Promises, Promises

On Ash Wednesday, a friend happened to ask in a group message if I (and the others in the convo, obviously) had any Lenten promises to share. I’ll be honest, I was stumped. I mean, I knew Lent was beginning and all that but giving up something for Lent has never been a big part of my religious or spiritual life. Sure, I’ve given up stuff in the past in high school and college, but mainly because my friends were too, not because I was really committing it to anything higher. So when several of us responded that we in fact did not have any good ideas of what to give up this year, the friend who posed the original question then said the best thing – the exact right thing I needed to hear, actually – to explain her approach to Lent.

My wise friend explained that it doesn’t have to be giving up something but rather a Lenten promise can be about changing something to help motivate that same change in behavior or attitude later, post-Lent. Of course this makes total sense and perhaps you already understand Lent in this way, but something about her description just clicked for me.

In fact, let’s just say the whole exchange was a little Light Bulb moment for me.

Let me also be clear that lately I have been struggling. Struggling a lot, actually, with things like anger and parental patience and just my attitudes in general. Remember the recent “Regression” blog post? These are all things that I have made leaps and bounds with in terms of progress since I began therapy and yoga the fall after Linky was born. Not that I suddenly became this perfectly happy and eternally blissed out person, but major progress to a calmer, more realistic, and overall happier me? Yes. Yes. And YES.

And then I got pregnant. Laugh or scoff if you want, and while it is not entirely fair to attribute blame Baby No.4 for my backsliding as of late, said babe is going to bear some of the weight here. For one thing, pregnancy makes me not sleep. From the first trimester on, my sleep is a wreck and as a person who has dealt with some serious sleep deprivation over the years (and who just started to make progress during the second half of the previous year), being back in the land of little sleep is scary. I know what little-to-no sleep does to me and my general outlook on life, because my short fuse and quick mouth start to take over and it is no fun for anyone in my house. Fortunately, this time, I can look at my poor sleep as temporary. Yes, I am likely going to be tired from now until Baby arrives and then hella tired for some time after that, but eventually I’ll get back on track. TiredCrankyMommy will not exist forever, or at least not for such an extended period of time.

Another thing Baby No.4 has contributed to, sort of/kind of, is my other coping skill beyond sleep which is, of course, my yoga practice. Now Baby’s role here is really just in regards to my energy level. I haven’t been to a regular class at the studio since early January because I just don’t have the stamina to keep up with a mainstream 60-minute class right now. I also quit going because before people knew I was pregnant, I did not want to draw attention to the fact that I was making certain modifications that would look really strange for a capable teacher to be making. Not that I owe others an explanation, but it all felt weird, so I backed off the public class scene.

All of this leads me to the point where I take the rest of responsibility for losing touch with my yoga practice because I dropped the ball. Totally. Instead of hopping online to use a subscription site like yogaglo to support my home practice or putting on the prenatal yoga DVD I have or just applying the ding-dang knowledge I have as a certified prenatal yoga instructor (sheesh), I quit doing any practice outside of my teaching. For almost two months now I have chosen to go without the one activity that I know works. Not the best choice.

So yes, a light bulb pretty much exploded in my brain when my friend shared the idea of approaching Lent as a change in behavior/attitude. I needed both, and of course my answer to both was get.on.the.mat! Ever seen the hashtag #yogaeverydamnday ??  I sure have and it also popped in my head at the same time the light bulb blew up. 40 days of yoga. That became my Lenten promise. And nothing grand or super physical, either. I said if I could just do 10 minutes a day, I’d probably feel a lot better. And (yay, me!) I was right.

Since making my promise, I have done 10-15 minutes each day but not counting anything that includes when I’m teaching. That’s teaching, not practicing. And the whole thing has been great. I feel like I have more space in my own body (always a bonus during pregnancy since the little peanut seems to instantly take up a lot of room) and I am dealing more appropriately with kid meltdowns and general shenanigans which keeps my head space in a much better place than TiredCrankyMommy’s.

Now there was Saturday night when I got caught up reading a book and kind of forgot my yoga until I was in bed and instead of getting up opted to do some breathwork until I fell asleep, but I’m still counting it. Actually, breathwork and quieting my mind are probably even more important than a physical practice for me right now because the breath and the mind go hand in hand, so when one races, so too does the other, so yes – it totally counts and it’s probably going to happen again. And that’s OK! So long as I keep going, doing my little bits here and there every blessed day so I can keep clearing the fog in my brain and releasing the anger and frustration from my system (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) I’ll be making such a positive step with my little Lenten promise. Because I know, for me, this works, and getting back to something that works for me – that allows me to stay me and stay the best version of me, is as crucial now as it has ever been.

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