Monday, April 28, 2014

Serious Thoughts From My First Yoga Class

I'm trying to be more well-rounded (see what I did there?) in my exercise regimen, so I recently decided to give a yoga class a try.

You know how in the movies when they do a stereotypical clip of yoga it's always someone contorted in an impossible position with their legs wrapped around their head? Yeah, that actually happened just like in the movies. The class went from "hey, I'll try that" straight to "LOL NOPE" faster than you can say “sun salutations.”

During this class, I found there's a certain peace involved in being completely out of your depth. You can joyfully hold yourself absolutely not one drop accountable for the desecration and unavoidable failure that is growing by the moment.

That's not to say that I didn't do my best to follow along. My determination must've been a glaring neon sign in the room full of peaceful and impossibly flexible women. As the instructor sweetly said for me to relax my face, I'm afraid my inner response was a less sweet, “Excuse me, I'm trying not to fall on my Asgard here.”

I learned that black underoos under your black yoga pants is a great idea. Apparently, when those pants are stretched to their limit in some amusing pose they become see-through and everyone gets to see your underdrawers.

Relatedly, if you are on the edge of the classroom, the entire class gets to stare at your caboose (underduds and all) for about five minutes. When the teacher tells everyone to “focus your eyes on a single point” you'll spend those five minutes wondering how many people chose your butt as a focal point.

Since I have the maturity of a 10-year-old, as I was thinking about butts, I suddenly remembered the “wind relieving pose” and laughed inappropriately. The grownup part of me turned the laugh into a well-timed cough (“allergies”). In case you need it, here's a handy guide for what to do if you fart in yoga class.

I'm learning that yoga is as much a “mind” practice as it is a physical practice. I'm not sure whether the mental (fart jokes, anyone?) or the physical practice is more difficult.

Doing yoga directly after watching Captain America: The Winter Solider was a questionable choice. It's really hard to clear your mind for meditation when there is a grand finale nerdsplosion going on in your brain.

When all was said and done, the instructor gave us each a piece of chocolate. It sort of felt like we were getting a treat for good behavior. I'm not sure I earned my piece.

I really enjoyed the realization that I am doing better at being kind to myself when trying new things. I also felt a small bit of satisfaction in not taking myself too seriously.

When you start to take yourself a little too seriously, do yourself a favor. Do the wind relieving pose and let it all out.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mustaches & the Invisible Orchestra: A Visit to the Salon

Whenever you go into a salon (hair salon, nail salon, spa, etc.) they always try to get you to purchase some sort of add-on service. For some reason, their favorite suggestion for women is always an upper lip wax.

Actually, I know the reason. They know that at the slightest mention of facial hair a woman will react violently out of paranoia and say, "By all means, get rid of it! Kill it with fire, if you must!" 

But, if you are like me, you turn down the service because 1) you don't think you need it, 2) you're offended, and/or 3) you're cheap. Unfortunately, you then spend the next 3 days paranoid about your upper lip and you may ask honest friends if you actually have a mustache. You will also pass every mirror afraid that you will suddenly see this: 

At some point you start to feel annoyed that you are giving headspace to someone who merely is after a bigger commission. After several days, the offense wears off and you go on your merry way until the next time you go to a salon and the cycle starts anew. 

One time, this happened.

Woman: "Would you like your mustache waxed?" 
Normally, at least they "pretty it up" by calling it an "upper lip wax." I tamped down a bit of outrage, but responded with a polite, "No, thank you."
Woman: "Really? You don't want to have a smooth lip for your boyfriend? I'm sure he would like it."
Me: "No. My husband likes me as-is."
Woman: [Sullen silence] 

During the rest of the appointment, in my heart I was exuberantly conducting an invisible orchestra using only my middle fingers.

This woman didn't want to let it go. After a bit, she broke the silence. 
Woman: "You think he likes the mustache?"
At this point I was having a hard time staying cool.
Me (in my best deadpan): "Yes. It's his favorite."

I led the invisible orchestra into a crescendo. 

Normally, I just keep it to the most polite "no, thank you" I can muster, but when they push me I get more creative. Sometimes I just want to say: "No! I'm growing out my mustache as bushy as possible to deter the throngs of suitors who have been camped out on my doorstep."    

Later in this seemingly infinite appointment, she also offered to wax my "sideburns" and my neck. I started to feel like I was slowly morphing into Beast while I sat in her chair. Man, she really wanted that sale. 

And the orchestra played on.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Labels Are For Boxes, Not People (AKA The Post Where I Get Rant-y)

We put labels on boxes so we can know what's inside. The labels are there so we can evaluate what's inside the box without looking, learning, or investigating for ourselves. We take for granted that the label is all we need to know.

How often do we do the same to people? We quickly label them and decide their “worth” by whatever quick label comes to mind.

      Unemployed. Employed. Poor. Rich. Middleclass. Upper class.

When was the last time you sized someone up based upon a quick label?

      Fair skinned. Dark skinned.

Do you put labels on people and take for granted that you know all you need to know?

      Introvert. Extrovert.

After nearly 10 years of marriage, I can tell you that I am still learning about my husband and he is still learning about me. Believe me when I say: In the most intimate of relationships, with open sharing, we can still misjudge each other.

      Fat. Skinny. Health nut. Junk food addict. Vegetarian.

So, why do we think we have strangers all figured out by a simple label? Why do we presume to guess the motives of others based on a label?

      Sinner. Saint. Bigot. Religious. Athiest. Agnostic.

When you put someone in a box with a neat little label you stop learning about them.

      Republican. Democrat

Don't label and certainly don't stop learning.

      Highschool education. Higher education.

The nature of human beings is that they will surprise you. We aren't meant to be kept in a box.

You are the sum of your life experiences, the choices you make, and the people you influence. Not the sum of the labels society places on you.

One day, can we just stop evaluating someone's worth all together?

You are a person. You live, you breathe, you matter. Full stop.

I don't consider this to be an end-all-be-all on the topic of labels in any way. This is just a brief introduction to the giant Rant-y Land I wander into when we talk about labels and putting people in boxes. This topic started with this tweet or the tweet started the topic? Chicken vs. egg. Any way.
Legit Box I don't mind if you put me in.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Night Birds

One of the perks of living in the southern parts of the U.S. is that while much of the country is still covered in snow, we are starting to see spring. Hate us or love us for it, spring is here.

The flowering trees here are stunning in the spring. Unfortunately, right now, the Bradford Pear trees are blooming. While they are particularly beautiful they have a soul-wrenching odor. Look upon the trees but do not stand downwind from them. The fumes wafting off those blossoms smell like a giant vat of urine that's covered in mold. Wikipedia actually describes the smell as "a cross between rotting fish and semen."

But I digress.

This weekend it was warm enough that we opened the windows at night for fresh air and a breeze. My husband and I cuddled a little, awake in the excitement of leaving the windows open for the first time this year. 

We made hushed small talk about how much we enjoyed the fresh air and I commented on how much I enjoyed "
to just lie here and listen to the birds chirping."

We cuddled some more and listened to the night noises. It suddenly occurred to me that the noises were from bugs, not birds. From the sound of it, these were giant, mutant crickets of a violent sort.

As is my brain's natural inclination, I started to wonder exactly where those bugs were. Are they on my windowsill? Do they live in the trees? Did one climb in our bedroom?!? My brain helpfully supplied lots of thoughts about the bugs we were hearing (why is the word thorax so disturbing?) and it started to damage my calm

About this time, my husband caught on to the "bird noises" and he clarified, "Actually, I don't think those are birds, I think they're-"
"I know. I'm trying not to think about it."
"I mean – those are night birds," he corrected in an innocent yet manly falsetto, trying to redirect the conversation. "The birds that chirpy at night!"
"Uh, night birds, yeah."
We lay in an uneasy silence for a while, the magic of the moment lost. Finally, I got up and shut the window. He thanked me, saying, "I didn't want to listen to the bugs- uh, BIRDS any more either."

Ah, the perils of spring. If I haven't mentioned it previously, I do not like bugs. This is only the sweet chirping of crickets. When we hit the foul days of summer and cicada season you will find me in the fetal position trying to find my mind palace

May your windows be open, the breeze be pleasant, and the midnight chirping be night birds.
-Rachel's spring proverb