Moving doesn’t have to suck – what I learned this time.

Moving doesn't have to suck (1)Woke up three days ago with an unusual pain in my right jaw that caught me off guard, and forced me to adopt a frozen expression that resembled a Botox injection gone rogue. Couldn’t open my mouth fully, couldn’t bite down. Yikes.

The pain has since subsided, but given that I’d never experienced this before, and hadn’t been gnawing down bushels of carrots or Jolly Ranchers, I had to know: what gives? A 1 AM troll online through WebMD landed my mouse on TMJ, aka Temporomandibulor Joint Dysfunction. Medical speak for messed up jaw. Various causes were listed, but none fit. Except maybe ‘stress’. Seems every shitty thing that happens to our bodies can be attributed to stress. I didn’t feel stressed, but…

I just moved. This is move #6 (or 7, I quit counting) in the past five years. Not a major move (that one happened last January from Philly to Boston in the middle of an epic snow storm), but one block over. From a small apartment to larger town home. Simple.

According to another 1 AM random web search, I discovered via HealthSource that moving is considered one of the top 5 Stressful Situations. Up there with major illness, death of a loved one, divorce, and job loss. I could understand that, as past moves have left me swearing at inanimate objects (you f***ing sofa why won’t you clear the corner!!). And one time I tackled two life events at once time – divorce + moving = a seriously stressed out girl.

But this move was different. I chose to keep it in perspective, and allow the boxes to fall where they may. And, as you’ll read below, even a temporarily twisted jaw became a life lesson lesson:

1. My daily Warriors and Plank poses are doing more than I thought. Delivery dude left a giant futon I ordered on the door step and dashed. The man of the house is in Spain. Which means this girl had a choice: leave it or lug it up two flights of stairs. I lugged it, assembled, and did a victory lap around the guest room. Now get on your mat and do your Warriors and Planks!

2. Do I really need eight sets of coasters? Moving helps you ditch the stupid shit weighing your life down. Ok, I now have seven sets of coasters. It’s a process…

3. Cable guys and movers are cool – talk to them! Glen the mover saved my fingernails with a few box opening tips, and I got to pass on some yoga pose suggestions to relieve his achy neck. Kirk the cable guy shared what it was like growing up Italian in an Irish neighborhood in South Boston (he cultivated a fabulous sense of humor to survive). Told me where to get the city’s best pasta too.

4. i-Stuff and ear buds are overrated. Crazy how much extra time I had, even in the midst of move, without all my electronic gadgetry. We’re constantly told to unplug, but moving does it for you. Whether you want to or not.

5. So I unconsciously clench my jaw. Moving made me conscious of it. I noticed it when I lifted anything heavy, or tried to focus. Do the spices go here? The mugs there? My poor jaw tightens into a clamp as I stare at the cupboards. Now I know, and practice deep breathing.


Blogging 101: “who I am and why I’m here”

*Note: this post is part of Blogging 101. Today’s assignment: Write and publish a who I am and why I’m here post on your blog.” 

We Are All ConnectedQ. Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?

A. “Come from a place of we are all connected.” I heard this in a yoga training a few years back, and it’s made a difference in my teaching. Coming from a mindset of “we are all connected” stripped away the need to be a know-it-all deep thinking sage, or tight tushed rockin’ yogi with killer handstands and perfectly-timed cues. Connecting with my students required honesty. And once I started sharing stories in class about my challenges with the practice – patience, focus, self-love and conscious breathing, for example – I noticed a shift. They trusted me, and I had a helluva lot more fun teaching.

Starting a blog felt like a natural extension of the stories I shared in class. An opportunity for both me and fellow yogis to stew a little longer over the myriad thoughts and revelations that arise through the practice. So much comes up in practice – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – not all of it pleasant, but most of it poignant. Why do I get so angry when I tip out of a simple standing posture? Why am I thinking about what I’m going to wear to next week’s anniversary dinner during a seated fold? Why is it so damn hard to be still and fully present? Coming from a place of “we are all connected,” I wanted to create a forum for others to read and contribute their own reflections.

Q. What topics do you think you’ll write about?

A. The title has been a work in progress. Originally “Curious Yoga Monkey”, I changed it to “And Pause Here” a year ago to better capture how the blog has evolved. I don’t want my blog limited to yoga – especially the physical asana aspect of yoga. While every blog advice column I’ve read extols the virtues of getting hyper specific on topic and audience, I found writing solely on yoga-related topics was too narrow to keep me inspired. And interestingly, the longer I practice yoga, the more I discover there’s opportunity to find yoga in everything I do – including washing the dishes. Wash them mindfully, with gratitude for the nourishment they held and provided me with, and it’s yoga in action.

Right now I’m focused on writing about noticing what’s happening in the moment. Not ruminating on the past or anticipating the future. Because neither exist. For example, I have a draft started on 5 positive experiences that came with a recent move from my apartment to a townhome. Moving typically sucks, but I paid attention and found a silver lining with this one. To notice what’s happening, you have to stop and pause here. Hence the title.

Other topics include finding community – I’ve moved five times in five years; daily surprises (may start a category title ‘5 Cool Things’ I notice in a day); accepting and appreciating the changes that come with being a 40-something woman in a society that glorifies youth above all else; dog rescue work (not currently volunteering but hope to soon); short stories (a new interest of mine); and random writing prompts to shake it up.

I’ll still cover yoga via my monthly contributions to a high traffic site DoYouYoga, but looking forward to the continuing growth of And Pause Here.

Q. Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

A. Readers interested in drawing their own inspiration through what I discover by pausing, noticing, and seeking joy in the present moment. That might come from a morning yoga practice, or a walk down the Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, or a snuggle with my cat. Life is precious and the hyper speed nature of it makes it frighteningly easy to totally check out and miss it all.

Q. If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

A. Obviously I’d love to have more followers, but most importantly, I’d love to have more engaged followers – those who comment and share not only with me, but with each other. I’d like my blog to be more interactive, and to inspire others to start their own blogs.