Yoga and other drugs

November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

I don’t have an addictive personality where that term is typically used. I like to drink occasionally in social settings, and don’t have any use for illegal drugs, but that’s not to say I don’t get addicted to other things. My addictions just don’t run along those lines. I lose myself in other things, like the number 13 (and 313), my birthday, HBO shows, bread, jazz hands, amongst others. So when my curiosity got the better of me one summer night 9 years ago, it wasn’t unusual to see how a future yoga addiction came to be.

The first time was a little scary, but I went in and lay down in the dark, awaiting what would become one of the most awesome sensations ever. Most people go in thinking it’s all fun and high times, but they soon realize exactly what they’re getting into, as I did, when they’re sweating on the floor, standing up, balancing on one leg, and sitting cross legged. Capping the sweat session with ten minutes of relaxation, I opened my eyes to a rose-coloured world. I was on cloud 9, on a completely natural high. I suddenly understood why yogis seem to live life with a smile on their faces, complete with untamed hair and breathy speech. Smile on my face, I realized I had finally found MY workout. And I haven’t let it go since then. Untamed hair I’ve already got, breathy speech soon to come.

Naturally, I pushed my practice further, and it wasn’t long until I was introduced to inversions. Some I could do, others I failed time and again. Bakasana (or crane pose) was one of the latter. Try as I might, I couldn’t get it. I gave up on it as I am wont to do (I was a champion quitter when I was a kid), but it didn’t sit well with me that I couldn’t do it. So when my Ashtanga teacher mentioned she was holding a workshop on arm balances and inversions, I signed up, resolving to prove myself wrong. I could and would tackle this. I also got a taste of the high times when she helped me into a Salamba Sirsana (supported headstand). I was ready to view life upside down, balancing on my hands.

My friend D and I took the subway down to the studio. I was in a bad mood Saturday into Sunday morning, so I was hoping I’d get a good hit of my drug of choice. Class started, we warmed up, and then quickly got into technique. D helped me get into the supported headstand again, and there was my frown turned upside down. Litterally and figuratively. Bad mood vanished, we moved into a variety of inversions, with lots of hijinks that you can imagine accompany being on one’s hands (such as toppling sideways onto the floor, or landing on one’s knee – OUCH).

When we finally got to crane, I faced a familiar foe, slightly skeptical of my abilities. I lowered myself on my hands, tucked my knees into my armpits, and began to lean forward. “Do not look down, look in front of you,” my teacher said. I did, and suddenly there I was, balanced on my hands, knees on my triceps, feet in the air. What? I could barely believe myself until I heard my teacher congratulate me for getting it right. I plopped back down, and went for it again, and again, and again. I’d found a new layer of addiction within a well established one.

As is typical, I left the workshop totally high, 180° away from where I had started. There’s nothing like changing your perspective to shift out of your bad mood. Sometimes it’s a mental perspective change, other times you just gotta flip onto your head and stick those legs in the air. Or balance on your arms, whatever. Reaching the Holy Grail of my yoga practice was what I like to call A TOTAL QUEST SUCCESS!

The Room of Requirement

November 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve had a realization of late. It seems whenever I need something – a friendly chat, money, an epiphany – it has somehow become available to me. There have been times, especially the last few months, when I’ve needed a reason to be positive, and/or to get out of a funk, and suddenly my eyes catch onto articles discussing the exact issue I’m dealing with, a friend sends me an email of a cartoon that happens to have a message I should listen to. If you’ve looked up at the sky and asked the Universe to throw you a bone, a sign that you’re on the right path, or a push in the right direction, you’ve been where I’ve been. The best feeling in the world is when you really need that certain something and you get it. It might not be the exact destination you want to get to, but the road to your destination suddenly clears, allowing you to forge ahead confidently.

In honour of American Thanksgiving…

November 19, 2010 § 2 Comments

I am thankful for many things. My family and friends. My health. My ability to provide myself with the basic needs (food, shelter, clothing) and then some (travel). But on a day like today, at the tail end of a week filled with work issues with contractors, I have to stop and say thanks to the people I see most in my life: my coworkers and boss.

When I graduated from university 6 and a half years ago, I thought I’d get a cushy job in Dubai, learning the ropes in my field, and making a mint to bring home at the end of my 1-2 year-contract. I thought I’d move back home, buy myself a nice condo, have zero debt, and travel anywhere my heart desired. Of course I’d have another cushy job supporting myself so the money flow would be endless. Very little of my expectations had to do with the work I’d be doing to obtain all these goals.

Things didn’t turn out as I thought they would. Life lesson #1: nothing will turn out as you thought it would. Quote Conan O’Brien. My lavish expectations were swept under the rug as I had to deal with work. Life lesson #2: you will never get something without nothing. I started working in my field, learning the ropes, almost painfully slowly. Life lesson #3: you have to learn to walk before you learn to run. I tried not to make mistakes, but collided with them head on regardless. Life lesson #4: don’t try not to make mistakes, because you will make them anyway. Oh and let’s not forget Life lesson #5: if you thought you were the shit because you graduated from university, come back down to earth and have yourself a helping of humble pie, cause, my friend, you ain’t seen NOTHING yet.

That’s what I’ve learned in a nutshell. Post-graduation has been one learning experience after another. One glaring fact is that I’ve been extremely lucky where workplace is concerned. While learning the ropes, I could have fallen under the hands of a cruel boss (and from the stories I hear my friends tell, there are many), I could have dealt with competitive and backstabbing coworkers, in an environment that screams “every man/woman for him/herself!” But I didn’t. They have been there for me every step of the way, answering all my questions without rolling their eyes, offering me support when I needed it and even when I didn’t, and most importantly, allowing and encouraging me to grow. To each and every one of them, I say thank you. Thank you for checking my work. Thank you for being my cheerleaders. Thank you for calming my meltdowns. Incidentally, the last two apply to my family above all else. So what does that say about my 2nd family? Pretty awesome stuff.

Thank you for making my workplace a place of envy.

I remember it well…

November 12, 2010 § 1 Comment

I was standing in the cafeteria at my work, stirring some sugar into my coffee, as I do every morning. I was casually glancing around as I worked on stirring those sugar crystals into coffee oblivion, when my eyes fell on a basket by the cash register. Normally, this basket is filled with a variety of goodies meant to entice the junk food devil on your right shoulder, but today it was a sea of monochrome green Miss Vickie’s jalapeño chips. The junk food devil on my right shoulder, let’s call him Bocephus, whispered into my ear: “Wouldn’t you like a bag for the road? And perhaps one to accompany your healthy lunch? And another for an afternoon snack? I wonder if they’d give a discount if you bought the entire basket…” Before I could tell Bo to shut up, I was transported back in time, to a memory I hadn’t thought of in nearly as many years that had passed since it occurred.

It was 1999. I was in cegep. It was winter, because I remember it being dark out, and I never had classes past 5:30pm. A friend of mine, a boy, was hanging out with me as I sat doing my math homework. I left him there to get a snack, and discovered a new flavour of Miss Vickie’s chips at the vending machine: jalapeño. I got back to the table we were occupying and offered him some of my discovery. He took some and told me how jalapeño chips reminded him of his mom, because she would make them at home. I thought that was pretty cool, as I had no idea someone could think of jalapeño as a chip flavour (I wasn’t so… whatever the equivalent of worldly is in foodie circles). And then I remembered how that same friend had paid me to write an assignment for him (where I had the opportunity to read what would become one of my favorite books – Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto). And how we had gotten into an argument on the bus over a comment he had made that, at the time, I took offense to, but I can now see was openly flirtatious (I wasn’t so… whatever the equivalent of perceptive is in normal circles). It was like jumping from one memory lily pad to the next in a matter of seconds.

I came back to reality, unscathed by my time travel, not even a minute after having been transported back. Those sugar crystals were dissolved, but everything else was the same. As I walked back to my desk, I wondered how powerful associative memory can be. Oftentimes, a scent will trigger a specific person, a specific moment in time. Other times, a song, a place, a car, and in the case of deja vu, a “je ne sais quoi.” It amazed me the specific details that came to mind at the mere sight of a bag of Miss Vicki’s jalapeño chips. The amazing thing was that they are always around. It’s not like it was the first time I had seen them in the last 11 years. I had indulged in a bag just last week. But this morning was the first time I thought of that friend, that boy. I think the last time I had spoken to or thought of him was easily 8 years ago. What about this instance of Miss Vicki’s jalapeño chips bag sighting triggered the memory of him? I don’t know. But it was fun to reminisce. I wonder what he’s up to today…

Where Am I?

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