The Love of My Life | Thanksgiving, Yoga & Vinyasa

Keep-Calm-and-do-YogaI was going through boxes. We spend the Thanksgiving holiday at home here in Texas. That was our tradition after the kids were born and remains our tradition as we traverse further into “year 2” since Maureen’s passing. As I noted in Embracing Uncertainty | India, Thanksgiving, and Cheryl, “I love Thanksgiving. Unlike Christmas, it is a quiet and reflective week and an awesome holiday. It is a day that we get to stop and just be.

The joy of relaxing means that you can go through things slowly, not rushing from one thing to the next, so I went through boxes. You know the ones. The boxes in which we save things. The boxes where we put pictures, various items for that scrapbook that never quite gets put together, lots of the kids’ work from their progression through grade after grade at school, and in our case, the many clothes and other items that were Maureen’s. As I lifted the lid off of another one of the bankers boxes from Office Depot, I pulled out yet another stack of manila folders. This box was different, though. This one had folders from when Maureen started her new job at Apple. For those that have been reading the Love of My Life for a while or know Maureen and I, you know we met at Apple in the late 1980s in Chicago.

When I got to the back of the last folder, Maureen reached out and said hello. Being the last folder meant it had everything from when her job at Apple was starting. It was not the last but rather a first. And, tucked into the very back of that last folder was my first Thanksgiving card to Maureen. We had started going out in the fall, and as Maureen would tell you, we didn’t start officially “dating” until New Year’s Eve, the New Year’s Eve after I sent the infamous dozen red roses to her home in New Jersey on Christmas Eve. So, Thanksgiving fell in the middle of our courtship, and this card oozed of a guy desperately in love, trying to be nonchalant, sincere and sweet all in one short set of words. After all these years of marriage, deepening love, kids, a difficult, yet elegant as possible, battle with cancer, here was the start. The first words for the Love of My Life. A 23 year old that had no idea what was going to come next, but that sure as heck knew that whatever it was, I wanted every day of it to be with Maureen.

Poser-2At the end of 2015, I am back at that same kind of moment, not knowing what comes next. For those that read my post on Dragons and Dragonflies, you know that I started a yoga practice back in August. I am now 3 months into this practice, and it has opened my eyes more each time I do it, which is 3 times a week now. As I wrote at the end of that Dragons and Dragonflies post, “When I close my eyes at the end of a yoga session, I begin to see. I see not just me, but I see Maureen, and I see love. And when I see love, I am suddenly able to see everything. I see both dragons and dragonflies.” My home yoga studio is Yoga Vida. I love this place. I love its teachers. Just like Claire Dederer writes in Poser | my life in twenty-three yoga poses, “Yoga had come into my life, with its strange, unknowable, even funny logic. For good or for ill, it had arrived.” I am not just stretching muscles I knew I had. I am stretching muscles I didn’t know I have, and I am growing stronger, not just physically, but mentally. I am also learning that yoga doesn’t just happen “on the mat.”

For those unfamiliar with yoga, you typically use a mat for softness, then place a towel over that mat, so that as you sweat, you do not make the mat slick and thus have your hands or feet slide out of a pose. For some of the crazier poses where you are delicately balanced, that could actually be dangerous. With it being Thanksgiving week, I decided to explore a few other studios around Austin. From a class at Black Swan Yoga to one at Modo Yoga, I am discovering that there a lot of great places to take your mat, with great instructors and new insights. The most powerful of these insights came the day after I found my first Thanksgiving card to Maureen. I was doing a class with Gillian, co-owner of the studio. She pointed out that Vinyasa or flow yoga is the connection of movement to breath.

Maureen | Engagement Day 1989As I continue to learn about this ancient art, I am deepening my awareness that yoga is all about connection, which is why I suspect it creates such a powerful connection for me with Maureen, a connection that started with that first Thanksgiving card almost 27 years ago. However, when Gillian talked about the connecting of movement to breath, I realized how yoga goes beyond the mat. Every day we are in movement. Every day we are doing things, and life can create some crazy poses. However, if we connect our movement to our breath, then we can remain in balance in and out of the studio, on and off the mat. With Gillian’s words at Modo Yoga, I immediately knew how this new practice would help guide me to what comes next. Because this time, I don’t have Maureen here with me physically for the rest of my journey through this practice called life. But I know she is with me on and off the mat. Of that much, I remain certain.