Back to Bikram: Yikes!

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It’s a new year! Yay! Of course this means it’s time to whip myself back into shape. (Let’s all chuckle together)

Ok. Done? Now for some back-story.

If you are unaware of what Bikram Yoga is, it is a type of hatha yoga characterized by a set series of postures and breathing exercises, performed in a room heated to a very high temperature. It’s comprised of 26 postures that usually take about 90 minutes to complete. You do the same postures every time. This allows for you to gauge your progress from session to session. The act of going through this (torture) is called your practice.

If you take a look at my online account, you will see that I have been practicing Bikram since Nov. of 2009. Yup. It looks like I’ve been doing this forever. I should be able to teach it. Nope. If  you take a closer look at my account, you will see that aside from a few months of auto pay at the student rate while I was in grad school, I have usually payed and attended sporadically, maybe a month at a time at the most. First of all, Bikram is expensive, not for for the masses in my opinion, and I AM the masses. $100+ per month means less of lots of other things, but since gas is so cheap now, I feel like I can maybe do it, maybe with just small cuts here and there. Maybe. And also, I applied for pay as you earn for my student loans…but let’s also not think of that because the anxiety is already creeping in. Also, my car is about to die, but dammit I deserve this!!

When I say that I deserve this, it is the part of my brain that remembers how great it feels to be in that room for 90 minutes, my meditation, my workout, my 90 minutes of peace.

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No, the picture above is not me, and no, at my third consecutive day of practice (this time around), I do not feel any of those peaceful feelings…yet. See, when you begin again, it is HARD. I don’t mean hard like zumba hard, or running hard. I mean, OH MY GOD I THINK I MIGHT CRY hard, or, AM I HAVING A HEART ATTACK hard. Also, this time, I am much heavier than I was before. Yoga while chunky is NOT fun. Now wait, I am a body positive person. I think I am sexy at any weight, but now I notice things, like some questionable marketing tools that I’ve seen in the dressing room, like one cartoon of a large person, biggest loser style as motivation to join a challenge. Harmless? Perhaps. Yes, I think I need to be healthier. I was thin and toned and sexy in that way for much of my life, and now my body has changed in ways that sometimes I am not used to, or comfortable with, so back to Bikram. It works for me, but what I’ve noticed, by the cartoon, the postures, and the directions for the postures, is that it REALLY isn’t meant for fluffy people, overweight people, people like me.

So, a posture like the one above, standing separate head to knee pose or Dandayamana – Bibhaktapada – Janushirasana

looks nothing like that when I do it, well because, boobs, and belly. Ouch. It’s like this with several poses. As I struggle and stretch and will my boobs to shrink during a pose, I hear the calm voice of our instructor. “It doesn’t matter how deep into a posture you go, just that you are attempting it the correct way. You are still getting the benefits.” So all is not lost. It may look ugly, but it’s still working, and one of these days, I’ll relive the feeling of peace I remember. After all, I keep coming back for a reason.

This IS for me, and I’ll get there, wherever there is.

I’m happy to report that I have already seen a small bit of progress. Yesterday, I only lay in Savansana once. Yay me! Small victories people.

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Today, my goal is to not lie down at all. We shall see.

This is my new mantra as I begin again. “It’s never too late. It’s never too bad. You’re never too old or too sick to start from scratch again. ” Let’s see where it takes me this time. Wherever it takes me, it’s always worth it, and so am I.

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*I am hoping to keep this up, blog posts and all. Hopefully, I will be able to go for more than a month this time. Have your own Bikram story? Feel free to share in the comment section.

Poema

Quiero que crezcas dentro de mí. Como una flor que nació antes, y finalmente encontró su sol.

Quiero que me busques de nuevo, amor.

No soy la chica de aquellos tiempos. Ya se mi valor.

Ya respiro ganas, con pedacitos de sentimiento y sonrisas.

Todas las lecciones que he aprendido, me han llevado a este punto, cuando te puedo entender completamente.

Ya se que el temor que cargas siempre en tu alma…nunca fue mi culpa.

Yo no fui la que te rompió.

Y por fin, perdono a todo.

I’ve heard you should write about what you know

Here’s what I know.

I know how to be single.

I know how NOT to be single, which curiously, is not the same thing as knowing how to be in a relationship.

I know that in gay years I’m 375 years old and I’m on the 6th or 7th incarnation of myself.

I’ve got a long way to go.

Yes, I keep coming back as me…a nuanced version.

Like the new and improved Iphone tadaaahh!

Or sometimes like the New Windows that has to be sent back for glitches that can’t be fixed, not this time around. Live with the glitches.

I know that each new me looks a little different; smells a little different, depending on who’s touched me, or held me in their arms.

I know that I’ll pick up a new word, forget an old song

and not be able to place why I hate peas now, when I used to love them.

I know that I know that I know that I know how to be single now.

I’m not afraid to admit that I like it…

Especially when my clothes pile high in the corner of my room and there is no sign of me lifting a finger to fix it

I like single when I can go to bed at 8 pm or 8 am and no one will frown at me in disapproval.

I like it when I sing too loud or want to stay silent for days.

I like single because it CAN be all about me

Or it can be all about giving         all         of          me           for something I love.

I know I hate single because I have to fold the sheets alone.

I hate single ’cause there’s no one to help with the dogs.

I know  how    to    be     single though.

Now, this time around

and I’m good at it.

I know how to be the only single person in the room and still have fun.

I can go to a new restaurant sans company and leave full and proud of myself.

I can challenge myself to do something I’ve never done before but always wanted to try

and be my biggest fan when I succeed.

I can fall flat on my face

lose my mind just a little

and see

that I am good enough anyway.

The Day After Tomorrow (written on Nov 5)

Tomorrow is important. Everyone I know is posting political opinions (one way or the other).  We are all waiting in anticipation for the imaginary voting bell to ring…and we’re off.  Most of us voted early. I am a fairly impatient person, and I despise lines. Republicans are right. If they want to win, taking away early voting is one way to possibly stop people like me from getting to the polls, but not this time.

Tomorrow is important because there is the possibility that progress can be undone, that “all the us’s” (Harvey Milk speech) will go back to being the outcasts, the marginalized, and the…well, squashed minorities.  Sometimes I cannot believe that we (LGBTQ people) are closer to equality than I had imagined we could be just four years ago.  We no longer have Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and my friends in the armed forces don’t have to hide anymore. Can you believe it? I have had more than a couple of friends who have been discharged, or worse, had to hide a part of themselves for their entire lives. Not anymore.

LGBTQ people now have hospital visitation rights. It seems like such a small thing, but it isn’t. It’s huge.  In my early twenties, my then partner was rushed to the emergency room. I couldn’t do anything. Her mother lived out of town, and was shocked when I told her they wouldn’t allow me to see my partner without her there. I was no one. I waited in the lobby all night, until her mother arrived  and gave the doctor permission for me to be there. It was one of the most painful experiences I have ever known. I even had a nurse spew hateful words at me. I didn’t want to be kicked out, so I remained quiet.

Earlier this year, the President of The United States of America stated that he believed that “I” deserved the right to be married.  There was a collective cheer from me and my friends I was with, and I couldn’t help but cry.  I can’t explain the feeling, but I’ll try.  When I was a teenager, like many, I hid.  I didn’t date. I didn’t care to date. I met a woman and I fell in love. I hated myself for it. When we broke up, I dated a lot of men…too many. I was pretending that I was straight, overcompensating for the struggle I was going through.

Thankfully, my struggle didn’t last long. I found a community of gay men and lesbians who not only didn’t care that I was gay, but welcomed me into their world, their families, their homes. I knew I would be ok. The outside world was scary, starting with my own family (excluding my supportive mother and a couple of cousins).  I knew life would be more difficult for me, for all of us. I remember hearing over and over that my “lifestyle” was a choice. My answer was always the same. Who in their right mind would choose to be a societal outcast? I had once been a servant team leader in my church.  According to my old church “friends” (granted, not all of them) I was going to hell. I was the worst kind of sinner.

So when President Obama voiced his support for same-sex marriage, it meant that he was acknowledging my full personhood. I know I’m a full person, who deserves the same dignity and rights that heterosexual people enjoy.  But finally, if in word only, the most powerful leader in the world, said “I” deserve the opportunity to pursue happiness in love and life.

I will never forget that.

But I am not “just” a lesbian. I am a Chicana, a woman of color. I am a brown woman. The brown part…I am a U. S. citizen, as is my mother, and her mother before her, but I remember the border town fear of the Border Patrol. I remember hearing the word “migra” and knowing that there was some reason I should fear them.  As I grew into myself, I changed that fear into activism.  I believe in the Dream Act. I loathe SB 1070.  I have protested, marched, written letters, and organized. Others who are brown like me, but have no documents, deserve the right to pursue their dreams and live without fear.

The woman.  I was not around when Roe v. Wade was decided, but I have reaped the benefits.  I have had the right to choose, and as a lesbian, you might think that it doesn’t mean much to me. It does.  It means that I am the master of my own body, and that I have the power to decide when and if I want to start a family.  Granted, starting a family is more complicated now that I have stopped trying to prove that I am straight…cause I’m not. And women’s healthcare and choices are so much more than pregnancy and termination.  I am the ONLY one who should have dominion over my body, period.

All of this means that tomorrow is indeed very important. If Romney wins, he has vowed to stand with right-wing-fundamentalist-anti-woman-anti-comprehensive immigration reform types.  This means that the day after tomorrow could bring the reality of a drastically different future, at least in the short-term.  History moves forward, and backlash is inevitable, but I am banking on the progressive momentum of this country’s people to keep the wheels moving in the right direction, towards equality and fairness.

The day after tomorrow I will be able to have lunch with my Republican friends again. I’ve been avoiding them pre-election. Come to think of it, I’m sure we are avoiding each other.  The day after tomorrow, I will unhide them from my Facebook feed.  I hope, that after Obama wins, they will unhide me also, and perhaps we will still consider each other friends.

When in pain…paint

Somewhere along the way, I developed a couple of healthy coping mechanisms to accompany my very unhealthy ones; one of which is painting. Around the age of 19, I realized that I could draw a face and body that amounted to more than just a stick figure.  I had recently moved to California, and didn’t have many friends. I lived about a five-minute drive from the water, and so I would take a journal and pencil and draw the faces of my friends from back home. I missed them. I soon bought some paints and canvas and trusted that my hands wouldn’t fail me.

Ever since, I have used painting as a release. It’s a gradual release after all. It takes time to imagine the image, pick the colors, project the pain from inside of me onto the canvass. Afterward, I have a visual timeline of my trials. It allows me to look back; see how far I’ve come.  I’ve painted happier things for others; joined an art show here and there, but my painting has really been for me.

Here are a few.

This is called Ten Cuidado Con Mi Corazon. (Be careful with my heart)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I never gave this one a name. This is a self-portrait. I am obviously angry and sad, and I remember wishing that memories were flammable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one is called Gravity. The words on the side are the lyrics from the Sara Bareilles song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Inside Out.The textured pieces on the right of the painting are dried flower petals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This wasn’t actually painted during trying times…well fully. It began as a gift for my ex. She was moving into a new house, and wanted art for her walls. She returned it to me after we broke up last year. In hindsight, it may not have been the best idea to paint us as calaveras…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is called Rebirth.  I painted it in the last year as a reminder of the journey back to sanity that I have made since my ex and I broke up. I purposely made her pink (some would say bruised) and weak, because in my head, that’s how one begins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is my most recent work.  It is unfinished. I look at it every day and think maybe one day it will be finished.  It’s called Lady In Waiting.

Moment of Reflection

It’s never easy to look at one’s flaws, mistakes, and wish-I-could-do-over’s.

The sting of “Why did I do that” causes anxiety and depression, at least for me.

Often times, throughout the past year, my dreams have rummaged through hurts and insecurities and madness without my conscious permission; left me worn and confused, and wanting to correct mistakes, yours and mine.

I remind myself that your mistakes are your own.

Many times I have reminded myself that I have only ever had the power to correct mine, to climb out of the strange depths of “love” induced madness healthier and happier, with a greater sense of joy.

I have long since forgiven you.  I only recently have forgiven myself.

I hear you are healthy, happy, and dating.

One year later, it doesn’t sting quite as much, the dating part I mean.

I would be lying if I said the thought of you enjoying close intimate moments with someone else doesn’t prick just a bit…

I have never been good at letting go. We talked about that, you and I. You knew this.

I have many times pouted and cried to close friends, “This is different.”

Was it?

There was the rush of instant chemistry, blush of vulnerability, and a vision and immature reach into a future of forever.

There were signs you were not for me…the disapproval of friends who have known me for years, the secrecy of a love I wanted to shout about…the recognition that I could not, no matter how hard I tried, understand you. And no, you never understood me either.

I sat one day, and listed all of my mistakes and ridiculous behaviors. I had to own them, one by one, no excuses.

This isn’t to say that I think myself a horrible person, or less worthy of love, trust, and happiness.

It was instead a necessary part of healing, a part of letting go.

My very best friend and I had a brief discussion about all that has happened in the past year.  She marvelled at the fact that, still, a year later, I twitch uncomfortably at the mention of your name.  She came to the same conclusion I had come to long ago. I was really in love with you…

It WAS different.  I can say without a doubt that you are a part of a short list of great loves (2).  It was a great love, if but brief and chaotic. It was a great love, for all the painful lessons.

It was a great love, that I many times tried to forget by consuming every bit of alcohol within my reach.  It was a great love that I remembered even on hazy, panicked, regretful hangover mornings.

It was a great love, that I now carry with me voluntarily.

It was a great love, and perhaps you would disagree.

But then, that would fit perfectly into the story of you and I, wouldn’t it?