It occurred to me when RL was a babe that I read (or try to read parts of) far too many parenting books. Since then I have backed off from such ventures, and starting last year, I renewed my love affair with books and novels in particular. I also now keep track of all the books I read and by the end of Month 3 of this year, I’m at 17 books read – whoohoo!
One of the other reading breaks I’ve given myself is from parenting magazines, as well. While I still get Parents mag for now, I’m also getting O (and soon, thanks to the quick, money-saving eyes of a friend who found me a steal of a subscription, Yoga Journal!). This last month’s Oprah Mag, featured a big headline that intrigued me: “20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself Today!” Toted as “some big, some small…some easy, some hard” the list is rather fascinating. As a ponderer and a writer, I decided I might tackle it. While I probably won’t put every single answer up on the blog, there are definitely some I can highlight (and maybe combine).
Considering where I was four years ago with my back, however, the thought of an intensive month of yoga is a little daunting. I wonder what the physicality will be like and if I can really keep up. I’ve noticed a stark change in my body since entering my thirties, and while I am currently stronger than I have been since B.C., there are still aches and pains that weren’t there back in my younger athletic days (hello, sore right knee!). But if yoga has taught me anything, it is that I am strong enough. I can meet myself exactly where I am and I am exactly where I need to be. And it is OK if each and every day is different. Real strength, I’m learning, comes from continuing to show up day after day, to step on the mat (or up to the plate, if you prefer a baseball metaphor). And just because I can’t do a particular pose or flow today doesn’t mean I won’t be able to do it tomorrow or next week or maybe six months from now. As a Recovering Type A-er, the patience and practice required by yoga are so beneficial for me; I will forever be a work in progress which I find totally awesome. If I’m constantly working, learning, and growing, I’m never getting bored and I’m never taking the easy way out; that is strength.
The mantras I hear over and over again at class have helped me cultivate this determination and fortitude I carry with me both on and off the mat. So often the instructors remind us to take steady breaths (helpful in parenting, too!), that it is OK if you fall (you’re close to the ground, anyway), and to listen to our bodies. While all of those (and the others they repeat) are helpful, the last one is key for me. Listening to my body and accepting what my body can (or can’t yet) do are so important because I haven’t always been able to do that.
Body image has been something I have struggled with since college. While I’ve never taken my diet or lifestyle to the far extremes, I have lived under the Never Good Enough rule for far too long. If I worked hard and got one part of my body in the condition I desired, I would instantly zero in on another flaw or failure and focus on that instead. Again – never good enough. Never small enough. And then came babies. Three babies in under five years, and let me tell you, Baby No. 3 threw a real wrench in things. Whereas in the past I was able to fit into certain “transition” jeans relatively soon after pregnancy, my body took a different path after Lincoln’s arrival. I’m just now in those transition pants and have no idea when or if I’ll ever make it back to the “regular” ones. That’s been hard to swallow, especially because I’m not doing anything different post-this-baby than any of the others. But this was my first birth post-30 and my sleep is worse than it’s been um, ever, so I know those things don’t help. Add on some super levels of stress and I guess you get what you get. But thanks to yoga, I am able to see that I am getting strength back. I have some awesome muscles in places that haven’t been toned in years. I can hold plank and side plank longer and longer with each week that I continue to practice. So what I am getting is me and that’s a good thing. So old jeans be damned; I decided buying new pants that fit and feel good and look good are better than wasting time worrying about when I’ll ever get in the old ones. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t; either way I see that acknowledgment as a step in the right direction of accepting my body. I’m not there 100% but again, to be a work in progress is better than being stuck, so I’ll take it.
What about you? Which of the 20 questions do you want to answer?