When my son was 4 months old, I decided to do a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge.  I was trying to get back in shape after giving birth.  It was something I’d always wanted to do, but never thought I had the time for (or the commitment).  I remember talking to my husband about it and asking him if he thought it was feasible to go to a 90 minute yoga class everyday for 30 days straight?  I was going to have to go back to work (after maternity leave) in the middle of it, but that didn’t deter me.  I made a calendar and figured out for every day of the 30 days, which class I would go to.  My husband would be on baby duty and if he couldn’t ,I enlisted friends and family to help so I could get to that class.  I completed that challenge and it’s still one the things I’m proudest of completing.  That was 7 years ago.

Somewhere between having a newborn to present day, I’ve lost that determination to do something entirely for myself.  The yoga challenge was great because I got into shape, but mostly it was great because it was just for me.  It wasn’t about being a mom or a wife, it was just about being Marie.  And maybe after having a kid, I realized I needed a bit more of that.

Today I went to Comic Con for the day with my sister.  I’m a huge fan of Mark Ruffalo and he was going to be there so I bought a ticket and planned to spend the day.  It wasn’t for work, or for my family, it was just for me.  And the sad truth is, I felt a little guilty.  Do I deserve a day pass for fun? Is this a waste of money? Can I really ask this of my husband to pick up the kids and let me stay out until 5:30pm?

Writing this out now makes me think to myself, GOD I SOUND SO BORING, LIKE A TWO DIMENSIONAL MOM.

Mark Ruffalo at Comic Con (stolen off twitter because I didn’t have the guts to violate the no photo rule)

But hear me out, with 2 kids and a mortgage and work stuff (albeit only part time) I often feel like I’m just a walking/breathing TO DO LIST.  It’s Monday, get groceries.  It’s Tuesday, cook said groceries into dinners.  It’s Wednesday, do laundry.  It’s Thursday, put away the laundry.  It’s Friday, make play dates for the kids.  It’s Saturday, do more laundry.  It’s Sunday, plan family fun time. Rinse and repeat, every week.  The To Do’s run my life, because when I don’t do them I feel like shit and like a horrible mom/wife/person.  So the stakes are high (for me).

So who’s hanging out with my kids while I’m DOING ALL THIS SHIT? Well, I am. But not the way I want to be.  I’m distracted and annoyed about the kids getting in the way of my TO DO list with their being kids and all.  For the longest time I didn’t want to have play dates because I thought, “But they’ll just wreck the kids room.”  Move over, Donna Reed, here I come.  I really thought I wasn’t sweating the small stuff! But when you live in only 800 square feet a little bit of mess feels like a bomb going off in your living room.

In order to avoid the feeling like a shitty mom/wife/person thing, I basically just stopped doing things for myself.  Stopped the gym (no time for that!), stopped the date nights (gotta save money!), stopped planning girls night with my single friends (can’t leave the kids!).  And you know what’s left? BORING TWO DIMENSIONAL MOM, THAT’S WHO.

Listen, I’m only talking about ME and what’s right for ME.  I’m not passing judgement on how other moms get it done.  Everyone has to find their own special blend of mom-i-ness and me-ness in order to be a satisfied person.  It’s the same with working moms and SAHM, to each her own!

I realized this year that I’d been putting ME on the back shelf a lot.  Not entirely, but way more than usual.  No wonder I was stressed, sleeping with a clenched jaw and craving sugar.  SO I took a day to go fawn over Mark Ruffalo and blow off school pick up.  No one got hurt!  My husband stepped in so my kids were taken care of, and I hope that I showed them that mommy gets to still be Marie every now and then.  I do truly believe that modeling for our kids that our needs matter as individuals is good for them to see.

I never watched Breaking Bad, but from what I understand at the end of the series he reveals why he became a drug lord.  Initially it was for his family to have money after he died from cancer (right?) but in the end he says, “I did it for ME!”  This always stuck with me despite NEVER SEEING THE SHOW, because shit, yeah man, do it! I mean, maybe not the crime part, but yes do something for you!

Ultimately it makes me think about this larger question that I am constantly asking myself “What does it mean to be a mom?”  And 7 years in, 2 kids later, I am still figuring it out day by day.

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The Power of WHY

June 2, 2015

Bucket List Item #14…Check!

November 24, 2013

So my mother’s response to my bucket list item was, “Yoga in Israel? On the List? Really???!!!!” (I may have added some punctuation here but otherwise it’s a direct quote).

Well, yeah, yoga in Israel, On the List. Really.

I started practicing Bikram Yoga in 2008 on the recommendation of a dear friend of mine who is a dancer and definitely more in shape than I am. She suggested I try it in advance of my trip to Israel so I’d feel my best on my trip. I barely made it through my first class (almost passed out 2x), but I did make it, and I went back for more. When we left for Israel, I had done some google searching and found out that there were 2 places to do Bikram yoga in Tel Aviv and there were even classes in English! I definitely was going to go.

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If ONLY my head touched the floor this easily!

But then, you know, LIFE happened. I got scared and I chickened out. I had no idea how knowing absolutely ZERO Hebrew was going to kind of be a problem. I was to scared to go alone and my husband (and travel partner) was not yet ready for the challenge. So I packed the yoga clothes for nothing. Oh well.

In 2009, I had another trip to Israel and though for sure THIS time I would make a trip to the yoga studio, but it never happened. I was too busy socializing and eating and shopping to fit in a 90 minute class. Another dusty pair of yoga shorts went unused.

Now, four years later, we are finally back in Israel. I have a regular yoga practice and my travelling companion (read: reluctant Ran) had PROMISED to go with me. This time it was much harder to find any information on the internet, and the phone numbers were out of service. What had happened to Bikram yoga in Israel? Was it gone? Had it failed to gain traction here just like Starbucks? I was starting to panic! I thought, “I had 2 chances to go to yoga and I squandered them!”. Luckily, Ran remembered an acquaintance on Facebook who often posted things about going to Bikram yoga. So through the magic of the internet, Ran messaged her and was able to get all the details on where/when and which teachers could speak enough English so I could get through the class. She was a God-send! She told us that at 10am Sunday she would be going to class with one of the best teachers and we could meet her there. It sounded like a great plan on Saturday night.

But on Sunday morning at 8:20 as my MIL tried to wake me, I was seriously having second thoughts. It went something like this…

“Ugh. I couldn’t sleep last night. Jet lag till 3am. I’m tired, I want to sleep rather than go to yoga. I can always go another time. It’s so nice and warm in bed, and hell, I’M ON VACATION, I don’t want to do yoga! (I just want to eat and chillax, dude)”

So I woke Ran and told him we gotta make a decision pronto! Because we need to leave in 20 minutes if we are doing this thing. He said, “I’d rather go now than later today.” And with that I decided, “Let’s go man!” We dressed and got out of the house as quickly as possible and go ton the road. We drove as fast as we could, and even still we were cutting it very close. We got there with about 10 minutes to spare, so I jumped out of the car to go do our paperwork and reserve our places in class while Ran searched for parking. Parking in Tel Aviv is on par with parking in NYC, so there is none. So Ran had to park in a business high-rise where the Israeli KPMG offices were (to the tune of 67 sheckels – about $25). He also parked several blocks away and had to run the streets of Tel Aviv to make it in time for 10am class. Bikram classes are notorious for being punctual and they do not allow late comers.

While Ran was parking, I went into the building and realized, I didn’t know what floor the studio was on, and the signs were only in Hebrew so I was He-screwed. My plan was to take the elevator up to each floor and investigate but then someone came in behind me. I asked him to read the sign for me, but he said, “No yoga.” I was sure I was in the right place, but honestly, I had no idea! The second man who came in after me totally had a “yogi-vibe” and he told me yes there was yoga and I could follow him there. Whew! I was in, finally! I was finally going to take my first international Bikram yoga class! I just kicked my yoga practice up a notch.

The class was great. I was able to understand most of what was happening (even though it was in Hebrew) because Bikram yoga is the same 26 posture the world ’round. I could even kinda figure out what the teacher was saying because I know the dialogue so well. I decoded the words for “lock the knee” and “breath in”/”breath out.” I felt worldly!

I’ve gone to yoga on vacation once before, but that was in Florida. It was still fun and felt great to be exercising on vacation. Vacations can be sinkholes for calories. You just eat out so much and really let loose. It can be great fun but really hard to come back from once the vacation is over. I find that fitting in a little exercise makes me feel like I am just thatmuch more on top of things than I would have been in the past. Taking this practice International was truly one of the things on my bucket list. I wanted to experience a class in another language and also be out of my element a little bit. It freshens things up! Especially when you take the same class for 5 years!

If you get the chance to exercise on vacation, I highly recommend it. In this case I treated it as touristy thing to do because I got to take a class overlooking Tel Aviv and observe how Israelis did Bikram yoga. Instead of chickening out and being afraid, I just went for it. And believe me, during that first breathing pose, I was cursing myself. Why am I here? Why do I do this to myself? I hate this pose, blah blah blah.

But then I reminding myself (as I do at every class), that is its a privilege to be there and I am very lucky to have the opportunity to be in the class on that day and that moment. So just breath in and breath out and enjoy.

Clearing some space

October 7, 2012

As you know, I’ve been attempting to get to a Bikram yoga class with little success for the past 2 months.  I was moving house, packing, then unpacking, and came up with every excuse in the book to avoid the yoga studio. (My favorite was, “It’s too hot outside to go do HOT YOGA)

Thankfully, 2 weeks ago a friend invited me to a “Rock n Roll” yoga class.  It wasn’t a form on yoga that I was familiar with, but I like music and figured I had nothing to lose.  So I went to my first yoga class in a long long while.  It was fun!  I really liked the idea of yoga to music, though I felt like I didn’t really get the type of workout I am used to at Bikram Yoga.  There were several poses that I didn’t know and more than a few times that I was cursing “downward dog” and my ridiculously weak wrists.  All in all, I got myself in the door and that is success in it’s self.  Plus I tried something new and scary.

The following week, I went again.  Still a bit rusty and I still didn’t know what was going on half of the time.  But it was perfect for me because it really worked well in my schedule since it starts at 8:55pm at night (after my little one’s bedtime).  After 2 of these (what I like to call) “pansy” yoga classes (compared to  Bikram!), I finally got up the courage to get back to Bikram today.  My in-laws babysat and I made sure to go to my favorite studio with my favorite teacher.  I was hemming and hawing (sp?) all morning about going.  Thinking of 100 other things I could be doing with that time.  But no, I lined up the babysitters, so I’m going.  I have to admit I thought about taking a nap in my car rather than going to yoga but decided that I’d NEVER feel better after that.  Especially if I’m woken by a cop! (Why is this yuppie girl asleep in her Honda Accord at 3 in the afternoon??).

Once I finally got to my mat and entered Savasana, I had a thought, “I’m home.”  The minds says amazing things when you clear space for it to breath.  I cleared the space by getting an early start and committing to completing my grocery shopping and starting on my weekly cooking before yoga, and it worked!  I had less excuses to make to myself and I felt like at 3pm, I’d already accomplished a lot.  Plus, my son was able to spend time with his family while I was at class.  A true win-win.

Class was great, it was tough and satisfying and even easy at some points.  It makes me realize that I’m not starting from scratch just because I haven’t been there in 2 months.  I still have the skills and the knowledge that I need to be successful.  I guess the same is true of Weight Watchers.  I’m not “starting over, yet again” every time I go back.  I’m just hitting the play button instead of pause.

The 30 Day Challenge: Day 9

November 29, 2011

Yes you read that right. Day 9 completed.  I am crossing off the days on a calendar like a child waiting for Christmas day.  It’s very satisfying to cross days off a calendar – I only wish it was like an advent calendar that gave you a little piece of chocolate each day!

I wanted to write more but I’ve had no time with taking care of Dylan and just getting to yoga everyday.  No idea how I’m going to do this for two more weeks when I go back to work.  But, luckily I’ve got some friends and family helping with Dylan duties so I will be able to do it.  Without their help, none of this would be possible.   Plus, my friends have been so supportive giving me pep talks and reminding me that I can do it!  It’s funny, but when I was in labor and just wanted to give up and tell my doctor to “give me a C-section already and let’s get this over with!”, she said to me, “Marie you have no idea how strong you are.”  Honestly, I didn’t even remember that happening. (Labor has a way of fogging the memory).  Ran reminded me of it when we were talking about how great my doctor was during my pregnancy and Dylan’s birth.  What a cool thing to say to someone who is just about to give up on anything – not just childbirth (which you can’t give up on by the way).  “You have no idea how strong you are.”

Maybe this is a problem when we’ve basically gone through life without major turmoil.  We’ve never been pushed to our limits.  We’ve never had major loss or heartbreak.  Maybe this is why during my very first Bikram class over three years ago I actually ran from the room BEFORE the first posture.  I had no idea how strong I was.  I stood up in that 104 degree room and felt so lightheaded that I got scared and did the ONE THING you’re not supposed to do – I left the room.  Literally, at your first Bikram class the teacher will tell you “You’re only objective today is to STAY IN THE ROOM.”  At the first sign of discomfort I ran away.  I left the room and had to be calmed down with cold towels and soothing words.  It was SO embarassing.  If you had told me then that after giving birth I would be doing a 30 day challenge and subjecting myself to the Bikram “torture chamber” every day, I would have never believed it in a million years and then put an Oreo cookie in my mouth!

I’m always being reminded that its OKAY to be uncomfortable.  It’s actually part of life.  You have to feel it and let it pass through you and then forget it.  This is a very hard thing to do.  Usually to avoid these feelings I turn to food.  Maybe if I stuff enough cookies in my mouth these feelings will go away?  It’s soothing.  It’s my version of a pacifier stuck in my mouth.  As adults our bottle and pacifier are taken away but we have loads of other ways to self soothe – drugs, sex, food, alcohol.  Being in that heated “torture chamber” every day for 90 minutes is one giant exercise and “being uncomfortable”.  Forget doing the postures, just being in a 104 degree room for 90 minutes and sweating your butt off is uncomfortable.  Having your already clingy yoga cloths literally drenched in your own sweat makes your skin crawl.  You are itchy, dripping, your hair is a mess.  The lines of your underwear are visible in the mirror underneath wet clingy clothes.  You are the actual definition of a “hot mess”.  Then they want you to lock your knee while standing with the other foot in the air like an “L”!!  You have to just let it go.  You have to live there.  Occupy Uncomfortable.

Tomorrow I’ll celebrate 10 days in a row.  My neck and back ache a little but I’m surprisingly in good shape.  I’m hoping by the end of these 30 days I’ll be more comfortable in my body and my mind.

The 30 Day Challenge: Day 1

November 25, 2011

On Monday, after a week worth of serious contemplation and planning, I decided to embark on the infamous Bikram Yoga 30 Day Challenge.  At Bikram Yoga Park Slope, where I normally practice, the 30 Day Challenge is defined as “taking 1 class every day for 30 days in a row” after which you receive a month of free yoga to fulfill a 60 Day challenge.  Why, you ask, would I want/need to do this? Well…

Back in late July I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Dylan, at 8lbs 4oz.  Since then I have been on maternity leave from my job.  It’s been a magical time of bonding with my baby and enjoying being home and a housewife.  But as you know, all good things must come to an end so, on December 5th I go back to work.  With the clock ticking I started going to Bikram Yoga again 2 weeks ago in an attempt to get rid of some of the baby weight.  Since Dylan’s birth I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight, but I’m still not at my “pre-pregnancy weight” and my jeans from that era were fitting just barely (muffin top!).  I finally got sick of feeling and looking like the Pillsbury dough boy.  Now I know, I just had a baby!  I mean, I have a great excuse for being overweight.  But, I don’t want excuses to stay unhealthy and unhappy.

I’ve been breastfeeding this entire time and for a while that was a great excuse not to diet or exercise.  One of these days I will write an entire post on breastfeeding and how challenging it is to do.  It’s also rewarding which I why I am still doing it.  But it’s a big time commitment and it really ties you to your baby (as if you weren’t tied down already!).  Now that I’ve mastered breastfeeding, I decided I had to try and do something healthy for myself and take advantage of what’s left of my maternity leave.  I came to grips with the fact that Dylan is going to have more formula bottles per day while I am at yoga and that is Okay.

After flirting with the idea of the 30 day challenge for 2 weeks I finally asked Ran what he thought.  He is always so supportive and proclaimed, “Of course you can do it!”.  I made a calendar and cross referenced it with the yoga schedule and Ran’s work schedule to find out if I really could attend 30 classes in 30 days.  There were some gaps, but nothing major that couldn’t be fixed with a hired babysitter and asking some friends and family for help.

Then the fear set in.  What if I can’t do it?  What if it’s too hard?  What if it’s too painful?  I was freaking out Monday before the 5:30 class I was planning to attend.  I got lazy and stayed on the couch and over ate.  Man, was I uncomfortable!  I was so scared to take on a new challenge I ran right to my comforts: TV and Food.  Then I figured  – I have nothing to lose by trying.  I have to lose weight.  I have to get healthy.  I know this.  I want this.  Even if I fail, I still win because I tried.  I went to class, I did the postures and got the benefits.

Ran came home from work Monday and I asked him to take some “Before” pictures of me.  I made sure to put on my most ill-fitting outfit so they would look horrific, and believe me – they did! And then, I went to class and signed up for the 30 day challenge.  I have taken the first step. Stay tuned.  I will only post those frightening “Before” pictures when I have some amazing “After” pictures to put alongside it. Namaste!

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