365 Days

Standard

010

Last year the husband and I spent Thanksgiving weekend hiking in Palm Springs, California. I remember those photos as some of the happiest ones I had for awhile as shortly after, the entirety of my world shifted. The phone call came the following weekend and aside from sitting at the airport in tears, I don’t remember much after that. Flight, hospital, difficult familial conversations, funeral, shiva and a whole hell of a lot of tears – today, it’s been a year since Dad suddenly passed away.

IMG_2393

There are moments when it’s impossible to believe it happened, moments that it feels raw and moments when although we can’t talk in the same way – it feels like he’s right here beside me holding my hand, laughing at a story, telling me about his ride or helping me make a difficult decision. Grief is completely f*cking weird.

IMG_2585

Too many people I know are in this exact same club. This club that no one wants to be in, doesn’t have a leader and too quickly increases in number – those I know in this club are at various stages of membership and have offered countless snippets of wisdom, comfort and stories amidst all the ick. From hugs, to texts, to ears to bend, shoulders to cry on, stories to share and the innate ability to turn a tear-filled conversation into one that ends with a smile – kind people have been everywhere this year.

IMG_2441

I can’t believe it’s been 365 days since he left us. The world sure seemed dark for quite awhile. It was cold and dreary, covered in ice and snow and filled with a sense of numb. For some reason, I do believe that there will always be a little bit of that darkness and that sense of numb, but 365 days later I feel far more of a hug from Dad than a sense of loss.

IMG_0236

Grief is definitely a strange animal. Whether you look it up on Google, research it, read your share of books, go to classes, talk to friends, listen to podcasts or figure it out on your own – it’s pretty damn obvious that there are many stages of grief. They don’t bop you on the head and say ‘hello you’ve reached the next level’ and unlike those old school video games we used to play, at times when you least expect it, you find yourself going backwards to what felt like already completed levels. But, whether notified by the stages or otherwise, there’s definitely a swing that happens.

IMG_6944

Firsts are hard. Rawness and clarity flings you back into each and every moment of those gut-wrenching days. This date, this time, this minute, this place – it’s all there whizzing about my brain and flinging my emotions hither, thither and yon. I miss him, that’s for sure. Those first few months in New York continually felt like our hearts were being ripped open broadcasting that open wound – as if someone was constantly pouring lemon juice on a giant paper cut. These past ten months in San Diego have helped us heal a little. There’s been time for mourning, reminiscing, connecting, crying and remembering. We’ve talked on trails, on the way to yoga, while waiting for Starbucks, while having brunch, while watching reruns of The West Wing and at so many other moments that snuck up without warning.

IMG_2398

Somehow, the constant gut-punch began to ebb and a dull ache took its place. It’s still there, and according to those ever present club members, it won’t ever really go away. We channel Dad daily and are hoping that we’re doing things that make him proud. Decked in purple we walked the Pancan walk for a cure in San Diego. We had the honor of helping to set up a team for Long Island’s Lustgarten Walk – his team, Team Mustache lives on. We talk about our financial stuff, try to save towards retirement, randomly talk to strangers and do our best to know the words to every song ever written – and proudly sing them at the top of our lungs. I’ve noticed in the last little while that there have been times when smiles make their way in, laughter coincides with a memory and I can sometimes now look at pictures with a glint in my eye and an upward curve of my mouth again.

IMG_7957

One year later and its still the same yet quite so different. Changes have taken place – some we yearned for and others we didn’t know possible. People have continued to show up in more ways than we can count, our happy place continues to help us heal through sunshine and outdoor air and we’re still here, taking steps in a forward direction. It might be the yoga, it might be the counsel of so many others who have dealt with this type of situation or it might be the lessons of the Universe – but we know for sure that the only way out is through. They may be baby steps and sometimes you have to back up to go forwards – but no matter the size – a step is a step, and we’re taking them every damn day.

IMG_2588

This year we ditched the country in November and managed to spend Thanksgiving in Melbourne, Australia. We went on a beach hike in the morning, stopped for coffee and a pastry (like Dad did on his favourite rides), ate sushi for lunch, took in a movie filled with magic, ate chocolate cupcakes and got to take some fun photos with friends. I smiled again. Embracing those bonus days are important – and they’re all bonus days. It’s been awhile since I truly smiled, but it felt good. Dad would think so, too.

IMG_7994 2

And so today, in honor and remembrance, we’ll find a way to connect, cry, and smile with Dad. Thrilled that we got the chance to share a little part of San Diego with him, we’ll channel some of what brought him joy. Get up early (so you don’t miss the best part of the day), start the day outside in nature, eat something delicious and share that joy found on the trail with others. Smile at a stranger, be kind to others, raise a glass, play outside, spend time with people you love, wear a hat and definitely find time for chocolate. And we know that in every step we take, he’ll be right there next to us, clad in bright colors and guided by a huge, hopeful smile. Love you, Dad…see you out there on the trail!

Awareness and awakenings on the mat

Standard

Oh my goodness!!!!! A friend (and yoga teacher) of mine hugged me today and said, ‘Congratulations, yoga teacher’…..and she was talking to me!!! I can’t believe she said that out loud!

“You are never to old to set another goal or dream a new dream” – C.S. Lewis

It’s enlightening how goals and dreams change along the way. If you asked me years ago if I was ever going to want to be a yoga instructor I would have looked at you as if you were nuts – fast forward three weeks and I’ve finished a 200-hour yoga teacher training course at my home studio. WHAT? I know; I feel the very same way!

Yoga One San Diego Summer Intensive Teacher Training Class 2018

Nine months ago we made the decision to move back to NY for a while. When Dad suddenly passed away a month later it felt as if the ground crumbled beneath my feet. Couple that with four blizzards when we were in NY and upon leaving, the husband’s leg break…needless to say, I never thought the sunlight would shine super bright again. It was a few weeks after we finally made it back to San Diego, were through the husband’s surgery and settled in an apartment that I made my way back to the studio. My friendly instructors gave me the most giant hugs and dried my tears as they regularly flowed in those first few classes. These people were there through it all.

“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames” – Rumi

I hemmed and hawed over taking this three-week course for months on end. ‘Why should I, why shouldn’t I’ knocked around like ping pong balls back and forth in my brain and out of my mouth. My teachers may have known that it was something that would be great for me – but I didn’t. And now, a few weeks shy of my birthday, it’s finished. I heard tale of life-changing experience, soul-cracking open days and both body and perspective changing weeks – but I never expected this.

For those who have watched the journey – it’s been ongoing for a while. Perhaps it began the day I met a boy (now husband) in New Zealand, or the day we left for a one year around the world honeymoon, or when we were living in Australia, or when we returned, or when I left teaching in NY, or on other international adventures or when we finally set foot on California terra firma or many years ago – I don’t know, but I sure am happy to be on it.

Yoga One Summer Intensive Teacher Training Class 2018

There’s a lot to digest after these full three weeks. Walking home from class on Sunday night, the flood of emotions rolled in, the processing started and smidgeons of yogic wisdom began to seep into my every thought. Amidst the lessons on mindfulness and meditation, adjustments and asanas (poses), there was truth, clarity, light and insight that cracked through the surface and added thought into how to continue the journey. Sure, there were heaps of achy muscles, tired joints and days that started and ended in yoga pants – but in between – there was magic. People were growing, changing, and stretching (I think I might have even gotten a bit taller). Amy’s depiction of a curious mind, intrigued spirit and soul filled with love and light made more of an impact than I think she’ll ever know.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – 14th Dalai Lama

It’s been a few days now and I imagine it will take far longer than that to absorb all that I learned. Yoga (otherwise known as union or oneness) has more than made a dent in my world. Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, the sunlight crept back in, the world kept turning and people (both from long ago and five minutes ago) who truly feel like sunlight made their way through the exterior and into my heart. Although I know it will never truly be the same again, nine months later I feel lighter, happier, more grounded and more like me than I have in a long, long while (I think Dad would like that). I’m so excited to continue on this journey. Namaste.

Root to rise – on and off the mat

Standard

 

Genius, she is. Once again, after class ended and I asked Amy why she thought I couldn’t quite grasp one particular pose – she knew exactly what to say. It wasn’t the fact that every body type has different possibilities. It wasn’t about my scoliosis and it wasn’t about anyone’s talent in yoga. And sure, it’s definitely got something to do with the internal and external rotation of the hips, but that’s not the point either. She said, ‘most of the time, in yoga, if you can’t get to a pose – the key is, sit up higher’.

thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Read the rest of this entry

Be the change

Standard

When I was little, I had a friend who lived around the corner. I can remember building forts out of couch cushions in her basement, creating chalk drawings on the driveway and playing spud on that lawn. But more importantly, I remember her grandparents. They had the most wonderful accents, the most genuine hearts and they were the first people I ever met with numbers tattooed on their arms. This Nana and Pop-Pop who adored a stranger from around the corner were the first Holocaust survivors I ever met. To this day, those adopted grandparents hold a very special place in my heart.

Conversation with Edie Eger Read the rest of this entry

Connections in movement and mindfulness – an interview with a passionate performance artist

Standard

My best friend in high school wanted to be a dancer. I remember countless nights practicing with friends as she choreographed our performance for the Senior Show. When she majored in modern dance in college, I went to visit her and see all of her years of work come to fruition. This week it seems another part of life has come full circle. Read the rest of this entry

6 months

Standard

Torrey Pines Natural Reserve

Don Mattingly was at the game, Piano Man was randomly selected for the karaoke section, there were friendly neighbors on either side of us and a stranger was dancing his heart out to stadium tunes – Dad was definitely with us at the baseball game last week. It’s been six months since that fateful day; it feels like worlds have shifted yet everything is standing still. Growth, change, sadness, grief, shift, confusion, thought, anger, disappointment, struggle – it’s all been there, but alongside it there’ve been rays of light, forward movement, slivers of calm, moments of joy and memories of smiles. These past six months have been quite the journey. Read the rest of this entry

14 year old wisdom

Standard

“We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

The other day I spoke to my favorite 14-year old. In perfect teenage fashion, she was lounging in her room, babysitting her brother and detailing her excitement for the end of the school year. We did social studies homework, found frustration with end of school year insanity, dreamed about travel and talked of the utter joy she gets from her passion for horses. And then, unknowingly, she paid me the best compliment ever. She called me ‘earthy’ and seemed to light up at the thought of taking time out of the day to go to yoga and find an ease. She has no idea how big my heart smiled at that very instant. Read the rest of this entry

Dropping in – on and off the mat

Standard

sand dollars on Coronaado

When I hear the phrase ‘dropping in’ I often think of surfers grabbing their best wave, but when Zaquia mentioned it in her yoga class it seemed to have a different meaning all the same. Then @yogagirl wrote about how yoga is so much more than an on the mat practice and that hit home, too. Then I had a chat with a friend who maintains a plan to move houses every decade to try out a new space and be as present as possible in her new community and that landed the trilogy. Seems the universe wanted me to see that ‘dropping in’ is far more than finding the sweet spot atop the ocean. Read the rest of this entry

Choosing you

Standard

IMG_0279

Sometimes it’s hard to choose you. For some reason, so many of us have grown up thinking that putting ourselves first or on the same playing field as others is selfish. Somehow we’ve been indoctrinated into the belief that everyone else matters more than we do, that work relationships mean we ‘should’ suffer, that we must ‘bend’ to what others need and that we put our feelings aside to make others feel better. Why on earth were we ever taught to think we matter any less than anyone else? Read the rest of this entry

One month, two weeks; Monday

Standard

IMG_3553

Exactly one month ago we left New York headed west to San Diego. Five seconds shy of leaving with sustenance from the bagel store, the husband slipped on black ice and that was that. The six day road trip included an urgi care visit in western Pennsylvania, an ortho clinic visit in Kentucky, amazingly compliant ADA hotel rooms and kind people along the way, a visit to the Louisville Slugger Factory, barbecue in the car in St. Louis and two weeks (exactly two weeks today) later a tibial plateau fracture surgery by a military/baseball affiliated surgeon in San Diego – this was a different kind of road trip. Read the rest of this entry