What is a Yogi, Anyway?

One of my minimalist 2017 resolutions (grand total of three, all health related) is to become a yogi. Even as I committed that to paper, I realized that I had no idea what it meant. Truth be told, I intend to define it for myself as I go. To start, for now, it will mean one who does yoga religiously, that is everyday, or nearly so.

Doing yoga has been on my list for several years. Each of the last two years I have embarked on a home yoga program in January only to lose focus, motivation, and my yoga practice within days or weeks. So goes most New Year’s resolutions, we are told. I vow that this year will be different.  I have, at times debilitating, foot pain that has been chronic for the past two to three years.  This timing coincides with a period of little to non-existent exercise, and the launch of my long-arm quilting business.  My business continues, but the no exercise has left me stiff and that stiffness, I am convinced, exacerbates my foot condition and pain.  It is a serious question of mobility that I believe I can address, in a substantial way, with a consistent yoga practice.

I find the fit human body gloriously beautiful. My five children were/are swimmers; my three daughters all swam in (or through) college. One of these daughters attended University of Georgia on a full ride swimming scholarship and competed for a spot on the US Olympic Swim Team three times. Swimmers’ bodies are gloriously beautiful. One of my sons competed at a high level in high school cross-country; runners’ bodies are gloriously beautiful.   My third daughter is currently residing in Guatemala, living off the grid in a work trade program at a yoga farm called Mystical Yoga. This daughter has been devoted to yoga for a while, and will spontaneously go into Tree Pose (in perfect balance without holding on to anything!) while she stands chatting with you. Yogis’ bodies are gloriously beautiful, and strong!

We are told, as aging women, that weight training is very important to maintain health and avoid osteoporosis. I hate weight training and know I would not maintain a weight-training regimen; I know it. I think there is another way. Just watch a long-time yogi and be amazed at her strength! I have no doubt that strength and grace can be achieved through the consistent practice of yoga.

Where to start? My delightful third daughter, of tree pose fame, always tells me, usually gently, “Mom, you start right where you are.” Of course, that is true; there is no other way. Last week, I watched an incredibly motivational video of Arthur, who went from disabled and obese to yogi. Watch it with a tissue in hand, if you are like me and easily moved by such things. Keeping in mind Arthur’s words that just because I can’t do it today doesn’t mean I won’t be able to do it someday, and feeling old and stiff, I began Adriene’s Yoga Revolution, a 31 day program that gets delivered to my email inbox every day. My entire body is sore, but not so sore to stop me from showing up on my yoga mat the next day.

Yoga is a blessing that is there for us to embrace. Even with just a few days under my belt, I notice that I move differently throughout the day. I sit up straighter while driving; I straighten my spine when leaning over the kitchen counter; I spontaneously stretch my arms overhead; and dare I say it, I think my foot pain is somewhat diminished.  It is already so, so good. Yoga is right, and true, and feeds my soul as I say yes to it on this day, and I pray on all the coming days of this adventure.

Perilously Close to a Crippled Old Age and New Year’s Resolutions

This post is a departure from the subject of quilting. I started the writing, thinking it would be a private journaling just for me. Then I thought I should post it in an effort to keep myself accountable and engaged in the topic. I considered a brand new blog dedicated to the topic, but determined in the end that I haven’t posted about quilting too frequently and not that many people read my blog anyway (thank the Lord, since this post includes personal information that I really don’t want the whole world, or even my husband, to know), so what the heck. A new series, at least I hope I remain engaged enough to create a series, embedded in a quilting blog. Here goes.

The holidays are officially over. It is January 2, a time for reflection. I just read a friend’s blog, describing her tackling 12 different “somedays” over the past year and how one of her biggest accomplishments during the challenge has been determining that some wants are not backed by a desire strong enough to fire the effort required for their accomplishment. The joy, or at least freedom, comes from eliminating that want from her list without its actual accomplishment.

I dreamt the other night a recurring dream. I’m in college (at some advanced age), and finals have arrived. This time, unlike other times, I’m doing well and am prepared for finals in some of my classes, but not in all (the usual condition in this dream). I’ve discovered that one of my respected professors (a younger woman than I) is proctoring the final exam in one of my unattended classes. In an effort to retain her good opinion of me, I fess up that I’m not prepared for the final she is proctoring. She looks closely at me and asks me why I’m there at all if my heart is not in it. In my dream world I am stunned with the reality and wisdom of her question and the truth it reveals. In that moment, in dreamland, I begin to search for what I should be doing, realizing that it is past time for me to end the ongoing college loop. It is time to get serious; what will bring me joy?

I always love to sit in early January and reflect on my accomplishments of the past year and consider my plans for the coming year. This is normally a light-hearted and dreamy reflection. However, I’m feeling different about it this year. This coming year, I will turn 59, perilously close to 60. I weigh more than I ever have, perilously close to 200 pounds. I am in terrible shape, perilously near sedentary. I suffer from foot pain that makes me hobble. In short, I feel perilously close to a crippled old age.

From every respect, 2016 was a disastrous year for me physically. Otherwise? My quilting business has been a success. I have re-paid my substantial initial investment with a nice return to boot, having helped my customers finish nearly 1000 quilts since my launch in May 2013. I’ve spent good time with my adult children and granddaughters, even though we live on opposite sides of the country. My hubby and I are beginning to contemplate retirement, still several years off, and the adventures we will undertake (assuming I’m not old and crippled). I have embraced the idea that I am a “maker” and happiest when I am creating something with my own hands (or with the help of today’s technology as manifested in my amazing machines).

Where does that leave me for 2017 goals? I am in no mood to dream and be light-hearted about this. I may be at a turning point; I may have dreamt my college unprepared for finals dream for the last time; it may be my last chance to avoid an old and crippled future. That last bit is meant to be light-hearted. I am well aware that in 10 years, 59 will seem a wonderful, and young, age. Still, my focus for 2017, my only stated goals, will be those focused on health and are these: return to a normal weight, re-become a runner, become a yogi. That’s it. There is a niggling voice in my head that says I should also have relationship goals, if not business goals. But I am resolved that the best thing I can do for my relationships is to avoid the perilously close crippled old age I mentioned before. Does the thought of once again becoming a runner, becoming a yogi, controlling what goes into my mouth make me joyful in this moment? No. Am I willing to do the work to arrive on the other side, to reunite with the fit and healthy me? Yes, in this moment, and I pray yes in all the future moments of this adventure.  Stay tuned to watch my progress toward these goals, because heaven knows, no one wants to watch failure!  Gulp.