecting justice, he put one hand on my shoulder, gave me a little squeeze, and whispered “Don’t give up.”

Give up? On what? On WHAT, Chuck?

Alas, before I could implore him to give me the answer, he had moved on to the next donor, eager to find out what horrible disease they were plotting to bring down on the blood-receiving community.

The receptionist handed me a brightly colored “We Don’t Want Your Disgusting Blood, You Creep” letter and a pity gift card as I shuffled off in my cloud of rejection. My co-workers smugly looked on from their donation tables, no doubt wondering which one of the questions had rendered my blood unworthy. I wanted to shout “I just went on vacation, people. I didn’t #11 (engage in unseemly activity with a male prostitute). Settle down!” Instead, I defiantly grabbed one of their stupid stale cookies and a juice box and made my way back to my office with all of my blood intact.

As odd as this particular donation experience was, I was forced to think about Blood Collector Chuck’s sage advice. “Don’t give up.” I tend to beat myself up when things get rough. I continually press “rewind” on conversations and experiences and chastise myself when something doesn’t go exactly as planned. There are days when I feel rejected as a parent, employee and human being in general, and I tend to focus on what I could have done to avoid that sting of rejection. There are far more days, however, when I feel blessed and encouraged by my children, employer and the general population. Why do we choose to focus on the days that bring us down, and gloss over the days that build us up?

I recently took a social media challenge called “100 Days of Happiness” in which you were required to post a picture of one thing that made you happy, every day for 100 days. I discovered that my challenge wasn’t in finding something that made me happy. The challenge was picking only one thing. If you would have asked me prior to starting that challenge if I was happy, I probably would have given you a “yes, but…” answer. “Yes, but I wish I didn’t have a GI disorder.” “Yes, but I wish I had more hours in the day.” “Yes, but my job is really demanding.” You get the idea. As I focused on the good in my life, I realized exactly how much good there is on which to focus. What a blessing. Why do I let the days when I experience a little rejection overshadow the days that are filled with so much that is good? I clearly need to knock that off, for Chuck’s sake.

Hoping your day is free of rejection, but if it’s not, I hope you at least get a juice box.

This one’s for you, Chuck.

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