Tag Archives: yoga

Yoga and Infertility

one of my favorite views
(the ceiling at Strala Yoga; one of my favorite views)

It took me thirteen years to get pregnant. I don’t talk a lot about my infertility, because somewhere during those thirteen years, I decided to not let it define me or my life. I didn’t want to sit around at home pining for a child while allowing other opportunities to slip away. And I certainly didn’t want to be seen that way by the world; I didn’t want to be known for what I did not have–I wanted to be known for what I could do and what I’d done.

I mean, there were plenty of days in there where I would draw the curtains in my bedroom, crawl into my bed, and cry for hours on end, grieving a life I didn’t have. I would be very happy for my pregnant friends, but found baby showers unbearable, so I stopped going. And I’d be very happy for my pregnant friends, but simultaneously found their round pregnant bellies torturous. But for the most part, I kept my grief very private, for better and for worse, to the point where some people were very surprised to learn I wanted children.

We bought our home in Berkeley with the intention of having children, many children. Over the years, the extra bedrooms became guest rooms and and an office. Still, the aura of empty bedrooms never escaped me.

In some fit of optimism, I decided early on that the first child I’d hold in my arms was going to be my own, so for many many years I politely declined holding people’s babies. Eventually, I wondered if I should go ahead and hold a baby, because maybe I’d never get to hold my own. But by then, very few people offered up their babies to me. And the significance of the act had become quite large–whose baby? And what would that act signify? Would that mean I’d totally given up? And uh, yah. Awkward.

Yah, it got complicated.

At one point, I picked up my head and made a concerted effort to “do what people with kids cannot do.” That meant that when we were asked to move to New York City, we immediately (okay not immediately, but twenty-four hours later) said yes, we would. (Plus hello? New York!) We picked up and moved within two months, wending our way across the country (through a blizzard in Arizona!) in a MINI Cooper with two geriatric wiener dogs in the back. We lived a bicoastal life. We flew back and forth. These were things that people with kids could not do.

And then–we got pregnant.

I wrote a little essay late in my pregnancy on my infertility and its intersection with yoga for my friend and yoga instructor, Tara Stiles. I met her completely by chance at her yoga studio Strala Yoga. Yoga with Tara changed my life. Tara read this essay at a conference on infertility (Fertility Planit) at which she was a keynote speaker.

If you want to hear it, Tara’s presentation is up at MindBodyGreen; she begins reading my essay at the 24:30 mark.

The essay also speaks to my lifelong/ongoing body issues.

And here is my essay if you would prefer to read it:

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Filed under Life, Pregnancy, The Personal

Perseveration and Perseverance and the Novel

Treasure Hunt: morning coffee + milk

I am drowning today. I woke up feeling awful about my novel. Like wondering-why-I’m-even-doing-this awful. And I felt even more hideous knowing that I’d continue to re-write despite my despondence. And yet even more horrific because then of course all this self-doubt was a massive waste of time, keeping me from said novel-rewrite.

On these self-doubting occasions, I feel like my novel is an act of perseveration–of crazy unfulfilling repetition that speaks to the adage, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

That line speaks not to perseverance but to perseveration, which is an actual psychological term describing unhealthy behavior repetition.

There’s a difference between perseveration and perseverance. Perseverance, which is steady persistence (and a novel-writing virtue) towards a goal despite obstacles and discouragement has value in the effort whereas perseveration recreates old, unresolved issues (i.e., like how someone who felt left out in junior high then ends up, in her adult life, trying to connect with people who reject her–or at its simplest, repetition of spoken phrases).

It’s when I fail to see value in the process and effort, that I feel like writing this novel is an act of insanity.

One of the most hurtful things someone has ever said to me (other than the time someone told me, “My husband will not be happy if I get fat–but your husband doesn’t seem to care!”) is “Are you still working on that novel? Finish it already.” That a novel is solely about a finished product is false–that a novel’s value is positioned solely in its finished product is daunting and stomach-turning, at least for someone in the thicket of revision.

And yet, because of this end goal, I push. I push.

And sometimes, it’s the pushing that is the wrong thing to do with my novel-in-progress.

I’ve taken up yoga in the past year or so. After living in yoga-infused-Berkeley for decades and scoffing at the practice, I found a yoga instructor and studio in Tara Stiles and Strala Yoga in NYC that did not make me feel alienated or like I landed on Mars or had me speaking a foreign language in class.

I learned that yoga isn’t about pushing. It’s about being in the moment, and connecting with your breath and going with the ease. That anything is possible. That I can do crow and when I did crow, the moment felt utterly effortless and beautiful and marvelous. That it happened like magic one day. That getting to crow and holding crow meant staying very much in the present moment. That pushing to do crow was the very thing that made me topple.

It is hard to fight self doubt. Maybe it might be better to cave into it and process the feelings that self doubt brings. Either way, I thought that by writing about my self doubt and defining the creature that embodies it in my life today, I’ll know better how to manage it.

That I am pushing to “finish” my novel is what stalls me–that I fail to see value in the process and the present moment of revision is what pushes me to doubt myself.

So I downloaded my yoga class playlist and I’m writing to it this morning, so that what I learn in yoga can infuse me as a writer today. No pushing. Just be. Write the words. Breathe. Listen to my novel. Listen to me. Allow myself to cry. So that I can amaze myself.

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Filed under Novel, Revision, The Personal, Writing

My Bottom Line on Weight Loss

Strrrripes!

I want to do a blog post on how I lost 20 pounds (a few of you have asked how I did it), but part of me is so disgusted by the glorification of weight loss that I discard the blog post every time. I just want to tell people to love their body and eat whatever they want, whenever they want, and stop when not hungry, and eat when hungry. And move a little. Anything that you can do–walking is great for me. Buy a fitbit monitor and set a walking goal each day, whether it’s 3,000 steps or 10K steps. Keep moving. Do yoga. (I love yoga with Tara Stiles, an experience that has been life-changing). Breathe. Maybe you’ll lose 5 pounds, maybe you’ll lose 50 pounds. Maybe it will take a few weeks, or a year, or two years. It doesn’t matter. Be good to yourself.

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Filed under Life, The Personal

2011 Have Done List

Grass Lake

At the beginning of 2011, I made a To Do List for the year.

It’s a list that in retrospect, was a means to an end–a framework, so to speak, that in no way was confined to itself. And to that end, the framework made for an amazing year.

And it was a list that enlightened me about novel-writing.

There is this thing about lists, framework, or  scaffolding; the interstitial spaces between the items–the journey, the process and the detours between milestones are the things that make the list come alive, just as surprises and detours make a novel.

You can outline and plan a novel–but it’s those moments as a writer when you are delighted and surprised by a sudden discovery or event or detour that will in turn surprise and delight your reader, that makes your novel sing. Those are the moments I live for, and the moments for which I write.

My to-do list was flawed and those flaws enlightened me, too. There were items on the list I told myself to do “everyday”; I couldn’t check these items off until all 365 days had passed, and then of course, it was unlikely I would do any certain thing “everyday.” So I left them unchecked. This helped me learn the ways in which I set unrealistic expectations of myself.

There were items I didn’t achieve, but so many amazing things unplanned and offlist. I’m thankful for all the wonderful and unexpected things that happened. They make a life.

Click on through to the jump for my 2011 in review…(it’s long. I figure some people write their Annual Reviews in their holiday cards…I write them on my blog).

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Filed under Life, The Personal