I have an app on my phone that gives me a yoga quote every day. The idea is to take a quiet moment and read the daily quote, reflect upon its wisdom, then go about my day in a serene and float-y way.
Instead, I usually read the daily quote as I’m loading the dishwasher and scooting our little piggie Piper out of the way and hollering at my kids to turn down the TV and wondering where my grocery list is and trying to remember if I paid the lawn guys and hoping I remember to water the new shrubs before they shrivel and die a brown, crinkly death in these dog days of Texas summer.
What part of that is serene and float-y?
None. Nada. Zilch.
I’m coming to grips with the fact that I just don’t lead a serene and float-y life. Going to yoga helps, although I don’t think I’ll ever master the art of calming my mind, even in the midst of a perfect yoga class, in a darkened room with my favorite instructor with her calming voice and lovely music.
Adding the daily yoga quote to my hectic, too-busy day and to my static-y, not-calm mind was a somewhat-desperate attempt to impart even more calm to my spastic self. Some days a quote resonates with me, and some days I think, “Yeah, right.”
Today’s quote grabbed me, and not necessarily in a yoga way but in a more all-encompassing way.
“These days, my practice is teaching me to embrace imperfection: to have compassion for all the ways things haven’t turned out as I planned, in my body and in my life — for the ways things keep falling apart, and failing, and breaking down. It’s less about fixing things, and more about learning to be present for exactly what is”. — Anne Cushman
That one got my attention and forced me to slow down (and to ignore the dishwasher, et al). My guess is that this quote applies to everyone, regardless of whether you’ve ever set foot in a yoga class or attempted a reclining pigeon pose. Of course this quote applies doubly to any of us who have faced a serious health crisis, such as a cancer diagnosis.
My first thought when I read this quote was about how much I’d love to be in the presence of Anne Cushman, whoever she is, and hope for osmosis. I’d love for her acceptance to permeate my body and mind. I’d really love to emulate her practice of “being present for exactly what is” especially as it relates to my post-cancer body.
If only there were a “being present” fairy. A lovely, serene, calming cousin to the Tooth Fairy, who would visit those of us who struggle after diagnosis. She could float into our windows while we sleep and sprinkle yoga-fairy dust around our pillows. She could whisper words of wisdom into our ears and smile knowingly as we nodded sleepily, eyes closed and minds calm. We would fall under her spell without even knowing it, and would awake from our typically-disjointed sleep, no longer plagued by hot flashes or night sweats or nightmares about recurrence. We would emerge from non-tangled, not-sweaty sheets, refreshed and renewed and filled with compassion for the many ways in which things didn’t turn out how we expected. We would smile as we alighted from bed, bathed in calm and knowing that we now have the power to embrace our imperfections. We would no longer instinctively avoid our reflections in the mirror; that part of our minds that tells us “Don’t look! It’s not pretty! It’s not the same!” would be erased, no longer needed. We would cease the relentless and futile pursuit of “fixing things” about our bodies and souls post-cancer. Instead, we would smile sweetly at the broken parts and love them because of, not despite, their imperfections.
My little dog has undergone a big change since we moved into our temporary house. Gone is the lazy, timid dog; he’s been replaced by a brave explorer who wants to charge out the front door and sniff around the entire neighborhood.
I’m shocked by his behavior.
He stands at the front door and scratches multiple times a day. It’s so strange. (One thing hasn’t changed, however — his lack of brains. He hasn’t yet figured out that the front door on the new house swings open on the opposite side as the door on the previous house. Granted, the previous house is the only home he’d ever known before this house, but still….He scratches at the hinged side of the door in the temporary house to alert any- and everyone to the fact that he wants to go exploring.)
I’m not used to this energetic, brave, and curious creature. I’d rather gotten used to my lazy dog.
Regardless of the sudden and inexplicable personality change, he’s nice to take for a walk. He doesn’t tug on the leash, nor does he make that unpleasant “I’m choking myself but I can’t stop” sound. He strolls leisurely but purposefully, sniffing every inch of ground and interrogating each blade of grass. He doesn’t pay any heed to people passing by, and he didn’t even notice the Vietnamese kids smoking pot in the garage two doors down.
On our walk today I noticed a piece of paper on the sidewalk, soggy from last night’s rain yet still intact and legible. It’s someone’s to-do list. I picked it up, both because I don’t like leaving trash lying about and because I’m nosy. I’m a habitual list-maker myself, so I was curious to see what action items are on someone else’s list.
In the span on time between my last post and this moment, much has occurred. Moving house is perhaps one of the most stressful events in life; moving house twice — into a temporary house while the new house is being built — perhaps doubly so.
While I attempted to organize the move in my typical borderline-OCD fashion (purging outgrown toys and clothes, organizing closets, designating heaps of goods for donation, and segregating our worldly goods into “need now” and “won’t need until we’re in the new house” camps), unforeseen issues came into play.
The moving truck was too small to contain our worldly goods, requiring multiple trips to the temporary house and the storage unit.
The storage unit was too small to contain our worldly goods. The movers were on the clock for 10 hours instead of the 4 we had estimated. Our upstairs AC unit died an untimely death, in the midst of a record, 103-degree heatwave.
The housecleaning service failed to show the day before closing, resulting in a late-night cleaning marathon that neither Trevor nor I want to repeat. If our family owned a swear jar, that baby would have exploded that night, and money would have rained down on the greater Fort Bend area.
Then came the Tetris-like process of moving our pared-down worldly goods into a house roughly half the size of the one we’re used to sprawling in. Not that I’m complaining. Our temporary house was generously vacated for us by our dear friend and all-around good guy, Ed. He selflessly took on a wandering lifestyle, with a few nights in a motel and a couple of weeks in our friends’ guest house before taking off for our beloved Salisbury Beach, then landing in an extended-stay hotel that will accommodate his two lovable dogs. That is true friendship, people, and if you find yourself lucky enough to be in the company of a person like him, I suggest you grab on with both hands and cherish that friendship forever.
Add to that long list of challenges the presence of some very difficult home buyers. We smugly accepted their offer over another offer on our house after just 4 days on the market. We clinked glasses and toasted our good fortune to have attracted such seemingly rock-solid buyers in such a short amount of time.
Perhaps we should have held out a few more days.
Good grief, this was a hideously difficult process.
I’m quite certain the contempt we feel toward them is mutual, and this is one chapter I am happy to put behind me. The day after closing, I awoke with a strange feeling that took me a moment to recognize: joy. To quote my favorite yoga teacher, I felt a lightness of heart and an abundance of joy in my heart. All because I knew the madness was over and I would (fingers crossed) never have to deal with those people ever ever ever again.
One unexpected benefit of life in our temporary dollhouse: the close proximity and the week-long absence of cable TV and the internet has spurred my favorite girl and my #1 son to spend some primo quality time together. From playing cards on her bed to building a Popsicle-stick crossbow to her schooling him on how to bake cookies, those kids have had a ball together.