First rule of Yoga Club.

Bring your mat, leave your sass at home

So, I took my first yoga class today. I mean, like my first yoga class EVER. I am at least slightly aware of the trends of the world around me, and as a 40-something Gen Xer, and have been painfully aware that yoga, along with tons of other things borrowed from ancient monks, has kinda become a thing. They even make special pants for it. If you know me at all, you might not be surprised that I’m really not “a yoga person.” I’m everything yoga is NOT: I’m essentially a klutzy, loud, awkward, generally muddy, uncouth, disheveled, irregular breather. I’ve refused even attempting it for years because, well…. refer to previous sentence. I’m also a mighty large lady, and since popping out another human, my midsection has gotten soft and wobbly (like a perfect flan). Flexibility and bending and folding and contorting my legs into TV antenna position (they might actually call it something else) is generally reserved for special occasions (AKA: the rare beast passionately called “hotel sex.”)  So, why oh why, pray tell, would I impulsively sign up AND PRE PAY for a 10 week course, without even test driving it? Well, cuz why not? “Why not” seems to drive most of my decisions in life lately and seriously, why not? Not like it’s gonna hurt to try. Everyone has been telling me for 1.7 decades that the monks think it would help my back issues and my stress levels and my recurrent rage that seems to come on the heels of ovulation these days.  Plus, it’s offered at lunch hour at work, and I could really use some improved balanced and core strength, and learning how to breath and shit. 

So, here I am. I survived my first yoga class ever. Perhaps my last yoga class ever. Here are my astute observations. Yoga is pretty hard. Yoga is really hard the first time, and yoga is REALLY hard for this fat smushy giant body with like, zero balance or core strength (I literally rolled my ankle 3 times this week, and threw my back out yesterday reaching for a stuffed bunny in the back seat of the car). Basically, all through the class I’m working so hard to try to do everything I am supposed to be doing, trying to bend and contort and hold these poses, despite esssentially choking on my own fat, shaking so hard that I’m hoping I can convince everyone that there was actually a small local earthquake. And, of course, I’m mostly trying to follow these poses I’ve never heard of blind as a bat because by now I’m sweating so hard that my glasses have totally slid off the front of my nose. Like, I’m raining sweat. It’s fucking monsoon season over here, bitches! But I keep trying. Through lunges, and reaching for sky, and touching the earth, and pretetnding to be a tree.  I feel like I’m at least starting to get the hang of it slightly kinda maybe sorta (not even close) when we finally get to kinda rest back into “child’s pose.” Finally, something that sound easy! BUT. So, turns out, child’s pose is not taking a nap, or coloring pictures, or flailing around on the floor screaming that your chicken nugget didn’t look like the right kind of bird. Instead, it’s this position where you, like, lean all into yourself and fold over and literally cram your face right into that sacred space where your boobs rule the roost. It’s bad enough that my face is now crammed into the chest furnace (seriously, those damsels put out some serious heat), but due to all that effing sweat, the furnace has transformed into a fucking suana. I can’t freaking catch a breath. Like, where are my boobs supposed to go?!?! So, as I’m rolled into myself sucking in the boob sweat aroma, I think, “F this, next week I’m bringing a snorkel so I can get some fresh air from up top.”

Sigh. And it continues. And I got through it. And I’ll be sore tomorrow, but it probably still isn’t hurting me any (in the long run).  But here’s what I realized. Here’s what I disliked immensely about the whole thing: It is so fucking quiet! And everyone is soooooo serious! I’m no stranger to making a complete fool of myself: and I’m no stranger to not giving a rat’s ass about what anyone thinks of me making a complete fool of myself…..although I did find it slightly funny that the instructor keep saying “it’s ok, you are doing fine” in a very worried tone.  I’m very ok at floundering at something. I’m very ok with just quitting if I never wanna go again. And totally okay with going over and over just to enjoy the process of getting better. But what I just genuinely don’t know how to handle is to be quiet through the process. I had to bite my tongue through the whole class to not make random heckling jokes aimed at my moose-ness. It occurred to me that I have no coping skill to handle awkward situations other than self deprecating humor. I have no idea who to be in awkward situations other than the class clown. And while I’m sure this lack of fancier coping skills has some dreadful dark psychological issue at its core, I’m probably not gonna bother to figure out what. I tried something new and just really damn challenging for me, and as far as enthusiasm goes, I crushed it. And don’t worry, I fully expect I might even learn something from the deep and quiet breathes and mindful awareness and (attempts at) fluid movements. I promise I’ll learn what I can from the ways of the wise monks (ya know, some monks put their energy into brewing beer……just saying), but I’m also probably not likely to stop laughing about it either, because seriously, it’s hilarious. I simply can’t leave my sass at home: I’ve become way too attached.  So I think I’ll just flounder a little (despite looking like a fat flan-like fish outta water),  keep getting what I can out of it, and keep being me.  But maybe next time I’ll try dancing classess.  I’ve always wanted to learn to tango. 

Untitled.

Because it really isn’t about anything. Plus, I can’t think of a title.

A picture of me wearing glasses drinking a glass of wine pretending to look like a writer.

So here I am.  I’m back.  I think.  Remember about 5 years ago when I turned 40 and realized, “Ooh, I”m 40 now.   I’m, like, wise and stuff. I have some great things to say, I should finally start that blog!” and then I started that blog?  Yeah, that was good times…..for a few months until it wasn’t.  I mean, it was still good times, but I wasn’t writing about it anymore.  I didn’t mean to leave it behind. But life happened, and then kept happening, and there were a few lulls when it was just kinda chill life, and then more life would pop up, and before I knew it, I couldn’t even find my laptop and the words just started piling up in my soul instead of finding their way out to pen and paper (that’s an expression….I don’t even have paper anymore and I mostly use pens just to open packages).  So, hey, now it’s 5 years later and I’m 45 (because that is literally how the passage of time works) and I’m pretty sure I’m not much wiser and the things I have to say might not be that great, but I”m kinda wanting to say them anyway.   Also, I told my therapist I would do it.

So, I’m here.  Bought a new laptop.  Might even learn to use this crazy new macrohard 3,576 software or whatever it is the kids are using these days.   Gonna start letting the jumbled thoughts out. Gonna finally edit some photos that you’ve been dying to see so you can live vicariously through my travels.  Mostly, just gonna occasionally don my cozy sweater and glasses and sip wine while typing by the fire because it makes me feel like a real writer.   I plan to use excessive amounts of words to say really nothing at all (exhibit A: this article) and sometimes to say something profound (exhibit B: this would be a really good place to put in a link to one of my other articles as soon as  I learn how to do that).

Stay tuned (or tune back in): mostly just to see if I actually write anything before I turn 50.

 

My Flagrant Determination to Live Life to The Full

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Speechless. Stunned. Sad.
Whenever I hear about tragedy like the recent school shootings or the bombs at the marathon or the horrific suicide of someone I cared about or a cancer diagnosis of a loved one, I run through the gamut of emotions just like everyone else. The Whys? The What Ifs? The Whose Fault is This?s The How Could We Let This Happen?s The Where Did God Go?s The Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?s But the truth is, if I don’t have answers, I tend to stop asking the questions sooner or later. Not because I give up, but because I think they are the wrong questions.

Everyone weighs in with their opinions on why this happened or how we should fix it. Or their ranting about the horrors. Sometimes I feel like its a competition to show who cares more. Is it the angry who care more? The most distraught? The most determined to never let this happen again? The ones to rush in to rescue and help? The ones determined to find out who is to blame and ensure they are punished? Sigh. So frankly, I simply don’t say anything. I don’t know what to say. I can’t fix any of it, take any of it away, do anything differently. And talk is cheap.

But please don’t ever mistake my silence for indifference. Don’t ever think my determination to keep living my life as fully and bountifully as possible represents cold nonchalance. And please don’t ever assume that my cheerful silliness is flagrant disrespect. This is just simply me choosing hope in the midst of despair, choosing light while the dark is creeping in, choosing good despite evil. This is me choosing life. Because that’s all I know how to do.
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The kind of mom I wanna be.

Mother’s day has also often been a day of reflection for me, reflection of gratitude and of sorrow,  but this year it has new meaning as a day of hope.  This year I’m unexpectedly expecting. (This is a big part of why I haven’t written much lately. ..I spent most of the winter puking and taking naps and craving toaster waffles). And now having a little girl on the way, I can’t help but reflect on the kind of mom I wanna be to her.  Growing up in this world as a girl is just plain tough.  I remember,  I was one.  I’m trying to not plan ahead too much, because I suspect raising kids has a lot more to do with adapting than planning, but I do keep coming back with things that I hope I will remember when it’s time.  Here are some of the things I hope she sees in me and hears from me when she’s growing up.
1.  I wanna say more of “try it!” and “give it a shot!” and less “don’t do that!”  Obviously there is gonna be lots of room for “NO!” and “don’t even think about it,  kiddo” but I want her to learn to do things for herself,  to explore,  to try,  to fail,  to try again, to face her fears,  to succeed.  I want to teach her to be independent and adaptable and to learn what she is capable of.  And I want her to see me always trying to better myself and learning more too.
2.  I wanna say lots of “I don’t know,  what do you think?” instead of “because I said so” to her endless incessant annoying “WHY’S?”  My niece is in the midst of her Why? stage and we all know how exhausting that can be.  But,  last weekend spending time with her constantly asking why (and wondering how in the world my sister stays so patient all the time), it occurred to me a few times that many of us adults don’t ask why nearly enough.  We just accept things as they are and we view those who DO ask why as insolent rebels or malcontents.  But WHY? signifies wondering.  And wondering leads to exploration.  And exploration leads to adventure and knowledge.  All good things.  I’ve often thought it was a sense of wonder and adventure that set truly great people apart from the masses.  I’m ok with my daughter growing up with that.  (Remind me I said this in 3-4 years).
3. I want her to often hear me say wonderful things to and about other people.  I want her to notice beauty and joy and strength in others the way I do and the only way I know how to help her see others that way is if I model it.  I don’t want her to EVER hear me say mean things to or about others.  And I don’t ever want her think it’s Ok to compare herself to others by looking down on them.
4. I want her to often hear me say wonderful things to and about myself.  I want her to know it’s awesome as a woman to accept and embrace who she is and the only way I know to teach that is to model it.  I don’t want her to ever hear me say mean things to or about myself.  And I don’t ever want her to think it’s Ok to compare herself to others by looking down on herself.
5. I want her to often hear me say wonderful things to and about her.  And I don’t want these things to be just that she’s adorable and beautiful (which she will obviously be), but I want her to hear me boasting of her skills and capabilities, her growth, her silliness, her strength, her brain, her heart.  The best thing my parents did for me was praise me for being smart, funny, caring, creative, and a quirky “one of a kind;” and frankly those are the qualities that I value most in myself and in others.
I know there are so many more things and I know these are easier said than done,  but I’m hopeful.  And terrified.  I can’t even decide what color to paint the baby room or which stroller to get,  but I’m not so sure those are the important worries anyway.  I’ll let ya know how it goes.

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(I love my niece’s ability to be silly.  Come to think of it,  I love my ability to be silly.)

Happiness is a Flirty Little Tease.

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Not too long ago I decided to quit this pointless pursuit of Happiness, once I caught on that she’s just a flirty little tease. Instead, I’ve been relentlessly stalking Life, with its fullness and pleasures, sounds, tastes, joy and sorrow, beauty and pain. And somehow in the midst of my obsession with Living, I noticed that Happiness was following me around. I’ll let her follow, but only if she can keep up.

 

 

My First Solo Backpacking Trip (part of the Dream Big, Start Small series)

467574_10151473504121129_1303544284_o  So, one big dream I’ve always had is to do an epic solo backpacking journey; a big through hike on the Appalachian Trail. It’s no surprise I love to solo hike; breathing in the solitude while in nature is pretty much numero uno on my list of self care. So I’ve daydreamed about an epic through hike since my teen years. My sister and I got backpacks for Christmas in 1985 and we went on our first backpack trips the next summer. We did a couple more backpack trips as a family, an epic sister trip in my early 20’s, and hubs and I have done several trips since we’ve been married. I’ve had the bug since that Christmas in 1985, but it wasn’t til the last few years when I started toying with the idea of solo backpack trips actually being a possibility. Don’t get me wrong; I really enjoy overnight pack trips with others, but the idea of a trip in solitude….well, it was a challenge that I just had to do.   And, if I am ever gonna get to my big dream of epic solo AT hike, I bettter get to some smaller trips to see how it goes.

Here’s the thing: when I started telling people my plans to do a solo trip, I sometimes got the response “wow, that’s awesome” but usually I got looks of horror and shock, and lots of questions about my safety or “why in the world would you wanna do that?!”  Honestly, I had no good answer…I”m not really sure WHY I wanted to do it; I just did, I just HAD TO.  So I evaluated the concerns; there are of course safety concerns for any solo hiker at all times.  The fear of injury and inability to get rescued is pretty much paramount for any smart adventurer.  Others were concerned that,  as a woman, I was at more risk of being attacked or not being able to defend myself, or simply that I would appear more vulnerable.   And frankly, my biggest concern was the cold….I am no expert at starting a fire by myself and my personal body temp tends to run a little on the cold side so I was worried about surviving the colder night in a tent by myself.  There are other concerns such as simple loneliness, but that wasn’t top on my list.   I also had concern about my physical ability because the summer I decided to do this, I was still recovering from running injuries and my right hip flexor and IT band were giving me constant fits…I had been limping for about 7 weeks already with little progress.   And, a barrier I always deal with is not having enough time off work for an epic journey; at least not a very long one.  But despite my fears, the 2 people who know my abilities the best, my dad and my husband, thought it was a no-brainer for me and encouraged me to go for it.  And frankly, I knew I could do it.

005Here was my solution: South Manitou Island on Memorial Day weekend.   I love South Manitou Island and I’ve backpacked there before, just never alone.  It was close enough in Michigan that I could do it on a long weekend.  it’s far enough away that it felt like an epic journey to do solo.  It is an island that required a boat to access so the likelihood of an ax murderer stumbling upon on my tent in the woods was slim (everyone knows ax murderers don’t wanna be trapped on an island either…too hard to escape capture).  It is a national park so I would be registered with park rangers which meant someone knew where I was and would send a search party if I didn’t show up when I was supposed to show up at the end of my trip.  And I had options for how far I could hike depending on on how my hip and leg were holding up.    The island is also big enough for solitude, but small enough that I would run into other hikers which solves both the loneliness issues and the risk of being injured and undiscovered.  It was the perfect way to start small on my big dreams.

So, I spent some time working on my fire starting skills, I did my research, reviewed my “backpacking lists”, I packed light and re-packed lighter, and finally packed even lighter  (none of which were light enough), and I went for it.  I drove up early in the morning, hopped on the boat (ok, there wasn’t a lot of actual hopping with that heavy pack strapped on me), and started my adventure.  964686_10151473516036129_421079265_o

 

 

(Dinner by the bay; didn’t even have to make reservations)

It was the epic journey I had hoped.  I had adventures, I had things go wrong, I had soooo many things go right, I had hours of solitude, and I made friends.  I got all kinds of kudos for doing this alone from other hikers.  I was in the middle of the unloading line with a group of 10 guys on a bachelor party trip and I won first place for “lightest pack” (mostly because they had a LOT of beer in theirs).   I met up with a whole hiking club and spend some time hiking the island and exploring the lighthouse and discussing the benefits of polarized glasses (duh) with them.  I was idolized by an 8 year old named Tess and her 5 year old sister Josie, who followed me around a lot.  I overheard Tess and Josie’s dad talking to them about me, saying “see, she is here by herself, I told you that girls can grow up and do anything they want to.”    I almost froze to death in the tent the first night and I survived the first night by making fires, drinking hot water, and walking a couple miles in the moonlight just to keep warm.  I survived the 2nd night by hiking back out to the ranger station and borrowing an extra sleeping bag (I have survived subsequent nights on trips by having BETTER GEAR).

965386_10151473542536129_2104656113_oI got fires going enough times to eat hot meals (if you can call ramen noodles and oatmeal “meals”) and to warm up rocks to go into my 2 sleeping bags.  I took pictures, I hiked for miles, I sat on the beach and read Agatha Christie, I climbed the lighthouse, I made more friends, I had more quiet solitude, I ate a lot of Snickers.  You get the picture.  My hip and leg were in excruciating pain only about 73% of the time and they held up just fine.   It was amazing.

(As you can see, the extra sleeping bag made my 2nd night much more comfortable).

I hope I will do more and more solo backpacking in the future.  I am still dreaming big.  But for starting small, I had the time of my life.

920163_10151473543326129_768953729_oWelcome to my home.  Please bring beer.

 

Stay Safe But Don’t Stay Home (Aunt Sassy’s Top 5 Solo Travel Tips for Women)

Since I’m on vacation, travelling solo to get here and back, I thought of this post and thought it could use a revisit.

Fat Aunt Sassy Sees The World

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While it sucks that we live in a world that we have to be so cautious,  it’s really handy for you that I’ve had some rough experiences while travelling so I can share my wisdom. You’re welcome.  Here are my top 5 solo travel tips for women……guys, you are also allowed to learn from this if you choose.

1. Take back ups of the important stuff.  Carry cash, and two credit or debit cards from different accounts. Keep one seperate from other stuff (keep one on you, one in your car,or hotel safe, etc) so you can access a way to get home if you are robbed, something is lost, etc. A prepaid VISA card works great too. If you are traveling by air, also take two forms of ID (passport and driver’s license) and do the same thing (keep them separate) to make sure you can get back on…

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