I started the holiday week off with a beautiful weekend away with my companion in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. We celebrated the change of seasons and all that the spirit of this time of year brings. Making it back to Boston just in time for the snow storm, I also found myself taking in some sort of flu. For 3 days I ended up in bed...no yoga in reach. Having planned to teach a special solstice class, and celebrate the time before Christmas with all of my students and friends, I was saddened to have such headaches, stuffy nose, body aches, and be away from it all.
Finally making it to my family, the time away from yoga continues. My grandpap recently moved into an assisted living center about a mile from my parents house after having spent the last year in Michigan with my aunt. The night I flew into town, he was taken to the emergency room.
Coming home is never really relaxing to certain extent. It's somewhat like a circus tent in fact! With 2 brothers and 2 sisters, a dog, and lots coming/going, things are never really quiet or peaceful. This doesn't mean they aren't fun...just different than what I'm used to in my yogic life in Boston.
This year siblings are coming and going (due to life changes, babies, significant others' and such), my Pap is here and not in the best of health, and holiday shopping/cooking was still to be done. So, Christmas Eve morning I headed off to the (yikes) mall to play "Santa" for my family while my parents took care of Pap in the hospital. My sister and I made the traditional lasagna for holiday dinner and we made due with what we could. On top of it all, my dad just had knee replacement surgery! Pap still in the hospital, and just 2 of my siblings around, we still managed to joke around and enjoy the night with White Christmas, tea, cookies, and fun. I'm used the chaos and most times look forward to it. But this year with everyone dispersed, even attending Christmas Eve mass was strange because it ended up just being my mom, sister, brother, and I. And the chaos was more a stress than simply lots of people and things around. The hour in a crowded church that night was the closest I suppose I'd been to yoga class in days. Assuming I take something different from a church service than most of the people there, it was comforting to feel hope, to feel peaceful spirit, and simply to offer my love and energy into the world on such a clear and open winter starry night. If I have to be away from loved ones, and we must experience change in family situations, at least we can take some moments to be grateful for what we do have and what we can offer personally each day.
A simple cup of homemade hot chocolate, sitting by a fire, preparing a nourishing meal, and sharing some old memories...that's all you really need to feel love on a winter holiday. Though I haven't practiced fully in days, been running around for family members, getting over sickness, and getting used to a different sort of Christmas...I'm at the same time entirely joyful to have gotten to share it with my Pap. He may not be fully "there" like he once was, but he (like me) is full of imagination, silliness, and an interesting spirit. It has taught me that I'll trade physical daily yoga practice any day as long as it means that I give of myself through mind and spirit to the ones that need me most at the time.
Today I was able to fit in 20 minutes of sun salutations and asanas, but the real challenge was keeping my mom calm on our errands, keeping it light transferring my Pap to and fro our house, cleaning the kitchen between meals, wrapping last minute gifts for my nephew, and simply being present in the moment. Setting the intention to do just that this morning helped for sure. And so I sit here tonight not feeling bad about missing physical asanas over this last week. Not caring so much that I've eaten lots of holiday cookies and treats. Understanding that the nature of my life at the end of 2009, has meant slowing down immensely in the physical sense, in order to make up for all of the rush going on around me in the emotional and mindful sense. This is exactly where I am supposed to be, right now. No, I haven't relaxed all that much. No, I haven't been able to contact or visit old friends, or practice at my favorite local yoga studio. I've been missing my loving partner, my older brother and his wife, my other grandparents, my sister and her little clan.
Instead I've found grace in the midst of quality time spent with my Grandpap. I've played Santa and succeeded! Spent gal time with my Mom, cooking time with everyone, puppy time with our dog, and made some new memories during a different sort of Christmas than we're all used to. And it's just as it should have been.
Monday I'm back to teaching as usual, and I have so many exciting plans, goals, and excitement ahead for 2010! All we can do now is look towards the future with a smile and keep it calmly implanted in our hearts and minds during the present in order to physically continue to change the world one smile, one person at a time.
Whether you've celebrated Christmas this season or not, there is hope in a simple smile and in simple acts of bringing positivity to your world. That's the focus now as the new year approaches.
Intention to hold strong in focus, joyful attitudes, and belief in yourself so that you can bring it to those you love.