For as long as I can remember, I have been diligent about storing all my files, photos, and records electronically. Spreadsheets and syllabi related to my yoga studio work, playlists and class sequences from eight years of teaching, my decade-long speechwriting portfolio, photos dating back to the beginning of my husband's and my courtship, and journals and writing projects from as far back as college were locked safely into a thumbdrive I carried with me almost constantly.
Over the years my husband, among others, urged me to back up the drive on a cloud or other device just in case... It wasn't that I didn't know it was a good idea or an obvious safeguard, I just never got around to it. And then one sunny afternoon as I typed away on the laptop resting on my knees, the inevitable happened: as I reached for my water, the computer slid from my lap onto the floor, landing squarely on the drive and snapping it in half.
In those few seconds, the faces of every person who had urged me to save my work elsewhere paraded through my mind, and the mental catalogue of the documents I had lost caused my stomach to drop. I unplugged the now unreadable drive, put it back in my purse, and refused to acknowledge to myself - let alone admit to others - what happened.
Days later, when the shock subsided, I began to consider my options. Living in DC, there are, of course, professionals who specialize in data recovery, and I did my due diligence. But as much as the loss weighed down my heart, I couldn't justify the four figure investment required to bring the material back to life. Instead, I started over.
One by one, I have begun recreating the spreadsheets by combing through email exchanges and calendar notes. I have begged the forgiveness of friends and colleagues as I asked them to repeat the answers to scheduling questions or send previous versions of documents on which we collaborated.
While some things can be reconstructed, many are gone forever, and I have no choice but to let go. In yoga we talk about aparigraha - or non-attachment, but the concept has never felt so real. On the positive side, starting over is causing me to be more creative - I can't default to a class sequence I mapped out last year or cut and paste from a template on a writing project. I must instead create everything from a fresh perspective. While the process requires more work to accomplish each item on my to-do list, it is forcing me to live out of imagination rather than memory, and with every document I recreate or accept as lost and gone forever, I feel a renewed sense of peace.
Where can you admit defeat and let go? What can be made even better by starting over?
For the first 411 days of my daughter's life I spent one night away from her - a single 24 hour getaway to a nearby inn to celebrate a milestone birthday for my husband. Back then she was in the sleep-eat-sleep-eat-sleep-eat phase of life, largely unaware of her surroundings and unlikely to achieve any "firsts."
But last Friday, I left her once again - this time in the walking-talking-expressive-doing-something-new-every-hour phase of life - to meet my mother, aunts, and cousin for a weekend away. Two nights away, too far to drive, and once I boarded the outbound plane I knew it was too late to turn back. As the plane taxied down the runway I found myself at a bit of a loss: I wasn't concerned for her well-being in the more than capable hands of her father, but despite his indulgence of my repeated FaceTime and photo requests, I wouldn't have the constant reassurance of her smiles - or fusses - to know exactly how she was doing moment by moment. And if I didn't know how she was doing, how would I know how I was doing?
But from the moment my family greeted me at the airport, I knew I had made the right choice. For the next 48 hours, we filled our weekend with near-constant activity: morning yoga, bookstore browsing, exploring new neighborhoods, eating good food, enjoying even better champagne, laughing until our faces hurt, and taking about everything under the sun. My baby girl was never far from my mind, and I will always be her mama, but it was so special to spend a few days simply being a daughter, niece, cousin, and friend. The destination for next year's getaway is set, and I am already looking forward to it.
You don't have to go far - or stay long - to derive the benefits of traveling alone. Can you carve out a day - or even a few hours - to just be you? How can you step away from routine to connect with someone or something you love?
Over the past week I have shared resources for those facing infertility, as well as the family and friends who love and support them. As I mentioned yesterday, sharing your personal experience can be incredibly empowering for you, while also encouraging others who are traveling the same path.
If you are ready to share your story, send me a note. I would love to feature a variety of perspectives of women and men at various points along the infertility journey. Together we can help raise awareness and encourage one another along the way.
Sharing intimate details about your life and experiences can incredibly daunting. Unveiling personal information can leave you feeling vulnerable, making it seem easier - and safer - to keep things locked inside.
At the same time, however, sharing your story can be incredibly freeing. It can take away the power and fear of the challenges you face, and it can help you realize your circumstances are only a small part of your identity. Equally valuable, sharing your story can offer encouragement to others who are facing similar challenges.
A growing number of women - and men - are speaking out about their experiences with infertility. One such woman is Melinda Davis, the author of the Fresh Conceptions blog. Melinda is now the proud mama of a beautiful little girl, but if you start reading from the beginning of her blog, you will recognize the pain, doubts, and questions shared by everyone who has walked this path. Melinda speaks beautifully about her experience and the faith that guided her through it all. The positive outcome she found offers encouragement for everyone believing in a happy ending of their own.
Do you have a favorite blog/resource that offers support for those experiencing infertility? If so, share with other readers in the comments section below.
A few weeks ago a reader reached out for guidance about how to talk to a friend who was struggling to conceive. The reader is the proud mother of a healthy baby boy and felt conflicted about sharing her joy with a friend who wants to desperately to be a mother.
I know this reader is not alone in wondering how best to support a friend facing infertility. What I shared with her based on my own experience follows. I hope it will be helpful to others, as well…
This is a great - and extremely difficult - question... It depends so much on the person, as well as your relationship to him/her. Because you describe this woman as one of your closest friends, you have far more latitude than you may think. When my husband and I were in the midst of our struggle, a very dear friend became pregnant, and I was truly happy for her. I wanted to know about her pregnancy and how she was feeling because I cared about her and her family. At the same time, however, news of pregnancy among strangers added to the isolation I was feeling.
When it comes to talking about your son, let your friend take the lead. If she asks about him, don't hide your joy – your maternal bliss may be the encouragement she needs to make it through the day – or the next round of testing/procedures. At the same time, don't initiate conversations about him or other kiddos. Some days she may want to relate to you as a friend – not a mama.
Perhaps most importantly, be a safe place for her. I only shared our struggle with a small universe of people, and I was grateful when one of them would give me a venue to express what I was feeling without judgment. Ask your friend how she is doing, and really listen to the answers. Don't worry about having the “right” things to say or try to identify with what she is experiencing (e.g. "I know how hard it must be"), simply let her know you are grieving for her and there for her.
If you have any additional advice to offer, share it in the comments section below.
It will come as no surprise to readers of the New Beginnings blog that I believe yoga can play a role in healing (almost) anything that ails you. Infertility is no exception! As someone who struggled to become pregnant – and one who has studied the therapeutic benefits of the practice, I have experienced and seen firsthand how yoga can be an incredible help for women who are struggling to conceive and/or carry a baby to term.
Over the past few years I have led a number of workshops that brought together women in every stage of trying to conceive – from those at the beginning of the journey to those who have been struggling for years, and every level of yoga experience – from complete beginners to senior teachers. No matter their background, circumstances, or experiences, these women have benefited from coming together to learn from one another and facilitate the healing process.
While yoga cannot change one’s circumstances or guarantee fertility, the practice offers valuable tools for encouraging compassion toward one’s self and circumstances, creating an authentic sense of community with whom you can share your journey, and enhancing overall physical and mental health. If you live in the DC area, I invite you to join the next fertility yoga workshop series I am offering in June at Tranquil Space Studio.
If you live outside DC, I encourage you to reach out to studios in your area or explore the practice yourself through the many resources available.
Has yoga helped you or someone you know through the journey toward parenthood? Share your experience in the comments section below.
New Beginnings are on the mind of many people this week. In the Christian tradition, we celebrated Easter yesterday, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus and the new life he makes available to us all; concurrently Jews around the world are in the midst of observing Passover, reflecting on the exodus from slavery in Egypt to a new life of freedom; and in much of the country, blossoming trees and flowers remind us of spring and new life.
This week also offers the hope of new beginnings to the millions around the world who are suffering from infertility. Sunday marked the beginning of National Infertility Awareness week, and for this year’s theme the National Infertility Association has chosen, “resolve to know more.” In this spirit, I will offer posts throughout the week highlighting resources available to those suffering from infertility, as well as the friends and family who love and support them.
Perhaps the most well-known resource serving the infertility community is Resolve, the national infertility association. Established in 1974, Resolve is the only established, nationwide network with the goal of promoting reproductive health and ensuring access to all family building options for men and women experiencing infertility. From support groups to legislative advocacy efforts to awareness-building activities, Resolve is a one-stop-shop for infertility assistance. If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, I encourage you to visit the website to learn more about the resources available in your community.
I met Kelly Newsome during an advanced teacher training workshop and was immediately struck by her confident presence and positive energy. I have followed the development of her Ritual Care Company with great interest and was curious to hear how she transitioned from practicing law to teaching yoga and serving as a doula to creating a holistic self-care service serving professional women.
I am pleased to share her story in our Trailblazers interview series. Read on...
As I shared last month, I am afraid of handstand. Some inversions and arm balances have come easily - others have become accessible over time - but this pesky pose presents the first true block in my nearly 15 years of asana practice.
I have created all manner of excuses to avoid even attempting the pose unassisted: it would be irresponsible to throw myself upside down and risk clobbering the yogi next to me...I need the guidance of an experienced teacher who knows my practice...I should wait until my tweaky right wrist feels better...
And with one thoughtful gift, the excuses disappeared: For my birthday I was given a private yoga session with a long-time mentor, and I knew exactly what I needed to do.
While I would love to tell you I nailed the pose and have overcome my fear once and for all, it wouldn't be the truth. We approached it from many angles, and I tilted and toppled and probably looked quite foolish, but I tried it again and again and gained the confidence to press on.
At the end of our session, my teacher remarked that we had explored many paths, and in doing so, alleviated a certain measure of fear. When we identify only one route to a destination, a single roadblock can generate panic, thus ending our journey. But with a variety of options, when one road ends, we can explore another, and the journey continues.
What goals have been elusive for you? Can you identify alternative pathways to get there? Can you commit to the journey rather than the destination?
In my capacity as a yoga teacher trainer, I have met incredible women and men who have inspired me with their passion to help others. This year I have the opportunity to serve as a mentor to Dorien Vissers, a student in the Advanced Teacher Training Program at Tranquil Space Studio, who has a heart for those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease. She has spent the past year researching how yoga can benefit these individuals and their caregivers, and will present her findings in a workshop on May 18.
If you or someone you know is facing Alzheimer's, I encourage you to join us for this insightful offering. Registration is available online.