Gentle Yoga: an Oxymoron

A new yoga studio opened upon the prairie for us plains dwellers who wish to contort into unsavory positions whilst listening to the coyotes’ toenails click upon the weeds-in-the-cracks sidewalks.
Wednesday’s program was duplicitously titled “Gentle Yoga.”
Silly me, I didn’t believe yogis to be liars. Especiallyl when they are so kind, so thoughtful, with such soothing, low timbred, magical voices declaring positively how wonderful I am.
I believed her, which was Stage 1 in her nefarious plan.
We started with meditation so soothing I nearly fell over out of my cross-legged position, and that would have been especially embarrassing since I might have domino-ed about eight ladies.
After rousing from the 15 minute muscle-relaxer, emotion-numbing, self-esteem-building small talk with myself, we stood up, which normally is not an issue. Seems I was deeper into the trance than I realized, and tipping women from standing? That might have caused injury only 911 could have healed.
So we stood and we twisted a little; pivoted on a toe or two; bent and flexed.
It was nice, but not worthy of discussion. Nothing hurt, nothing popped out of whack; I was just relaxed. No biggie.
Then we laid upon our mats — which made me realize a little Febreze was in my future — and, on our backs, we were instructed to shut our eyes and begin envisioning.
Okay, we were too envision our bellies, pulling toward our spines, forming a well that fills from a gently flowing waterfall upon our concave flesh wells.
I only realized I was glad I’d visited the restroom a half hour before, and that water can’t fill a bowl that’s turned upside down. Water flows down the sides of convex objects, such as my gut.
That hurt my feelers.
Once upon a time, I could eat junk food, bloat like a gallon of rancid milk, and wake the next morning unscathed.
Now, with years tacked onto the ever-less-resiliency of my burgeoning figure? Not so much pooling as melting outward, like an amoeba. Bits of me try to run off, phalanges of skin pooching out, trying to bridge a gap between myself and Anything to get away from their original owner.
So I was envisioning water, “pooling,” but not in my belly cauldron but instead on the floor around me, and also violently wishing for another bathroom stop, just to “be sure” rivulets didn’t form into tributaries, if you know what I mean.
Plus … PLUS! ….the yogi insisted we students not twist ourselves into pain.
“Stretch! Take a hot shower, relax, drink water.”
Did I obey? Heck no! Did I tell you there’s a delightful Chinese restaurant just down the coyote-fur-covered sidewalk, four squares away? ‘Cause that’s where I went.
And then I went to bed.
No hot shower…no shower at all, actually, gross…and no draughts of water, no stretching of anything except the truth that I may not be the yogi I once thought.
Because the next morning? Well, I’ve been discouraged from using the word “pain,” so I’ll say my thigh muscles are still “vehemently tender.”
The next class is on Monday.
I may or may not go, mostly because the Chinese restaurant is closed on Mondays, so really, what’s the point of even going downtown?
Aging stinks.

 

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Z is for Zigging and Zagging

Eldering — the new word I made up because it sounds more “Lord of the Rings” (think of the LotR term for 111:”eleventy-one”, because that’s cute, cute, cute) and less “Getting Old and Crusty” and is therefore a more interesting and less cripplingly depressing word — involves dodging left when crap is coming at you, and juking right when it’s coming from behind, pun not intended and yet hilarious.
Ya gotta zig and zag or you’ll get plowed, that’s my point. Life is not a straight shot. To be upright and moving forward sometimes seems a monumental task, yet we do it, dodging obstacles all the way to the end.
And whew, the end of a long stretch of Crapola on a Cracker, that terminal moment when the worst is behind you and hey, it’s sunshine and roses from here on out, is the best. It’s rest, a long sigh, a heavy breath of relief. It’s the Corpse Pose after any-amount-of-time-in-Yoga-at-all. The BEST.
And before we know it, BOOM, there’s another thing to dodge, whether it’s an enormous life event or a tiny dramatic thorn that threads its way through your psyche and shreds all sanity and reason.
I may be dramatic, yet you get my point because we’ve all had these Events, these Changes, and we’ve been through our own enormous share of all of that.
We Zigged. We Zagged. We survived.
Therefore we can wear socks with sandals and use words like Whippersnapper if we want, because we’re survivors.
We Aged, We  Conquered. We Rock!!
And thus I end the A To Z of Aging, with the words, “We Rock!”
I mean, how cool is that?

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Y is for Yarn

brown yarn and knitting needlesGrowing up, knitting was for Grandmothers. Not being age-ist; It just was. Yarn tangled into an afghan meant Grandmothers in rockers and the need for silence within ten feet of the chair.
Now I’ve been watching “Outlander,” a series of television episodes based on a series of books, and yarn arts were not just for grannies, apparently, but also for Highlanders,  which makes them all the more endearing. Highlanders, I mean; grandmothers were already at the apex of Endearing.
Now I’ve aged and yarning/knitting/crochet/tangling up within yards of threaded string seems has come to mean Maternal Love, Warmth, Comfort, Hours by the Fireplace with a Dog in My Lap, trying not to slap him in the head every time I pull a knitting stick out to work another row. (It’s a process; we’ve established a system — I click, he ducks. I kid, because bless him, he can’t hear or see a thing and often pees if startled. Yarning requires my lap be draped in terry cloth, making it more treacherous for me than for other partakers of the yarn arts.)
Back to Outlander, in which the ladies wear fabulous knitted things that “Can’t be THAT hard to make.” And who needed to prove that? Surprisingly, Competitive little me, who knew? Didn’t know I had the Competitive/I Can Do Anything with Google gene.
I’ve knitted before. I tried socks, which is using dental floss and long toothpicks in order to create one jillion tiny stitches to make toe warmers.
Next I tried scarves. Umpteens of scarves. I had enough scarves for necks of a whole herd of pack animals. The cows across the street? The whole crew got a fetchingly colorful tie for their meaty throats, but not a one stood long enough for a quick twist of the yarn around their gullets. Whatever. Now the scarves are stuffed into the nethers of my closet, probably to be trashed next time I read Tidying Up. 
Last year I attempted a Super Quick Bulky Blanket, but I didn’t have enough yardage of fluffy three-ply yarn and after gripping those enormous needles the width of a Sequoia sapling I gave up the whole shebang. My hands needed rest.
Fast forward to this winter, when I’ve conveniently forgotten the pain, angst, and curse words of last year. I need an Outlandish item, and by golly, I shall have it!
One perusal of the ‘Net, an arduous trip to Hobby Lobby, as Bubs is not a fan of crafting — and one subsequent trip to Wal-de-Mort, the store that must not be shopped, because I was remiss with my first shopping list and noticed on Sunday, which happens be Hob Lob’s rest — and suddenly I’m a winter knitter. Now I can actually WATCH the show, and KNIT the thingie I like on the screen, in theory. (In actuality, if I look away from my knittin’ hands, I lose stitches, and even when it’s the simplest stitch ever, ever, ever, this chick is a novice.
I don’t know how to fix dropped stitches; I haven’t Googled that yet; don’t have the patience to fix it — I just unravel the whole mess, finish watching the Outlander episode, and call the evening a wash. I realize the blessing of having sat with my dog in front of a fire beneath a knot of yarn yet to be re-spooled. Though I cursed a little tiny bit, and though I may not have a traveling shawl, or a pair of fingerless gardening gloves, or a horse ridin’ shawl, but the night was splendid and there’s always tomorrow. To start again.
Unless Spring comes before settle back in, with the dog and a bag of yarn, intent on finishing the thing I’m knitting. That’s a real possibility.

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X is for X

“No” is a bad word. I like to be jovial, accommodating, thoughtful, needed.
Plus, I don’t want to be the grumpy aging lady, and “No” denotes grumpiness, my young eyes having heard it waft often from my grandmother. (I later learned she had bunions, and upon reflection, those will make anyone grumpy.)
It’s a delicate dance: “No, and I mean that sincerely, but I am in no way exuding a  ‘grumpy’ vibe. Do not take my rejection as anything but an act of love, certainly more for myself than for you, as you see it, and now as I see it, which means your tears are changing my mind, and of course yes, yes, is what I mean.”
I try to couch the “No” amidst apology and hand waves and moving feet. Don’t stop. Halting in place allows for coercion and waves of disappointment across my accoster/accuser/neighbor child until “No” has flipped into a Yes and then where am I? “Yes” is suddenly out there, on the table, and I’m committed to whatever I’ve agreed, and now I’m mad at myself, running my play: where did I go wrong, what could I have done differently, is there an escape clause to whatever I agreed to?
Sigh.
Aging is hard, exhausting, and mentally stimulating to the negative. It keeps me young, all this bickering amongst my selves.
Plus, it has the benefit of hindsight: I know now why I avoided my grandmother after her grumpiness: I was giving her the gift of solitude. Her plan worked. And Grandma, you are welcome.
X means No. The big red X, or hash line in a red circle, but the meaning is the same: Keep out, Danger, No smoking, No dogs, you know the signs I mean.
I’ve simplified to the one letter: X. X means no. And I mean it this time, at least on occasion.
I refuse to believe I’ve become my grandmother, because I will say Yes on occasion.
So there.

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W is for Weight…Loss, Gain, and Reality Check

Weird blobs show up when you age. I’m giving you a heads-up that you’ll forget, until one day your belly button disappears and bathing is more like spelunking. Then, and only then, will the gravity of my warning reach your ears.
Enjoy your slim days, that’s what I’m begging.
Now, “weight” is a funny word. Literally, it makes me laugh. Weight. Ha! Whatever.
Lose it? Gain it? Who cares, at this point? It’s a number and I’ve never done well with math. Therefore, I chucked the scale and measuring tape and guilt over not exercising six days a week because I don’t care about those things any more.
Is this healthy? No. No, it’s not.
I’m not vegan, or all-organic, or even-a-little-interested in liquid breakfasts.
Occasionally I check my choices: unsweet tea or Dr Pepper? On an Atta Girl day, I go with the sugar-free…but who am I kidding? Tea makes me thirsty. And what do I reach for then? You see my struggle.
I could be healthier, I could Yoga more, and I truly enjoy it when I do.
But most days, I’m more proud of the fact that I didn’t need a nap at 3pm, in the middle of my work shift, and that I stood from my chair and walked the stacks to wake up. Boom. Eighth of a mile in the books.
That’s a good day.
PS This is not advice, and if it is, then it’s bad.
PPS I’m going to try to YouTube a ten-minute workout today, in the spirit of guilt and thighs that bark when I walk. Followed by a smoothie, whatever that is.

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V is for Vein Vanity

I stopped wearing shorts after my son was born. No real reason, other than shorts felt icky. That’s really all I have, because my legs were fine, if I remember properly. Aside from being loath to shave, they weren’t unsightly.
My point is, because my skin doesn’t see the light except that of the shower, I don’t know what it looks like.
Recently, though, I found my winter tights. And my body found out that the summer was not the diet fest it might should have been. Those two constants were suddenly in play: tights are tight and when the body is tight, pants are tight, or not fitting at all, or “shrunk in the wash.”
I had to shave my legs. Eek! No winter coat?? But in order to wear my comfy winter tights, the leg tresses had to go.
I shaved, with a new razor — because I couldn’t find the old one — and a shaving cream, because a girl likes a little pampering on occasion instead of the bar of Ivory scraping over her delicate skin.
Lo, and behold, beneath the follicles: veins! What the…
Aging brings about road maps, blue highways — plump and healthy — gleaming so delicately from beneath the dermis. Topography is next, I’m sure, making future shaving deadly. Sliding a razor across fresh moguls around my already weirdly shaped knees? Blood loss with the flick of a Bic. Or Atra. GIllette? I don’t know. Whatever brand is embedded within the plastic handle of my throwaway razor. The logical solution: give up on this shaving thing from now on. I’m devastated by the loss.
Back to the natural, more-on-my-legs-than-my-head winter coat, buy bigger tights, find elastic waistband slacks.
All is well.

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U is for Unique

drawing of pug puppy with a hornmEvery life is different; there are no two alike. No matter the effort, no one can live exactly the same path as another.
This applies to all life, isn’t that fascinating? I can squash three spiders, and they’ve all lived a different path. They may have the same mother, same clutch of eggs, and hopefully I’ve killed them all with spray, but no two paths to death were the same.
I may have just encountered my arachnophobia, thus it’s prevalent in my mind.
So as I age, I’ve noticed all my stupid mistakes, mis-steps, weird choices, wins or losses, were uniquely mine.
Plus, I’ve been in a unicorn mood. A friend needed illustrations for a card game he’s creating and I found myself within a world I had no knowledge of: fantasy gaming. This week the subject is unicorns and surprisingly, it isn’t easy to make `12 unique ‘corns.
I should Google it, but the words Unique and Unicorn are derivatives. Sure “uni” means one — “uni” means one! — which validates my point that we are all here on separate paths, whether they merge or don’t. We’re all walking together..
What a gift! An ambulatory way all our own!
Plus, unicorns found! Each of us is one, all unto ourselves, and we can share our lightness as we wish, as we hopefully will, as it is our gift to do so.
That’s pretty cool.

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T is for Touch

I don’t know if the internet is to blame, yet it is what I blame.
People have forgotten how to interact except by way of invisible carrier pigeons entwined within the ethernet.
Could this be true, and how sad if it is.
But it certainly feels accurate.
And thus, human touch is lost. All day I sit at a keyboard, typing away, feeling little, saying much, until the work bell rings, I head to the house, and hop on social media.
Really? That’s my life?
No, I refuse.
There’s no communication there, no true feeling, no sincere interaction, because on the society pages of today, I’m a rock star. We all are, aren’t we? How much of that stream is life,. or fact, or in the ballpark?
Aside from baby sloth videos, what is the benefit to the internet?
Who needs it? We still have the good old USPS — and in ten short days, I’ll have answers to my burning questions, whatever they be, from whatever sage I’ve entrusted with my inquiries.
Yeah, okay, I get it, the need for immediate feedback. I have a pen pal, so that I may write letters and see handwriting, but if I have a time-sensitive knowledge-need, I text. Yeah. It’s cheating, but she doesn’t share my need for almost immediate response, barely leaving the proximity of the mailbox before responding.
So okay, I get the lack of interface as the new intra-face, but it still stinks.
That’s my point: while immediate, tech lacks the true stuff I need, especially as I age: Humanity.
A handshake, a hug — oh, I know the best huggers in my life; I relish hugs from them (you know you have favorites, too, admit it) — a quick touch on the arm, whatever. I’m not choosy. I simply enjoy favorable moments with people.
It sounds so simple but like the Yeti, it is seldom seen. Note I’m not saying it doesn’t exist out of hand, it’s just elusive.
I might get a reputation for being the creepy old lady that runs her index finger across the back of people’s hands for seemingly no reason. If asked, I hope I’m still clear thinking enough to come up with a palpable lie. “You need lotion, I have some in my handbag.” (Because I’ll have a giant purse in my lap, just where nutty old broads keep their life’s accumulation.” I’m optimistic that I won’t be batty enough to grab someone’s hand and slap Jergen’s across it without permission…because it wouldn’t be weird if I had permission…
All I know is, even my Kindle Fire feels cold in my hands, no matter who I’m typing toward.

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S is for Seeing-Through

new york times book award advertisement

NY Times book section

It took a long time to stop stopping myself. I’ve been my worst friend, holding Fear close and letting it call the shots.
Fortunately, aging has added Wisdom to my bag o’ tricks and pushed Fear down. Not that it’s gone, but it’s sequestered, pushed down a bit under a cuddly blanket of Not So Much, No Time for That, and Let’s Do This.
It’s a big bag o’ bravery and insouciance.
Recently I encountered a heroine, a lady I’d met previously who since then has toured with her award-winning novel of such depth and thoughtfulness that I literally take breaks between chapters to recover, to ingest, to mull.
I’m a muller.
Also, her novel has broken my cardinal rule: if an animal is on the cover, I insist on flipping to the last page to check that the animal is upright and breathing. That’s right, my heart can’t handle a deceased creature within the  pages of a book.
What was that Cameron movie with the dog, the one that died, like, 5 times?? Inanity! Who would want to see it? Heart-warming? Whatever. More like heart-stomping, emotional trauma my delicate eyes and swooning nature need none of. Look! Emotion has made my trembling, weak fingers end a sentence with a preposition.
I tell you, death to critters is a no-no.
And this book? This literary work my heroine regurgitated upon her ether screen and put into the world toward great acclaim and a subsequent uptick in Kleenex sales?
Cow. Cow on the front. Red hide and sweet, dewy, trusting bovine eyes.
But I persevered and read it! Most of it! (I’m on a rest; mulling.)
And last week I met her again. Bless her. She took the onslaught like a champ. I was manic, a bit crazy, and certainly star-struck.
And I accidentally stalked her three more times in two short days.
Short for me; long for her. She had no escape.
Fortunately, her generous spirit forgave my fan-swooning and all is well. Or she’s a great actor and the warrant for my retrieval is still pending.
My point in this extrapolated tale is this: Screw it! I had nothing to lose but to See Through on my semi-neurotic adulation, though well-meaning and big-hearted; it was still a lot weird, I recognized that. And I would have never let it get to the point of handcuffs or Miranda.
The Point: see–it-through, whatever you want. Whether you’re youthful or my age, just see it through. The universe loves the weird because we shake things up, whether they’re boundaries or nerves. Things need shaking occasionally.
(If anyone is still with me here, the book is called One Good Mama Bone, and the brilliant author is Bren McClain.
2017 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction.
Read it.
All the way through.)

 

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R is for Reality

Aging brings reality.
For instance, nowadays, pants must have pockets. I didn’t see it before, when I was young and unpocketed. I’d put my keys in a friend’s pocket, or I’d hide the keys under the car floormat, to uncover later, or I’d walk.
Just kidding. I didn’t walk.
But now, I can not rely on friends with pockets. Mostly because I’m unsocial and friendless.
No, not really.
But I’m alone a lot, or I’m with my son, who may have pockets but manages to lose things anyway.
And I refuse to carry a wristlet; I’m not Girl enough for a “wristlet.” It’s a wallet on a strap that Girls who don’t have pants-witti-pockets or friends-with-pockets use for their keys. And probably a lipstick; that’s a Girl thing, too.
But my new Aged Reality recognizes that Lipsticks are cakey, gloppy, weird bits of Girldom when Chap Stick will do. Chap Stick rocks. The lip color — which is transparents, of course — goes with anything; it doesn’t glop. It’s a tiny tube; unobtrusive. And if I lose one, because of the no-pocket issue, well…it’s a buck, while true lip sticks are expensive.
Like a Twinkie, my middle layer of squooshy-ness is here to stay.
Oh, and Budgets are a good thing. They seemed confining in the Ago. Now, though, in the new Reality, budgets are helpful…and reliable…and I don’t need as much stuff as I seemed to in my youth, so money stretches further.
Because, hello, the new Reality is less-stuff-y. Who needs acquisition? I feel claustrophobic in department stores; I certainly can’t handle Stuff in my living space. I watch “Hoarders” and immediately toss things out, so Stuff is not my friend.
Now that I’m again, I allow my clothes to wear out, because I don’t feel compelled to buy the latest and cutest thing. (Also, it helps that I’ve never had a fashion sense. I wouldn’t know what’s latest or cutest; I might already own the latest and cutest…though I doubt it…) And shoes! If I ever found shoes I liked — I don’t think that’s the Aging element; finding shoes I like has always been a problem, but if I did find some, I would let them wear out. My couch is ancient and I like it; my sheets are incredibly soft, because I just wash them instead of insisting on buying new ones.
Towels, however…well…I always like new fluffy towels. It’s a weakness.
New to my Aged self: I never get carded.
I can’t use a short skirt to get out of speeding tickets.
I can’t rebound from yardwork like I once could.
“Weight lifting” in this new Reality equates to getting up from a chair.
All these new revelations, they’re all new stuff that’s been attached to me, tagging along, settling in unnoticed for years, I simply hadn’t acknowledged their existence.
Now, here they are, the new elements of the new Now.
I’d best write them down. I need to write everything down anymore, which is also my new Reality. I find notes all over the place that I swear I didn’t write, but doggone it, I recognize my handwriting, so it must be mine. The notes are like a little treasure hunt, leading me from one thought to another. And THAT is how stuff gets done nowadays: I follow the trail of To Do’s I leave myself.
I’m weird.
I’m going to write that down.

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