A Sigh of Relief

I woke up around 8:45am Pacific time this morning.

I could hear my kids playing downstairs and my husband was stirring next to me. I was enjoying the moment, just lying there, peaceful and rested and warm.

My husband grabbed his phone and started checking things. He thrust his phone in my face. I could tell it was a picture of Biden, but without my glasses I couldn’t read it, and so he read me the headline.

Then I grabbed my phone and, instead of reading the news, I first saw a barrage of celebratory gifs from my friends. I started laughing and couldn’t stop. It was such a release, the laughter.

I looked at the time and realized I should get moving if I was going to make it to my Saturday morning zoom yoga class. I’ve been missing yoga lately, eating way too much Halloween candy, my nightly teeth-grinding has ramped up. I’ve been wound really tight lately, as many of us have.

I crammed breakfast into my mouth and shut myself in my son’s room and logged in. It was especially hard for my mind to stay in the here-and-now during the class. It was running all over the place, thinking about the future and how Kamala made history and ending this pandemic and the laundry and oh I need to clean and do all the things.

But my body. It’s hard to describe other than a release. I’ve been doing yoga so long that the poses and the flow feel extremely natural in my body. For a long time I haven’t had to think about what comes next, my body just does it. It’s literally muscle memory. And the simple act of moving my body broke all these tiny dams within me that were storing stress. worry. trauma. pain.

The roof of my mouth and my jaw started to ache, from the nightly grinding. My glutes relaxed and let go. My right shoulder gets gummed up frequently and that, too, started aching. My core woke up and felt alive, activated, welcoming the use. My knees and back were popping, crunching with the movements. I’m developing a headache as I type this, still sitting on my yoga mat.

But somehow this all feels…good. Or at least appropriate. I wouldn’t be surprised if tears develop for me later on, another way my body might purge. Reminds me of how people tend to get sick while on vacation, when their bodies are finally allowed to relax.

I’ve seen footage from friends around the country, some of which are marching, dancing in the streets. I’m doing that in spirit right now. I’m right there with you, finally breathing a sigh of relief.


Day 7

Suspended in Joy

For those of you who know me, you know I’m not a risk taker.

I like rules (as long as the rules aren’t dumb, but that’s for another post), I like feeling safe and warm and cozy. Preferably with hot chocolate and a good book.

But I also like doing new things and pushing my comfort zone…within limits. My MOMS Club group found a photo from another chapter where they did this spunky thing called aerial yoga. This sounded right up my alley.

We’re spunky, too. We said.

We can do that even better. With more flare. We didn’t really say.

Fuck those bitches. We’re already signed up. Now I’m just making things up.

I was excited to go. I figured it’d be fun and that I’d probably do okay because I’ve been doing yoga on the regular for a solid 15 years now. Am I the most athletic person? No way. Do I have any upper body strength to speak of? A big fat nooooope. Is my core strength completely shot from surgery and having two kids? You bet.

But hey, let’s give this a shot. We had a private class all set up, so this was a safe space in which to potentially make a fool of myself.

Ohmigosh, you guys. Once we got into those hammocks and I was enveloped by the silky fabric (meaning: no one could see my face), I was grinning like a giddy kid on Christmas morning. The teacher ran the class pretty much like a typical yoga class, so there was time when we were doing normal yoga stretches and breathing, only suspended in pure joy.

It felt awkward, for sure. But it also felt so liberating! Something about swinging and hammocks awakened this inner child in me and I just felt so free. You know that part in Eat, Pray, Love when the wise man in Bali says to smile with your mind, your heart, and even in your liver? My liver was smiling lobe to lobe.

There was something about the hammocks that felt very cocoon-like, womb-like, and very primal. (I have several different metaphors churning around in my head so bear with me.) During shavasana at the end of class, I could peek out and see everyone else’s silhouettes. We all looked kinda like a family of bats hanging upside down in peaceful, creepy sleep, or like corpses caught and wrapped in colorful spiderwebs, spinning slowly and silently, also creepily. I wiggled and squirmed around, completely enveloped and feeling safe and relaxed, and it was warm and sweaty, and at the end I emerged – was born from the hammock – feeling new and different, albeit sweaty and sore. (So I guess my two emerging themes are both about change and transformation: one about sleep, death, corpses…and one about cocoons, wombs, rebirth and metamorphosis. Joking aside, the symbolic implications of this experience were extremely palpable for me. My high school English teachers would be pretty proud.)

I pushed my body to do things I wasn’t sure I could do. The teacher demonstrated an acrobatic move at the end and I wanted to give it a try even though it kinda wigged me out. I needed help getting positioned on the damn hammock, which cut into my side fat like that string you use to tie up a turducken (I don’t cook, clearly), and my movements were far from graceful, but I DID IT! I was inverted and pulling myself up and sliding through and hanging by one leg and I’m just proud of myself. And it was all safe, in this controlled environment. Pretty perfect for me.

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Even before the night was over, I could tell that my body would be screaming in protest at all this…exertion. I wasn’t wrong. My triceps are shot and my side fat (ok, fine, love handles) is bruised and I learned that I have these things called “lats,” and guess what – they hurt too. And don’t even give me crap about toxins leaving my body – the pain is still here and I think it’s camping out for a few days.

But. This kind of soreness – the kind where I’m not injured, just hurting – is the best kind. It’s proof that I did something awesome with my body. I actually used it and pushed it to do cool stuff I didn’t even know I could do. Total empowerment, not even kidding.

So I’m writing this to capture the feeling I felt last night and continue to feel today. Maybe I need to go back. Maybe I need one of those things installed in my house. Not creepy in the least.

I didn’t even know aerial yoga was on my bucket list until I crossed it off.

Off on the Wrong Foot

This week, I injured my foot and everything kinda came to a screeching halt.

I was making sure my fearless 1 year old didn’t kill herself on this play structure meant for older kids. I climbed up this wooden ladder whose rungs were pretty close together. My right foot got stuck between the rungs, and in my haste to protect my child, I wrenched it free and immediately felt pain across the top of my foot.

That’s gonna be a nasty bruise, I thought.

The pain subsided, I kept functioning normally for the next 2-3 hours. I drove my kids home, fed them, put my daughter down for a nap, and then relaxed on the couch with my son for 1.5 hours. Then I got up and rushed around to walk to a friend’s house.

On the walk there, my foot started bothering me. By the time we got there, I had some pain. By the time 30 minutes passed, I was limping and in serious pain. I stopped walking and texted my husband to come get me.

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I’m super stubborn and don’t really trust doctors a whole lot. (I’ve had some yucky experiences with medical professionals who think they’re hot shit.) My intuition about my body is usually right, and I was pretty sure it was just a bad sprain (spoiler alert- I was right). I toughed it out for the past 3 days by staying off my foot, icing, meds.

But uuuuugggghhhh. I’m a SAHM with a 1 and 3 year old. How in the world am I supposed to function on crutches?!? I couldn’t go anywhere, because I couldn’t chase after my kids and keep them safe. Forget parks. Even the library was out. I didn’t trust myself to drive my kid to preschool. Everything took for-ev-er. Worst of all, I couldn’t carry anything. A glass of water, a book, putting food on the table, you name it. I couldn’t carry my daughter! I had to hobble to her changing table, then stand there and beg her to come to me so I could change her diaper. You can imagine how well that went.

Very quickly I could feel depression start to creep in. I was a prisoner in my house with two screaming kids and I was supposed to put my feet up?! There was no way I could function like that for very long at all; I felt the walls start to close in on me after not too much time had passed.

Fast forward to today when I finally decided to go to the doctor. (My foot started to turn purple and get tingly if I was upright for too long. Yeeeah.) Just a sprain, but it was worth the trip because they gave me a boot so I have mah freeeeeeedom back (to a degree) and my mood immediately perked up.

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Earlier this week, I started thinking about what I was supposed to learn from this. Whenever I’m frustrated the answer is usually patience and acceptance. No surprise here. As always happens when I temporarily lose some kind of function, I was immediately reminded of how crazy thankful I am to be able-bodied. Also, remembering how and when to ask for help. If needing the crutches had gone on much longer, I was planning to call my mom in California to ask her to fly up here…because what else was I gonna do?!

I loathe feeling so helpless and desperate, especially caused by something so minor, so silly. Damn children’s playstructure. Curse you and the trees from which you were made.

The Price of Wisdom

I’ve been a little under the weather lately.

And by under the weather, I mean had a wisdom tooth pulled with only local anesthesia.  I’m kindof a badass like that.

It went fairly well, and I am happy with my decision, because if I had really wanted to be put under, I would have had to wait several more days, and I couldn’t endure any more anticipatory anxiety coupled with increasingly crippling wisdom-tooth-induced headaches.  That, and general anesthesia reminds me of my cancer surgery, and that’s a very bad thing.

So now I just settle for post-wisdom-tooth-being-ripped-out-of-my-head headaches.

Seriously, who thought up an 8 hour dosage painkiller?  I was prescribed Motrin that can be taken once every 8 hours (well, to be honest, I was actually given a choice between Vicodin, Tylenol with codeine, or juiced-up Motrin.  I actually had to think about this one, cuz hey – street value, peeps – but I decided I’d like to be able to drive myself to work and not slur my words in front of my clients.  And I actually made this choice post-extraction.  I know- I should be given a medal or something.).  I also have to take these meds after eating something, and I descend from mid-western folk.  Allow me to translate: we eat our three squares with minimal snacking or else we get the hose.  Or get locked out of the house in the snow with no shoes, but that’s tough in some parts of Northern California, so the hose it is.

So let’s think about this for a second.  My workday is 8 hours long, so I guess I’ll take a pill right after breakfast but before I get to work so that it’ll kick in once I get there and have to deal with crises related to violence and suffering.  Good start.  Unfortunately, the label lies (said in Voldemort’s voice) and the magic wears off around hour 7 and 14.3 minutes, so in the middle of my last session of the day, the gaping hole in my gums starts throbbing and spreads through my occipital lobe and ravages the [small] part of my brain that houses sanity.  Sorry, client, but I can no longer hear you over the din of a box of live kittens being seared by turbo jet exhaust.  Fast forward to 5pm-quitting time.  By this time it’s too close to dinner to snack (my mother’s voice reverberates in my already pulsating head…something something spoil your dinner…) and I can’t take my next goddamn pill until I eat something.   So here I am, speeding home, trying to see the road through my blinding pain.

Once I get home and eat and take my pill, I start to feel better.  More like a human.  I think my horns and red eyes actually shrink and fade, respectively.  I go to sleep after rinsing my mouth with salt water for what feels like the zillionth time that day (more on that later), and I hope to she-sus that I don’t wake up when my pill wears off in the middle of the night because it only lasts for 8 fucking hours and I took it right after dinner because I couldn’t wait and because I don’t fucking eat right before fucking bedtime.

Wake up, repeat, and feel my pain.  FEEL IT NOW.

Also take into account that I must rinse my mouth with warm salt water every time I eat.  Makes me feel like a fish, but not the drunk kind.

The icing on the cake is that, while I have a bit of swelling and that is to be expected, I also have some bruising on my cheek where the dentist very roughly wrenched my drooling, completely numb mouth open and braced with crazy force to basically pull bone from bone.  So I’ve been going to work, seeing clients who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and one side of my face is bruised and swollen.  This is going to be great for business.

I feel like I should wear a sign around my neck.  Maybe I’ll attach a doctor’s note for further proof.  FML.