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A little of this, a little of that, and a whole lot of blah blah blah....

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Happy Birthday, Janet Blustein!

Janet "Nana" & Harry "Poppa" Blustein -- wedding photo, 1945

If my beloved Nana were still alive, today would be her 90th birthday. She was born on Tuesday, May the 3rd of 1921 and passed away nearly three years ago on September 3rd. I was truly blessed to have Nana physically in this world for the first 23 years of my life and her memory continues to be a blessing as I strive to become the woman today she knew I already was long before I'd ever come to accept or understand that.
Nana was not a fan of most technology. I believe she and my late grandfather, whom I affectionately call Poppa, maxed out on their attempts to keep up with technological advances around 1974. That being said, a memorial site was made in her honor when she passed away. (I can hear it now: "Nu, how they sit around all day in front of that damn computer! Always with the "dot-coms!" Boy how she hated everything ending with a ".com!") Nonetheless, with her notorious Queens accent playing nostalgically like a broken record in the background, I revisited the memorial site today and will lovingly dedicate this blog post to Nana's memory.

I wrote the following after her passing in 2008:
Nana, when I was little, you often told me I knew everything. "That Michelle, she knows everything," you'd say in your thick New York accent. But I now see how much of what I know comes from you, and that is a gift you've left to me, my sister and cousins, my father, and my uncle. You taught me how to enjoy a five-star meal, and then declare "I've had better." You subsequently taught me how to order the cheapest item on the menu, and thus be justified in the previous statement. But in all seriousness, you taught me about love. How to give of myself fearlessly, without expectations. Your love for Poppa was truly the love of a century. Your love for your sons was unconditional. Your love for your grandchildren was unfaltering. You taught me to love myself, and when I ponder over how I will overcome this loss, I remind myself of the your greatest lesson: "That Michelle, she knows everything!

Time has passed and in its typical way has softened the sharp ache that was left by my Nana's departure. Every so often on a Sunday morning, I will sip my coffee and think to myself "I should call and see how Nana is doing," immediately after which I am reminded that even with all of our technological advancements, my Blackberry does not currently have an app for communication to Heaven. Better yet, though, I don't need an app for that-- I have a direct connection through prayer, and I can talk with Nana any time with no hidden fees or roaming charges!
So today I sit in a local cafe, sipping a mocha I paid $3.00 for (Nana would HATE that) and eating a celebratory treat. It is visibly blustery outside and threatening to rain, but the trees have buds finally and the promise of Spring is around me. I indulge in a quiet moment of reflection as I write. What would Nana think of me today? Sure, she kvelled about my wisdom and talents--doesn't every grandmother do that? But I think I understand even more today what she meant when telling the world that her 3-year-old, 13-year-old, or 23-year-old granddaughter, Michelle, "knows everything," over and over again. She meant that everything I need to survive and thrive in this life is within and around me--all I need to do is reach out with open arms and accept this abundance. If you ever wanted to know a woman with the innate ability to live, love and laugh with open arms and acceptance, it was my Nana. Happy 90th; may your memory be blessing today and always.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Very Merry Month of May!

Alas, May has arrived--and with it, Spokane's third warm day (high temperatures reaching 60 degrees). Some much-needed removal of very large weeds and dandelions in one of my front yard plots revealed this very first tulip nearing full bloom. The others are all standing strong against April's showers, snow, sleet, hail and massive winds--but this one is so close to opening that it is taking all my willpower to be indoors and not on all fours in my front yard giving it the ol' stare down until it opens up!

I recently joined a gym a couple blocks away from my house. The act of intentionally moving my body has been a source of pleasure as well as a source of healing as I work to regain my strength, balance and flexibility. I continue to face the joys, triumphs and occasional tribulations of adjusting to C-PAP therapy to treat my obstructive sleep apnea. I try to balance my need to remain positive and focused with the equally important need to remain realistic and honest about how that is going. Like that single tulip about to bloom, I am reminded moment by moment that wherever you are, you're here AND that's alright! Being here, wherever that may be, is enough in this moment and my eye is very much on the prize--a full and abundant life of peace and wellness. One thing I've greatly enjoyed about my gym membership is that I've been able to pack up my mat and take my home Yoga practice to a class setting.
It has been a very long time since I've taken a Yoga class. Yoga has an amazing power to connect my mind and spirit to my body, and when you throw in a bunch of other bodies to that mix, the energy of the mind and spirit seems to increase tenfold. One challenge I faced immediately, which I did not anticipate, was my own sense of competitiveness and insecurity. At home, my focus is always on alignment and this gift of time, breath and movement I am giving to myself. I did not expect to find my thoughts shift as much as they did upon going through my first class. I was not only comparing myself to the other bodies in the room, but rather comparing what I used to be able to do to what those other bodies were doing. At the end of my first session, the instructor played a song and talked about "The Art of Letting Go." I found myself crying in corpse pose, but resisted the urge to leave and breathed through it. I thought more and more about what that means--this art of letting go...
...And I came to realize, letting go is not about being out of control. It is about releasing the burden of needing to be in control all of the time.
I went back to a Yoga class today--a longer, more challenging class. At first, I found my thoughts drifting to that negative space again, but I came back to my breath, and to the amazing entity that is my body in healing. As soon as I let go of the need to be where I am not, I reveled in the beauty of being where I am. Even 3 months ago, I was unable to hold still. My body moved and twitched on its own accord. I often fell down when standing or walking. Today, in this moment, I am still. I am standing and balancing on one foot with my other leg and arms raised in Warrior III pose!
And so, for my Asana of the Month of May, I will be focusing on the three-tiered series of Warrior Poses or Virabhadrasana. These poses involve a wide and open, but firmly rooted stance. I see and feel in this pose just how vital it is to balance being both firmly grounded and open to change--at whatever pace that happens to occur. Wherever you are, you are here and in this moment that is more than good enough!