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Friday, January 29, 2010

Things that I have learned are dumb.

Since uprooting back to my hometown, and being back in the home I grew up in on a daily basis, I've been examining a lot of household items the way an Anthropologist might. Things that were once so common that I wouldn't have even noticed them, now yell out to me. Even common habits and methods of living seem worthy of my investigation. I now peer around my parent's house with my grown-up goggles on. I guess since I lived so far away for so long it really helps me to see my parent's house, and the items in it, objectively. Seeing things objectively has left me scratching my head at strange practices that I took as being "normal" when I lived here.

Something that caught my eye today was this bowl. Our popcorn bowl:


Now that I'm an adult who has ventured off to far away lands and learned many things - I now understand that my family's popcorn bowl is better known as a colander! That dirty little trickster.

There is nothing dumber then eating popcorn out of a colander . . . for 18 years. I have very vivid memories of this bowl. My mom loves her some nightly popcorn. I guess it was a cheap snack that fed a lot of people. She would pop the bag in our hideous brown microwave with the grease layer on the buttons an inch thick. Then, she would spread open a cheap paper napkin and lay it inside this bowl. The last step would be to pour the hot buttery deliciousness over the napkin and into the bowl. I'm not sure if she was being a radical health nut and hoping that somehow the 99 cent paper napkin would work like a ShamWow and soak up all the grease, or if she was simply trying to COVER THE HOLES in the bowl. Either way, after 6 people grabbed and groped for the popcorn the napkin would inevitably shift from it's mighty position at the bottom of the bowl and end up somewhere over on the edge. After this shift the popcorn would do it's popcornly thing and crumble and break and fall out of all the holes. And get everywhere. And make my Dad annoyed.




So I guess my point is that I know we were poor. But could we really not afford a new bowl, even from the local Itza Deal dollar store? Why did we eat popcorn out of this bowl on a nightly basis? And make a mess on a nightly basis? Did no one ever think, "there has to be an easier way?"  And finally, why did it take me 25 years to realize this?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

All Is Well


A few weeks ago I was handed the weekly bulletin handout after church. I casually glanced through the church calendar noting the upcoming soup supper. I flipped the page and four little letters caught my eye. They were y-o-g-a. I'd been subconsciously looking for something that would be good for my heart, body, and my wallet for a while. This seemed like it had the potential to be the perfect fit. I had dabbled in yoga before with the occasional DVD here and yoga/dance infused class there. I called the church and was told that the church didn't sponsor the classes but they could get me in touch with the instructor.

Later that day, I nervously picked up my parent’s outdated house phone and gave the instructor a call. She had the velvety, soft, calming voice of a yoga instructor but she also sounded older. I began imagining the class of elderly tap dancers who would perform in our dance recital every year back when I was a ballet dancer. They were not truly dancers as much as they were people trying to celebrate any movement in their geriatric limbs. I imagined a church school-room full of these types of people attempting yoga poses. My enthusiasm for the class was fading fast. I told the instructor that I’d, “try to make it” depending on my, “babysitting situation.” I didn’t want to commit to being there. I left the door wide open.

When Monday arrived I toyed with the idea of attending the class or bailing all day long. Around 3:00, I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to be open to trying new things. After all, the first class was free. So for the fist time in four months I had to hurry home because I had somewhere to be after work (eek!). Once I made the decision to commit to trying the class out, my excitement couldn’t be contained. I soon was dancing hip hop in the kitchen while my son giggled from his walker. “Mama is overly excited to get out of the house,” my husband commented. I was ready to leave the house as scheduled if we still lived in Orange County and I had to fight my way through traffic on the 91. Even though I was genuinely getting excited for the class, I was still pushing images of the tap-dancing grannies out of my head.

As I opened the hallway door in the part of the church that used to house my Dad’s grade school, my eyes caught sight of a glowing orange fake rock lamp. I did an internal eye-roll and smiled warmly at the teacher trying to hide the fact that my faith in the class was very low. The teacher, Cora, was indeed older BUT she had the body of Madonna. She was very lean and muscular with fluffy blonde and white curly hair. She had aroma therapy oil burning and dim lighting in the boring classroom (AKA fake rock and battery operated candles).

As the other students began arriving I took a mental inventory of their stereotypes. There was Old Hippy Husband with long white hair pulled into a ponytail and Old Hippy Wife with her middle-parted long dyed black hair. They looked like the type of couple who was really hip and fabulous back in the 60’s. There was Perky Mom in her coral pink capri pants and Chubby Mom in her frumpy sweatshirt. After a few minutes in walked Highlights and No Emotion. No Emotion took a spot next to me and showed no emotion. All together the group didn’t look so horrible. No one looked like a yoga diva, except for Cora, mostly they looked pretty normal and average. The group manly seemed to be made up of middle aged moms.

Cora began the class and I was soon warming up all my joints and falling in love! She talked in phrases like, “…let all of your negative thoughts and emotions pour out the crown of your head” and, “let yourself cultivate the art of gratitude.” Was this really happening? Had I suddenly teleported into the group of Asian-American Tai Chi people who I always saw in the grass at the Seal Beach pier? Was I really still in the Great Plains? People in the Great Plains don’t talk in phrases like that. This was the type of talk that I would overhear at my local Jamba Juice back in Cali or from my massage therapist cousin in San Diego.

We stretched, sweated, posed, bent and even chanted. At one point we were instructed to lay on our backs, flail our legs and arms around and laugh as loud as we could. I felt a little self conscious about this but soon the sound of a room full of people laughing became too infectious. I couldn’t help but laugh at how funny we must have looked. There were times of a lot of movement and times of just simply “being present in the moment.” In my head I just kept thinking that this was exactly the type of therapy that I needed in my life right now. No Emotion and Chubby Mom impressed me with how limber they actually were. The class was right at my level. Some poses were too hard for me to hold for long. I felt my arms shaking with muscle spasms as I tried to breathe myself into a deeper version of the stretch. Cora led us in a few long drawn out sit-ups done with our legs straight out in front of us. As we did the three breath movements of the sit-up she matched a chant to our motions. We quietly chanted together “All… is... well….” Even though the slow movement made my post C-section gel-filled belly very tired, I couldn’t help but feel empowered after saying those words out loud to no one in particular. All is well.

Towards the end of the class we all laid silently on our mats as Cora came around to each of us and put warm scented towels over our eyes. I tried not to let her see the huge grin that I couldn’t keep from spreading on my face. She gently gave a few minutes of light massage to each student. We were asked to send prayers… thoughts… energy… and good vibes to the people in Haiti. It was just a beautiful moment to be quietly meditating with a group of strangers. The last exercise in the class was a group hug. While still in the embrace we were asked to share what was on our hearts at that moment. I shared that I wished I had found this class a long time ago. Cora thanked me for attending and said that my youth was “inspiring.” As I drove home after class in the bitter windy chill of January I couldn’t have been happier.

 I hope that by being open to new things- I can have more moments like this come into my life.

Namaste.