I just wanted to a little bit of cake

I am not a big birthday celebration kind of person, as I always shy away from being the centre of attention. Many of my friends don’t even know my actual birthdate. But I felt that I needed to write this post, if only to serve as a reminder.

I found my 20s to be adventurous, filled with discoveries of people and places, and filled with fearlessness. I jumped as high as possible, and ran away as far as I could. All the things your 20s are supposed to be.

But I found it equally exciting as it was tumultuous. This decade was of loss and lessons alongside the struggle of figuring out who I was. I experienced heartbreaks one time too many, hardening my shell more and more as time went by.

So on my 30th birthday, when the clock struck midnight, I sighed with relief. It was as if I had been holding my breath until that moment, and finally let go.

As if my letting go needed to be more exhaustive beyond the breath, I also unexpectedly allowed myself to cry, not to weep, but to release – to release old heartaches and the tension my body held onto so tightly for protection.

That night, I slowly let go of what insecurities, uncertainties, and precariousness I could, wishing them to sail away with my 20s. In their place, I wished myself peace.

I didn’t have grand plans to be symbolic or introspective. I just wanted to a little bit of cake. Who knew I was also able to set a part of the past free…unexpectedly?

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In progress

Over the last month or so, I have been roaming around from Bikram studio to Bikram studio, taking classes wherever the wind took me.  And since I was just in NYC, I was lucky enough to take classes there too.

With all the different personalities and energies, I noticed that the classes I struggled the most, were the classes that were a little quieter, a little more subdued.

As a Bikram yoga teacher, I try my hardest never to judge a fellow teacher.  I know what they’ve gone through.  The same 9 weeks of gruelling training, of little sleep, of anxiety, of hundreds and hundreds of people in your personal space while you study the dialogue.  I remind myself this always when I’m having a tough class, because let’s face it: we sometimes blame the externalities – the heat, the smelly neighbour, your outfit, the teacher.  When really, all those factors that tend to get blamed the most…they’re the most constant things you will find in a Bikram class.  The heat will always be there, there will be an outfit that needs extra tugging, and there will always, always be a neighbour that smells.  And of course, the teacher. We can’t have a Bikram class without one!

Back to what I was saying about my classes.  Yes, I tend to have a tough time in quieter, more subdued classes.  Let me rephrase, I am challenged by quieter, more subdued teachers.  For the most part, it isn’t because of them or their teaching.  It is because I am of the personality that thrives on high energy.  I want to fill my ears with the dialogue moving so fast that I cannot think beyond the yoga.

In essence, I love to get lost in that room, with the words drowning out the world outside, and the thoughts within.  Different parts that I have drowned out like patience, acceptance, and non-judgment.  Why bother when the teacher is doing it for me, right?  I take from them inspiration, motivation, anything they can give me.

So when I am met with quiet and subdued, I sometimes feel lost. And there is where I really, truly struggle.   In training, they tell us that we as teachers must believe in our students until they can believe in themselves.  Somewhere along the way, I must remember to do same for myself.  As a yogi, I know that I must face my practice in its weakest state on the days when I am brave enough, so that maybe one day I can appreciate the quiet and the subdued.

That will probably be a long time from now.  Because man, do those classes ever suck (for me).

What can I say, I’m a work in progress.

You don’t always get what you want…

I’ve been spending my break doing a lot more yoga than expected, and naturally, I’m ecstatic.  I’m lucky enough to be able to take classes wherever the wind takes me.  Getting to taste different teachers and studios is always a good thing for your practice.

Of course, all is dandy as you WANT try something new.  But what happens when you’re having a bad day and not a familiar teacher is in sight, nor regular students who you know will be good mat-neighbours?  Skipping yoga is the last option so the next best thing is to…suck it up.

We always tell students to let go of expectations or attachments, but we teachers need to practice it too.  We are also students after all.  So, I did the best I could, drowning everything out and just focusing on the yoga, leaving the bad day outside the door.

What do you know…I found a lit light bulb in the middle of my practice!  I finally understood why rabbit pose is so, so difficult for me.  And it’s not because of my spine or any physical limitations I had conjured up in my head.

Just like that, I stopped being the raging bitch that I was the past few days.  Thanks, rabbit.  I really should embrace you more often.

‘You don’t always get what you want, but you’ll always get what you need.’

Oh how very true.

That girl with two suitcases

It was eight years ago this Saturday when I packed up two suitcases and headed for something unknown.  New York was my freedom, a playground for the curious.  When I stepped on that plane in the sleepy Winnipeg airport, I never looked back.

I did not stay in the city, as there was another place that had bigger things for me.  But today, I am back to say hello once again.  I am of course, much older, hopefully wiser.  The visit to the city has allowed me to see where I had grown, and where I need to keep going.  It also reminded me of a time when I was more fearless, ready to jump without a thought.  I saw every colour and shine even when there were very little of it.

Now, I am rougher as I carry the wounds of growing up: heartaches, failures, loss.  My eyes, though still wide, are no longer filled with wonderment but of wariness.  More cautious than fearless, and no longer in awe of colours and shine the same way.

So before I leave the crisp, autumn air of New York, I shall bring back with me not of souvenirs that collect dust, but a little bit of that girl with two suitcases who never looked back.  And the pieces of me that had long been forgotten.