So, my dad has wanted to be a writer for a long time, but he has been afraid to go for it. This moth he finally decided to enter a writing contest! He wrote a great essay and I sent it in for him. Unfortunately, after we sent it in, we found out the contest is not based on merit, but rather on online votes. I’d like my readers to consider going to vote for dad’s essay. It is very good, and he is quite behind in the votes, even though it is clearly the best entry on the site. Please go here and vote: http://a.pgtb.me/djv698/lnddN?w=51255135&e=145594797
For those who are curious, here is the first part of the essay:
It was 1965, and I was 12 years old. I had taken my hunter safety course, so that I would be able to hunt with a gun for the first time. I had gone hunting with my dad, uncles, and older brothers many times, but until then, my role had been that of a bird dog.
This job was to be performed with no complaints or whining – otherwise, you could ruin your chance of going on the next hunt, and for me that would have been the worst thing that could have happened. It was also just one of the steps a kid had to take in order to graduate to actually carrying a gun on the hunt.
The other chore after the hunt was over was to clean the birds. My older brothers taught me how to clean the birds. They would help if they were around, but by the time I was 12, they were away at college, and more and more the chore fell to me. I don’t recall my father or my uncles ever cleaning a pheasant, and neither do my brothers. It was just expected, and we just did it.
I can’t recall the exact date of my first hunt with a gun, but I know my brother Dick was home from college for the weekend. We didn’t have a place to hunt, so we went road hunting. My dad, Rueben Stahll, my older brother Dick, and I hit the road. …
You can read the rest, and vote for dad here: http://a.pgtb.me/djv698/lnddN?w=51255135&e=145594797
When someone leaves on purpose I always wonder if I have done enough. I am missing my friend, whether she really did leave on purpose or if it was something else, somehow (see how I wish it were something else?), I am definitely assuaging my pain by remembering the last message I sent.
Me: I’m falling asleep and thinking of you. You are wise, kind, generous, loving and sincere. You are one of the best people I know, and you already have everything you need to accomplish everything you have in mind. And you deserve it all. Keep looking for it, asking for it and working for it (if you have to…I don’t think you’ll have to work that hard). Then universe has been waiting to for you to open your hands so that it can finally give you all of the amazing things that it has been gathering up for you! Time to say yes!
Gerri: Thanks so much babe, you made me cry again, but this one was worth the cry.
Me: You are going to be so happy about all of this so soon.
I guess I was wrong. But I’m glad that’s what I said.
(P.S. Maybe I was right. Maybe she’s more aware of all of the love from her past life and the universe now.)
I was going to send her a message this morning. Something to remind her of how amazing she is, and to keep her hopes up about how good she is doing at getting through all of this. Maybe just copy and paste stuff from my Because You’re Magnificent post. (Because she is!) What I didn’t know is that she would not have gotten the message. Maybe she never really got any of them.
I didn’t send my message because I got a weird message from her aunt. It asked me what was going on with her and the boyfriend. I guess her aunt and sister didn’t even know that she had broken up with her boyfriend. They didn’t know she was moving out or that she had found a new place to live. They didn’t know that she was thinking about taking classes to learn how to do something new, and that she was really tortured by the idea of having kids.
And he wanted kids. He wanted to get married and get nuclear. She didn’t. That was definitely a hint at some of her pain. The pain that I knew was there, but I was willing to let her show me just a little bit at a time.
In the meantime, we were in plays together. We had drinks. We talked about her relationship and the fact that she wasn’t really satisfied. I told her she deserved every good thing she could imagine. And sometimes she believed me. Sometimes she said it all sounded like so much work. We ran a 5K together. Well, she ran. I mostly walked and sweated. The pictures are on Facebook.
That was just three weeks ago.
I would never have run that thing if it hadn’t been for her. I would have just thought about it and then wished I had done it. It was so funny and so her how it all happened. I posted a link to the color run on Facebook with the question, “Anyone wanna run a 5K?” I thought maybe I’d get a few people who were also considering it. Maybe we’d talk about it. Maybe I’d do it by myself. Maybe nothing would happen.
But she private messaged me soon after and told me that she had bought us four tickets. God, she was awesome.
I saw her on Sunday. I went to her job. I gave her a hug. I told her I was proud of her. Glad she was getting out and moving on. I had felt like that was what she wanted for years now. Like three years. She talked to me about her plans and her future. I told her that all sorts of good things were on the horizon for her. This thing that felt like a big bad ending was really a beginning.
That’s honestly what I thought.
I was even kind of jealous of her. She was crying so much, and I don’t envy anyone in pain, but really moving on is always rich soil for big awesome. And she was so awesome that I couldn’t wait to see her big awesome.
I’m mad. At myself. Maybe I could have done more. I’m mad that I don’t get any more of her. I was actually super happy that we had talked more lately. I always wanted to see her more. But our jobs had pretty opposite hours. Stupid job.
I had honestly been kind of compiling a list of people that I was going to work hard to pull into my inner circle. She was at the top of the list – up there with a few of my new yoga buddies and a few of my teacher friends. She had the top spot because I have known her since middle school, and I just had to see how this flower would bloom.
Well, I’m obviously sad. I’m also in incredible shock. This seems like a cliché movie plot. Like I had some sort of stroke while watching too many episodes of Castle. (And I totally have been watching too many episodes of Castle this week.)
I’m vacillating between, “She can’t be gone” and, “Someone must have killed her.” Well, of course, someone did. But my brain keeps saying “someone else” must have done it. She couldn’t have been that sad. That hopeless – and me not see it. No, I don’t care if I was smart enough to see it. I just don’t want it to be true.
I should have been there, right? I tried to be.
Now to cope, right. I’m gonna need something big. A goodbye that is fitting of the love and joy and hope she was and is to me. How to express such a big love to someone who isn’t here anymore? I’m still so grateful for her.
She was going to be one of the people I told the kids about on the first day of school. The 5K. That was my big accomplishment for the summer. I totally did it because of her. I’ve never done anything like that before. I actually daydreamed about telling her how the kiddos responded to our pictures after telling them about it. I imagined her laughing and telling me how silly I am. I imagined her acting like she wasn’t the thing that made that happen.
I imagined her in the life she wanted. Totally in love with herself. Taking care of herself as much as she took care of all of the rest of us. I imagined her using all of the gorgeous, pent-up creative forces inside of her. I imagined her happy and warm and completely in love with herself.
I guess, I hope that’s exactly where she is right now, even though I wish she were with me.
So I was crying during yoga again today. I wrote in one of the posts on our class’s group page that the teenage-version of Crystal is popping out this week, and she has some major issues. She is the aspiring actress in me who never got a part. The soprano with a beautiful voice, but terrible pitch who choked at every audition. The lady who could sort of dance. The girl with the pretty face, but…
She is scared to death, but still wants to show off how amazing she is to everyone. She has all of these talents that are obscured by fear, and resents everyone who can’t see past the fear. Hell, she resents everyone who can perform past (or without) their own fears. She vacillates between wounded and victimized, and deep self-hatred and personal criticism.
And she also always used her body as an excuse for why she didn’t get picked. She was too fat for the part. The directors wanted a different look – even though she wasn’t really fat back in high school. And that excuse actually deepened her body dismorphia. It made her hate her body.
I thought I had grown out of her, but she is back and she is playing the whiny victim in my head.
She showed up, because Monday night I auditioned for a play. I also got a call back. That means I am going to have to dance for the directors. So, last night I went back and I learned the dance. Sort of. Mostly. Okay, I understand the dance. I have it in my head, but I didn’t physically get all the way through it.
And I’m mad. I’m mad because the choreography is REALLY hard and REALLY fast, and because when I walked in at the beginning I thought, “I’m a pretty good dancer for an amateur.” Which is what I thought I would be judged on: my amateur status. I mean it’s community theatre, it’s not professional. No one is going to pay me. I didn’t join the union. (Hum…sounding like a snarky teenager already.)
But the dance is insane. And stupid. And they keep changing which direction you move and what foot you start on for each sequence.
“Well, we have to keep the audience guessing,” said the sweet (evil) girl who was teaching me the steps.
“Of course, Rapid City audiences are so discerning that they will totally be rolling their eyes at us for the amateurs we are if we always start on our right foot,” I said with an eye roll to myself.
Every time I stopped I was thinking, “This is stupid,” or, “These counts don’t make sense,” or, “this choreography doesn’t match the music.” I was really thinking, “I’m stupid,” or, “I can’t figure this out,” or, “my body can’t do this!”
“Okay teenage, Crystal. Stop it. You can do this, you are strong. I will take care of you.”
I thought I had silenced her. But I still didn’t get through it all, and my music is way too low for me, and man this going to be a huge time commitment even if I do make it…
This morning when I woke up, I was SORE. I used what must have been previously un-moved parts of my butt-cheeks like a million times on a sort of tip-toed, cha-cha step that’s in the beginning of the sequence. And I had a headache. (Probably from the ice cream I gave myself as a reward for dancing for two hours straight.)
It was the first time that I considered skipping yoga class. I had reasonable excuses: “I don’t want to hurt myself. I don’t want to push myself too far. I want to be able to dance tonight at auditions. I have a migraine and I need to sleep it off.”
(Stupid body – wait, where did that come from?)
But I committed to this, so I went anyway. I talked myself into it: I usually feel better after yoga. I can just sit on the mat if I need to. I can take the poses easy.
I went. I did it. I did all the poses. I didn’t even really take them easy. But I had a fight in my head the whole morning. Part of it was useful – don’t hurt yourself, Crystal. Part of it was just the negative crap that I had let myself think last night. I started feeling the “I can’t” again, because I couldn’t last night.
I still couldn’t do it; not by the end of the night. Maybe not in time for auditions tonight. Tonight, when they will judge whether I can dance well enough to be in the play.
(Stupid body – there it is again.)
Part of me honestly hopes that they do decide that. That they see where I am and decide it’s not enough. Because, then I won’t have to feel like this again at all the rehearsals – and maybe the performances.
So, teenage Crystal is sort of winning. Which means we are both losing. I thought I had let all of this go, but it’s back. I guess it’s time to let go again. (And again, and again, and again…) I am a better singer and a better dancer than I was in high school. I know I am. I don’t know if I am a better actress, but I was always a pretty terrific actress. So I got that going for me. Now I just have to calm the teen me down enough that I can do my best and then let it go.
I can accept whatever happens. I know I can. But it was a real slap in the face that I had such a hard time with the dance. I have made my body an excuse so many times before. I would hate for it to be the reason that I didn’t get something. I have let go of so much weight and I have gotten so strong. Today, after yoga, I thought, “I want my body to be a reason to go, not a reason to stop.”
And I made it a reason to stop so many times. The reason not to go swimming. The reason not to buy certain clothes. The reason not to go up that hill. The reason not to flirt with that guy.
But, I want my body to be the reason that I do go swimming, shopping, hiking, dancing…
What are your goals?
Karen asked us the first day. She wanted us to write them down. I also filled out something that asked about three things we wanted, because it was kind of my first time at SOL. At first I wrote: strength, flexibility, release of weight. But then I realized that was all one thing really, and that it wasn’t really THE thing.
Why are you here?
I talked to Arik briefly after class today and told him a little bit about why I chose yoga. I do want the physical benefits of the practice, but really I need to more deeply integrate the mental, spiritual and emotional parts of myself with the physical parts. My physical parts have been sick for a lot of my life. Mostly, I have been very overweight. Right on the edge of that big scary clinical term: obese. That’s the biggest symptom I have dealt with. The biggest sickness I have had. It caused other problems. High blood pressure. Problems sleeping. Severe ADHD. Bad allergies.
I know the sicknesses are just symptoms of problems with my mental, spiritual and emotional self that I haven’t been able to see, or deal with or even tap into. And I really ignored my physical self for a long time. For so long that it was SCREAMING at me before I paid attention.
I knew this was the case for a long time. Way before I was able to do anything about it. I even knew what a lot of the problems were. But it was like each cause was like a ball of yarn, and each ball had been rolling around together for a really long time in a big container. They had rolled into and over one another so many times that they had turned into one huge ball. It was all knotted together and every time I tried to loosen one of the colors it tightened all of the strings around it. Even if I found the end of the yarn, I could only unravel it so far before all the other stuff was in the way.
I wanted to take care of myself and I knew what it was related to, but I couldn’t quite get started. Someone I trusted suggested yoga because it wasn’t just a spiritual thing and it was’t just a physical thing. (It turned out that it was definitely and emotional thing for me too. If you want to you can read the blog I wrote right after my first yoga class: Unexpected Tears…and Pot Roast.)
What brings you to the mat?
So I have done yoga on and off since that first crying time. (By on and off I mean mostly off. Like the odd class here and there.) I’m here this time to let go. I have let a lot go through other practices. I have even managed to release over 40 pounds. But this is the first time that I have done yoga as a real practice. Like every day. Or even multiple times a week. It has been profound. Yes, I came to let go of weight. I was starting to pick it all up again. But I want more.
I want to be a part of the flow. (I have some profound ideas about the Flow as well, by the way.) I want my body and the rest of me to be touching, talking, working together all the time. And I want to be connected to the things outside of myself as well.
It’s starting to work. One of my symptoms has abated. As of this morning, I am under 160 pounds. My weight is not going back up any more; it’s coming down. I’m letting go. I’m paying attention.
What do you do with it once you get there?
I love being in this with all the people in class. I really do want to know what is going on with all of you. Please share. Here or on Facebook. What’s your story? Is like mine? Totally different? We’re all in this together whether we want to admit it or not. My story is your story. Your story belongs to everyone.
So,What are your goals? Why are you here? Why Yoga? What brings you to the mat? What do you do once you get there?
Look what I did today! Yes, my entire butt is off the floor, and my knees. I am holding myself up with JUST MY HANDS!
Life Milestone Complete!
So, here’s the whole story if you want it (warning, it is kind of a long story): The first day (Monday) I saw Yorleny do this and I thought, “How is she doing that?” I also thought a lot of the things that I frequently think when I see a challenge: I can’t do that; It’s going to take forever; I’ll have to work WAY to hard for that. And on, and on.
I had lots of similar thoughts while trying the pose each day. I had almost convinced myself that my arms were too short.
But, I had asked the important question: HOW. And my brain was working on the answer. As I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep on Tuesday and Wednesday, I found myself thinking about yoga class and the coming morning. I kept coming back to this pose and having sort of a fight with myself about it.
“That pose is CRAZY.”
“But it’s possible, ‘Leny did it.”
“She’s like a skinny little yoga master. Do you really think you can do what she does?”
“I’m strong I can do this.”
“Strong and…chubby. You will have to lose a lot of weight before you can do what that little lady does. And you’ll have to practice for years, not weeks.”
“Well, I can practice and get closer — improve anyway.”
Those silly voices. Once it subsided on Wednesday night, I imagined myself in the pose for a while, and I realized that I was flexing my stomach muscles as I was laying in bed.
So, yesterday (Thursday) I focused a little more on my stomach during my whole practice. I got part of myself off the ground.
Today, I looked across at Erin and her friend Jamie, and they had both put their legs into a full lotus. I had just been doing a half lotus, because I knew I could do a half lotus.
So, I tried a full lotus. I thought I could at least get myself off the ground, even if my knees were on the ground.
It took me a while to get my hands in a good spot (I have long fingernails, short arms and weak wrists). I did I bit of a push with my arms and then I thought, flex your stomach. TRY!
And I did it. Everyone else was getting down by the time I was up, but I didn’t want to get out of the pose! It was actually way easier than I had feared! I made eye contact briefly with Alicia (our instructor today), and just started to cry when she smiled at me!
I am strong.
I am healthy.
I am beautiful.
I can do more, if I let myself imagine more!
My lovely friend, I could tell that you were still upset after our talk today. I know you are going through a really hard time; dealing with something large. Something so pressing that it feels like it is pressing through the back of your skull.
I know you have made some choices that you currently consider mistakes, and some of the consequences of those “mistakes” include some of the pain that you are going through now. This issue that has become so large and emotional that it has taken on a physical element, and it seems to move through your body when you think of it: crashing waves through the inside of your stomach.
So, you try not to think about it. But it persists. It persists because it needs your attention.
You are clearly trying to answer some questions about yourself and about life that seem unanswerable. It’s confusing. You want to do it right. You want to find the answers, and you want as few people as possible to get out of all of this frustrated, messy, confusion without being hurt. The pressure created by this confusion has created a physical pressure within your chest that seems to threaten to shatter though your breastplate each time you let yourself think about it all.
But it is safe. And you need to keep thinking about it. You can do this. You’re even lucky that you get to.
Of course, my first response is empathy. I am definitely sad for you. I can feel your pain in an exquisite way. I remember the times when I have felt the same things. The times when I was afraid I had gone too far down a certain road to justify heading back or starting over. The times when I felt afraid that I wasn’t the person I wanted to be — the person I was supposed to be — because I had done too many terrible things to myself and everyone else around me.
So yeah, I feel for you. But I am also so excited for you. Jealous even. You are in the right place. The perfect place. This not an ending. It’s a beginning. Even if it all crumbles down spectacularly around you, and you don’t know what you want or where you want to go the entire time it is falling, you are in still in the right place.
I have complete and utter faith that you will not only get through this well, but perfectly. The places that you are now in pain will soon be the places that are lively, green and growing. I know that you are in the right place because I heard you asking the right questions. And as a great friend of mine once said, “If your brain can manage the question, your soul already has part of the answer.” You just have to get your heart into it all so that your brain and soul can have a conversation.
And the truth is, where you end up and who you become may never make perfect sense to the logical bits of you that have been groomed by our families, friends and societal constructs. Heck, the things that have led you here may never make complete sense either. But I see it in you. The light. The desire. The thing that will ultimately mean that you will end up in the right spot. In the right way. With the right people intimately woven into your heart and life.
Yes, you may have to break everything open and tear it all apart in order to re-build the thing your guts are telling you you want. But your guts are right. Everything you are wanting is everything you deserve. It is everything that the Universe is dying to give you.
You are magnificent.
You are wild.
You are lovely.
You are wise.
Kind, beautiful, compassionate, smart, daring, passionate, funny, wonderful, magical, creative, powerful … and … and more. So much more. (My vocabulary really couldn’t ever do you justice.) You are so much more than I have ever seen, and so much more than you have ever seen. You are more than most people can even imagine.
But you can imagine it. You have imagined it. That life. That life that is totally you. The adventure. The passion. The joy. The friendship. You can have it. You can create it. I might go so far as to say that it is your duty to yourself and the rest of us to strive toward creating it.
And I am jealous of you. The striving. The journey. The things you will learn about yourself, about others, about the Universe if you keep imagining. If you keep asking those right questions. They are huge. The journey will be fantastic, wild and even fun. Enjoy getting “there.”
But, of course, where you are right now feels like the hard part. The dark night of the soul and all of that. And you, naturally, have some fears.
I heard you say that you are afraid to hurt anyone. That makes sense. But I really believe that if you aren’t doing what’s best for you, you aren’t doing what’s best for the people in your life. So, you have my permission to hurt other people if it is about getting yourself to the right place. If it’s about the truth. If it’s about clearing a path and cleaning up any of your “mistakes.” Go for it.
Heck, hurt me if you need to to get where you need to go — please!
I’m about due for another lesson in forgiveness, acceptance, growth. Bring it on!
I also heard you say that you are afraid to be alone. I don’t really think anyone is every totally alone. But I understand. And beyond that, I think that sometimes we have to make a place for the thing we deeply desire. A spot on the mantelpiece for the trophy you’re pursuing, perhaps? An empty space in the bed next to you in order to make room for love? Quitting a bad job, a bad friendship, a bad relationship in order to make room for the right one.
Sometimes we have allowed the wrong things to grow and they have choked out the sunlight from the place where our roses want to bloom. When that happens, it’s time to do some weed-wacking!
I know, this is a doosey of a message. And I guess the most important part is that you’ve got this. You can’t do it wrong, as long as you are doing your best. You’re amazing. I love you. I am so excited for you, and I can’t wait to see what starts to grow once you pull out all the weeds. You are magnificent. You are blooming. These pains are growing pains. I am certain of it.
You are magnificent.