IndiGlow - The Ordinary Illuminated

IndiGlow - The Ordinary Illuminated

The Truth is in the Choice, Guest Editor Michelle Ladwig

Thursday, May 01, 2014

 

Sometimes I think it’s funny that both of my professions, both of my creative loves, involve precision, creativity, attempts and failures, and no-holds-barred shoot outs with my nemesis.  The difference is here:  In academia, the nemesis is the editor.  In yoga, the nemesis is the self.


When I go to school, I dress appropriately:  slacks or skirt, blouse (no cleavage), suitably heeled shoes (no toe cleavage), proper under garments; i.e. things are covered.  I carry a bag filled with books, red-inked papers, pencils, pens, and “Good Job Stickers.”  When I head out to the studio, I carry a bag filled with a mat, a towel, water, one MP3 player, hairbands, pose-driven choreography in my head, and ambition.  When I slack off the outer garments of propriety, I am in barely anything:  a sports bra and hot shorts.


I teach and practice in the tradition of hot yoga.  We keep the room at a lovely 105 degrees.  (If you were from the south like I am, you’d agree 105 degrees ain’t nothing).  The tradition beyond the temperature is in the wall-to-wall sheet of truth staring me down.  We like mirrors!


Truth: once in a while I look in the mirror and think I should cover up. I am too old to bare my belly; too old to wear hot pants. Too old.  And here, right here, is where I not only question my wardrobe, I question where did that come from!


Mother Nature and I have been at it for about a year now.  If you are unsure, let me tell you, shit happens and it happens at glacial speed.   My mother said that one day my skinny body and my metabolism would go to pot.  Well, I haven’t gone to pot.  I’m still doing worlds better than my high school peers, but man, things are a-changing.


Now, all kinds of chicks and dudes come to hot yoga.  All bodies, all ages.  Tall boys, full-figured gals, double sport bra ta-tas, shaved legs, unshaved legs, fitness fanatics and chill lotus flowers.  Here’s the thing:  I don’t care how you look or if you shave your legs.  That’s your body and it’s a beautiful thing.    I have never once noticed if you gained weight.  I do notice when your tricep heads start defining, or your delts get sculpted, or when you finally master THAT pose.


But, when I look at my body in the big ole’ horizon of mirror, I notice things.  And, here, I am tempted to create the laundry list of ughs and wtfs, but that would be counter-productive.
I don’t like it, but what am I going to do?  Diet?  I hate grapefruit.  Run til I drop?  Hurts my everything.  No, I am going to yoga.


I am going to look in the mirror and study the body I have earned.  Positive Laundry List: I like the shape of my lips and the color of my eyes, and my curly red, Moppet hair.  I have strong core muscles, arms and back muscles that allow me into hand stands and arm balance work.  I have two healthy breasts, a hale libido, toes that point, feet that flex, and a body willing to go where the heart goes.

And my heart wants to swing from aerial hoops and silks, fly in AcroYoga with my friends and my husband, go for bike rides above water puddles and below apple blossoms, and I want to paddle the Mississippi on a SUP board.  If the nemesis is the self, then the heart is the child with no caution, only wild abandon.  I am choosing to turn that voice off.  I am choosing this body.


Finding My Center After the Storm

Saturday, September 07, 2013

I'm watching Turkey Buzzards circling over my backyard as I sit and work in my office on this peaceful Saturday morning.  Through the other window I see an intricate spider web attached to the eaves of the roof swaying in the gentle breeze.  My 3 children have spent the morning playing, disagreeing, making-up, and playing some more.  There is such peace and fullness in my heart/mind at this moment.  I'm reminded of the word purnam, or "perfection," which, in this context, does not mean what we might think.  I am full...I am whole...I am perfectly content in my spirit as I observe the fluctuations of the world around me.   


After the longest Winter of my life (which bled into the Spring and even early Summer), I am refreshed to find the ground beneath my feet again.  It felt like a metaphorical hurricane swept through my life and left me completely demolished internally.  

After a month of testing in January, my son was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism.  While I had suspected this for the 5 years prior to his diagnosis, there was still a part of me wishing they would tell me I was wrong on that emotional day.  

The day before I drove to Chicago for this news, I learned that my father was diagnosed with another form of cancer (he had beat Prostate Cancer years before).  My relationship with my Dad has not been a close one, and so I was left with a mixture of feelings, including grief and fear.  

It was a hell-of-a week, and I took a few days to try to assimilate all of this news.  And then...that following Friday as I was waiting in the pick-up line at school I received a terrifying call from my mother.  She was having a stroke!  I spent the next week in and out of the hospital with her...trading shifts with my brother as we worried what would happen next.  Once released, she came to live with me for a few weeks so I could care for her, which included sorting out all of her new meds, helping her learn to give herself insulin shots 4 times a day (for her out of control diabetes), cooking heart-healthy meals, and more.  I was happy to do it, but I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.

By the grace of God, her stroke did not leave her completely handicapped.  While it certainly affected her, with time & rehab she regained most of her speech, balance, and abilities.  It was life-changing for her (and for all of us who love her), and she made incredible lifestyle changes in an effort to avoid another stroke.


Now, months later, we're all doing pretty damn well!  My father & I have become closer than we've been in years, and his cancer is under control at the moment.  My mother lives independently with a helper now who comes twice a week, and she continues to be stronger everyday.  My son, well...of course there is no cure for Autism, but we've been able to get him a 504 at school, which means he is protected for the rest of his educational days.  I've finally been able to talk to him about his diagnosis, and together we are learning how to navigate this unique path God has blessed us with. 


Everyday there are new challenges to face, but this is the nature of human existence for all of us.  For everyone of us life is going to be full of heartache, scary moments, and metaphorical hurricanes that make us feel defeated.  But, the beauty is that there are also moments of deep joy, moments to celebrate, and remarkable miracles which build us up again.  All moments pass, change, ebb & flow.  

I'm eternally grateful for the skills my yoga practice has given me.  Because of these tools I am able to find my center...remember to breathe...and accept that I am not in control of the world around me, but I can control how I react to it.  With a very glad and grateful heart, I am thankful for this moment.  


Namaste

<3 IndigoGrrl

I haven't felt the Earth move

Monday, January 28, 2013
under my feet nearly enough this winter.  I spent so much time and effort building up a running practice last year from April all the way until the end of November.  I even ran my first races...two different 5k's which I found to be exhilarating experiences! 
 
It wasn't easy...I never was a runner and could never get past that first mile.  I started with alternating 3 minutes of jogging with several minutes of walking early last Spring.  It wasn't pretty, but I'd make myself go for 45-minutes...even though I couldn't run half of that at the time.  
I just kept at it...and then I got the best advice yet on how to approach my cardio, "The first 5 minutes are going to suck.  Know that & do whatever you can to make it fun,"  advised my friend who frequents our Wellness Studios who is also a doctor (Dr. Margaret Millar).  She encouraged me to keep at it...to get past those first 5-10 minutes, and to make it FUN!  
Hello, technology!  It hadn't occurred to me before, but once she filled me in on these simple pointers I loaded my iPhone with all kinds of crazy club music (which I don't normally listen to at ALL), invested in some good supportive shoes from the experts at Running Wild, and accepted the "suck" of the first 5 minutes.  And then...magic!  I love the stress-relief and weight-management that comes from a dedicated practice.  It doesn't hurt a bit that it makes my husband notice my legs.
  
But, OH MY GOD it has been a crazy winter.  December hit and those running shoes haven't been on my feet once (well, maybe a couple of times but it wasn't to actually RUN, sadly.)  I can't even blame the weather...especially since I love the cold & snow!  Between purchasing a 2nd business, battling the flu season with 3 kids, the holidays, and a mile-long list that even bores ME (so I'll spare YOU), this mama has lost her steam (and found her beer belly.)

Well, guess what?  Screw YOU crazy/busy schedule!  I'm getting my ass back in the saddle..er, running tights and I'm going to burn off that stress.  It's gonna suck for more than a minute, but not nearly as badly as it sucks to feel defeated & pudgy.  Help me out, Carole King...mama's finding her groove today!

Happy trails, friends!
~IndigoGrrl



"God is in the Roses...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

...the petals and the thorns.

Storms out on the oceans; 

souls who will be born.  

And every drop of rain that falls, 

falls for those who mourn. 

God is in the roses and the thorns."


I heard this Roseanna Cash song for the first time about a year ago as I was driving to our Yoga Teacher Training program at Indigo on a Sunday morning.  I was listening to NPR and hadn't been paying much attention as my mind was busy and my heart was heavy...I don't remember what internal battle I was fighting on that particular day.  I have battled chronic depression my entire life...and while I have overcome so much of this disease there are days & moments when the weight of the world and the suffering of humanity (especially of my own loved ones) swallow me up whole.


But when this simple yet powerful song started to play,

I was instantly hushed -- suddenly I was fully present...alive...aware...surrendered...accepting...at peace in the moment.  Tears of release streamed down my face and as I took deep breaths in and out I found myself absorbing the essence of God and letting go of the hurt.  

It was a moment that made a lasting impression.  It didn't erase my struggles.  It reminded me that my struggles are part of the process.  God is with me in the easy moments and in the difficult moments.  When I remember to let go of my firm grasp on those thorns my pain is so much less severe.  A rose can rest in my palm...thorns and all and when I just give it space (not casting it aside nor grasping firmly...just allowing it to BE) I can become aware of the complete beauty of God.  


Awareness.  Discernment.  Surrender.  There's that Kriya Yoga theme popping up in my life again.  Hmm...


**Just a sidenote to clarify my points of view:  when I refer to God, I do not see a separate God between cultures.  I do not believe there is MY God & then there is YOUR God, and I don't even really assign or assume gender here, as I believe God is bigger than those human labels & understandings.

Whatever way in which you personally connect with this Divine Creative Source, I believe it is the same energy for all of us.  Part of our human experience is finding our own personal connection with God (or the Gods, or the Goddess...or the Sun, or the Universe) ...these are all aspects of that one Infinite Source, in my humble opinion.   





Practice, and Surrender?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

We talk a lot about "surrender" in yoga.  Next time you're in class count how many times one of us instructs you to "let go."  (Just don't tell any of my instructors that I said so...ok?)
Does it ever feel more like the picture above (from a scene in the classic, "The Wizard of Oz") than the picture below when you really TRY to let go of something?  We're supposed to feel serenity...like being on the white sands near the ocean without any heavy thoughts holding us down.  Yet, living in our modern world with everyday demands and stressors can leave us feeling more like we should run and hide.  

I know.  I have those moments and those days too. 

But, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali give some direction in the principles of Kriya Yoga:

"Within this practice we orient our attitudes toward the discernment (swadhyaya) to distinguish the things we can change (tapah) from the things we cannot change (isvara pranidhana.)"  -excerpt from the Introduction of "Yoga Anatomy, 2nd Edition," written by Leslie Kaminoff & Amy Matthews.

Sounds a lot like The Serenity Prayer, doesn't it?  
That's something most of us are more familiar with, which makes it easier to relate to.  
The short version goes something like, "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."  In essence, we are to give it to God...that which we cannot change or control we can release ourselves from by simply giving it to the Universe (Creative Source, the Divine...however you relate to that energy, no matter what you call it...it's all the same.)

Still, the white beaches WOULD be nice...but January here in the Midwest can serve as a backdrop to my inner bliss.  It just takes practice.  (lots, and lots, and lots and LOTS of daily practice)
Hmm...now where is my broomstick? 


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