Feet first

In yoga class today, I tried to do a handstand.

No. I tried the thing you were supposed to do if you couldn’t manage a handstand. Then I tried the thing for people who can’t manage the substitute.

I couldn’t do any of them. But I tried a few times, attempting to push away the thoughts about how ridiculous I looked. When the disabled war veteran keeps falling in that inspirational yoga video, it’s … inspiring. When I do it, not so much.

“Never Give Up,” the video caption says.

At this moment in my life, that’s a complicated message. I’m trying to break my dependency on measurable goals and achievements. I’m trying to accept myself in my current, unimproved state. If “Never Give Up” means “Never Be Satisfied With Where You Are In Life,” then it is the wrong slogan for me.

But I do have goals. One goal is to try things out, even when I’m afraid of them. (Like this whole blog, and the Mary Oliver Challenge itself.)

A related goal is not to stop trying just because the first attempt fails. So in class today, when I put my hands on the floor and my feet against the wall and they slid right back down, I tried again, and again, and again.

It didn’t get easier. I didn’t see any improvement. I may never achieve a handstand, and I’m not setting that goal. But if I’m in a class where handstands are on the agenda, I’ll give it another shot. I might give up on specific goals. But I won’t give up on myself.

What is the Mary Oliver Challenge? Glad you asked! You can read about it here.

Blitzing the list: why Getting Stuff Done does not get the job done

Today is the first full-fledged day of the Mary Oliver Challenge, and it is a challenge. My soft animal is feeling the sharp, pointy teeth and claws of anxiety. The challenge is to grapple with that feeling instead of letting it take over or pushing it into a corner where it will lurk, glaring at me and waiting to pounce again.

My last day of work was Tuesday. Wednesday, we left for vacation. Last night, after we returned, I immediately began to feel the pressure of Getting Stuff Done. I unpacked from our trip and started the laundry. Then I set aside time to write in my journal. There was so much else to Get Done: emails, household chores, putting away the stuff I brought home from work and dumped on my dresser last week. Plus things I wanted to do, including writing a blog post and responding to friends who gave me such kind, supportive feedback on the first post. (If you are one of those friends: thank you! I haven’t forgotten you.)

But I reminded myself: there will always be Stuff To Do. I have to learn to live with that. And I made two resolutions for the next day: I would not stress out over chores, and I would not stress out over whether to go to the $5 yoga class that meets downtown on Mondays.

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