Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More reading please!

With Z3 being in my arms so much of the time, I literally have my hands full.  Not much crocheting or knitting has been going on.  And as annoying as that is, there is one huge benefit:  I have been able to do much more reading.  You only need one hand to read and sometimes if a book will lie flat, you can read hands free.  And there is no yarn to get tangled in small fingers or hooks to be snatched out of my hand and waved around furiously, triumphantly, and dangerously.  

Check me out on GoodReads where I keep track of the books I've been reading.  There have been some amazing books (like Chimamanda Adichie's Americanah and In Dependence by Sarah Ladipo Manyika) and there have been some serious disappointments (like Bernard Malamud's The Magic Barrel and David Sedaris' Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls).  But I am really enjoying this uptick in my reading and savoring the good, the bad and the ugly.  I have been taking my selections of books to read from many different types of genres and types of authors.  There's been some good non-fiction in there but also some wild science fiction and fascinating memoirs.  I've gotten around to some authors that I've always wanted to read but never did till now (such as Flora Nwapa).

Currently, I am reading two books in earnest:  Hold on to Your Kids and Happiness Like Water. Sometimes it can be difficult to read two books at the same time but these ones work well together.  I read a chapter or two from the former and then one short story from the latter before turning in at night. I can often squeeze in a chapter from Hold on to Your Kids during the day which is great because it's a bigger book  than Happiness.  I have put quite a few books on the back burner though and I am not sure if I will get back to them.  One is The Friday Night Knitting Club (rather trite and boring) and the other is Brick by Brick: How Lego Rewrote the Rules of Innovation (this was only a 2 week loan from the library and I couldn't renew it so I only got about halfway and I am not sure if I will be able to finish it now that I have it again for two weeks . . . it's interesting but not so interesting that I would set aside the two books in which I'm really engaged).  If you check out GoodReads, you will find others that are on hold indefinitely.

I am pretty sure I won't be able to post in-depth book reviews as I once did on this blog, but if a book really moves me, I am sure to review it on GoodReads.  I will link my review here.

I'm always looking for amazing books to read.  Or just interesting/off the beaten path books.  If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.  Thanks!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Feeling the Light

I am in the room.  It is already very warm and I am feeling relaxed.  A wonderful LivingSocial deal has introduced me to this beautiful, well-lit, airy Bikram yoga studio.  Once a week since June I've shown up.  Ready to give it my all.  And ready for the amazing after-effect of calmness and serenity.  Typically, I'm one of the last to rise out of final relaxation (savasana).

There have been many teachers leading this 7:30 class on Sunday morning.  It's Bikram so thei instruction is pretty much scripted from the beginning of class to the end.  But some teachers bring a lightness with them and crack jokes or try to connect with those taking the class.  Some teachers speak entirely too fast or with thick accents which makes me grateful that I know the 26 pose sequence well enough that I am not lost.

On this particular day, I look through the glass wall behind me and try to figure out who the teacher for today's class will be. I start to suspect it is a woman of color.  My heart automatically leaps!  This has never happened before.  I've had young teachers, older teachers, men and women.  All White. Maybe one Latino man.  And now, not only is the teacher a woman, she's Black.  Hooray!  I'm excited about class and though she is not my favorite in terms of how she delivers instructions, I'm thrilled to have her leading the class.  Just like I'm thrilled when I see other black and brown faces amongst the sea of faces when I go to yoga.  There have been times when I have been the one and only.  And times when the other-ing that happens in those situations make it so that I never want to return.

I should have been floating on Cloud 9 for the entirety of the class but truth be told, I've been feeling really tired.  Worn down even.  Severe allergies.  'Round the clock nursing.  Life.  And in that mental space, it's easy for negative thoughts to start niggling at the edges of my brain.  I look at the yoga teacher: gorgeous, young, well-put-together, tight body, painted toe nails.  I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  And then promptly look away.  My eyes?  Bloodshot.  My hair? Forgot to brush it and far, far too many grays.  Clothes? Ill-fitting.  Feet?  Rough-looking and toenails haven't been painted in eons. Yes, I feel bad.

But in that room, I had no choice but to look at myself.  And that's a gift.   Because 90 minutes of staring at yourself in 104 degree temperatures, bending and stretching, envisioning oneself going deeper and deeper into postures, summoning total focus will surely soften everything. Open everything. Loosen everything up.  And by the time I sealed my practice and uttered my namaste, I felt purged and empowered.  I easily pushed those harsh sentiments about myself all the way back to the recesses of my mind. Maybe even out?  I easily started to focus on the blessings, counting them one by one and not just paying lip service to saluting the light in those around me but actually feeling the light.

Yoga means a lot of different things to people. And at that, it can mean many different things to one person.  It certainly means a lot to me.  Folks can say what they will about yoga, but it has been and remains an integral part of my physical and spiritual life and growth.

Lately, I have been wanting to write again . . .

Lately, I have been wanting to write again.  Badly.  It's a wonderful feeling actually.  I fancy myself a writer but for a very long time, I have felt no inspiration.  No new stories have come to me.  And the stories that I started have stagnated.  And, obviously, even my blogging has been nonexistent as I often lack the energy/time/ideas to write. So I am excited that I feel driven to write again and I hope the feeling stays with me.
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