Friday, March 11, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Heart Opening

Today I am 32 and for my birthday I wanted my boyfriend to attend a yoga class. Actually, he is starting an intro series this evening which I felt was meant to be. In the last year I have successfully convinced five people to attend class and I am currently working on three more. I believe.

Often birthdays and new years eve are times of reflection, and/or disappointment for the easily disappointed such as I. However, if I measured the years by my yoga practice then I have accomplished quite a lot. I've often thought of myself as having commitment phobia, but yoga has been with me for five years now. I took it even earlier then that but I hadn't yet formed the addiction.

Several poses have been my nemesis for years. Just the thought, "I can't do this," has stopped me from being able to. It's in the brain. Full wheel, Urdhva dhanurasana, or simply the backbend was something I thought of as an impossibility. One day I had an epiphany in class when I was lying on my stomach and easily lifted my chest and pulled my feet up into the air near my head. It's called bow pose, but isn't just an upside down backbend? If I can do this, surely I can do that.

I took a few workshops hoping that by 2011 I would backbend. One teacher described how a backbend clears the airways to creativity, and opens your heart to love and wisdom. I like that idea whether it's realistic or not. She had given out pamphlets about opening the heart chakra, and said the theme of the class was to relax into expansion. Specifically it said this: "..activating these energy centers allows ecstatic energy to flow into every part of your body. When ecstasy flows, it enhances every aspect of your life; sexual, spiritual, mundane, etc..."

Well, we know that I don't care for the New Agey spirituality stuff, but I liked the way she talked. She made me feel calm and focused and as if everyone in the world wanted this backbend to happen for me. Through a meditative technique I envisioned a rope sitting in my chest that was pulled up from an unknown hand and all of a sudden I could do it. In another workshop I imagined a blanket of warmth coming over my chest and a lightness in the upper back, which simply pulled me right up. I probably knew that I had the arm strength and just needed encouragement. We all come to do things we think we are incapable of sometimes, but the strength is there all along waiting for you to believe in it.

Whatever happens with all my various projects and cities and confusion, at least I know I have reached this goal. There have been several others that I've managed to reach through yoga and there are several yet to come - like the handstand that I am currently working on. It truly gives me a tangible means of success. I am now a 32 year old woman that can do a backbend and that makes me more accomplished, more wise, and more open than I was a year ago.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shrimpy Wimpy

While in the Pacific Northwest I can feel stress and weight lifted off my shoulders. That weird pain in my shins and feet from walking hills is nothing compared to the nice tightness in my calves and abs. All of a sudden I feel prettier, relaxed, and free.

A perfect day in Seattle includes a yoga class, a long walk, a writing session in a cafe, and a stop to the market for some fish. If I could work all this around a job/school schedule then I would be a very happy girl. All of those components have yet to come together for me, so still I make whirlwinds around the country trying to find my place. It's like I have my own Tale of Two Cities, without the war and hangings. I find myself wishing to never sit in an airplane again, and to just say no to everyone for 365 days. No I can't go out with you, no I can't leave the country with you, no I can't buy this or that, no I can't take care of you, no I can't visit, no I can't help anyone except myself.

Recently I had a perfect day in Seattle where I got to do everything that I like. My mission at the market was to get shrimp. I was surprised to see that many of the options there were of the frozen variety, and even more surprised to see the cost of the fresh variety. A sales/fish throwing guy came over to help me. He said that since I am from the midwest, practically all the fish I ever consumed in my lifetime was frozen. What an excellent sales pitch! He's absolutely right! Who wants to eat frozen when you can buy fresh? The shrimp had come in from Alaska that morning and were on my dinner table that night.

However, one big problem stared me in the face before accomplishing my dinner plans. The only fresh shrimp they had was still in the shell. I remember dealing with this a few years ago but I must have blocked the memory of shelling shrimp, as it proved to be the most disgusting activity I have done in the kitchen.

The thing is that you get yourself psyched up for how the shrimp will look and taste after they're cooked, but there is that whole other factor involved. You have to snap, pull, and dig stuff away from its slimy squishy body first! Some of them even have tons of ball like things connected to them, which I can only assume are eggs but don't want to think about it. First you have to sort of stab them and pull the knife downward while the legs move about or rip off. Then you pull the rest of the skin off, (or dig all the balls out with your hands - oh my god I am nauseous just writing this) then you have to pinch the tail part and yank it off. Whew. Gross.

What you are left with resembles overgrown pinkish maggots:

I had to walk away from this experience many times before I finished shelling them all. It gave me the heebie jeebies. I convinced myself that I simply could not eat these maggots for dinner, despite so looking forward to it. I persevered though and by the time they were cooked, I was mostly over it. Still, that night when I went to bed I saw all of it so clearly in my mind and could feel the slime and crunch on my fingers. The moral of the story is to just by frozen shelled shrimp and enjoy a lovely dinner.