If These Walls Could Talk

I just signed the paperwork to sell my first house.  I’ve bought a house or two (ok, fine, only two) but this is the first one I have sold.

I bought this house in 1995, which means I owned it for close to twenty years.  My eventual-ex-husband and I moved in right after our baby turned two.  Our first party was our first-born daughter’s 4th birthday party.  She’ll be 24 this summer.  How time did fly!

The house has been through a few exterior paint jobs and myriad color changes of the inside walls.  It went from 3 to 4 bedrooms.  It housed my daycare business, where I had the honor of helping to raise other people’s children while still raising my own.  Oh, we had some fun there.  Birthday parties with ponies, art extravaganzas, and Pokemon marathons!

Over the years, the house heard the pitter-patter of countless little feet.  It heard a few dishes smashed, some by accident, and as my husband and I began to fight in earnest, a few on purpose.  I studied at the kitchen table through three college degrees, and that table saw my kids from kindergarten to high school. The house guarded my daughters’ secrets and shored me up for single parenting. It holds the memory of my marriage, my divorce, and a few subsequent lovers. After my divorce it watched me fall in love anew, stricken like a teenager myself, and held me in its wooden arms as I cried for the loss of that love five years later.

It noted my dalliance with the way too young, way too sexy, and certifiably bonkers handyman who did some (ahem) work for me. The breakfast bar often functioned as a wine bar for me and girlfriends, lamenting the course of life’s roads, or excited about new roads on the horizon. Friends helped me paint, fix, and patch, as I readied it for sale, then rent, then sale again.  After the last tenants, I spent my entire one-week “vacation” fixing, cleaning, and improving the things they had neglected.  I live several states from the house; it’s impossible to keep a good eye on a rental property so far away.  After the summer, I knew I should let it go before I got renters from Hell, before the house fell into disrepair in my absence.  As I walked through, it felt clean and open, ready for its own new start.  So I put it on the market and waited a bit.

Finally, I don’t regret my decision, but I didn’t expect the sadness that came with signing it away.  I know I don’t want to live there again.  The last few times I’ve visited, the memories were faint, faded like old photographs to a warm sepia tone. But now they are housed only in my head and in a few pictures.  I won’t stand on the deck and look at the lake again.  I won’t feel the solace of an old friend that has literally housed me and my kids for decades.

But in selling my old friend, I will benefit from the financial security we have built up together.   I can wish the best for the new family that seeks shelter in my old house’s steady arms.  I know I can treasure those memories I earned there and I will seek to make new memories now.

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I have noticed an interesting trend in relationships over the last few years.  My cousin is doing it.  A friend recently did it.  It’s the practice of looking up ones old high school boyfriend after a relationship ends and getting together with him.

As a single woman of a “certain age”, I know that it’s slim pickings out there.  I’ve about exhausted the online dating sites.  It’s brutally unfair, really; if one is not prepared to put a lot of time and effort into it (that one would be me!) you just quickly assess potential soulmates by the picture they have posted and what – if anything – they have written in their profile.  There are so many cell phone selfies in a bathroom mirror posted that it makes you wonder why these guys don’t have one friend or family member who would offer to take a decent picture for their online dating profile.  And the write-ups are often two sentences.  Not much to go on.

And let’s talk for a moment about what people look like at this age.  Often the ladies have hit menopause and are gaining weight.  We have wrinkles.  We look tired.  The men have lost their hair, or it’s gone white.  They have a beer belly.  We’re all the kind of people who you would have a great time with if you sat next to us at a dinner party and had a conversation.  No expectations.  What a nice surprise, it was so great to meet you!

On the other end of the spectrum, there are the aging beauty queens and athletes.  The ladies have had work done.  Fake boobs, eye lifts.  They wear too much makeup.  Botox has frozen their features.  They squeeze into teen-size jeans, and some of them still look pretty good!  The guys still want to spend a lot of time skiing, hiking, and mountain biking.  Their skin is weathered, but they don’t bother with the botox.  They’ve gotten a little barrel-chested perhaps, but they are still out there being fit. They want an activity partner to ski and hike with, and she should probably look like one of the aging beauties.  But does she ski?  Hopefully these two types will find each other; I don’t want to be with a guy who judges me by my fashion sense (zero) and how much makeup I cake on (very little) and big fake boobs and skinny legs (boobs are big and real, legs not skinny!) And I am not an activity partner.  When I hike, I get out of breath, and I can only bike on the flat.  No mountains, thanks.  Let’s just say I am good at indoor activities……  But he’ll never know that, he’ll be out climbing a 14’er.

So I guess that’s why people are looking up their high school sweethearts.  Back then we were perfect (some of us didn’t know it!)  The boy we loved was sweet and scrawny and sincere.  The girl he loved was a ripe peach, innocent and luscious and guileless.  The sex the two had was inexperienced, frequent, and oh so grand.  Maybe, thirty or forty years later, when we call that guy on the phone, or send him a Facebook message, that’s how he remembers us. And we don’t see his bald head and his paunch; he has David Cassidy feathered hair and his SUV is somehow reminiscent of that cherry red Camaro.

Or maybe I’m just jealous; I never had a high school sweetheart.  I was the geeky kid who didn’t know what to do with her hormones.  I can’t call up the guy who took advantage of me while I was drunk and throwing up at a party –although I’m sure he grew into a swell gentleman.

Being single at this age is a challenge, an adventure, sometimes a gift.  I took a lover on my Bahama vacation and “got my groove back”.  No strings attached, and what a lovely time!  I spent some time exploring celibacy, then had four booty-call men on speed-dial.  I haven’t found the perfect solution yet.

What I do know is that it isn’t good to rush things.  When people just get together with the first interested party, how can that be authentic?  Reconnecting with the ex from way back when, well, maybe that works out.  Nothing is ever what it seems.  The lady I know who brags the loudest on Facebook about her husband confessed to me last summer that she had been messaging online with someone and wanted to sleep with him. Nothing is perfect.

I do think that we were all meant for love, but maybe it’s not always what we think it should be. Until then, I’ll look around, and count my blessings that I’m not in a hurry.

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The Hidden Benefits of Yoga

Today I woke up from a bad dream (I was traveling and had forgotten to bring my bags and my phone was broken so I couldn’t call to have them brought) – and my alarm was going off at 6:40.  Why, you ask?  Because I had agreed to teach a 7:30 AM Sunday yoga class.

I grumpily wiped the snow off my windshield and got into my car.  I used to think heated seats were ridiculous, but not anymore.  With a warm butt and a heavy heart I opened the studio.  They are taking this class off the schedule soon.  Maybe no one will show up, and I can go home and climb back into bed with my warm doggy!

But one guy came in.  He was fairly new to yoga, an older gentleman (well, probably my age!) who was tall and athletic.  We talked about his personal yoga goals, the classes he likes to take, and I came up with a plan.  We worked on Vinyasa (linking movement and breath) in the sun salutations, on alignment in postures, and on breathing, introducing Ujai breath.

And when we were finished, my grumpiness was gone.  Where did it go?  Sucked into the yoga vortex and spit out the other side, I figured.

For this is a fairly reliable part of yoga, at least for me.  It gets rid of the psychological nonsense that buzzes around our brains most of the time.  Yoga reduces us to our core self:  breath, body, energy.  Yoga has been called a moving meditation.  And although I am completely capable of continuing my brain chatter through a class, especially as a student (this is harder when you are teaching!) I am chattering less and centering more lately.  It’s a mini-cleanse, 60 minutes or more of not-worrying, not-stressing, not-thinking.

And that is why I return to my mat, keep teaching classes, and keep my yoga practice strong.  The benefits of yoga (“union”) sometimes spread farther than we even know.

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As I was walking my dogs today, the leaves falling like golden feathers all around us, I saw a beautiful sight.  It was a young girl, maybe 14, riding her skateboard down the street.  She had dyed her hair in rainbow colors, and as she rounded the corner in front of us, the leaves cascaded down around her.  It took my breath away.

I wanted to take a picture, but I didn’t have my camera or even my phone, and in a second the moment was gone.

I wanted to call after her, “you’re beautiful!”  She would not have heard me unless I screamed it, so instead I said it loudly in my head, wishing somehow she would know it.  Wishing we all could know that about ourselves whenever it was thought.

I never even saw the girl’s face.

I had a sharp pang of missing my daughters.  Not the teenage versions, but them now, their presence in my life, their rainbow differences that makes them who they are.

I walked on more mindfully, with the three dogs:  a terrible two, a blind fuzz-bucket, and a lame greyhound rescue.  They are beautiful, too, each in their own way. We noted the crunch of leaves underfoot (or underpaw), the furry squirrels, and the warm sun on our skin and fur.  One of us tried hard not to bump into things.

If I were a painter, I would capture that image from today on a canvas, or on paper with colored pencils, to remind me that there is such remarkable beauty in our lives, if we only just pause to take notice.  Despite the times I wish for an easy way out, I know I am so blessed to live in this world.

Honor the special moments in your life.  Honor your own personal beauty.  Acknowledge the splendor you see around you.  And if you see someone who takes your breath away by their presence, their actions, their words, even their appearance, tell them so.  Even if you only shout it in your head.

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NaNoWriMo – Ready Set Go….

It’s like running a marathon but never finishing.  I have attempted NaNoWriMo a few times, but I have never “won”.  National Novel Writing Month means one sits down on November 1st with a blank screen or notebook and systematically proceeds to produce 50,000 words, roughly 1667 words a day, all things being equal.  But fall behind a day or two and that seemingly easy task becomes a daunting 5,000 words in a day very quickly.

Last year I got a cold.  I had to work and that was all I had energy for.  I had written a few chapters, but when I got too behind I quit writing.  Rookie error I guess.

Truthfully, I have not been able to really write since I moved to Colorado after my year-long sabbatical, during which I traveled to 7 countries on 3 continents (and of course I wrote about my adventures.) I’ve been “home” now for 2 1/2 years.  With a real job to work around.  And lots of excuses to not write.  I’m tired.  I have work to do.  Facebook is just so totally fascinating tonight.  My roommate put on my favorite movie, so I have to watch it.

I need a kick in the pants.  NaNoWriMo is just the guy to do it.

I will try to keep you abreast of my attempts in my blog (which I also have not been writing lately.  My apologies!)

Come along for the ride, won’t you?

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Are Yoga Teachers Better in Bed??

Yes, yes, oh God, yes!

And here’s why:

• Yoga teachers know the body.

They know theirs and they want to know yours. Your yoga teacher lover won’t be afraid to touch you. Anywhere. And she won’t be shy about touching herself, knowing what feels good, showing you what positions will hit her personal favorite spots. All this body knowledge is going to make for some powerful sex.

• Yoga teachers have passion.

They have dedicated a lot of time to something that is not necessarily a lucrative profession. They have studied and asked questions. They have followed the urge to go deep in their physical, spiritual and emotional selves.

• The lights are on and everybody’s home.

Your yoga teacher lover has gone through all the body image stuff and come through the other side. Yoga classes are not a place to be shy or self-conscious. She has sneakily, in the beginning, compared her body to hundreds of others and learned to see the universal beauty in every physical form instead of weighing her own deficits. She has seen her body change and grow stronger and she has witnessed this journey in others: first in classmates, then in students. She has seen young and old, fat and skinny, athletic, voluptuous, tattooed, black, brown, yellow, pink and white and seen the beauty in them all. She has undergone a spiritual journey as well as a physical one and it has lit her up in ways she never dreamed possible. She is eager to share that new wealth. Finally, she has turned back to her own physical body and learned to appreciate its strength and grace and forgiven it for its limitations.

• Yoga, like the best sex, is about the journey, not goal oriented.

Yet, yogis are also pleasure-pursuers. Yoga has become a sport and like all sports, there is a high that you get when you master a pose, push a little farther, achieve the balance, go to a place that was previously unreachable. She has gotten high on her own body and she has received a contact high from others discovering their personal pleasure. She can spend all day exploring mutual pleasure with you. (Maybe learning a little about tantric sex could be great for both of you!) She can also hit it hard, fast and accurately when the occasion calls for it.

• And finally, the one you were waiting for:

How does the practice of yoga translate into a physical ability to be amazing in bed (or on the floor, table, against the wall, in the car, wherever these lovemaking sessions take place?) Strength, flexibility and endurance are components of yoga. They are also the elements that make the difference between boring same-old sex and something a little different once in a while. So enjoy exploring these things with your yogi or yogini lover because she has earned the appreciation.

Disclaimer: I have used the female pronoun here because well, because I’m a girl! But this applies to yoga guys as well—obviously!

(This is a re-post of my article in elephantjournal, 2 years ago. If you have not explored elephant, please do so!!)

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I recently heard an NPR show about “a good death”. The author said he chose not to use that term, but rather to talk about the transition, and that there is a better view upon death that is uncommon in this society – the view of death as a part of life.

This is similar to the conversation we had today around the dining room table. My dad, my sister, myself, a doctor, nurse, and an intern were there. And of course, my mother. The subject of the meeting. My mother, hooked up to oxygen, an errant tear in her eye now and then, as we talked, took notes, and tried to stay on track, to be practical and not emotional. The doctor, an earnest nerdy Opie type, and one the most beautiful men I have ever encountered, said that the journey to death can be transformational, a blessed experience. Yet, to hear that and attach it to a person I love, a person I have never really been without and don’t want to lose….. that took tremendous effort.

I moved back here, to Colorado, a place I had already been (and my preference is to always go somewhere NEW – forward, not backward!) to be with my parents in their twilight years. I was explicit with that, honest with myself about it. I had it all worked out. But the reality is a little sketchier than my solid ten-year plan. I’m not ready.

When are you ever ready to part with the people who have always been there for you? When they are gone, what is left? These last few months, as my mother’s health has been failing, I have wanted to talk to someone about it. But the person I always talk to is my mother, so that was not possible. I had to turn inward, to find refuge within myself. Sometimes that’s slim pickings.

So tonight, I returned home to my dogs, apologetic for their late dinner. I decided my own dinner would be Wild Turkey. But after the first drink, I paused. I feel the need to be more present than I’ll be if I choose to zone out. Tempting as the temporary respite from this pain might be, I don’t want to fight the true and real emotions that are coming up. Tears and sadness and heartache are testimony to a real relationship, one that matters in my life. What better tribute is there to my wonderful mother than to be here, really be here, and feel all the things that this transition brings up? To witness the emotions in myself and in others, and to acknowledge the depth of feeling – this is the gift of loving.

What’s true is that we never really know when it is our time to go. Some people live a long full life. Others don’t get the chance. And how do we ever know which category we will fall into? Some deaths are sudden and unexpected. Others may be drawn out, which gives us the time to say goodbye.

I have experienced very few deaths in my 51 years. A few friends have died of cancer. I’ve lost grandparents and aunts and uncles. I’ve lost pets; most tragically a horse who died young and without warning. I got a prescription for valium when that happened, and I realized that I would need to learn to cope better with death before I dealt with the loss of my parents. I started to study Buddhism and practice non-attachment.

Now I begin this journey, accompanied by the people I am close to. I’m not alone. And universally, I’m even less alone. Thousands if not millions of people make this journey every day. I’m one of the lucky ones. We have some time. I don’t know how much, and I don’t want to know. I will treasure moments with my mother, and I will take a break when I need to. I’ll get through it.

And although I can put a good face on this and recognize the opportunity for spiritual growth and practicing compassion, it really sucks. That’s the bottom line. The spiritual growth will come with, and after, the mind-blowing, bring-me-to-my-knees pain. The most important person in my life is on her own journey. And I will be there beside her, but I will not be happy about it.

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