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Archive for November, 2012

I’m not going to lie…yesterday was a tough day.  For a holiday where we are supposed to focus on what we are thankful for, it’s hard not to think about what you no longer have.  I used to have two Thanksgiving dinners to attend with my parents in Charleston, an hour away.  One was traditional, with ham and turkey and maybe a game of touch football at the schoolyard down the street.  Then, it was off to mom’s side of the family where we ate tofurkey and incense smoke rolled through the air.  

                The holiday evolved, with me bringing home a friend who became like family during the college years.  And then, the first year after college, I decided to share Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and his family.  However, on the day we were supposed to leave for our travels, I received the news that my Aunt Susan had passed away.  And so the fates pulled me back to West Virginia.  I flew home on Thanksgiving Day and I remember avoiding every eye contact possible in the airport, jealous and almost angry of all the people going to destinations where celebration awaited.  And I was purely heartbroken.

                After that, Thanksgivings weren’t quite the same in my family.  Then I moved to Aspen to be with the man who would become my husband.  I soon learned that when one lives in a mountain tourist town, going home for the holidays isn’t quite possible.  It’s too busy, too snowy and ski season has just begun.  And so I started to create what I would call my ‘Aspen family.’  I made my first Turkey with two friends, one vegetarian and one Swedish, all of us clueless but succeeding anyway.  I got engaged on Thanksgiving as snow already blanketed the surrounding mountains.  And then for the past few years, I attended a dinner in which there was a theme (Pilgrims and Aliens, Viking Thanksgiving, etc).  There were costumes, laughter and amazing food.

                And so….yesterday.  It was my first single Thanksgiving in a long time.  It was my first Thanksgiving with my parents and in West Virginia in nine years.  I was sort of at a loss as to what to do with myself.  I wasn’t looking forward to it.  I even started mourning the fact that I didn’t have a big brown dog to feed turkey to.  I reverted back to my resort town mentality and volunteered, almost begged, to open the wine bar that evening.

                But here’s what happened.  I woke up and walked a couple blocks over to the park and met up with some friends for a turkey trot.  Though I wasn’t planning on really going for a good time, I ended up running my 2nd fastest 5k ever.  I came home and cooked some food while singing along to music.  I went over to my parents’ house and we enjoyed an awesome meal together.  We took the dogs for a walk on a beautiful day and enjoyed each other’s company as we always do.  I spent the afternoon texting friends from college, friends from Colorado, and my yogi tribe from Costa Rica.  I told them I loved them and they told me the same.

                I went to work and eventually the bar started filling with friendly faces.  There were new friends from town, from class, from my other job….all stopping in to say hello.  There were four friends sitting at the bar who I’d known all of my life.  They brought me dessert and I delighted in hearing their laughter as I poured wine.  And everyone who walked through that door talked of escape—escape from cooking duties, from familial duties, from pressure to go Black Friday shopping.  And all I could think about was how honored I felt that they had come my way.

                So I guess the day wasn’t so bad.  The thing about life is that it’s constantly evolving.  And it’s true that I have lost a lot.  And as time goes on, it’s certain that I will lose more.  But I will keep gaining and growing too.  Who’s to say what the next few Thanksgivings will look like, what new traditions will be created.  But I’ll just keep trying to remember to take stock of what I do have and sink all my gratitude into that. 

Because there’s oh so much that I can be grateful for….late November flip flop weather, good running shoes and gloves, my cousin’s voice over the phone, leftover turkey sandwiches, parents who love me endlessly, red wine, the beautiful West Virginia hills that I call home, yoga in Costa Rica and beyond, planning a 35th birthday getaway with girls I’ve known since I was 5,  music that makes me sing, music that makes me dance, the constant discovery of new kindred spirits, chocolate pecan bars, my fuzzy slippers on this cold rainy day, coffee (always coffee), friends who recognized I needed a little extra love yesterday, upcoming holiday parties which will be so fun that I won’t need a date, a good cleansing cry, and finally, the ability to make a little more sense of my life by writing this blog.  So thanks for joining me.

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And Upon My Return….

So I am completely aware that I won’t illicit much sympathy from you on this one….but it’s really hard to return to the real world after a month in paradise.  And, oh how I know that most people don’t even get the chance to spend a month in the jungle, surrounded by turquoise seas.  And I know that my life is pretty good here–that I am not wanting for comforts, or friends or things to keep me busy.  But it’s been tough going from ‘heaven to almost-heaven’ as my best friend put it.

                Parts of it are obvious.  For twenty eight days, I didn’t work.  I spent my days letting the warmth of the Costa Rican sun soak into my skin.  I kept a bathing suit in the main house bathroom so that I could jump into a saltwater infinity pool at a moment’s notice.  I was cooked for three times a day and someone else made my bed for me.  I was immersed in the study of something that I love and I was learning so much about myself.  And I was surrounded by people who understood me when I talked about my doshas and my chakras.  For twenty eight days, I was living a life that I felt completely certain of, a life that made sense to me.

                And when I left Huntington on that big jet plane bound for Costa Rica, I was certain of this life too.  There were odds and ends that I wanted to tie together, pieces of the puzzle that I wanted to wiggle around so that they would fit more gracefully; but I had hope that my time away would do that for me.  I had everything I needed to start the journey anew—support from wonderful friends and family, a flexible work schedule, and a new (dare I say it) career prospect.

                On our third night at yoga camp, we had our first real group therapy session.  Our instructor called these satsungs but basically it was all of us sitting around in a circle, talking about emotions that were bubbling up as a result of these teachings.  I’m not poking fun—these were powerful and an awesome way to work out some tough issues—but I’m just trying to call a spade a spade.  It was kinda like group therapy.  So anyhow, we were told that we were going to discuss our dharma at this first session.  A dharma is a life purpose—it’s what we are put on this earth to accomplish.  Crap.

                “I can’t talk about my dharma on the third night!” I wailed to a classmate at dinner.  “That’s what I came here to figure out.  And I haven’t figured it out yet!”

                So that night I talked about my writing, and my passion for working at the wine bar, and my love of yoga.  And there they were, the puzzle pieces of my life that I was desperately trying to make fit into a neat little square.  So now I’m back.  And I’m a yoga teacher.  And I’ve discovered that I absolutely love teaching yoga.  I have loved planning my classes, putting together playlists and inviting friends to join me for an hour on the mat.  So perhaps I’ve found my dharma.  And that’s awesome.  And if that trip to Costa Rica did nothing else for me other than shine a light on that aspect of my life—well, then I suppose the mission was accomplished.

                But I had such grand plans for my life post-yoga camp when I was at yoga camp.  I sat on a wooden deck and looked at the waves crashing on rocks and knew for certain that my life would be different upon my return home.  I would defeat the snooze button each morning and rise to an early morning yoga session.  I would stick to my healthy diet and write for a couple hours every day.  I’d finally paint that dresser that sits in my room.  I’d be just as zen in West Virginia as I was in Costa Rica, damnit.

                Maybe you can guess the ending to this one.  Grand changes are not so easily made.  Late nights working in the service industry cut into regular sleeping hours.  And it’s hard to say no to leftover cookies at the restaurant where I work.  And the hours of everyday life seem to fill and fill so that suddenly weeks have gone by when I haven’t written a word.  And that dresser—still so far away from being painted.  And I try to be gentle with myself on these things; try to acknowledge the small feats that I am accomplishing.  But I haven’t always been the best at turning the lens of forgiveness and acceptance to the spot where it matters most.  And I feel like I should have packed that lens into my bag upon leaving Costa Rica, along with the 10 pounds of coffee.

                It’s enough to make me want to jump on a plane and find my way back to that magical spot for just a few minutes to clear my head again.  Perhaps that yoga deck, that saltwater, that jungle, that old dusty road leading to town—perhaps there’s just one last piece of wisdom I need to gather—just one more gem.  But that’s the easy way out isn’t it?  Because joy..and peace…and contentment…those are pieces of the puzzle that I held in my hand while in that little yoga bubble of October.  But no one took those from my grasp.  It’s just a matter of finding their place here in ‘the real world’, where the frame has been sitting, waiting to be filled for a while now.

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And on Election Day….

The other night, while out and about on the town, I ran into a guy that I had a major crush on in high school.  I hadn’t seen him in probably a dozen years (and in that time, he has become even more disgustingly beautiful which is just ridiculous but that’s beside the point) and so upon seeing me he asked where I’d been in all that time.  I replied that I’d been a few places, but was now calling Huntington my home again.  He gave me the response that I hear from more than a few people upon seeing me after many a year—“Why would you want to move back here?  Ugh.”

                I’ll admit that when I was younger I thought that moving back to my hometown would signify some sort of failure.  But here’s what happened—I have lived in some really cool places but this is where I want to be.  In the past few years, I have returned to visit Huntington and discovered a place that is full of energy and full of people who are striving to make a difference.  There are plenty of things to do, lots of cool people to do them with, and a forward-thinking mindset that is leading to even more positive change.  Sure, things aren’t perfect but a) when are they ever?….and b) it’s kind of fun to be here at the point in time when the renaissance is occurring.

                Here’s the point I’m getting at:  when I hear people say that they hate it here, that there’s nothing to do, that this town sucks (not my eloquent wording); I just want to say “Well, then why don’t you leave?”  The kicker is that most of these people have never left, have never explored other options.  And sure, I haven’t travelled the world but I’ve been enough places to truly respect and love where I’ve ended up.  I made a choice.  And though leaving isn’t a viable option for some of these Huntington-haters, it presents itself to most.  Rather, they choose to stay and complain instead of leaving or joining the doers in Huntington who are working to make this city into some place they want to be.

                In other news it’s Election Day.   But what I have to say about that is not so different than the preceding rant inspired by the should-be-in-a-Ralph-Lauren-ad high school flame.  I fully accept that I am living in a state where a lot of people don’t agree with my political leanings.  And that’s cool.  Everyone has a full and entitled right to their beliefs.  But what makes me truly angry is hearing people that say they are not going to vote because they are disgusted with politics in general.

                I totally understand the sense of frustration.  I do.  But the truth is that one of two men is going to be elected to run our country today.  And guess who gets to decide who that person is?  We do.  Take a second to think about that.  Because we tend to get jaded over what is actually a really cool thing.  It’s what our country was founded on—the ability to choose the person we want to lead our great nation.  And in times that were not really so distant in the past, women and minorities were denied the right to vote.  Blood was shed over this issue; people dedicated their lives to this cause.   And yet, some aren’t going to vote because they don’t feel it’s important. 

                Again, it comes down to the fact that we all have the choice to create the type of life that we wish to embody.  And by not exercising that right, that choice, we are denying ourselves possible happiness.  This is true in the place that you choose to call home.   This is true in your right to choose the officials who you think will lead you down a road of prosperity.  This is true in a million other everyday things—making a conscious choice to do the things that you know are good for your mental and physical well-being, rather than complaining about what could be. 

                I could go on and on.  But I’m due to be in Ohio shortly to knock on doors, urging others to get out and make their choice and their voice be heard.

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