What happened is hard. Who happened is way better.
Posted on April 18, 2015
Three months ago, I announced to the world that I was closing my yoga studio. I blogged on it, and YogaDork picked it up. It wasn’t the whole story, because it couldn’t be. It was just enough words to say, “I’m okay. I’m gonna try this yoga thing without all the trappings. The trappings ain’t any sign of success, they’re just trappings. I’m ready to break loose of ‘em and redefine success with a new target of effective yoga education.”
So, the studio is closed. The whole story is a book. It’s coming. Meanwhile, here’s what went down from studio closing announcement to studio closing. It’ll seem kinda heavy, but take the weight, it’s only one paragraph. I promise the weight will come off. It could get pretty light, even. And, as always, I’ll serve up one motherfucking moral to the story.
I broke my arm (in two!) on a winter bike commute. I got my arm bone screwed back together. I was unable to teach for a week. My hot red car kept dying and leaving me stranded places. I missed biking. I joined the SportsPlex and reluctantly stationary cycled. I got studio affairs in order. I liquidated a studio full of good crap.
On vacating day morning, we had a crying party. There were mimosas and bloody Marys and I had just one. There was dancing. The party ended late morning. Late afternoon, I sent the two yogis home who had hung on helping with the move. “Go! Have a fun day!” Alone, I turned up the tunes but did not break to dance. The neighbor told me to turn down the tunes. I turned down the tunes.
I hauled out on my own much of what I hadn’t liquidated. One able arm wasn’t enough to drag the massive teaching platform out. I made a late call to some friends to rescue me. I enlisted the help of my husband for three hauling trips that day. We cleaned the studio right up until midnight of the vacating date. I said goodbye to a space that I would come to miss as if it were a person.
As if it were a person.
So that was what happened. Here is who happened.
Close the doors and see all the people.
Scene 1: bike crash. People: two strangers.
Linda and anonymous, bus drivers who were having a smoke after their route when I crashed my bike in front of them, helped me pick up my pieces, let me use a phone, offered me a smoke (okay, that’s not true, but I bet they would have if they hadn’t thought I was such a healthy sporto) and were my professional drivers from the scene.
Scene 2: Field of Yoga, morning of bike crash. People: a whole room full of students.
Lucy the underspoken encourager was the main influence, but all my students who showed up the morning I had fallen down proceeded to practice yoga together without a teacher. They took turns cuing things they could recall me saying, and only making fun of me a little bit since they didn’t know if I was alive or not.
Scene 3: Urgent Care, hospital. People: several nurses, X-ray technicians, a couple doctors, an anesthesiologist.
Okay, so all I can remember is the surgeon’s name, Dr. Crouse, who has the face of a gameshow host and the skills of a, well, orthopedic surgeon thank god. They all gave me great care, appreciated my smartass attitude, and at my recent follow-up appointment Dr. Crouse called all 46 years of me “kiddo.”
Scene 4: my house in the days after my surgery. People: several friends.
Amanda, Carrie, Suzanne, Lori, Sherry, maybe more but I was a little high, brought me food and/or company. These are my bitchez. I love them. Even the ones I forgot.
Scene 5: the SportsPlex. Person: a stranger.
Melissa, who I’m now Facebook friends with and you really should be, too, stopped to chat with me when I was doing one-armed yoga after stationary cycling at the Sportsplex. She is a real life-grabber and pretty much 100% hope. Plus, she reminds of an elf. A real elf.
Scene 6: Field of Yoga the week I was down. People: five teachers.
Laura, Greg, Donna, Yuko, and Eliz, who have qualities like dependability, flexibility, and “I-got-this” ability, each said, “Yes” or “Sure” or “I guess…” to my every plea for a class sub.
Scene 7: Studio Crying Party, vacating day. People: two students.
Melanie and Carley, who both have a knack for lighting up places with warm mischief, were responsible for getting people lit with their impromptu mimosa and bloody Mary bar at the Studio Crying Party.
Scene 8: studio, afternoon of vacating day. People: two teachers.
Donna, whose metamorphosis from injured workout freak to compassionate yogi I was honored to witness over the years, and Yuko, who had always enthusiastically supported the studio’s direction, stayed to help with the packing on vacating day. Donna even fed me, and they wouldn’t leave until I booted their perfect little yoga butts.
Scene 9: studio, very late on vacating day. People: three friends.
Val the magnificent life satirist, Susan her twin sister whose unique identity doesn’t need to be acknowledged here because she’s a twin, duh, and Steve who is married to that first twin, all came late on a Saturday evening to drag out a teaching platform that some dumb bitch once bought. (Can you say “trappings”?)
Scene 10: the very last hours of vacating day. Person: my husband.
The guy worked really hard all day long on vacating day, was there at midnight, and never said, “I told you not to buy X” about any of the decisions I had made over five years of operating a studio that would close. He could have said “trappings” many, many times – but he didn’t.
(Disclaimer #15: This is just a snapshot from broken arm day to vacating day. There have been many more people I could mention who have been there for me. You’re in the book. And of course, much has happened since all of this. More to come on that!)
Many People, Two Things
These people held the space for me, and in doing so, they let me find my way to two things I believe are instrumental to resilience, or coming back from hard times.
Thing One: the ability to be amused by your sorry self in the hardest of circumstances. Not denying the circumstances. But not believing you have suffered a blow that disconnects you from any light. This amusement thing is just a little reminder of the light. It says, “Hey, look at this from the place in you that isn’t drowning. Remember that there’s life above the surface, and you’ll emerge again.”
And guess what? When people hold the space for you, when they don’t try to show you the bright side, you are more likely to find a little light yourself. Instead of defending why you have every right to feel low and dark, you might see your circumstances in a less weighty, lighter way. You might raise an eyebrow and say, like I did to the X-ray technician at Urgent Care who simply showed me the break without any qualifiers about how bad it could have been: “Well shit. Now what do we do?”
Last month, I had the opportunity to attend a live TedX event at the University of Northern Iowa. I was really excited about the chance to see one presenter in particular – Amit Sood, Chair of the Mayo Mind-Body Initiative, among other ridiculously amazing titles. The whole event, though – every damn speaker – struck me. These people. These people! They are what it is all about. They masterfully use their work and their expression to amp up connection. They are connected to the divine stream of humor that reminds us that being amused with ourselves and our situations is sometimes the healthiest step we can take.
This brings us to the second thing I was able to find my way to, thanks to the people I am fortunate enough to have had intertwined in my unfortunate circumstances.
Thing Two: gratitude. Amit Sood took us through a mindfulness practice in his Ted talk, and gave us practices to do at home. The one that stuck most was a gratitude practice. When you wake up, he said, before you even get out of bed, call up five people you are grateful for, one at a time. I’m gonna paraphrase here now, please don’t quote the respectable Dr. Sood with what follows.
Don’t just think about five people. Call those em-effers up. Maybe it’s one of your bitchez. Maybe it’s a bus driver who didn’t offer you a smoke. Maybe it’s a bearer of bloody Marys, or someone’s twin sister who broke the same arm bone a year before you did and has been holding the space for you even though you joke about her not having her own identity. Take your time with each of these glorious people. Acknowledge your connection to each one. Get into your heart where you can really feel what they each mean to you. Hell, put both hands over your heart when you do it. Breathe and feel.
And then, get up.