Headstand?

I don’t have too many memories before age five, but sometime in the mid-70’s, I remember my Granny standing on her head. She would’ve been in her mid-sixties. She was a feisty one, my Granny. One of my favorite stories is the time the neighbor boy squirted her with a water hose. The details are a little fuzzy, I think she was dressed up and headed somewhere important. Anyway, she nursed her grudge and waited out her revenge. One day when he was all dressed up for church (or was it the prom?), my Granny had her water hose ready and soaked him down.

When Granny stood on her head with my sister Liz and me, I seem to recall her crashing down. I texted Liz about it recently: “Do you remember? Did she hurt herself?” In my blurry memory, Granny broke her toe.  

Liz confirmed the head stand and speculated on a melodramatic, “Ouch!” I could see where a five-year old might equate that reaction to a broken toe. Maybe Granny even shouted, “I think I broke my toe.”

For the next ten years or so, I stood on my head. And for a couple of years in the last ten or so, I picked it up again in my yoga class. I haven’t practiced in a while, but I do remember some benefits—you know, the type of benefits a person forgets and must Google and the type that might motivate a person to just do it.

The Alternative Daily lists 11 Reasons to Stand on Your Head.

  1. Increases Your Focus
  2. Reduces Stress
  3. Strengthens Shoulders and Upper Arms
  4. Helps with Fluid Retention
  5. Develops Core Strength
  6. Gives You a Free Facelift
  7. Improves Your Circulation
  8. Improves Digestion
  9. It’ll Make You Happy
  10. It’s Empowering
  11. Impress Your Friends

On my first attempt in years, I started with a pillow and hands flat on the floor, placed the top of my head on the pillow and my knees atop my elbows. Since I was in the middle of the floor, I held the pose for about ten seconds without extending my legs. This was before I Googled benefits. Based on what I read about fluid retention and core strength, I moved my pillow next to a wall beside the couch. With the top of my head on the pillow, I walked my feet up the side of the couch and allowed my heels to rest on the wall. I counted to ten and then used the couch to assist in returning my feet to the ground. I might add that I felt empowered and focused, happy and not a bit stressed.

On another day, I Googled—proper headstand. YogiApproved.com listed more benefits such as stimulation of the pineal gland, hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which causes the other endocrine glands to coordinate and function better—as well as improved condition of the brain, eyes, and ears by the increased blood pressure. This website recommended not practicing against the wall lest you use the wrong muscles.

And so I set out to stand on my head properly. This time I laid down my neglected yoga mat. As recommended, I brought my hands together and interlaced my fingers, “making a basket,” with forearms flat on the floor in a triangle shape. Then I placed my head on the floor with the back of my head in my cupped hands. Here, I departed from the steps listed by YogiApproved.Com and used my ottoman to help lift first one leg and then the other into a perpendicular position. And you know what? I am stronger than I realized and maybe a little feisty like my Granny.   

I appreciate you for reading my A-Z Challenge post today. After a year at home, I wanted to mix it all up a bit and thought you my like a few suggestions. This April, I’m sticking to a theme of action: mental, physical, and spiritual, things I might already do or haven’t attempted in years or maybe never. You know what else I’m doing this month? Click here to see: AbstainBalletCartwheelDevoteEncourage, Forgive, Google.

Ballet?

Ballet. Technically a noun, a verb in theory.

Photo by Luis Gallegos Alvarez on Pexels.com

I danced from age three at Ada B. Coons, School of Dance, and then with a series of teachers until my first year as a modern dance major at the University of Oklahoma. All of that seems eons ago. These days I sometimes dance in my living room. Before the lockdown last March, I thought about finding a class for adults. Just recently, the idea of virtual classes occurred to me. My point (no pun intended)—ballet might not be your thing, but the world wide web has so many things. Carpe diem.

When I decided to take some extra action this April, I Googled—ballet lessons youtube. I looked no further than the video from the Royal Academy for Dance at Home. Just over seventeen minutes, this lesson sounded perfect for a fifty-one-year-old woman, who hadn’t done a single plié in years. Instructor Sarah Platt coached me through a warm-up and shared tips on posture and pliés before a cooldown complete with eyelash batting practice. Now I have eight more classes to try. By the way, these classes are targeted at the 55+ crowd. Lesson number two includes tendus and battements glisse. Lesson three—ronde de jambs and port de bras. Lessons four through nine—new sequences.

Thanks so much for reading today. For this April’s A-Z Challenge, I hope to stick to a theme of action—I’m thinking both mental and physical, continued current activities, those of days gone by, and possibly a few never attempted. You might not want to try this at home. Then again, maybe you do.

On Life and Writing

This past week, I googled Dr. Wayne Dyer quotes. If you ever need inspiration, he is an amazing go-to. Anyway, while scrolling, this one spoke to me:

We tend to pity ourselves when we perceive that fate is against us. I know a person whose son battles a severe brain illness, and her house flooded from a hurricane a few years ago. Recently her mom died, and just a month later her dog died. I understand how she might say, “Poor me.” A person can dwell on those thoughts or reframe them. “We are alive. My home has been rebuilt. My memories bring comfort and joy, and I am blessed to have them.”

Both Dr. Wayne Dyer and William Wordsworth proclaim the ability to create our own realities—through thoughts and intentions. How encouraging is that idea when it comes to our writing?

We can create our thoughts: “I am a writer. I am good. I am improving.”

Our thoughts can create our intentions: “I’m going to read at least three books a month with the goal of improving my writing, and each weekday I’m going to practice writing and check in with my writing group.” Our intentions create our reality. Little by little, in the same way that Wordsworth set out one summer with the intention of crossing the Alps. He didn’t even realize he accomplished his goal. He just had the thought and showed up and put one foot in front of the other. In the words of my friend Narayan Kaudinya—

Self-pity will inevitably sneak up, self-kindness is a practice, and I know what Dr. Wayne would say—

Three Minutes with Denise

I love new beginnings—the opportunity to start over—to get my mind right. May March bring you joy, fulfillment, perspective, and hope.

A few weeks ago when I stayed with my daughter in Dallas, my bestie Denise let me do some of Lauren’s laundry at her house, which was awesome. Even better, what comes next. Our conversation started like this. “Blah, blah, blah…I’m angry,” I said.

She sat in her chair beside me, listened to my woes, and said, “Do you know where your thoughts are when you’re angry?”

I thought for a moment and said, “The past?”

And she nodded her beautiful face up and down and launched into some sound advice.

I said, “Wait, could I video this?”

Denise coaches golf. And for me, life. She should have her own YouTube channel. Our backstory goes like this—I crashed her birthday party when she turned five. I went uninvited with another friend. That’s how we met. The year was 1975. Later, we shared homerooms—first, second, and third grade. I was always happy to see Denise’s name on the list for my class. Flash forward through twelve years of school, and then I didn’t see her for almost twenty years. We became besties closer to age 40 when we realized we lived within twenty minutes of each other. There’s something about having friends who know exactly where you are from, and I’m just lucky to have a few of those.

Ramona Lives Her Life

Last weekend Kody and I masked up for an event at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston called The Marzio Years. Peter C. Marzio was the museum’s longest-serving director from 1982-2010, and the exhibition celebrates his thirty years of acquisitions.

At the museum entrance, an attendant took our temperature from an eight-foot distance with a device that looked like a camera. I’m not sure how that worked, but I didn’t ask questions. We were deemed good to go. Kody and I spent some time with Munch and O’Keefe, Pollock and Picasso, Rembrandt and Rothko. We saw Warhol, too.

Marzio helped found the MFAH International Center for the Arts of the Americas. He expanded African-American, Texan, and Latino art collections. When I visit the art museum, my goal is to really see one piece. Of course, I’ll see more, but I wait for the one that sees me. The one piece that will see me and speak. And da dum, da duh—this is she:

Ramona vive su vida (Ramona Lives Her Life), 1963

According to the museum plaque, Ramona Lives Her Life is one of the most iconic prints of the Ramona series. Argentinean Antonio Berni’s “xylo-collage” technique earned him the acclaim of international critics. Berni glued and collaged elements from Ramona’s everyday life—lace, machine parts, discarded gears and other industrial refuse—onto the woodblock print. This method gives his work an elaborate texture and relief.

I thought about Ramona…and me…and you…We are textured people. With interwoven fibers and elements. With distinctive qualities. Ramona in all of her texture reminded me to live my life. In these days of COVID, life looks different for us based on our qualities. As an introvert, I’m okay living my life at home. School is my life for now. I read books, and I’m writing one, too. I enjoy this time. School is online. Distanced. I walk outside most days. Distanced. I notice the squirrels fattening up. Do squirrels always size up in the fall? I’ve never noticed. The sun sparkles in the leaves at the tops of the trees. I take pleasure in these observations. I try to stay connected with my friends and family by text and phone. From a distance. Our conversations weave us together. These interwoven fibers make us stronger.

Sometimes I find myself surrounded by drama. That happens in families. I usually find myself able to distance from drama, except when it comes to my kids. With mental illness in the family, I’m not at liberty to give ultimatums. I mean, of course, I could. But I don’t want to be the mother who gives up. In my experience, there is no reasoning with brain disorders. Sometimes I feel like I’ve hit my drama quotient, like I just can’t share any more ridiculous stories, even with my closest friends. My introverted self keeps the drama concealed until I feel I might be breaking. How many times have I glued my own pieces back together? Then suddenly, I run into a piece of art called Ramona Lives Her Life. Ramona whispers directly to my heart, “Girl, go live your life.” I rub my hands together and feel their texture. Age. Experience. Ramona says, “You’ve made sacrifices your whole life. Take care of yourself, and speak your truth.” I allow these ideas to sink in. There is silence. I think of my own lace. My own machine parts. Ramona speaks again, “Your fibers are strong. You can handle whatever comes your way, and you inspire others to do the same. Be courageous, and do you.”   

Hoping you’re having a really good day!

Last Sunday morning, my neighbor and I were walking toward each other in the street. He walked south. I walked north. I don’t know this neighbor, but I see him around. I know which house is his. I think I talked to him once before on the night of the hurricane three years ago when a group of my neighbors gathered right in front of my house to watch the water rise. That was a dark night. Literally. The streetlights had gone out, and the sky poured buckets. He said, “I’ve lived here since 1960. I’ve never seen anything like this.” I have some images seared in my memory from that night and one of him walking away, back to his house, shaking his head.

Last Sunday as we approached each other, I took my headphones off. Maybe I left an earbud in my right ear. Anyway, I didn’t exactly hear what he said. I just sort of felt like he said, “Have a good day!”

I slowed my pace to a stop, nodded at him, and said, “You have a good day.”

This man is eighty something I’m guessing. Because he has white hair and looks older than my dad, who doesn’t look eighty at all, however eighty looks. Age aside, the man said again, what I thought was, “Have a good day!”

I smiled, feeling awkward, and just repeated, “You have a good day!”

Then he laughed out loud, slowed his statement, and enunciated each word. “No. You have a good gait.”

Then I slapped my knee and laughed because no one had ever complimented my gait. “My daddy always told me to stand up straight,” I said. I never call my dad “Daddy,” but for whatever reason that’s what I said.

“He must have been military,” he said.

“No, just short.” I smiled at my own bad joke. This man was not much taller than me, and I’m 5′ 4″.

“I’m short, too,” he said.

I don’t know if you just had to be there, but I’m still tickled about the exchange. At the end of our conversation we officially wished each other a good day.

Later in the week, Friday, to be exact. I received an audio message via Instagram from my blogger friend Eliza who lives across the pond. She went out of her way to use her voice to say, “Hoping you’re having a really good day!” Again, I was tickled. By her beautiful British accent and just by the kindness. So much that I taught myself how to use my Instagram microphone and started wishing my friends and family really good days. And in this way, I entertained myself without making phone calls, and hopefully I brightened somebody else’s day.

Words have power.

What a Person Can Do with Two Feet

Back in July, Monday the 13th to be exact, I made a friend while walking in my neighborhood. I remember the date because the previous Friday I had a doctor’s appointment, and I saw an unfamiliar and frightening number on the scale. Though I had walked every day in April, I nursed an injury in May, and then June and July rolled around. Summers in Houston are a sweaty hot mess. My walking habit suffered leading up to my visit with Dr. Fong. On July 13th, I resolved to walk every day and make headway on my weight situation.

I don’t remember how the conversation started. She probably said something like, “Do you walk every day?” or “Is this your house?” That morning around 7:30, we stood sweating on the street near my driveway, and she asked me if I wanted to walk with her the following day. I swear, God places people in my life. I needed some accountability.

“Okay,” I said.

“6:30?” she said.

“Um, that’s a little early for me,” I said. I had just met this woman. Since I’m not currently working, I couldn’t remember the last time I had set my alarm.  

“6:40?” she said. “I have a five-year-old. I have to be back before my husband leaves for work.”

“Okay,” I said. “I will try. My name is Crystal.”

“My name is Rosa. See you tomorrow,” she said. From my house she walked north to her home at the opposite end of our street.

Rosa is my age, fiftyish. With a five-year-old. Her oldest is thirty-three. Another one, twenty-eight. Another, twenty-one. And a stepson eighteen. Can you imagine? She moved to Houston from Mexico, a child bride at seventeen. She knew NO English, and she had babies in this country with no other family except for her husband’s brother. For the next thirteen years, she did not learn the language, and her husband was a drunk and had a girlfriend in Mexico. Pregnant with her third child, Rosa realized she held the future in her own hands.

I’m not sure of all the details. Rosa and I have a slight language barrier. But this I know. She divorced him and chose to stand on her own two feet in the USA with no other family here. She sucked it up. She had to be strong for her kids, and the United States held opportunities. She took a job cleaning while her older kids Cesar and Jackie were in school, and she carried her baby Kimberly with her to work. Rosa attended classes to learn English, and she studied to become a citizen. She told me about driving round trip from Houston to Iowa and back in a car with her children and parents visiting from Mexico. Throughout the vacation, she listened to CD’s in English to help her prepare for the citizenship test. Her dad said, “Do you know what they’re saying?” He spoke in Spanish, of course.

And Rosa shook her head and said, “No.” The same word in either language. Rosa kept trying and kept taking classes, and her English improved. She supported herself and her kids with no help from anyone. Then, she passed her citizenship test. In English, of course. 

Eventually, Rosa remarried. Her husband has a successful painting business, and Rosa accounts for the money. She owns and leases a couple of condominiums. She makes home-made tortillas every week. Flour one day. Corn on another. She has lunch on the table for her husband at noon, and supper on the table by 6:30. Since I’ve known her, Rosa had some sort of electrical problem at her house, and she fixed it herself by Googling help. She takes an online upholstery class, online nutrition, and online cake decorating. And last week for Independence Day in Mexico, she cooked enchiladas and posole and shared with me and my family.

Meanwhile, I sit on my couch and read books and write words and let my husband cook for me. I know I’m spoiled and a little complacent. I’ve never had to work that hard in my life. Is this white privilege? You better believe—Rosa inspires me.

Since it’s dark now at 6:30 in the morning, Rosa and I have moved our walks to a beautiful little park with a walking path and lights. She picks me up in her Infinity QX something at 6:15, and we drive a short distance to walk and watch the sunrise. I failed to mention that we run some. If she can run, so can I. Even if I have never claimed to be a runner, I decided it’s not too late to give it a try. Like I said, she inspires me.

Sometimes Rosa’s daughter Kimberly comes along for the workout. Now Kimberly is a real-deal runner. Anyway, last Friday Kimberly was in the car, Rosa and I chatted, and Kimberly said, “I don’t know how you can understand what she is saying.”

I said, “I just understand about every fourth word and somehow get the gist of it.” I was exaggerating. Kimberly and I laughed.

Then she translated for her mother in Spanish, and we all laughed.

“Seriously,” I said. “I just listen and try to understand.”

And do you know what I understand most of all? Good energy.

Some of you might have noticed
I left out the Monday Re-Make.
I had an idea and scratched it—
“Jolene”
by Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus.
I like the song and both versions,
but I never understood the woman
who fought so hard for her cheating husband.
I’ve officially concluded the Monday Re-Make Series.
Sometimes, life calls for a new song entirely.

That Crazy Thing

That crazy thing
I thought might happen
did not,
and that’s okay.
For 2020, I have enough.
Who needs extra
cray cray?
 
But the possibility
taught me,
in the way
possibilities do,
that you never know
until you try.
And so on to the next—
as opportunities arise.
 
Champions adjust—
my new mantra,
when things don’t go
my way.
And so I adjust—
my thoughts and plans,
my words and days.

U is for Untamed

When people ask my opinion on must-reads, Glennon Doyle’s memoir, Love Warrior makes my list. It’s the inspiring story of a woman who has overcome bulimia and alcoholism and then faces her husband’s infidelity. It’s about the healing process and finding trust in self. Love Warrior is one of those books that I marked up, and as promised, it changed my life.

Since 2016, I waited patiently for Glennon’s next memoir Untamed. I follow her on Instagram, so I knew the premise to come. My friend of forty-years Pamela follows her, too, and mailed me a copy. When the book arrived, I pulled a yellow highlighter from the kitchen-miscellaneous drawer and started reading and highlighting. 

Between memoirs, Glennon fell in love with a woman—Abby Wambach, soccer icon, speaker, New York Times bestselling author, and activist for equality and inclusion. Untamed tells their story and launches into more activism—racial justice, refugee rights, and women’s ability to live and work without the threat of sexual harassment and violence. At times, it feels preachy. I like Glennon most when she sticks to her story. Regardless, she is insightful and funny, her relationship with Abby loving and faithful, and her truths universal: 

 #1

“In the past eighteen years, I have learned two things about pain.

First: I can feel everything and survive. What I thought would kill me, didn’t. Every time I said to myself: I can’t take this anymore—I was wrong…

Second: I can use pain to become. I am here to keep becoming truer, more beautiful versions of myself again and again forever” (51).

#2

“There is a life meant for you that is truer than the one you’re living. But in order to have it, you will have to forge it yourself. You will have to create on the outside what you are imagining on the inside. Only you can bring it forth” (64).

#3

“A few years ago, Alicia Keys announced to the world that she was done wearing makeup. She said, ‘I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles…Nothing.’

A while later I read an interview with Adam Levine. He said that while they were filming a show together, he poked his head into Alicia Keys’s dressing room. She had her back to him, and she was leaning into the mirror, putting on lipstick.

He smiled and said, ‘Oh, I thought Alicia doesn’t wear makeup.’

She turned around, looked at him, lipstick in her hand. She said, ‘I do what the fuck I want’” (101).

#4

“I have spent the last decade of my life listening to women talk about what they most desire. This is what women tell me they want:

  • I want a minute to take a deep breath.
  • I want rest, peace, passion.
  • I want good food and true, wild, intimate sex.
  • I want relationships with no lies.
  • I want to be comfortable in my own skin.
  • I want to be seen, to be loved.
  • I want joy and safety for my children and for everyone else’s children.
  • I want justice for all.
  • I want help, community, connection.
  • I want to be forgiven, and I want to finally forgive.
  • I want enough money and power to stop feeling afraid.
  • I want to find my purpose down here and live it out fully.
  • I want to look at the news and see less pain, more love.
  • I want to look at the people in my life and really see them and love them.
  • I want to look in the mirror and really see myself and love myself.
  • I want to feel alive (121).

#5

“I will never promise to be this way or that way, I will only promise to show up, as I am, wherever I am. That’s it, and that’s all. People will like me or not, but being liked is not my One Thing; integrity is. So I must live and tell my truth. Folks will come around or quit coming around. Either way: lovely. Anything or anyone I could lose by telling the truth was never mine anyway” (200).

#6

“I think of the words of Dr. Maya Angelou: ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better’” (219).

#7

“After a decade of listening to women, I’m convinced that our deepest fears are:

  1. Living without ever finding our purpose
  2. Dying without ever finding our true belonging” (267).

#8

“I’m a clinically depressed inspirational speaker. I am a diagnosed anxious person whose main job is to convince people that everything’s okay. Please note that if I can be these things, anyone can be anything” (275).

#9

“I’ll tell you this: The braver I am, the luckier I get” (296).

#10

“Glennon shows us the clearest meaning of ‘To thine own self be true.’ It’s as if she reached into her heart, captured the raw emotions there and translated them into words that anyone who’s ever known pain or shame—in other words, every human on the planet—can relate to” (Oprah Winfrey, Untamed book cover).

Today I’m thankful for the Untamed perspective, the ability to make up my own mind, and a platform to pass along my thoughts. Next book—Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient.

Thank U for visiting my A-Z blogging challenge. If U stumbled onto my post by chance today, I’ve been sticking to a theme of gratitude this month and working my way through the alphabet. Past posts are linked below 😊:

A is for Apple and B is for Boozer and C is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5 and D is for Dad and E is for Epiphany and F is for Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope and G is for Great _______ and H is for Hatbox and Honeysuckle and I for an I and J is for Jesus and K is for Kody and L is for the Lovely Lauren and M is for the Marvelous Misti and a Dirty Martini and N is for the Numbers and O is for the Oversized Owl and P—Prayer and My Grandmother’s Pearls and R is for Ripples Colliding and S is for Siblings and T is for the Tomlinsons

A to Z Challenge