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Birthdays, Breakdowns, and Buddhist Monks

As I mentioned back in this post, I have a strange tendency to get real introspective in May.  Last weekend, as Mother’s Day approached, a familiar happysad feeling descended.  It’s happened for the past 5 years but continues to take me by surprise (there is still some part of me that won’t let go of believing I should always feel like the “after” photo in an add for antidepressants….).

In typical control freak fashion, I decided to cut these feelings off at the chase: super early morning run (for the endorphins) followed by yoga (increases GABA) followed by some pretty strong ceremonial cacao on an empty stomach (anandamide, theobromine, more socially acceptable than cocaine…).

T has this book called “When Sadness is at Your Door” in which a little girl nurtures a cute blue character (the embodiment of sadness) for a day by doing nice things with him until he gradually disappears….I took another approach and attempted to kick sadness’s cute blue ass.  Needless to say it didn’t work.  (Side note: those with sensitive stomachs might not want to start the day with a boatload of ceremonial strength cacao….just sayin’….).

I spent most of Saturday analyzing what I could have done better and ruminating over every wrong turn I’ve made from birth until present.  I decided my life lacked meaning and needed more depth.  I proceeded to express this to J ad infinitum.

Enter Sunday: Another early morning run, another yoga session, a more reasonable green juice followed by an adaptogenic latte.  Feeling better, I decided on a whim that we should hit up Mother’s Day service at a local church.

The reverend relayed a story about a tree with white ribbons tied around its branches to represent babies whose lives were cut short.  J and I looked at each other perplexed.  We knew that tree.

As we thanked her on the way out she recognized me from participating in a hospital’s grief training during which I told my story.  For the rest of the day and into the next I felt connected to something greater, though I can’t exactly say what.

Enter Tuesday: T lost his s$%^.  Hating on me from morning until night, with a few moments of epic cuteness in between (are random moments of cuteness the reason for human survival?).

At my lowest point, near tears on the phone with my sister while a screaming nude T pelted me with underwear (at least they were clean?) I felt connected to exactly nothing.  Purpose be damned.  Today was about trying to survive.

Survive we did, and once the (undies) storm passed, things became a bit clearer.  On my podcast feed the following day an interview with Zen Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim popped up.  With a title like “How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection” I knew it was my jam.

Listening to the podcast while walking Dee in the perfect spring weather, a deer emerged from the woods.  A beautiful sight from afar but upon closer inspection his entire face was covered with cutaneous fibromas (I am not a vet and did not know this at the time…thanks Google…).

He seemed to stare at us though I can’t say for sure since his eyes were completely covered over.  He did not move an inch as we walked past.  Something about this juxtaposition made me feel connected again, though I still can’t say to what.

If you’ve read this far and you are wondering what the heck any of this has to do with health and fitness I will leave you with this quote from Zen Buddhist Monk Haemin Sunim:

“Only when we move our body and get engaged can we actually change our life.  So for example people who are depressed or having difficulty with relationships, rather than constantly thinking about these things, just take a walk around and just move your body.  You can do yoga or you can run or you can do swimming.  Anything that is going to help you.  When we have a nimble and very soft body that’s when we begin to think very flexibly.  When our body is stiff and tense then our mind also becomes tense.”

I could probably just write the sentence “Move your body.” and hit post 52 weeks a year, but isn’t saying it in 764 words so much more fun?

For more tips, tricks, and musings on health, head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!


T teaching me his latest yoga move last Saturday, a random moment of cuteness on an otherwise imperfect day….

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