My friend Ni was running behind, so off I headed to Starbucks for a skinny mocha, extra hot, and a black tea, no water, no sugar.
I watched the barista take a clear plastic cup and begin filling it with ice. “Isn’t the tea hot?” I asked.
“ ‘No water’ means iced tea,” Jack the barista explained.
It was a frigid, wet day; I couldn’t imagine Ni ordering a cold drink. “Just a sec. I’ll double check,” I said, pulling out my phone. “I’m ordering the tea for my manicurist, and I think that was what she said – black tea, no water, no sugar. But I want to get it right.”
Jack, meanwhile, had moved on to my mocha. “There are a lot of words here…Relax.”
He spoke kindly, but his meaning was as clear as if it had arrived inscribed in the foam of a latte. Please, lady, give it a rest. I’ve got things under control.
Years ago, my Dear Friend clipped a cartoon for me. It showed the exterior of a Starbucks. Above it, a sign read “Church of Latte Day Saints.”
At the time, I’d thought the illustration was really funny and a little bit true. Now, awaiting my mocha, I realized that the joke was on me. I’d worshipped at Starbucks for years, but I may as well have ordered Pepsi, I’d so missed the point of the place, the lesson it had to teach me.
“Relax,” advises Jack who creates lattes and knows what he is doing.
“Be still and know that I am God,” proclaims the Head Barista who created the world and knows what He is doing. (Ps 46)
Twelve-Step programs make it even more elemental. “Let go and let God.” (Big Book)
What’s life at its most elemental? A rollercoaster ride – ups and downs and swerves and jolts and unexpected starts and stops and all. You’re exhilarated, you’re exhausted, your stomach’s in knots. Your eyes are open and you’re focusing on the horizon; your eyes are shut and your gaze is inward. You wish this whole damn thing had never started; please, let this ride last forever. It’s too fast, it’s too slow. You’re crammed into the car like that last pair of shoes in your carryon, you’re alone. You curse God for bringing you here, you thank Him – even when the Greater Power you’re kicking, praising, or capitalizing is you.
I whine a lot and question even more…but, considering the alternative, I like life. Roller-coasters, however, I loathe. I loathe rollercoasters the way my Dear Friend loathes Brussels sprouts. Oh, they’re fine as a side dish for others – or as a simile – but don’t you dare make me take a bite. The last time I rode a rollercoaster, my Eventual Ex caught me as, felled unto death by nausea, I slid under the lap restraint. And, no, we’re weren’t on Twisted Colossus at Six Flags but on a bona fide baby ride – Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland.
Some researchers maintain that I reacted this way because I am lousy at going with what Tibetan-Buddhist master Chögyam Trungpa calls the “natural flow.” I’m Captain Bligh refusing to surrender control of my ship, the HMS Bounty, to Mr. Christian. My eyes insist on charting a course to the left, the balance system in my inner ear picks up that I’m heading right…and my stomach walks the plank.
“This is how a lot of our brain works, comparing what we think is going to happen to what actually happens,” explains Laurence Harris of York University’s Centre for Vision Research in Toronto. “It's errors in that — when you make your expectation and it turns out to be incorrect — that produces these weird sensations."
It also produces kidney stones, claims urological surgeon David Wartinger of Michigan State. “One particular gentleman really inspired Wartinger,” relates The Atlantic. “The man rode Big Thunder Mountain Road at Disney’s Magic Kingdom and then passed a small stone. Then he did it again and passed another. And then another…If there were a way to make people pass stones while they were still small, Wartinger realized, the potential benefits could be enormous.”
Holistic healers believe that our kidneys control what we hold on to and what we – drum roll here – release. What more proof do I need? It’s time to clamber off the ship, set Captain Bligh off on his own little boat to Control Addicts Anonymous, and learn, once and for all, how to LET GO.
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Acceptance, courage, wisdom – how great it’d be if I could pull up to a fuel tank at my local Serenity Station and pump them into me. Meanwhile, what a world! You’ve gotta love it! Jack is a prophet, God is a barista, life is a rollercoaster…and I’m my 11-year old Mercedes, Zeus. A lot of care may have gone into my construction, but my brakes give out, my battery needs replacing, my wipers dull, my tires go flat. I’m expensive to maintain. I require frequent tune ups.
Fortunately, I’ve found a new mechanic. “Allow the Universe to carry you,” my yoga instructor Jenny advises us during Savasana. “The Universe can do its work without your help.”
Savasana is the last pose of class, where we lie on our back and…you guessed it. We let go. For five to ten minutes, we surrender our agendas, anxieties, grocery lists, and death match with a hip that’s a steel girder. We do as Jack urged at the Church of Latte Day Saints. We “relax.”
Jenny is helping me heal my shoulders, which are ‘frozen.’ Is this their way of saying ENOUGH! We’re done carrying the weight of the world?
Most Savasanas come with music – usually something Indian-Eastern-New Agey. But I hear Steppenwolf:
Well, you don’t know what
we can find.
Why don’t you come with me, little girl
on a magic carpet ride?
Well, you don’t know what
we can see.
Why don’t you tell your dreams to me?
Carry me, Universe. Carry me on a magic carpet ride.
AcroYoga Didn’t Break My Leg!
AcroYoga made me stronger! I took my foundation of yoga – discernment, breath, connection - and developed in me a trust, respect and communication using AcroYoga! I developed a love for the creative collaboration that recently sparked an interest in higher level circus arts and acrobatics. There were risks. Realities. I chose to live fully and train hard! It came with higher stakes and required focus like none other. The accident happened during a photo shoot, capturing a high level overhead skill we’ve practiced hundreds of times successfully, and this time came down wrong. Sad. Painful on may levels. But our experience to learn from.
I’m asked a lot of questions – like: Will I return to AcroYoga? Yes! It’s incredibly therapeutic, fun and has done me no wrong! And I’m so pleased to see a community of conscientious teachers and AcroLovers rocking Dallas and the yoga movement by providing a nurturing environment and mindful teaching! It makes me sad to hear of people dismissing the AcroYoga practice because of fear, misinformation or rumor.
Allow each other to Live. To Connect. To Learn. To Grow!
Allow yourself to Live. To Connect. To Learn. To Grow!
I am a mother, daughter, sister, friend and lover. Yogi, teacher, artist, and business woman.
I am a divorced, well-again woman, creating opportunities where there seem none.
I am all of these, but none of these. Free of labels and limitations,
I am joy, abundance and adventure.
I am Jenny Parum and #iamher.
I'm hard headed and determined, but not hard-hearted. My heart is tender. It aches as much as my leg.
I've noticed how I still multi-task and stay involved in the community (even though I haven't left my house for a week!), and I am proud that my parents instilled me with a positive outlook and still surround me when I need support. And I'm grateful for yoga preparing my mind for the ebb and flow of life.
But I hurt. And I'm anxious. And humbled.
Our bodies and amazingly complex and resilient, but life is fragile. Bones break and egos must adapt to the loss of independence.
Surgery on my leg includes hardware in my ankle, and reconstruction of the upper tibia where it is fractured and compressed, using bone of a cadaver and a calcium/bone composite.
Someone said to me, "Jenny, you're not 18 anymore."
"And I'm so glad!", I thought.
My high school years were spent in a constant state of physical ailment. I remember being frustrated, claiming that my body wasn't as tough as my mind. I sprained ankles playing basketball, pulled muscles in track, and most every summer camp ended in some disaster that resulted in me loosing skin.
Then in college and through my 20's all of that ended and I dealt with severe pain and inflammation that was totally unrelated to my tomboy approach to physical activity. I lived on Advil just to get through day to day activities.
Yoga was the first activity I experienced where there was no finish line, no winner and nothing to prove. A never-ending journey of finding equanimity in all aspects of life. Because of yoga, I was able to explore activities that, until recently have never been prepared for - physically or mentally.
So, yes the last seven years, as I've increasingly regained physical strength and wellness that's been absolutely exhilarating! Not only was free of physical limitations, but my mind was free of the competitive streak and the ego that drove me to push beyond what was reasonable.
Now, I move because I can! I choose to live life fully and mindfully, not from fear or hesitation or ego. But from celebration, curiosity and inspiration!
Though this busted up leg of mine is painful and impacts me and my family heavily, I'm at peace. A broken leg will mend. My passion for inspiration and expression will always remain.
It is one day after BKS Iyengar left us and one day before my surgery.
"Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured." --BKS Iyengar
I can't help but think of how powerful Iyengar's statement has been for me through my various stages of wellness. At first I was just astonished that I could feel results in my body from the first practice, if you could call it that! I interrupted the "flow" constantly asking for a modification because even the simplest of moves were not possible.
But I kept going.
And for a few honest reasons:
1) I wanted out of the house. Though my three children were lovely, I needed a break. And it was a nice escape from my lifeless marriage for one hour. One hour of peace.
2) I felt better. Even after doing maybe half of the suggested postures and transitions, and less than gracefully, I could actually feel the difference.
3) It was free. A perk from helping the fitness center with it's redesign.
Before each practice, my teacher would tell us to set an intention. For the first year, it was simply "thank you". Pure gratitude for the few blessings I could see in the moment, though they felt few.
As my practice improved, so did my awareness. And my attitude.
The practice changes daily because I am different today than I was yesterday. No matter what body parts work or don't work, no matter if I perceive life's circumstances as good or not good, I am reminded through yoga that I have ample resources for my current situation!
I remember a time when tried to convince my teacher that I was ok to practice with a rib out of place. I made excuses and pushed it. When he cued the first "inhale, raise your arms" I yelped in pain. Then fumed as I lay on my mat because he wouldn't teach me yoga that day. It wasn't until much later that I realized he had.
Today as I prepare for surgery to repair my mangled leg, I'm a full spectrum of feelings. I acknowledge them all, but mostly I noticed that I feel secure in knowing that I have the resources to endure, to heal and to thrive.
Thank you BKS Iyengar for you legacy and encouraging example of removing limitations and living a vibrant life.
All is well.
To say I'm active is an understatement . Or it would have been before Saturday afternoon. Over the years, I've photo-documented this amazing journey of wellness in my life as a way to marvel at 'what's possible.' General wellness and return of a capable body were miracles in their own way after years of painful RA, but I became so inspired to experience the "impossible". The human body and spirit amaze me!
Saturday afternoon we had the honor of being the subjects of Serkan, a local photographer, as he captured movement and partner poses, a way of recognizing the training and work that went into the practice my partner and I are so passionate about.
Very humbling to be brought to the ground by the same practice that made us soar. I will never forget the sound. Three clicks of the lens, echo'ed in my right leg.
Now I begin to heal. Again.
For those of you who want the details:
Broken tibia at the ankle
Compound fracture of the upper tibia, with other related complications of the bone and joint
I'll need extra time going through security at the airport...
“Here, this is for you!” Growing up, Christmas was more about the excitement of giving a unique and thoughtful gift than an expensive one. And just as exciting to receive, because it was always unexpected, fun and significant – though rarely significant in price.
So I’m puzzled when my gift of a compliment or kind word is poo-poo’d.
When I give a compliment, I wrap it with thoughtfulness and authenticity, and hope it’s received as the gift I intend it to be. If you struggle with the limelight, consider this:
You are worth it.
Maybe it’s contrary to your belief about yourself, or the worth others have defined for you, I think you’re worth it. In fact, I wouldn’t take the time or effort if I didn’t think you were.
I mean what I say.
I think there is a severe abuse of trust amongst humanity, for a variety of reasons, namely fear, hurt and that nasty ego working on self-preservation. But I challenge you to drop the potential reasons to not believe and try the compliment on for size. How does it feel? What if there were no story? What if your positive qualities just needed a little spotlight?!
No strings attached.
I give without expecting reciprocation. This is not a gift exchange. I’m not waiting for you to deliver something of equal or greater value. I’m asking you to receive what I freely give you. Acknowledge it and receive it with the warmth with which it was given.
Say thank you.
Just practice. It might just put an end to the awkwardness.
Gift someone else.
Learn to see the good in others. Encourage it in them, and help them to see the good in themselves.