A wise friend once told me: “Don’t look back, we’re not going that way.”
I’m sure she probably read it somewhere and it stuck with her as great wisdom and from there she shared it with others. So, forgive me as I don’t cite the source by way of originality, but it’s a really good quote and one I turn to quite often in life.
It’s also a great way to launch into this topic which came to mind as I traveled home from a yoga class on Monday evening.
As I’ve shared in past columns, I had no intent of submitting a piece for this week’s paper. Always feeling sometimes my two cents can just be a lot. Most especially after reading a cancellation letter we received most recently. Much of the feedback offered by the former subscriber was understandable and valid. Our pages have changed significantly over the past decade and our format not as it once was. But alas we are in a business which is dying and therefore management has made some decisions which are necessary to keep us in print.
In addition to her understood observations there were also some directed feelings at my Boss Lady, Marg Jackson and I, by way of less columns about kids going to college and babies. Me being the mom and her being the new grandma, this hit a little hard, but to each their own. I’ve always felt if my column content doesn’t suit you there’s this wonderful thing you may choose to do; not read it.
So back to my epiphany.
Monday morning, for some unknown reason, I felt drawn to return to the yoga studio which has been home to me for over a decade. Like many who have gym memberships, it’s been an on again off again relationship, yet I value it all the same. And as with any relationship, it’s gone through change and growth, just as I have.
Cleared to return to full activity by my doctor, it just felt like something I needed to do. Inviting my daughter to join me seemed like a great idea as well, and she did.
As we traveled to the studio, we tried to recall our “last practice.” Both giggling as we realized it had been almost a year ago, shortly before I went back for my second battle with cancer.
It’s a hot yoga class and my hair had reacted in a way which we hadn’t seen before. Chemo curl in full effect as a result of the sweat and heat.
I knew to expect little by way of physical ability as we walked into the room, but we were excited to be there and see my longtime friend and colleague who was eager to lead us.
Working through the practice, the very poses I once led others through, the physical changes from the past two years became apparent. Neuropathy in all ten toes make balancing in yoga a little different, limited mobility in one arm as a result of multiple surgeries and a shortening of the skin, yep … gotta modify. The other stuff, creaking bones, extreme sweat, those were both expected and welcome because in short, I felt both alive and at home.
Then something occurred to me. In yoga, more specifically Baptiste Yoga, we speak often of transformation. The practice we lead is called “JIP,” (Journey Into Power) and whether I saw it coming or not, that’s what Monday night was.
My 2019 self never would have gone to a Monday night class. The funny thing is, even though I was a teacher in that very studio I had always told myself Monday night was for the “serious” yogi and that wasn’t me. Monday prior to arriving that thought never even crossed my mind. As all the unfamiliar faces trickled in, I felt no intimidation, no fear, simply gratitude.
As the practice concluded I realized something powerful. The past two years of my life, as I was on hiatus from so many things that make me “me,” I often would say “used to be.” In other words, things I did before my path led another way at no fault of mine. Working through the poses that quote from the top of this piece came right to the front of my brain. It’s not a case of “used to be” it’s a case of “I am.”
So now we’ll land the plane and I’ll offer to each of you what I gained that night during a 10-minute round trip car ride and a 75-minute hot yoga class: don’t let circumstance define you. We all have the innate power to not just write our own story, but navigate it in a way which we best see fit. This is not a one size fits all life and we are not created to be one size fits all humans.
Listen to your heart, lead from there, let your gut guide you, because at the end of the day we are all living the life which we have been destined for and how we navigate through it all is what leads us to what’s next.
Somedays we may take a wrong turn or pick the path which wasn’t suited for us, if lucky, if truly paying attention the path will bring you back and when it does ... simply pause, learn and continue forward for life is waiting ahead of us. Namaste.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.