Acceptance = Handsome Marine on My Yoga Mat

Learn the alchemy true human beings know.

The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given the door will open. –Rumi

 

The scene . . .I arrive early to yoga class and place my mat in my beloved spot. (Yes, I know I should relinquish having MY spot in yoga class . . . desire nothing, suffering nothing . . .another blog.)  I situate my towel and lie down in savasana. I close my eyes and focus on my breath. . . until something brushes my arm and the biting aroma of Old Spice highjacks my nostrils. I turn to see a neophyte yogi lying approximately 1.5 inches away from me. I spring up and move my mat a couple inches away. He proceeds to spread his beach towel over his mat and in the process covers half of mine! Does he politely move his towel from my mat. No! My inner perfectionist thought about quickly correcting him, “Hey you! Newbie! Move it to the back row! No beginners in front.” However, this statement was very unyoga-like given yoga means “union” and all that jazz. I discretely scoot his towel off my mat and push my mat flush to the wall. New yogi begins doing a series of stretches that remind me of a 1920’s calisthenics class. He also keeps crinkling his water bottle . . .now he’s snoring in savasana. Holy moly, it’s going to be a long class.

I return to savasana and attempt to refocus on my breath. However, my mind wanders into a bad neighborhood . . . what if his Old Spice only intensifies once he starts sweating? . . .it is heated yoga after all . . . where is his flinging sweat going to go? . . .oh yeah, on MY mat and body . . . . ewww . . .why did he have to put his mat next to mine . . . how did he get past the yoga teacher? . . .why didn’t I do the earlier yoga class?

STOP!!! Let this be a FOG (f$%*ing opportunity for growth) moment . . . If I can tolerate adversity in the yoga room, I can tolerate it anywhere. . . I should show some love and gratitude towards this gentleman.  . .It takes a lot of courage to come to heated yoga for the first time . . . he was probably trying to be polite by wearing Old Spice to cover up post-yoga stink. . .I am curious what brought him to yoga . . .I imagine that I’ve encroached on someone’s space in yoga . . . I’m sure that I don’t always smell like roses in class . . . I’m glad my classmates are gracious when I sweat on them and lose my balance and fall into their space . . . breathe in and out . . . send some yoga love to newbie yogi now doing windmill toe touches.

I quickly dash into the bathroom before class begins and come out to find an extremely handsome Marine lying partially on my yoga mat! Obviously, the teacher encouraged an experienced yogi from the back row to trade places with the new yoga student. Yay for the power of acceptance! This yogi, along with the entire class (including newbie yogi), have an amazing energy. We worked as a team in a very hot and humid room to stretch, strengthen and heal. Yoga is frickin’ awesome! After class, I call deep on my courage and approach handsome Marine yogi (HMY).  . .

Me: I hope I did not encroach on your space during class. It was pretty crowded.

HMY:  Oh no worries. You have a beautiful yoga practice. Your energy kept me from sitting out a few tough postures.

Me: (blushing) Oh, I’m glad I could help. You have a strong practice too.

HMY: Hey, I was going to grab a bite to eat at the market. Would you like to come?

Me:  Sure, I was planning to stop by there too.

Ok, the conversation didn’t exactly go like that. It was more like this . . .

Me: It was pretty crowded in there. I hope I did not sweat on you. (Smooth pick up line right?)

HMY: Oh no worries. I was dying in there.

End of conversation.

I love this amusing, little story of how accepting a difficult situation can lead to a positive outcome. However, I own several heart-breaking tales in which acceptance and open doors did not come swiftly.  My delay in finding open doors was partially due to staring at closed ones too long. We cannot avoid pain, discomfort and adversity. It is part and parcel of human being-ness. When we resist this pain, it only adds suffering on top of our ache. Accepting an arduous situation does not mean we like it, think it’s fair or deserved. It simply means telling oneself, “Given this is my reality, how do I move through it in a way that ultimately leads to a place of peace and does not cause further suffering?” If you are staring at a closed door right now, be gentle with yourself as you . . . take a deep breath . . . stop jiggling the door handle in hopes it opens . . . find the courage to turn away, and begin looking for a new entrance.

Namaste.

Imperfectly,

Amelia

My splendidly imperfect dog's version of savasana

My splendidly imperfect dog’s version of savasana

Splendidly Imperfect Mothering

Today I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with my dear friend and her newborn son, Finn. His funny faces, chipmunk cheeks and coos intoxicated us as we walked him in one of those bad ass off-roading strollers that could take a baby to Everest base camp. During the walk, I contemplated that motherhood is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. What other job (besides fatherhood) offers the greatest opportunity for FOG (F@#$ing Opportunity for Growth) moments? If I have the fortune of becoming a mother one day, my child can simply read my blog and learn about all my imperfections upfront. It will be like informed consent for childhood, “By having me for a mother here are the potential risks and benefits of your upbringing. . .” Who wouldn’t want a mother who knows all the lyrics to “Head Like a Hole” by Nine Inch Nails? Seriously, my child could win a talent show with that one . . . or conversely be sent to the office . . .

We have the “luck” of living in a culture that loves to tell mothers they are imperfect . . .If you don’t breast feed you’re a bad mom. If you give into your child’s temper tantrum in the store and buy the Cheetos, because they will save your sanity and the sanity of all the patrons in line, you’re a bad mom. If you cannot work, keep a clean house, volunteer at your child’s school, exercise regularly and cook healthy meals, you’re a bad mom. If you forget to buy cupcakes for your child’s classroom party, you’re a bad mom. If you didn’t spend hours to develop a creatively-themed birthday party and invite your child’s entire classroom (because all the other parents invited your child to their childrens’ birthday parties) then you’re a bad mom . . . All of the above examples were shared with me by splendidly imperfect, loving and amazing mothers with splendidly imperfect and well-adjusted children.

I feel fairly confident that my mother would agree that she is recovering from some perfectionistic traits. I imagine she could give you a list of the things she wished she had done differently in raising my sweet sister and me. However, in honor of Mother’s Day, I would like to offer a small list of the innumerable things she did right . . .

  1. When I was seven, I approached her in tears after a friend called me a name. She gently pulled me into her lap, rocked me and told me I could always talk to her if anyone ever hurt my feelings. I continue to take her up on this offer.
  2. When I was 10, I watched my mom shop for a used piano. She found one she admired, and inquired about the price. The salesman asked, “Do you need to ask your husband if you can buy it.” My mother replied, “I have a full-time job and a husband that does not require I ask permission to buy myself a piano.” Then she gestured for me to follow her out of the store.
  3. When I was 16, I watched my mother graduate valedictorian of her of university class after 9 years of going to college part-time while working full-time.
  4. When I was 22, my mother drove two hours after a full day of work to help me find a new apartment, because I, in the naiveté of leasing my first apartment, rented a hell hole.
  5. When I was 27 and contemplating reconnecting with an ex-boyfriend, I asked for my mother’s advice. She said, “Will seeing him again move you towards the woman you want to be?” She knew the answer was irrevocably “no” but made me come to that conclusion versus giving me the answer.
  6. When I was 33, she cheered me on as I decided to leave 30 years of living Texas and head to Southern California.
  7. A few years later, she flew across country on little notice to help me pack up a home that I loved and stage it to sell after my ex-husband and I separated. She wrapped up all my wedding pictures and labeled them, so I could decide what to do with them when I was ready.
  8. She always reads my blog. (She also read my dissertation, which is an undeniable act of love!)

I love you Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and those that love like mothers!

Imperfectly,

Amelia

Somehow I'm doubting that my splendidly imperfect dog bought me a Mother's Day gift . . .

Somehow I’m doubting that my splendidly imperfect dog bought me a Mother’s Day gift . . .

Vulnerability Hangover

 

A few months ago I had the following conversation with a yogi from my yoga class.image

Yogi: So what are you up to tonight Amelia?

Me: Oh, probably hanging with Frankie on the beach and then staying in for a movie.

Yogi: How long have you and Frankie been together?

Me: Seven years. It’s hard to believe. Time flies.

Yogi: Wow, the seven year itch . . .that’s quite a milestone in a marriage.

Me: (Totally mortified now realizing this yogi thinks my dog is my spouse and further realizing that I talk about my dog like he’s my spouse.) . . . um, yep.

This conversation nudges me, rather violently thrusts me, into the world of online dating. One of my dear friends, Sarah, met the love of her life and soon-to-be husband on a popular online dating site, so I think at least I can find a date or two. I visit lovetownusa.com (ok, not the real name of the website just in case there is really a lovetownusa.com and it’s a disreputable, vulgar “dating” service) and take the bazillion question survey that guarantees I will find the love of my life. Honestly, it takes me three weeks to complete it. Once I finish it, I have the lovely fortune of receiving my “unique personality profile.” In addition to including multiple blanket statements about all my fabulous qualities, it also lets me know about my following “growth edges”:

  1. Others might be afraid of your “new-fangled” thoughts. (Please send me a comment if anything on this blog appears “new-fangled.”)
  2. Some people may think you’re wound too tightly and may secretly want to see you lose control or relax a little bit. (Ok, maybe there is some merit to this one given I am a recovering perfectionist. However, I have thrown some very wild living room dance parties in my day . . . maybe I will actually invite others to join me at some point.)
  3. Some people may be threatened by your openness or find you too much to compete with. (Seriously, why would someone with three graduate degrees be too much to compete with? Did I mention I won a Nobel Prize?)
  4. People who spend most of their time on themselves may feel embarrassed around you. (Ok, this one means I am super nice. . .and I certainly hope narcissists feel embarrassed for talking about themselves too much around me.)

Yep, reading through these sparkling qualities certainly instills a sense of confidence as I create my profile and upload pictures for male “it will take less than three seconds to determine if you are worth clicking on” scrutiny. Yuck, yuck . . . vulnerability forms a lump in my throat . . . AND prevents me from activating this profile for three months. . . The many crazy book recommendations (e.g. Why Men Marry Bitches, Date Like a Man, and How to Get the Guy) and advice (e.g., don’t tell men what I do for a living, consider freezing my eggs) from well-intentioned folks certainly do not help either.

I decide to take a leap and activate my profile as the calendar speeds forward to “singles awareness day” (aka Valentine’s Day). I upload the lovetownusa.com app to my phone and make the brilliant decision to accept push notifications. Then . . . (insert crickets chirping) . . . absolutely nothing for two days. My worst fears confirmed . . . I am divorced and now undateable . . .I will grow into the elderly woman who dresses her dog in tutus and sunglasses and pushes him around in a dog carriage . . .at least I don’t have to worry about cleaning my apartment or making sure I own cute underwear . . . it’s all over now. . .

Then, I wake up to seven notifications on my phone . . . Jason sent you a smile, Rick, Richard, Ryan, Jeff, Jeffery and Geof want to get to know you better. Instead of jumping up and down like a squealing middle school girl, I feel utterly overwhelmed. I look at Jason’s profile and the thought of going through five more feels like drudgery. How do I keep these men straight in my head? Lovetownusa.com also has the lovely feature of showing you all the people who decided to look at your profile and NOT communicate with you. Why in the hell do I need to know this fact? What purpose does this serve? Enlighten me. I delete the app from my phone, go about my day, go to bed and wake up at 4am with a vulnerability hangover. Brene Brown, vulnerability and shame researcher, made this term famous in her second TED talk. According to dictionary.com, when something is vulnerable it is capable of being wounded or hurt. After going through an intensely painful divorce, entering the world of online dating renders me vulnerable. I call Sarah for support.

Me: I just earned an F in online dating.

Sarah: There are no grades in online dating, unless you found a dating site with which I am unfamiliar.

Me: Is there a way I can do this without being vulnerable? My head hurts. Do you have a cure for a vulnerability hangover?

Sarah: Yes, do that which you fear.

Me: You mean I actually have to communicate with some of these men?

Sarah: Yes or you can just hole up in your apartment with Frankie.

Me: Frankie is safer.

Sarah: True, but Frankie also licks his feet and his butt.

Me: Good point. I will respond to some of these men.

Sarah: You should also reach out to some of your matches.

Me: Seriously? This is so much work . . . I think I would rather go back to middle school and be a wallflower.

Sarah: Hang in there sweetie. I am really proud of you. It takes a ton of courage to step back out there again when you suffered a deep and excruciatingly painful heart break. Take it at your own pace.

Me: Thank you. I love you.

Sarah: Love you too.

I start responding to these men. Lovetownusa.com requires users to go through several levels of “piloted communication” before delving into the world of email. Slowly I find myself getting excited about some of the conversations, thinking I might meet some nice guys . . . it’s fun getting to know new people . . . until one just abruptly stops communicating with you! Unlike a totally normal and rational person, the recovering perfectionist in me tries to personalize my first “email drop.” I try to challenge her critical voice by coming up with perfectly plausible reasons why he stopped emailing me such as . . .

  1. He got trapped under a heavy object and is doing everything possible in his power to reach his computer to email me back.
  2. He was kidnapped by aliens.
  3. He hit his head and completely lost his memory.
  4. He contracted a flesh-eating virus.
  5. He witnessed a horrible crime and entered the witness protection program.
  6. He realized we may be distant cousins . . . two fair-skinned, red-headed, very attractive people . . .it could happen.
  7. He was killed in a zombie apocalypse.
  8. The possibilities are endless . . .

I also must cope with being asked on dates! In my neurotic online dating state, I neglect to contemplate what I might do if one of these guys actually asked me out. I initially respond by saying things like, “Thank you so much for your interest in my profile. It’s been fun getting to know you but I think I’m not the best fit for you. I think we’re in very different places right now” (i.e., I’m neurotic and you’re not). Or “I would love to keep getting to know you via email before connecting in person” (this response was often met with an email drop.)

I need a break from lovetownusa.com and decide to turn off new matches while I travel to Texas to attend Sarah’s engagement party. I keep communicating via email with three men and this load feels manageable. Communicating with two of the men feels like “work”; however, I have fun communicating with one of them. He invites me to meet up for drinks to which I agree, then I delay for a week with a lame excuse about a cold and work conflict. However, I realize curling up with Frankie on the couch, while comfy, has minimal power in decreasing my vulnerability hangover. The only cure is to . . . Go.On.The.Date!

In consultation with my fashionista co-worker, I decide on an outfit, get dressed, do the hair and make up thing, hop into my car and head to a swanky downtown bar to meet my date. I step into the elevator and push the button for the bar level, the door opens, I step out, and I see him at the bar. I walk up, extend my hand and say, “Hi, I’m Amelia.” . . . My vulnerability hangover begins to subside. . .

To Be Continued. . .(What can I say? I have to leave ya’ll hanging so you’ll come back to my blog.)

Imperfectly,

Amelia

My splendidly imperfect "spouse"

My splendidly imperfect “spouse”