Quiet Mind

I sit in a room with my legs crossed and my hands on my knees. I’m focused on my breath, trying hard to ignore my racing thoughts. The music is relaxing and the yoga teacher is the only one who is speaking. Her presence is calming and trusting. I feel safe. I’m trying to get my mind to feel the same. Halfway through the class, my thoughts halt. I’m left with a quiet mind. It’s a very rare experience for me. After yoga, my mind remains quiet. Everything that captured my attention before class quickly washes away. My mind isn’t rushing or holding onto burdening thoughts. I’m present, I’m relaxed, I’m quiet. I don’t speak. I sit on my bed with a heating pad on my shoulder, taking refugee in these rare moments of solace within myself.

Disappeared

It’s clear to me that seasons no longer exist. They only exist as dates on a calendar, marking the passage of time. The rest has faded away to a time and place the planet no longer knows. We’ve had at least five major snow storms in the last two months. It’s autumn, where leaves are supposed to be falling. Normally, snow begins around the middle of November. But this year, expectations for normalcy have disappeared. We’re left with feet of snow as colored leaves dangle from frozen trees.

A Reminder to Be Respectful

I don't have to agree with you to respect you.
You don't have to agree with me to respect me.

We can come from two different backgrounds and generations,
have different perspectives, beliefs, and ideas,
and still, be respectful of one another.

The focus is often on what is different about us,
who we love, what we believe, where we live.
While we may have moral differences that define us,
that doesn't mean we can't be kind, or at least civil.

We can get our messages across without yelling at each other.
It's possible to agree to disagree and not be hateful.

Call out injustices that need to be addressed,
make noise when something needs to be changed.
But don't be rude to someone who doesn't agree with you
and don't try to put your beliefs on them.

The goal shouldn't be to get someone
to believe what you believe because it doesn't work.
Repetitive behavior with the same speech
isn't productive or convincing.

It's to be kind to each other regardless of where we stand.
I'm not the bad guy and neither are you.

Saturday Drive

I go on a drive looking for my old self.
I listen to old music and sing along. Dixie Chicks and Bob Dylan,
Songs from my childhood that have bled into my young adult years.
The leaves have barely changed
As the season of summer is about to leave for the year.
Saturday, 79 degrees, and endless blue skies
Guide my way as I drive a route
I once swore I'd never return to.
Too many loops, too scary, too many unknowns.
This is my second time on this road this month
I got lost the first time and made the experience less than thrilling,
Trying to navigate a road by memory without second guessing
Myself takes serious concentration.
Now, I'm going back and forth up a hill,
Reminding myself that this is where I first felt car sickness.
I didn't find my old self, she's no longer around.
Instead, I was reminded of how much I've grown
Since I've been on this road and how much
I'm still scared of the great unknown.

Love Isn’t Defined by Gender

 Love isn't defined by gender.

But we live in a society where
Many people are still taught
Love between a man and a woman is natural
And everything else is sinful.

This teaching is dangerous because
It leads to shame for those who love people
Outside the heteronormative view.

Acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community has grown
Over the last couple of years
And it's delightful to see so much rainbow
Throughout the month of June.

But there are still people
Who are in the closet because they're fearful
Of how their family members will respond,
Knowing their views aren't loving.

Love is a natural feeling
between people of all sexes,
not just a man and a woman.

Anyone who feels shame and fear,
know that you are not alone.
Anyone who hates gays,
you're living in the dark age.

No Point of Reference

With each passing day, I’ve come to realize that for the last twenty-five years I have lived in my body, I haven’t really known the skin I’ve lived in. In the sense that I don’t pay attention to something until I’m forced to look at it by way of injury or illness.

The same questions run through my head every time as I try to access memories I do not have. Has this always been this way? Has this changed? What is different about this? Could it be different? Maybe? Or am I just now seeing this for the first time? These questions are better than what I automatically told myself when I was dealing with things as a teenager. I’m going to die. What I’m experiencing will kill me sooner than I wish. Somehow everything leads to death. I’d imagine myself having a different life from this one very minor but must be a life-altering moment for me. Of course, none of what I imagined actually happened and thankfully, my extreme anxiety has morphed into obsessive questioning (I know they both sound bad but at least one seems slightly more productive.)

Because I don’t pay attention to my body and it’s apparent creeks and shapes, when something out of the norm happens, I’m left feeling like a blind duck, waddling down an unfamiliar street. Without a point of reference, I’m left assessing a body part I haven’t paid too much attention to and asking the questions above while reminding myself not to panic, this may have been always been my normal and I just haven’t noticed it until now.

Referencing an old memory with my body when encountering present questioning is never ideal. I overcompensate for lost memories by creating stories in my head that are probably not true but they must be real because they’re the only things that give me comfort in this very moment. My thyroid has always been this size. Of course, my left hip has always popped. I did hear that noise coming from my left side while I was in the air. I can still walk. My eyes can squint again. That’s a stress zit, not a hormonal pimple. Most of these are true, while some are rationalized statements that don’t necessarily add up to the reality I live in but choose to believe at the moment so I don’t return to that younger version of myself.

This year has been a lot. I’ve realized how much I’ve grown and areas of my life where growth could be good for me. One thing I’ve realized from so many unexpected health issues throughout my life is how much I choose to ignore something until I’m forced to feel it. I do this in many aspects in my life, but my body in particular, has made me realize how much of my own skin and bones I do not know out of fear of what could happen if I do acknowledge it. Though I’m no longer a teenager, I must admit that fear and jumping to conclusions still lingers. Forgotten moments don’t help and questioning or telling myself false truths are good for a little while but not for a lifetime. In moments like these, I often wish I knew more about my body so when I’m in pain or something looks or feels off, I know what’s my normal. Maybe by writing this, I can develop reference points that will keep me from worrying as much in the future.