Sunday, March 16, 2014

Snow Day

Let me tell you about the day I had on Wednesday.
We'll start with this photo from last Monday. 
This is a typical military marker found at cemeteries across America.
When not covered by snow, it looks like the markers in rows just to the right in the sidebar.

We've had enough snow this year.

I started my day off at 4am.
The winter storm started right about then.
Since I had to be to work by 8 and I always allow an hour to arrive, 
I thought I would double that time, just in case.

After two hours of driving in blinding snow, I arrived right on schedule without a minute to spare.

With a two hour visitation before the service, I had to be out in the parking lot the entire time to line up cars for the procession and direct people that just wanted to visit.

Dodging the snow plow truck and shoveling myself, the two hours finally passed.
That is when I was informed that the procession had been canceled due to weather.
I still drove the casket and body to the cemetery for burial.
(What a mess that was!)
Then it was time to head for home.
I got on the expressway and immediately found that I could not see where I was going through the drifting snow. Since my commute takes me through open countryside, I decided to turn around and head back to work. I remained there for the rest of the day until I felt it was safe to drive home.
Even then, it was difficult at times.
There were accidents and spin-outs to the right and left.
At one point there was a semi-truck cross-ways of the road forcing everyone to exit from the expressway. 

When I got home, the storm had passed, but the winds remained.
I had just started to warm up when my neighbor called me and asked me to meet him in my back yard.

The sun was low in the sky and casting shadows on the drifted snow.

Such beauty had been dropped in my own back yard.

I would have stayed for longer if the wind hadn't been chilling me to the bone.

I ended my day with a little yoga in my nice warm home.
Reflecting on a day that made me glad to be alive to witness such force and
 such beauty.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Stretching My Wings

What do you think of when I mention the word YOGA? Do images of people twisting themselves into impossible poses come to mind? Is it something that you always wanted to try, but felt intimidated by what you've seen?
For my father's generation, it represented something from Asia. After battling the Japanese in World War 2, folks of his age wanted nothing to do with it and saw it as a mild form of takeover of their country. Although many poses resembled stretching exercises practiced in the US military.

Recently, I've run across a few people that have tried to tell me that their doctor won't let them do yoga. And I think, "Really, your doctor doesn't want you to stretch your muscles and move your body?" I grew up in a chiropractic household. With both of my parents doctors of the alternative medicine, I've been exposed to a different reality than most. But even still, treatments revolved around manipulations to rectify a situation and not so much prevention.

My last few post have indicated that I am experiencing a change in my life with the loss of my parents and transition of my work. I've at times painted a bleak picture that would have me hiding in a dark corner not wanting to deal with the world. That is not the case at all though. I have been experiencing a whole new life. A life that has existed all around me all along. An alternate universe, if you will. Coexisting with my own, just outside of my vision.
Let me tell you about growing up inside my body. To compliment the fact that I did not seem to fit in with my surroundings being gay in a Pentecostal world of the 70's, I've dealt with allergies and asthma all my life. If I was interested in a sport, my poor breathing habits usually nixed the idea of participation before it grew very much.  Even shoveling snow or walking in cold weather could knock me out cold. As I aged, I stayed away from many places that others gravitate to simply because of people smoking there. I've always felt like an outsider, not welcome anywhere.

A few years ago, I was introduced to yoga. It, like many other things in my life, was interesting to me. But it was not love at first stretch! Like many people, I tried to push myself to be somewhat of an expert to fast and too soon. In a class setting, I pushed myself to be just like the instructor. I did not want to be that awkward guy in the room. I did enjoy one instructor that has Multiple Sclerosis and found her teachings to be very down to earth. She said, "Sometimes, I fall over. Deal with it."

I recently decided to start practicing at home. At home I could mess up, fall over and make a fool of myself all I wanted to. But more importantly, I could take it at my own pace. Now, every instructor will tell you to do this. But when the peer pressure is there, I push myself. I found a instructional video that I connected with and haven't looked back.

What it has done for me has been life changing. For starters, I've learned to control my breathing. This winters extreme amounts of snow would have been enough to kill me in the past. But instead, I've enjoyed shoveling, as much as a person can enjoy such a thing. And although smoking is still offensive, I've learned to cope with it around me. I've worked on my posture, which has been an area that has needed work most of my life. I feel less pain associated with everyday life. I have been toning and strengthening my entire body, trimming inches off my waste and allowing me to do a few push-ups for the first time in my life. I've lost around ten pounds, have better digestion and actually enjoy eating healthy meals. I have almost eliminated my daily headaches and find the tension in my back is completely gone. I look forward to every day and the challenges that it brings. I enjoy the sunlight streaming in my windows. When I am practicing my yoga, the bitter cold outside melts away and life is beautiful. I can't imagine my life without it now.

Anyone looking to feel better, I would recommend finding a routine that works for you. I know from my parents senior community that they offer programs for the elderly and even wheelchair bound. For now, I am sticking with the Intro to Yoga for Beginners program. I will stay with it until I feel that I am ready to move on. I've already purchased more programs and look forward to them. But I am in no way going to push myself to get there. I will also rejoin the class setting when I am ready.

So to those that have worried about my health in this time of transition, there is nothing to worry about. I am feeling and doing much better. And feel that soon, I will be back to the Brighter Side more regularly.