Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bee stings, balloons and the big picture

The balloon will make sense eventually.
Recently, I've had a few "what am I doing with my life?" moments.

It's not that I don't know what I'm doing at this point it time -- feeding, bathing, clothing, chasing and wiping various orifices of two small people; freelancing; feeling like an asshole as I chase the dog around the backyard pleading with him to stop barking at the squirrels running along the overhead power lines; attempting to figure out what that smell is.

I mean, the bigger picture "what am I doing with my life?" Like, when am I going to fulfill my destiny?  And, what is my destiny? Is finishing my novel in my destiny? Will my destiny always involve a dog lying on top of me and casually licking his feet, creating a very specific and also rather unpleasant aroma? 

And I don't even know that I believe in destiny. 

Given that I've been prone to depression in the past, I get a bit worried when I start asking the "what am I doing with my life?" question too often. It's kind of my barometer for inner peace (given the number of human, canine and feline inhabitants of my household, outer peace is a lofty goal). 

I've been asking it to myself (and sometimes to the kids) daily over the past two weeks, which has then made me anxious. So then on top of wondering what I'm doing with my life, I'm also worried about why I'm wondering, which in turn is making me pinchy, snippy, cranky and otherwise irritable and also not very much fun to live with. 

Last week, I was somewhat relieved to have found the culprit for the "what am I doing with my life-ing?"

Here's where I'm going to share too much information, albeit in a non-graphic manner. If you would prefer not to read about normal, gender-related functioning of the human body, please skip this section. I'll tell you when to start again. 


The culprit, I thought, was female-cycle-related hormones racing about my body with utter abandon after two years lying dormant. That's right. Two years. See what happened was, I was pregnant for awhile and then nursing Jovie for a year -- and as a result I hadn't had a proper lady flush in a while. I stopped nursing Jovie in June, which sent some sort of bat signal to my parts that systems were go for launch and when that happened the inhospitable portion of my brain responsible for anxiety, rage, insecurity, vulnerability, fear and sadness, lit up like the 'Parkly Deer House in February.

It seemed they'd gotten a little cabin fever all holed up for the past couple years, so they were pretty excited to be released into the wild. 

I'd forgotten about how much fun that is. 


But when my suspect went back into seclusion this week and I was still asking The Question, well, that was even more worrisome. 

I don't want to be depressed. I mean seriously, it's a real drag for everyone. 

So I've been trying to think my way out of it. And I had some useful revelations/realizations.

I've been going to yoga once a week. Which really isn't enough, but scheduling wise seems to be all I can pull off. And for the past month or so during my weekly class I really haven't been engaged. Like, I do my downward dogs and my trees and my hip stretches and my sun salutations and all that but the meditation and breathing have been all wonky -- probably because all through class I'm subconsciously asking The Question instead of just living my life in that moment. 

During today's class my normal instructor was MIA and so Kyle ran the class. And Kyle was all about us focusing our energy on different areas and really feeling it flow to the parts we were stretching. He said something that got me thinking: "Yoga starts from the inside."

Meaning, I think, that a good practice starts from a good mental place. From being present in your present body instead of strolling through murky corners of your brain in your present body.

I liked his thought but I still ended up spending my Savasana (the clear your thoughts and be calm time) worrying about whether I'd find enough freelance work.

Luckily, I got a do-over. 

One of my former co-workers has organized several free outdoor fitness classes throughout the summer, and tonight's class was yoga (up next: body combat).

So I parked my mat next to a friend and tried again to quiet my inside voices and focus on the present and all that. 

Then I got stung by a bee.

A small one though. 

I focused on how the bee sting kinda hurt for awhile and then refocused on my breathing and the present and all that.

Good practice starts from the inside, I told myself, erecting a soundproof room in my brain. Which didn't quite cancel out the gnat that flew in my ear (how can something so little have such a loud buzz?!).

As evidenced by the growing pile of bug carcasses strewn about my mat, my internal practice needed some work. 

I'm pretty certain that insecticide is not part of yoga.

So I kept breathing. Kept trying to stay in my present mind. And it worked. To a degree. By my second Savasana of the day I wasn't asking The Question. I was listening to birds and the wind rustling leaves and the AC/DC from the pickup truck in the parking lot. 

Just let your worries float away, the instructor said as we lay there. So I imagined a couple of birds swooping down, picking up The Question and flying away with it.

I felt physically lighter at the end of class (which is strange because after double yoga my legs felt heavy). 

For the first time in a long time, I got to drive my adorable lime green Beetle*, windows down and radio blasting. I let my hair down for good measure.

I was about to bemoan the lack of good music on the radio when this song came on:


And floating overhead like a technicolor beacon the whole ride home: A hot air balloon. 

Now, I'm not one to believe in signs. Except, that probably I am. 

But having just watched The Question fly away and rocked out to a song that was both strangely appropriate and also one of my favorite summer jams of all time,** it really felt like I was given the green light to let go. And the balloon! The balloon!

And this is the second time in a week I've been stung by a bee in a spiritual sort of setting (I got stung at a church on Friday). Perhaps the Greater Power or what have you is trying to suggest that I'm neglecting this important facet of my life and maybe if I tended to it, I wouldn't feel the need to worry about The Question so much.

Or, maybe I've just been pissing off a lot of bees.

* For reasons explained here, Brad drives my old car. He's a good man.

** You know how some songs are so firmly entrenched in a place that every time you hear it, you're there? This song will always take me back to Duluth, Minn. in the summer of 2004. Whenever I hear it I think of driving along Lake Superior and Walmart employees saying "you betcha" and ice cream sandwiches (the vending machine at the Duluth News Tribune where I was interning had the best ice cream sandwiches. I thank that vending machine and the dive bar across the street for the 10 pounds I gained that summer. Journalists don't seem to have much self control when it comes to food).

Photo courtesy of CarolynConnor/Flickr


  1. The Question creeps up in just the same way for me too, and it's definitely magnified by a visit from Aunt Flo.

    Btw, ever see this SNL commercial? http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/digital-shorts/video/annuale/221774/

    I think my first period after the twins closely mimicked the "annual" period described here. :)

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