Oof, February. Birth month. Rebirth month. I start crafting these monthly highlight reels during the month and work on them a little at a time. As highlights are identified I document them in the voice of the given events’ insights and experiences and then wrap it all up during the last week of the month. I should have written this introduction at the beginning of the month when I was buoyant and effervescent. I waited until the last day of the month when I was compromised by the effort it took to do the Right Thing so the words I might use to titillate you are now out of reach. Explanation (such as it is) can be found near the end of the post in case you want to cut to the chase, otherwise welcome to February’s wellness highlights (such as they are).
The Great Snow-In was six days long. While I was cooling my heels in 22 inches of snow I used the downtime to take several online workshops to deepen my understanding of yoga. Most eye-opening among them were courses focused on coaching teachers to make Western yoga relevant, welcoming, and appealing for men and for yogis who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. I also discovered Kemetic Yoga, an Egyptian style of yoga rooted in spiritual wellness, as well as Jhotish, a spiritual discipline based on the astrology of India. Both practices are ancient and in 25 years as a yogi I’ve had zero exposure to either of them, which is quite a telling fact about the vanilla world of yoga here in the U.S.
I’ve missed being an academic student of yoga these many months. A jump in access to online resources qualifies as another COVID silver lining and by extension prompts a jump in my thirst for more. Demand for knowledge, awareness, and responsibility outside our tidy little boxes is growing, as is the no-brainer concept that if you want people to know something you need to put it where they can see it. I am compelled to venture out of my comfort zone because new voices are reaching me and it didn’t cost $3000 to hear them. Put those voices in the rooms where learning is required and then make sure I can afford to be there. Odds are I will then be inspired to seek new horizons on my own without waiting to have them offered to me.
I want to see the current pandemic dwindle and disappear as much as anyone else but while free or low-cost avenues of alternative learning are available, let’s use ’em while we’ve got ’em. Better yet, let’s make this a permanent change.
February’s snow-in was a poignant reminder of the important of an emergency fund. By the time the last flake fell we totaled 22 inches of snow in a place where snow is rare. This creates emergencies, ergo emergency funds. It may sound preachy but I’m the prime example. I have no vacation time, no sick time, and no personal days to use when there is no work. A week without work is a week without pay, the effects of which ripple through the following weeks after work resumes. The first task is then replenishing the emergency fund once it is tapped, although second to establishing one in the first place. How much savings does the average American have six weeks after the holidays? Judging by the desperation I heard in February, not enough or none.
Even if the power stays on and the pipes don’t freeze, the bills are still due and they can’t be paid in milk and bread. Suffer a broken pipe, a damaged roof, a crashed car, or injuries from a fall and a week’s inconvenience spirals into a full-on hardship. And yes, it’s easy to think about these things now but it will be the coming months between now and the next winter where the action matters. I know it doesn’t sound like a highlight but the motivation to put myself in the best possible position to survive another snow-in will become a notable success next winter and that’s another form of wellness, y’all.
February’s most significant highlight in this category was my return to practicing yoga with a teacher. In person. In a studio. On the mat with other people. In fact we might as well call it Yoga Month. Before and after the snow-in, of course. Tennis was tough. The balls simply won’t bounce below certain temps and there are only a few indoor courts available. We managed to get only one match played the entire month and just a handful of practices. Snow (so much snow) and ice made running too dangerous. The yoga mat was my favorite place to be by default and the joy of practicing in a class environment again made default feel more like luxury.
I am unable to complete any paragraphs for these categories despite many attempts. The end of the month brought me to a boundary. That boundary became a battlefield. Someone kept challenging my boundary; pushing, pushing, pushing. I kept holding, holding, holding, and tried to do so peacefully. The aggressor in the situation launched a campaign of open hostility and intimidation. I felt exploited. The suffering was significant enough to prompt the initiation of an exit strategy. The aggressor became became enraged and declared war. I opted not to engage.
Despite there being many witnesses the aggressor went behind closed doors and told a lie. The lie was believed and granted the aggressor access to an inner sanctum where the lie was told again. The lie was believed again. I calmly refuted the falsehood without any retaliatory remarks but I sensed relations could never recover even if my response was accepted. I would not submit to being exploited so I quietly bid my comrades adieu and voluntarily withdrew.
My comrades rallied and intervened on my behalf after I left. They told the truth of the matter and in doing so exposed the tactics and deeds of the aggressor. They also declared their intentions to leave rather than remain where such conditions are tolerated and where aggressors may operate so unscrupulously and unchecked. I was fully exonerated by their testimonies. The aggressor was expelled. A messenger was sent to me in great haste. My comrades and I were beseeched to stay and offered recompense. The intensity level not adequately described in this succinct retelling of events would be explosive diarrhea.
I’m having trouble writing any more about it now because the whole episode was so emotionally violent it made me physically ill. I’ve spent these very last days of the month trying to recover from it and while systems are technically stabilized, I am still depleted. I have done little more than rest because that’s all I can do right now other than marvel that the Old Me would have gone gone charging into that battle with wrath and fury and inflicted massive harm and injury to protect myself and reputation. This time I let the aggressor self-destruct and trusted my decision not to fight as a signal from my intuition. That’s a breakthrough, y’all. That’s huge for me. I am bruised and raw and exhausted but I can still recognize this as a miracle. Historically, I trust nothing. This time I did. Historically, I am a warrior. This time I didn’t fight.
It did not save me from being wounded but it saved me from becoming a casualty of someone else’s war. There’s probably not a medal for Finally & Fully Trusting One’s Intuition, but if there was I’d be on the recipient list. It feels like a pivotal moment in my life. A turning. A changing. A rite of passage. Really. Big. Deal. and I’m proud of me and also completely bone-tired and soul-weary so my wrap-up of the month cannot be pithy.
I’m not sorry. I’m self-soothing with every comfort available to me and vocalizing my gratitude. I made it out of February in grace. One could argue that fighting (or fighting back) is brave but in this case, not fighting was the greater act of bravery because I’ve previously had no courage for it. Now I do. This may very well be the bravest I’ve ever been. And the most tired.
See you in March, friends. Be well.