Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Widow's Book Corner - Yoga Bitch

First of all excuse my french in this title and blog! I don't like to curse in general unless I really want to make a point and I certainly don't like it eternalized in print but it's the title of the book. Welcome to my second book review, and this time it isn't a grief book but you guessed it, a yoga a book!

Yoga Bitch: One Woman's Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment by Suzanne Morrison

I was most certainly drawn to this book due to the title. I may come across as a fitness lovin yogi but I certainly wasn't always this way. As one of my girlfriends shared this past weekend, I was the biggest party girl she knew in college, I was always down for fun. I will be honest, when I walked to the gym in college sometimes I would have a cigarette. I know right! And a lot of times I just worked out so I could eat one of the "low fat calzones" sold at the Rec Center. But oh well I was at the gym. So my journey to enlightenment (yeah right, not even close) didn't happen overnight. But happy to say I have much healthier habits now. I still love a good party but not as frequently and I mostly enjoy parties on my couch with wine. As I learned this weekend, I am too old for these shenanigans.

Okay enough rambling about my college indiscretions, back to the book. I started writing a description of the book but it's been awhile since I read it so I pulled the description from Amazon, see below.

Book Description:

What happens when a coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking, steak-eating twenty-five-year-old atheist decides it is time to get in touch with her spiritual side? Not what you’d expect…

When Suzanne Morrison decides to travel to Bali for a two-month yoga retreat, she wants nothing more than to be transformed from a twenty-five-year-old with a crippling fear of death into her enchanting yoga teacher, Indra—a woman who seems to have found it all: love, self, and God.

But things don’t go quite as expected. Once in Bali, she finds that her beloved yoga teacher and all of her yogamates wake up every morning to drink a large, steaming mug…of their own urine. Sugar is a mortal sin. Spirits inhabit kitchen appliances. And the more she tries to find her higher self, the more she faces her cynical, egomaniacal, cigarette-, wine-, and chocolate-craving lower self.

Yoga Bitch chronicles Suzanne’s hilarious adventures and misadventures as an aspiring yogi who might be just a bit too skeptical to drink the Kool-Aid. But along the way she discovers that no spiritual effort is wasted; even if her yoga retreat doesn’t turn her into the gorgeously calm, wise believer she hopes it will, it does plant seeds that continue to blossom in surprising ways over the next decade of her life.

The book was basically Suzanne's journal. Sometimes I did wonder how the heck did this girl get to make a book out of her journal? If her journal could be a book, mine definitely could be a book! But in the end I am glad that I read this especially since I would like to do a teacher training and gave me some additional insight on what it would be like.

As you read from the description above, Suzanne's trip didn't transform her completely as she hoped. I realized that this wasn't going to happen about halfway through the book as Suzanne escaped the retreat to drink wine and milkshakes and I started to get a little bit mad about it. I am reading this to hear how this yoga training has changed her life! To understand how it could change mine!

Then I started to get nervous about my grief journey, what if it doesn't change my life? I certainly have moments of "enlightenment", when others are complaining about the tiny troubles and tribulations of life, I quietly remind myself that these things don't mater. Or when a women complains  about her husband or kids (and yep people do this ALL the time), I think, you don't know how lucky you are. But then.... I am walking around the loop wanting to push someone out of my way because they are walking too slow. Slow people are my pet peeve but where am I going in such a hurry? Or something really small irritates me and sometimes I then get mad at myself for being irritated about something so minimal. As you can see, I am no where near total enlightenment.

What will I do, if I don't reach total enlightenment at the end of this grief journey? I am not quite sure if I will ever be an enlightened guru and I am positive this grief journey will never end. This grief will become a part of me and will be with me forever. The moral I took from this book, sometimes it's not about the end result, it's about getting there. Which I think we can all agree is always true. I mentioned in another blog post that it was my goal to get into a handstand this year, what if I don't? Well, I guess I have enjoyed trying and practicing and it has made me stronger even if I don't get it by the end of the year.

Recommendation: This book is widow approved!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Melissa A. Executor

At the almost 6 month mark, one would expect that all my affairs are in order. But the truth about death is there is a lot of stuff to clean up afterwards from an administrative perspective. I am very Type A, an accountant at heart so and I sitll don't have it all done. I think I am nearing the end and some things I just didn't have the energy for. Thern there is the special category of not being abl to do anything because you are waiting on someone else. The whole process was an exercise in prioritizing. Take care of those things that need to get done right away due to monetary reasons.

Part of the reason that it takes so long is simply the dreadful nature of it. You call the company, tell your story, and receive some robotic response from the telephone operator, "Sorry for loss, my condolences". You respond thank and move on to the task at hand. In the first few weeks after Matt's death, I was averaging about one of these a week. But thankfully the list is pretty much crossed off at this point.

One of the lesser important tasks was switching over mileage/reward accounts. And I felt kind of weird about this one. My husband died, can I please have his frequent flyer miles? But Matt loved his miles and getting a good deal. He would under no circumstances wanted then to go to waist and would have wanted me to enjoy them. He loved the fact that we went on our Honeymoon to Aruba on points. I can hear him now boasting that we still have enough points to go onanother trip like that on points. Oh how I wish we were.

I learned that as a widow, I should basically just carry a copy of the death certificate around, you never know what you might need it for. Only a few outstanding issues at this point so I guess one day everything will be settled. I do have to share some organizations that I was just appalled by and one that impressed me.

Oh my. How I loathe them. If it didn't take a significant amount of time and energy, I might consider changing cell phone providers. Perhaps it's my long history of generally not having to handle cell phones. I was originally on my grandpa's cell phone plan when I got a phone in college. I just stayed on his plan after I graduated to keep the same number. Finally, when he became ill, he wanted to get his affairs in order and wanted to remove my number. Matt was with ATT&T so we got a family plan. It was funny we got a family plan a year or so after we were married and to me it really signified that we were tied together.

Initially I went into the store to cancel Matt's data services as I wanted to keep it in on in case anyone called. My aunt had come with me and we were happy as we left feeling like we had really accomplished something that day. About a month later, I turned it completely off. Then the bill came and it was outrageous and made no sense. I called and they assured me they had corrected everything. Next bill comes with another and it's wrong and again impossible to figure it out. Then another bill came for a different account. I called again. And again And again. And if you have ever called AT&T, the phone reps all gice you a different answer. By the end I just started my calls with "My husband passed away, I am trying to close his account, and you are making this way more difficult for me". This did the trick and I eventually got the correct bill. But they forgot to tell me that the due date changed so I was late on my next bill. One more call, they removed the the late fee and the last time I got my bill it went smoothly. I called Matt's number once just to see who had it now and it went to a system message. I hope no one ever has that number. It is one of two numbers I have memorized in this day of saved contact lists. And my voicemail box has tons of his old messages. I don't listen to them often because it's a guaranteed meltdown. My favorite message was him calling me to ask me how I should wash my bras as he was doing laundry. What a sweet caring husband and he knew there would be big trouble if something got messed up in the wash. But I am glad to have those messages and hope to old on to them forever.

ALL of the other companies including; American, Marriot, and Hilton gladly put Matt's miles into my account. For United, there was a $75 processing fee. I paid it because there were enough miles to warrant paying the processing fee. This just irks the heck out of me. But I look forward to flying to somewhere fabulous for only $75.

 Riehn Insurance
This is family insurance company in the Chicago area. I received a notice from my mortgage company that they needed proof of my insurance. I faxed over the request to Riehn and they quickly called my mortgage provider to determine what I needed. I was just shocked that she called for me. I feel like now adays, most places wouldn't do that. It was something so small but was one less thing for me to do.

I guess I should be proud that I am almost done with these tasks, that they are all almost checked off. But sitting here, I feel no sense of relief. Just sad.



Friday, August 24, 2012

All is not as it seems

I was feeling odd about posting this (as you will read later it is putting the negative out there which I generally shy away from) but in honor of the 400th view of my it is. Someone is actually out there reading this! Who?! Here goes.  

Sometimes I think I am doing a disservice to myself; coming forward with a generally happy positive disposition, portraying that I am strong and can power through, posting under my alter ego on Facebook as Zumbamel with all the positive thoughts and inspirational quotes that I can find, bouncing around from Zumba class to yoga class, sharing with others that I am okay!  But I am not okay. I mean I am okay, I am not ready to stand at the edge of the Sears (still won't call it Willis) Tower. But really, my husband passed away just over 5 almost 6 months ago from brain cancer. I was his caregiver for the last few months of his life and saw things that no 30 year old women should ever have to deal with. My grief journey is quite frankly in full swing with no end in sight and nothing getting easier.

The truth about yesterday is that I cried from about 2pm to 6pm on and off, until I had a glass of wine and set off to my hair appointment. Again, don't get all worried, it's a normal part of grief. First, I saw my coworker get flowers on her anniversary and realized I wouldn't ever be getting flowers from Matt and quietly cried at my desk. The bouquet looked similar to one he had sent me for Sweetest Day when we first started dating. The only year that Sweetest Day was recognized ;)

Then I started crying on the train home as I watched the city pass me by. How the hell did my life turn out like this? Is this my reality? I want it all back. I am busy trying to plan the next phase of my life but in reality, I don't want to! I want to be planning my life with my husband in the condo that we bought together to build our life. So I cried on and off for the rest of the train ride thankfully hiding behind my trendy pair of Ray Bans.

I got home and took Miss Lila to the dog park. The dog park is an intense little space of emotions for me. Seeing Lila running, playing, watching out for me makes me happy, but this was Matt's place. Most people at the park know Lila as Matt's dog and are confused when they see me with her. So I cried again at the dog park. Why didn't I go to the dog park more with Matt? I sat on the bench in the back again thanking Ray Ban for their ever stylish tear hiders.

So am I doing myself a disservice? The other day a friend called and asked me how I was doing. I gave my usual response and said good/fine. Then I thought, why did I just say that? I am not fine! It's hard to let the negative out, to let others know that you aren't fine. I can't see myself posting on Facebook that I am wrapped in a ball crying in bed, so maybe I will start small and the next time someone asks me, how are you doing? I will let them in on a bit of my reality.

And to again tie this into lessons from the yoga mat. I went to a morning yoga class and started into my normal flow. My triceps had generally stopped hurting but once I got going... Ouch! They are not better. Basically, whenever I tried to clasp my hands behind my back, a surging pain would run through my tricep. So again, I modified. And just like the above situations, it was just something that triggered the pain. With a muscle, there is a little more science to why your arm hurts in a particular position but with grief, some things just hit you hard for no reason. Some hit you hard for various reasons. And sometimes you are just riding the train crying wondering what the hell happened to the live you loved and worked so hard to create.  



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Don't Hurt Yourself! (Lesson #2 From the Mat)

I was in dire need of a yoga class tonight. With my new Zumba certification and general craziness, I have been a Zumbain fool lately. Not a lot of time left for yoga. I woke up early this morn to practice some new routines and was looking forward to rewarding myself with a hot yoga class tonight.

Earlier this week I joined one of my fave friends for a pilates class on the Reformer. I have never been on the Reformer so it was a new experience to say the least. First of all there is a lot of equipment, I felt so clumsy trying to angle myself on those moving parts and pieces! It's a challenging workout though, works a lot of the same muscles as in yoga but way more concentrated.  Basically you are using your body as your weight and let's be honest, normally I wouldn't be selecting this size of weight! We worked a lot of different muscle groups but the triceps were hit hard. Also, I have been practicing my new Zumba Toning routine which focuses on... you guessed it... triceps! Needless to say I was hurting in class tonight.

I was doing okay to start off with but when the teacher guided us into humble warrior, I knew I was in trouble. It basically felt like I had pulled something in my tricep. As your instructor states, it's your practice, do what feels right, listen to your body. I had to listen, I was in pain. I had to ease up. I simply couldn't work through this, I was going to really hurt myself. I quickly tried to come up with a modification but spent a lot of time getting in and out of poses trying to find a comfortable spot.

I hated fumbling around in my advanced class! I looked like I didn't know what I was doing. And I couldn't try all the poses I like to work on. Normally I can bind myself in Extended Side Angle, tonight I just couldn't. So I did what I could and took Child's Pose when I needed.

When grieving, sometimes you just can't. It's too painful, you simply  don;t have the strength, stamina, energy, or will to power through. And if you try it, you end up injuring yourself whether it be physical or mental. It's okay, just do what feels right. Who cares what the half naked pretzel thinks next to you, she has no idea how bad your tricep hurts! If only I could live this lesson truly on  daily basis on my grief journey.  

And on another note... it simply amazes me how much my emotions swing from one moment to the next. I go from a sunny morning stroll thanking the good Lord for a beautiful day, to being hit with the cranky stick, to crying on the couch, to enjoying a glass of wine having a chuckle over the housewives. And this is just a brief overview of the emotional roller coaster. It's crazy and I can't believe how exhausting each and every day is. That is all.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Zumba Convention 2012

It has been awhile since I posted, I have wanted to update but I have been busy and sometimes it takes so much time to get these thoughts out correctly! But mostly it was because I was at the Zumba Convention last week! I was busy packing up all my Zwear, dancing the day away, and now buzzing around with all that positive energy. It was an amazing experience to say the least and I can't wait to share this with you!

As I state in my Bio, I am not only a Yoga lover but a Zumba lover. They are very different formats but very similar at the same time. I adore them both because they allow me to escape my thoughts. I was certified in September 2010 and secured my first class at DePaul Fitness Center in January 2011. I have been teaching there ever since and teach at a couple of other facilities as well. I continued to teach while Matt was very ill. Family and friends were gracious enough to come provide me relief so I could get out and teach my classes. I can't put into words how much this meant to me and how much it helped me during this time. The great thing about teaching is that it forces you to live in that very single moment. If you start thinking about your to do list, picking up the groceries, or any of the other ten million things running through your mind... you miss your cues and moves. Then soon enough a class of 40 people are marching in place not having any fun wondering what the heck happend to their fun Zumba moves? And anything that forces me to live in the present moment, I am down with. And isn't that the goal of yoga as well?

Way back in late March (or at least it feels like eons ago), as I was sitting in a Adirondack chair at the ashram, I perused the Convention website and thought why not? Seems like a it could be a good adventure. This was a completely new thought to me as I had said previously, "Hanging out with thousands of screaming women is not my idea of a vacation! I prefer to vacation with my hubby on the beach."

This made the whole excitement of the convention a bit of a mixed bag for me. I would NEVER be going to this convention had Matt not passed away. It's the point in grief where you can feel yourself starting to to find happiness in something. Then you feel bad. You realize this happiness wouldn't have existed had your loved one been there. What a strange miserable feeling to ruin a good moment. The night before I left, I was high strung to say the least. All the excitement and the weird emotions... I was amped up. I feel this anytime I travel somewhere. Totally excited yet totally depressed and scared. The next morning as I traveled to Orlando I kept thinking to myself, "I feel like I am going to puke up a rainbow." Kind of a weird expression but makes sense if you have ever attended any Zumba event.

I made it safely to Orland and immeaditly feel in love with the convention. I was so busy going to different classes, meeting people, Zumba-ing, having a drink by the pool that I didn't overanyalyze my life for the next three days! Priceless. Amongst the chaos I still found time to chill by the pool, read a book, and watch TV in my king sized bed. I journaled as well but my analysis of my emotions seemed confined to that space. I did still find myself thinking, I can't wait to tell Matt all about this. Wow, would he have loved the stories, the pictures, and the characters. Matt never Zumba-ed himself but he was proud of me and I think proud to say he was married to a Zumba Instructor.!And he really loved when I started turning a profit (even including all my Zwear and Lululemon expenses)!

The other great thing about the Zumba convention, no one needed to know my story. I was there because I loved Zumba, as was everyone. No more questions to be asked. Being away from home, a shrine to my old life was also great. Going back to a space that wasn't so charged with emotions was very relaxing.

All of these things and the wonderful amazing people I met made for an amazing convention. One that I am so grateful for. There was SO MUCH positive energy. I have been bouncing around all week trying to figure out how I can bottle it up and keep it going. I keep telling myself, Rome wasn't built in a day, I can't become the best Zumba Instructor overnight! I also keep telling myself, do what makes you happy. And make time for those things that make you happy.

As I shared, I would have never done this given different circumstances, it's hard to realize that you are enjoying something that you never would have experienced if your loved one was here. My first option is no longer available. What I thought my life would like at 30 just isn't that. I have to deal with that and I did that this past weekend. I had fun and didn't feel guilty about it. I am so proud of myself. I will go on to have happy moments again that are carefree and joyful.

Check out some of the highlight pics below and here comes my shameless plug... Shape is having an Inspirational Zumba Instructor Search.... vote for your fav Instructor (wink wink) here.... Till next time Peace, Love, & Zumba!