Breaking Habits

yoga drawing

I am a creature of habit. We all are really. We find something we like and we get into a groove. For some, it’s their morning coffee. Some have a regular exercise ritual. Others find a TV show and can’t get through the week without it. For the past ten months I have gone to yoga every Thursday morning at 9:30am. I love the class. It’s a great mix of relaxation, stretch and physicality. I know what to expect and it never fails to deliver. Yoga is a fairly new thing for me and my introduction was with mixed feelings.  But I have stuck with it and now look forward to my weekly fix of ohms.

My friend and I went for a relatively long and hilly trail run yesterday and my leg muscles were screaming for a good stretch. But it was now Friday. My usual class was yesterday. What to do, what to do? I really needed to stretch. “Suck it up sister and go to a class that is different and where you don’t know the instructor”. Was that really me talking? Me. The one that doesn’t always like to venture out before analyzing all options and thinking about it for a week or two? What the hell was going on in my head. Before I knew it I was logged in and registered for the class. I wondered what it would be like. Would I like it? Would it be close to what I was used to?

The class started and I settled in and closed my eyes. Sitting cross-legged isn’t very comfortable for me. It’s just not the way I roll. The instructor was quietly taking us out of our busy morning and into a quieter place. And then we kept going. And going. Breathing and breathing and breathing. My legs started to cramp and my mind started to wander. Why is she taking so long to get going, I wondered. Just as I got to the point where I was going to unravel (literally and figuratively) she asked us to open our eyes and change position. Thank god. But then she picked up a Hoberman Sphere. It’s a child toy that starts as a small ball and expands out into bigger ball. She was using it to demonstrate how to breathe through your practice. Cool, I thought. Well for the first 30 second it was cool. Three or four minutes later I was pretty sure I had the concept down. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great way to visualize how your lungs and rib cage expand and contract, but I wanted to move on. I was used to moving on.

Hoberman Sphere

Once we started to move things progressed slowly. I like a class that moves along at a pretty good pace. The instructor was good though and careful to show us each move and explain it. I learnt a new way to move into downward dog. All the time she reminded us to breathe and think about the ball. Oh my god, not the ball again. The class wasn’t as challenging as I am used to but I tried to remind myself that yoga is all about doing things at your own pace. I’m no expert yogi, but I enjoy pushing myself a little bit in practice and I like to end up with a feeling of not only stretching but exertion at the end of it all. I enjoy feeling me muscles work and challenging myself in new poses. I wasn’t really getting that today.

Shavasana is the best part of yoga class for me. The relaxation after the exertion. The word Shava is Sanskrit for corpse. Meaning, I get to lie on my back, like a corpse, and let all the stuff clogging up my head float away. So, as we settled in with the lights turned down I was happy to just be. I had noticed a guitar case when I came into the studio and now I heard quiet guitar music. Very cool I thought. Nice touch. But then……the instructor started to sing. Loudly. She had an amazing voice and it was a lovely French song but all I could think of was. “Hey, this is my nap time and, while your singing is lovely, it’s a tad loud.”

shavasna

Will I go back to the class I went to this morning? Probably not. I’m sure that some loved it and got exactly what they wanted out of the class. I just wasn’t one of them. I, as a creature of habit, will go back to my regular Thursday morning class. It’s what I’m used to. However, The Best Thing in Life is listening to that voice in your head and trying new things once in a while and seeing what is out there. Whether you like it or not is up to you.

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I Made A New Friend Today

group of friends

“I made a new friend today.” A normal thing for a seven year old to come home and say, but what about a fifty year old? As we get a little older it isn’t as easy to meet new people and really connect. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be as open and carefree as a seven year old? This summer I spent a week in the Okanagan with my daughter. Each day we would go to the lake and set up our chairs. She would look around, find somebody close to her size (smaller or bigger didn’t seem to matter) and go and play with them. Sometimes it worked out and the day was spent with her new best friend swimming and building sand castles. Occasionally, it didn’t work out and she would move on to the next small person. So easy and so unassuming.

A few years ago I was having dinner with a group of old friends. Our conversation turned to a women we had all met at a party a few weeks before. She seemed nice and one of us suggested we invite her to our next dinner. At this point one of my girlfriends said “Sure invite her, but I’m not interviewing for any new friends right now”. I didn’t think much of it at the time and we all laughed at her, but it has sort of stuck with me over the years. When you make a statement like that, don’t you close yourself off to so many new experiences, opinions and well, joys? Who’s to say that the person you met at the event you went to last night isn’t going to be your best friend in the next few years and bring a new perspective to your life. New ideas, fresh outlooks and perhaps even another new friend. Sure, they could be a total nut job, but wouldn’t it be better to find out first before you block them on Facebook?

I feel that the best thing to do at this stage in my life when starting a new friendship is to not have too high of an expectation. I know that may sound a bit cynical, but hear me out. I do not expect to have coffee with you every week. I do not expect to chat with you on the phone every day. I do not expect birthdays present or even a card. I don’t expect any of those things from friends I have known for years, or are particularly close to, so why would I expect them of some body I just met? I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to friendships. My friends have pissed me off many times over the years and I’m pretty sure I’ve done the same, but you get over it. In a solid friendship there is no judgment and there is no “Did I offend you”? Of course you did, but that’s okay, we’ll move on.

I met two great women this summer. In my opinion, both are strong, independent women with big hearts. I could see being friends with both of them; for completely different reasons. I also got to know some women who I didn’t know very well, a little better. All of this happened very naturally and easily. Again, there is no expectation that we will swap spit or have slumber parties anytime soon, but could I call them if I needed a friendly chat or some support? Absolutely. How do you know if the person you meet is potential friend material? It’s one thing to be able to carry on a conversation with somebody, but to feel like you could spend the day just hanging out and talking means that you have shared values and interests.

Maybe that’s why it is so easy for our kids to make new friends. They are without judgement. They see only a person who likes what they like and can build a mean sandcastle. The Best Thing in Life would be to open ourselves up like a seven year old and make some new friends. At any age.