60 Days On the Mat — Day 21: Traditions


I woke up this morning and read an article about a mother who has a 13-year old son she believes has a personality disorder that could allow him to become a mass murderer without the proper support.  I read about the brave teacher, Vicki Soto.  How many parents are lucky enough to be hugging their children because of her bravery?  I then read that the shooter’s mother taught him how to shoot, knowing he had a personality disorder.  What!?!  I stopped reading after that.

I was crying again for all the children and the innocents.

Petitions.  National Sympathy Cards.  It’s all streaming down my news feed.  I really am too sensitive; I’ve been told this more times than I can count.  I determine I can’t absorb anymore news.

I’m still searching for grace, but anything short of Superman flying back in time and returning all of these people to the lives they had Friday morning seems empty to me.  I feel helpless.  I want to solve the problems of the world, but as I wipe my eyes and shut down the computer, all I can think is — It’s Sunday, just give me more coffee.  

The Breakfast Club is on.  I escape and snuggle with Boomer.

I went to the mat at noon.  My intention today was to just be present.  The further you push back in a pose puts you in the past; the further you push forward in a pose puts you in the future.  I was trying to find that place between.  The present.  The now.  I know this is actually the only moment that matters.

Ellen talks about kindness and humanity.  I decide these are good words to focus on.  I just breathe.

Before I left for class, I said to my husband, “I’m going to cook Christmas dinner.”  He asks me what I am going to cook.  To know my husband is to know that yes, he is worrying about the menu for December 25th on December 16th.  I mumble something about a ham and squash casserole.  I know he’s not thrilled about the squash, alarms are going off in his head.  He forgets the last time I cooked Christmas dinner in 2006, his Dad loved the squash casserole.  It’s staying on the currently two item menu, but I don’t say anything.  I walk out the door, leaving it for him to ponder.  I’m sure he was back on football before the car started.

I had a lot of energy today.  When the practice is very physical, it’s very easy to empty the mind.  I’m more focused on the physical and less on the emotional.  This is a good place to be considering where I have been the past few days.

I’m trying to balance in tree pose.  I can do it, but my high arches keep my feet from grabbing the earth.  I momentarily question if this is why I am always tripping?  Is it because I have never been grounded in the first place?  Fleeting thoughts.  I push my foot harder into my thigh and the balance stabilizes.  I do it again on the other side.

Yesterday was the last night of Hanukkah.  We had baby back ribs, corn pudding, cole slaw and apple pie.  It was awesome. My in-laws have a very loose interpretation of Jewish dietary laws.  Since I love bacon, this makes me happy.   Jonathan lit the candles and said the prayers.  We practice so little Judaism at our house; but I love it when we do.  I love ritual.  I love family.  I momentarily realize how much I had pulled away from these moments over the past several years.  How all of this holiday stuff seemed so meaningless without our own family.  Last night it did not feel empty, it felt magnificent.

When we come down to the mat and start holding pigeon Turn To Stone comes on.  It surprised me because Ellen had changed most of the playlist.  It was not the same, yet here was my song.   I decided to breathe deeply and let it all float.

I can’t remember the last time I loved Christmas.  It was some time in the 90’s I think.  For awhile I had Christmas parties in Los Angeles.  In fact, I think Jonathan and I planned our first date at one of my Christmas parties ten years ago this month.  He says I asked him out.  Maybe I did.  We had known each other so long when we finally went out, it’s all sort of a blur.  Things had started to change a week or so before my party at another event.  I do know our first date was Lord of the Rings at the Arc Light in Hollywood.  He pretended to like ranch dressing;  he hates ranch dressing — He has never pretended again.  He also never let me pick the movie again.  I am fine with this.  He picks great movies.

We switch sides in pigeon and as I release into it — I decide I am going to get a Christmas tree on the way home.  Yes, I know I converted to Judaism.  You can read about this conflict here.  We were not religious growing up, but like every other not religious family in America — we had a Christmas tree.

Ever since we stopped having Christmas at Mawmaw’s house in Arkansas — the whole season has sort of lost it’s meaning.  It became a time of year I just wanted to get through.  Plow through actually.  I always thought, when I have kids I can sort out all this holiday crap.

I let go in the left hip and rise up smiling and go into forward fold.  More holiday thoughts come into my mind.  I have been waiting for my family to arrive and the perfect house and the perfect dog and the perfect this and that and that and this … and as all this mishegoss is swirling out of my brain, I simply say to myself, this year we are having a Merry Christmas.  Jonathan, Boomer, Duff and my in-laws — we are having Christmas.

Kids or no kids.  Whatever the future holds, I have no idea — but Christmas we will share.  If I can’t resolve my own inner religious/holiday conflicts for what our traditions and rituals will be — what our Christmas/Hanukkah will be — there is definitely no hope for world peace.  I know the religious on both sides will take issue with all of it, but at the end of the day I have to follow whatever is in my heart.   I have to trust that this way of going about it can’t be all bad.

Peace starts inside each of us.  Kindness and humanity starts inside of us.  These thoughts are floating as I put the bolster under my knees for our final pose.  My mind is empty.

In shavasana I almost fall asleep.  This is always a good sign.

After class I head to Target to get a pre-lit tree.  Of course Target is already half way ready to put out Valentine’s candy … nothing.  I find one at Home Depot.  I bring it home.  Jonathan is mortified that I bought a fake tree.  I realize I forgot to ask him what kind of Christmas he wanted.  What kind of tree he wanted.  Well, I found my answer as I loaded the tree back in the car and took it back to Home Depot.

We will go and get a real tree.  As a kid he always had real trees.  He wants to smell the pine.  I started to say I would get a pine candle, but then I stopped myself.  I was glad he had an opinion.  This is OUR tradition, not MY tradition.

I briefly flashback to Arkansas and remember going out and cutting down the tree in a pasture.  We had real trees sometimes, too.

And so it goes.  After the Wilcox’s put away their menorah (which they sadly did not even get out at our house this year) they will find a beautiful pine tree to decorate.  This not so religious Jew and this not so religious convert will try to discover what our holidays look like together; creating our own holiday traditions, and hopefully, one day — we’ll pass them on.

Merry Christmas!

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