Getting Back Into The Groove

My most successful years in sales were when I was running 2-3 times a week and practicing Ashtanga Yoga 2 times a week. I maintained that schedule for several years. And loved it.

But I totally abandoned both practices after accepting a super-high-stress, super-high-travel job. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely successful in that job, too, if money is your only measure of success. Mentally and physically, I was a wreak. True story. Just ask my husband. And my family. And my friends.

I read somewhere that it should* take about three months to bounce back when you leave that kind of job. It’s taken me a year. So either, I’m an aberration or I suck at bouncing back. Either? Both?

Regardless, I’m joining a new company on Monday and could not be more excited. The job means I get to do what I love to do – which is help teachers and administrators make school better for a generation of kids who live and breathe technology. (We’ll talk about that more in the coming weeks.)

So, in a return to my foundational practices of success, which are really more about self-discipline and structure than anything else, I’ve resumed yoga.

And boy oh boy, has this week been a fun reminder of why I maintained a practice so consistently for so long. It’s also been a reminder that if you take a break from yoga, your muscles will forcibly remind you that you are Seriously. Out. Of. Practice.

My muscles are shaky. But I’m reminded of the central tenets of successful living – breathing, centering, connecting with your body, meditating. It’s the focus on wholeness that I really love about yoga. It’s not just about moving your body; it’s about being present and attentive. And whole.

P.S. My current favorite phrases are Uddiyana Bandha and Chaturanga Dandasana. Because they’re fun to say.

*I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Should is a guilt word and when you find it, kill it.

ANTS!

After an unfortunate incident with a weevil infestation several years ago, I learned to seal every wheat-based item in my pantry. Everything is neatly organized in Oxo containers or Ziplock baggies. Well, yesterday it was almost everything, and today, it is absolutely everything.

What I did not know was that sugar ants can wiggle their evil little bodies into completely sealed double-strength Ziplocks. I don’t even know how they do it. What’s worse is that it took me several weeks of following ant trails to find out what was attracting them. And boy, were they having a right party.

It was like some gang of 6-legged frat boys raided my kitchen and ate everything they could get their little antennae on. Two bags of chips (sealed!) and two pounds of cashews (sealed!) And the fish food (also, sealed!)

AND OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?! FIFTEEN DOLLARS WORTH OF CASHEWS!!!

I mean, I get it. It’s Texas. It’s hot as blazes outside, and inside, there’s A/C and water and dinner. But did they have to eat my cashews? Really?

All that was to say that last night I killed me some sugar ants. And now I have to go grocery shopping ’cause I’m out of cashews.

Stupid ants.

Jennifer Knighton, Orchid Slayer

We bought this house from a man whose hobby was growing and propagating orchids. His greenhouse (now mine, obviously) contained over a hundred of these lovely plants, about a quarter of which were in bloom, along with a handful of bromeliads, ferns, and plumeria.

Part of the agreement in the sale of the house was that he would leave a selection of orchids for me to learn The Art of Orchid Keeping for myself. On the day we took possession of the house, I was pleased to discover nearly 20 specimens waiting for me in the greenhouse. I. Was. So. Excited.

And…I have been a miserable failure.

In my own defense, it should be noted that I actually have a bit of a green thumb. The kitchen of our last house was practically a jungle. I’ve had the same ivies, ficus trees, ferns, etcetera for nearly fifteen years. They’re all thriving and happy and loving the new place.

And yet…the orchids.

Between my incompetence and the severe drought and heat of the Summer of 2011, I managed to kill all but one of his prized orchids. And even that one looked pathetic – wrinkled and wilting.

Also, in my own defense, I’m a boss with bromeliads (he left me half a dozen.) They are flourishing and blooming and beautiful. I couldn’t be more pleased with them.

But the orchid. (Singular. Sadly.)

I had given up hope, though I continued to water it. Avoiding the leaves lest they turn yellow and fall off, as all the others had. I kept it in the same spot, on the same shelf, in the bright filtered light of the greenhouse. I bought a swamp cooler and a wireless heat & humidity monitor, so I could cool down that poorly constructed outbuilding during the often brutal Texas heat.

And what do you know, but the damn thing is about to bloom. Exhibit A:

There is hope for me yet.

Doubt as a Form of Worship

When I was sixteen, I sat on the floor of the hallway in a stranger’s home, back against the wall, next to the Youth Minister, similarly situated. Asking him the hard questions.

He didn’t have any answers, of course, (he was barely older than I was,) but he insisted upon repeating the same handful of questions: “Have you accepted Christ as your Savior? Are you active in Bible-study, both personal and corporate? Have you been baptized? How often do you pray? Have you asked Jesus to answer your questions?”

So on and so forth for about an hour, while all my peers were playing pool and foosball and hanging out in the backyard on the dock over the water and eating chips and pizza.

At age thirteen, I had said the sinner’s prayer and was baptized into my family’s faith. Throughout my junior high and high school career, I spent every Sunday and Wednesday at church. Frequently seeking a compassionate ear. Always asking those same hard questions. Always, always getting the same trite responses to my desperate inquiry. And almost always having my honest doubts dismissed, belittled, rejected.

It got old.

It’s still old. I just try to avoid those scary conversations with true, sincere believers. Especially those of the Protestant persuasion. Well, sort of.

Anyway, I read something encouraging recently (emphasis mine):

Doubt and silence has been written out of the Western view of God.

Protestant and evangelicals not only like to speak about God, they also like to assert about God. Doubt it not a part of our paradigm; thus, when somebody begins to doubt aspects of Christianity, it’s frowned upon, whereas in some Christian traditions – especially Orthodox and in some cases Catholicism – doubt is an accepted form of worship.

Holy Saturday is the Holy Day where doubt and silence is the PROPER POSITION of worship. Holy Saturday is the Holy Day between Good Friday and Easter.  It’s a day when we attempt to understand what the Disciples of Christ were feeling during that dark day of death … the day Jesus was in the tomb.

A day when we try to understand, as the disciples had, the crucifixion WITHOUT the knowledge of the resurrection.  When death and tragedy has cast a dark shadow on life and God, I remember Holy Saturday.

As odd as this sounds, I’ve learned to worship while doubting both God’s existence and the afterlife.

-Caleb Wilde, from Ask a Funeral Director…