Anxiety and Embarrassing Yoga Mat Mishap

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Sunday came and went and all day I walked around with a small rock in my shoe. With each step in the day I felt a discomfort and I found myself muttering. “I am supposed to be writing Sunday News!” I had set myself this task to write more regularly, and suddenly Sunday was upon me, and I had other things to do and my promises to myself were nagging at me. I am always grateful for this sense, and so I meet it with compliance. It is that inner voice that keeps us on our path, and I so desperately want to be clearly on my path. So through the day I go, doing things, which I enjoy, but all the while feeling a little bothered. We all know when something is bothering us, and really it is just a matter of dealing with it. Sometimes though, we have to wait until we can deal with it. You too might have a rock in your shoe, but if it is pouring rain, and the ground is wet and you are carrying a heavy back pack and hiking with a group and it is almost dark, you might just have to carry on with that rock bothering you for a little while longer.

Very little house chores had been done, and as my family set off to see a movie at the cinema, I was sitting up in the attic, the official work space, editing photos for Caramel Baby & Child and Babaá. This was something I very much wanted to do, and was very much enjoying doing, but when there is so much to do, regardless of whether you like it or not, something else that isn’t getting done can be a bother.

As has been the case for years, writing has been a soul necessity for me, and of late, if I am not putting writing first, I seem to become a person that needs therapy. Both physical and emotional. I don’t really want to have to have therapy beyond this, so best I take the rock out of my shoe, and in fact, let’s get rid of shoes altogether and walk barefoot. Something about the soles of the feet touching the earth you know. So good for you.

So the hours go by as I sit in the attic working on images, and I am very pleased about this, it is such an honor, but suddenly it is 6pm and my family are home from the movies and it is time for me to cook dinner. The hours in the day go by so quickly, and I just love that at the end of each day I am exhausted from using every minute, but when there is not even enough minutes to do all the things I want to do, then there is a problem.

Monday morning my body started aching. A tension, which for me is the first sign of life’s pressure manifesting physically. These symptom started when I was a girl. From the time I was nine my mother would have to massage the tightness out of the muscles in my neck and shoulders, because life would just get too much. It does not happen as an adult as frequently as it did in my childhood, but when it does happen now I am drawn into these childhood memories. It sinks in with a tinge of sadness that little me felt such burden. I find some gratitude that I have come a long way and know the pressures are for the most part within my control through positive thoughts and decision making. I tried a warm shower for the aches and that did some good, but on this occasion though, there was also an uneasy queasy feeling in my stomach. “Ahhh I thought to myself, this is anxiety!” Having the recent insight to study intuition in homechool meant I have been really fine tuning, and listening to my inner self. It takes some bravery  for me to admit to feeling anxious, and it takes even more bravery to then take care of it. For me taking care of it means changing my life so that the things that are causing the ill feelings are dealt with, and then taking preventative measures so that it does not happen again. It is a very tricky thing to have hovering around you as you can almost carry on as if nothing is really wrong. Anxiety isn’t a new thing, but when I was a child, it seems they used to call it a nervous breakdown, or anyway that is what would happen when my mother could not cope. The feelings would build up until Mum’s bedroom door was shut and locked because she was having a nervous breakdown. I am by no means broken right now, but my senses were telling me, it is time to make some changes or otherwise I might break. I could feel myself becoming frayed, pulling apart at the seams. In a way these moments in life are a blessing, it is just this sort of thing that is an indicator. We are not without a map in this life, our soul guides us, and speaks through our body.

Over all last week was a lovely week and like I said I could have easily pretend or ignore that I was feeling pressured or anxious. Nothing particularly exciting happened, although there is always a tid-bit here and there that piques my interest and seems delightful. My Japanese fortune was still on my mind, and I was trying very hard to follow through with some of the guidance, starting first with, “Ask your peers for help.” It did not take me long to see where I needed and wanted help in my life. My little addiction to children’s clothing has meant I find myself in this wonderful world of children’s fashion as a creative outlet, but in all honesty the seasons and new styles come around so quickly it is like a whirlwind! I am not alone in being drawn to children’s clothes, so I new instantly where to find help. A big hooray for this as well, because when I asked Nicole to help me with an upcoming Spring photo shoot, it was like we were both doing one of those thousand piece jigsaw puzzles and simultaneously our hands found the bit we were looking for, right at the same time! It was a happy, thank goodness moment. Through sharing and being open, we found the thing that we have been searching for to make life’s picture right, to make life’s picture complete. I am still feeling the positive effects of this. It seemed to me that if Nicole had her fortune from the Japanese Tea Gardens, then hers would likely say, “You will feel great reward in helping others.” There was something about me asking her for help, that helped her… funny how that works.

The truth of the matter is that I have trained myself not to need help, and I have found pride in being independent and come to use it as a way to feel good about myself. Being able to say “I did this all on my own” needed to be a positive thing for me because otherwise my life could have become, “I can’t do this because I need help.” Let me explain a little more. There are times in my life when I felt very alone and hopeless, neither smart, capable or beautiful, and I have felt very confused. During these times, I have needed help, and it felt like there really was not the help I needed and through all of that I developed this frame of mind, that if I was going to be ok in life, I would have to do it all myself. Of course we never really do it all ourself, as life is not like that, we are all together in this, together, but I aways feel there has to be that part alive and well within each of us, that can do it on our own no matter what. As Shakti teaches us, “Dependence on no one, interdependent with the entire universe”.

Anyway, I am glad to have moved on from knowing how to help myself independently, and now I am onto knowing how to ask for help! Life puts lesson before us for whatever reason, and it seems like learning to keep my inner fire lit, or rather repeatedly lighting the fire if it goes out, was an important lesson for me. If life brings me down, into the dark of night, I know I will rise again, like the light of day. Over and over and over and this makes me strong. There really is no why or how, it is innate, that is just what happens. You can realize these things about yourself through friends, and one day when I was talking life with Dieny, I exclaimed “I was born to be an emotional body builder, from the time I was born life was, now get down and do emotional push-ups!” Dieny chortled at the image of me as a body builder, but really you know the emotional strength is like a muscle, it can be worked and worked and worked, and every day I look into the eyes of women I know are working it out because they have to, and want to.

Emotional strength does not mean not crying either I might add. Emotional strength is being alive and awake and present with feelings, and then making good positive choices in response. Emotional strength is knowing that stuff can happen in life and you will cope, and you will be ok, maybe not ever the same you, but you will make the best of it. Emotional strength is being willing to sit in discomfort with patience in order to reach a better place in a positive way. What might make someone especially proficient is by living life experiences and feeling the pain and feeling the joy and feeling everything in between. Just keep feeling. Life will always present, So long as you resurface from the dark pain, so long as you find some light joy in, all is ok.

When tears finally arrived, I had a little release. Actually it was a pretty big release and in this instance I wanted everyone in my family to know I was experiencing a very upset moment and so I cried particularly loudly. It wasn’t that I was doing it in a contrived manipulative way at all, it was just that it was my truth and I felt something right in letting them know, because in part, at times I feel I carry them and so they are some of the weight. This is not about laying blame, this is just about being connected with each others reality. So all the crying was done, but most importantly was what happened next. I shifted all those hard feelings, and dumped that metaphorical bucket of tears into the basement which is where I sat bawling my eyes out, and then I rose with some lightness and with a recovered tone, I went and apologized to my children.

“I am really sorry if I worried you when I was crying like that, it wasn’t your fault, but I needed to cry because I wasn’t coping, but now I feel better”.

Now some of you might wonder about apologizing for crying, and I agree, you shouldn’t have to apologize for crying, but when it comes to parents crying for something not obvious like a death or injury, and it involves your children, they need to know it isn’t their fault. As a child, my mother would break down and cry, and I would feel that. I would feel her pain, because I loved her, and so now when I share my struggles with my children, I like to say sorry to them because I know for a child, an adult not coping can be a burden. Like a said before though, these little introductions to emotional terrain season children for strong emotional adult life, so share, share away, but always with respect and gratitude. This next part is important too, because after my apologies to my family, I realised I really needed to complete this example of being a living feeling healthy human to my children, and follow through with more of the Japanese Tea Garden fortune advice “Exercise will release stresses and tension.” Having a good cry is one way to release, but my children also need to know, emotion can be directed and released otherwise.

I arrived late to the yoga class, which was full, wall to wall, front to back, right to the door, but there was one vacant yoga mat in the middle of the room. I hadn’t been to this class before and in the quirky way I look at life, and what Cam calls my “la la la” disposition, I just assumed the mat was free. With dancer tiptoes I glided through the space, long locks flowing freely behind. When I reached the empty mat, I gestured “May I use this mat?” to the teacher, whom nodded his head enthusiastically with a smile. The room was so lovely, large and spacious with exposed brick walls and a high industrial ceiling. I positioned myself in the beautiful natural light of a huge window and began an in depth asana. It was a whole-hearted body release, I was so very into it, needing it, feeling it, opening up and letting go. The class was very inspiring and as I lay there listening to the teacher speak during a resting pose… I discovered something about the power of thinking differently.

The yoga class affirmation dialogue was largely about saying no. In an era, when there is so much to do and so many people to connect with, so many people wanting things and needing thing, a lot of people it seems, feel they need to say no, or feel they need to learn how to say no, or need to be told saying no is ok. As I sat there listening to this, it was resonating with me a little, for I had been doing a lot, and maybe that was my problem, maybe I needed to say no? I liked hearing his words telling me to say no… well I liked then for about five minutes, until that little feisty fire in me, that rises up, when I hear someone telling me what I should do, sparked alight. Suddenly I felt like putting my hand up and interjecting all of my wild ideas into the yoga class. Yes that would be me, the women that wants to tell the yoga teacher and the whole class during a resting pose that my thoughts are transcending this. Now when I say this, I don’t want people to think this “transcending” is about me being better than someone, or me thinking I am great. It isn’t, it is just that his ideas did not suit me, so my idea rose in my own mind as better for me. What everyone else thinks, is their own right, and everyone can think what they want, but this is what I would have said if I were FF>>  ( I have to tell you all bout FF>> later).

“But I don’t want to go around saying ‘No’, saying no is exhausting, and nothing comes of it, saying no is like cutting off the energy, and nothing grows. No can be disappointing. No can make you feel guilty. What if I only had to say Yes? What if I changed my life, so that I only attracted things I can and will say yes to, therefore, there is no wasted energy. What if suddenly I become my own master and energy is perfectly placed and because so it is like a force field around me, and only the right things, at the right time come my way! What if I developed some kind of mental attitude and physical presence that was like a filter and I was so solid and true, that only what is right could pass through this filter, and the rest fell away, without requiring a no! What if my YES was so strong and clear, and my life was full of my ultimate yeses that there was no room for no! That is it! I have to define my yes!

Ok, I get it, this snippet of yoga mat brilliance might not be totally possible… but it is just an example of how I wish the world worked, with clarity, without waste, and with things going where they need to go so that everyone got the resounding heartfelt YES! We all deserve that feeling of things being aligned, things feeling positive, things being yes, and life being right.

As the yoga class finished, I thanked the teacher for inadvertently helping me define my yes. I rolled up the mat, and as I walked to the shelf to put the mat away, a very handsome young man intersected me and said, “So that is actually my mat. I went to get a drink and when I came back you were using it”. My face turned pink with embarrassment, and much to his amusement, I gushed out some ridiculousness. “Oh my goodness, I had no idea, I thought the teacher had laid out the mats and when I asked him if I could use it he said yes!” I put my hand over my face mortified . Silly me, silly sweet happy go lucky me, just thinking that mat was waiting there in prime position unused, in the middle of a packed yoga class. And now here was this handsome young man, making small talk while I blushed. “So what did you think of the mat? It’s a Lululemon, they make great mats…” As I skurried off to find my shoes, I couldn’t help but think I had just somehow made a new friend. With cheeks still glowing I had a little chuckle at myself for being so funny… but you know that is what positive thinking can do, it can make anything seem possible.

I thought more and more on this idea of not having to say no, in the following days, and was really conscious about what people were asking of me, and where I felt no was coming up for me too often and how I could address it differently. I realised more and more, that I can actually have some control over the no’s, prior to them becoming a no, and it does in fact involve the attitude and energy I put out, and how I define myself. Likewise if you are receiving no’s, then perhaps the attitude and energy you are putting out needs to shift, so that the no’s turn to yeses. In focusing on this I was drawn to a person in particular who I love, who rarely says no. He has this spirit that is so very yes! He might say “I am away then, or that is when I am planting my garden” and through all the things he says yes to, he does not have to say no, he just shares where his yes lays. His yes is so defined, that when someone asks him if he wants to do something he knows instantly if he wants to do it and if he is able. He knows himself so well, that his no’s are not a guilty no, or confused no, he simply says “I do yoga that day, thanks for asking”, or “I donate to Charity Water, but thank you for the opportunity to donate to your cause.” Within him is still a defined limit of time and physical capacity but he is guided by his yes. His life moves with things that feel totally right. He knows what he likes to do and he does that. His energy and attitude are expansive and suspend him in a really positive space glowing like… a happy person.

All this wonderful insight bubbled away as I sat folding the laundry. It really is so nice to have this simple chore to daydream at I thought to myself. There is something so helpful in the repetition of working with the hands, and being able to dive into deep thinking. Doing the laundry really can be cathartic. As the pile of folded clean clothes grew, I was down to the socks, and in my mind it was all sorted. “I will focus on the YES that serves me and fill life up with that, and then the no’s will fall way.” I was feeling pleased that I had managed to save myself from cracking this week and follow through with my Japanese fortune advice of asking for help and exercising, and that in doing so I learnt that I do not have to focus on saying no, I just have to work on my very best, most important inner yes.

Maya wandered into the room, in a timely manner unique to her character. Maya has an innate sense to avoid particular house chores, the laundry is one of them. Had she arrived a little sooner I would have asked her to sort the socks. Something that we all know as mothers is that if we take the time for deep self reflection and care, this benefits our whole family. Once I am clear and well within myself, I then have a greater capacity to recognize and serve the needs of my children. I have come to see that when life feels pressured, I take it out on Maya. Maya is the eldest, and further along life’s path and has a strong nature. I don’t consciously choose to be harder on one of my children over the other, but in my role as mother I tend to burden the strongest or the eldest, which in our home happens to be one and the same. For others it may be the child most like you, or the child that misbehaves the most, or the child that reminds you of an inner fear, suffering or weakness. If this is something you might do, it is good to know it. I notice that when I am not full, when I am waning in my motherhood, Maya’s needs are the first to go into the dark. I recognise this, and so it is important that after taking her into the dark with me, I then show her the light.

“Maya would you like to come to yoga with me?” I said thinking of positive living experiences for her. Maya stood hovering in the door, looking like she was ready to make a quick exit before I asked her to help with the laundry. “I am not really into yoga” She said, “I prefer climbing trees!” with a clarity and brightness that came from an unhindered sense of self she skipped off leaving me there with the socks. I sat in that moment, marveling at her character, and of yet another little lesson, landing in my lap like a gift. My heart swelled with gratitude that my children were doing ok, their spirit is alive and well, and without a doubt Maya knows her yes. 






13 thoughts on “Anxiety and Embarrassing Yoga Mat Mishap

  1. Thank you for sharing your Sunday news Kirsten! Your story on learning how to ask for help strikes a cord. I read a story (in my quest to learn about Buddhism) about a daughter who was a primary caregiver for a mother, who was dying and needed complete care from her caregivers. And the daughter was so anguished by her mother’s suffering in her last days/years. One day, while the daughter was meditating, she was so upset, she couldn’t help think that it was so unfair. Her mother, who was so caring and so giving in her days as a vibrant woman, should have to suffer so much in her last days and be so incapacitated that she require so much care. A higher voice answered her that it was her mother’s task in this lifetime to learn to receive. And that it was much more merciful for her mother to learn to receive in the last days/years of her life rather than coming back in another lifetime as a disabled person, to have to suffer through a lifetime of disability to learn the art of receiving. Giving of oneself is wonderful not to be underestimated, but we all need balance. And it is just as important to learn to receive as it is to give.
    What you wrote resonated with me, because I feel that I share that same quality of wanting to do everything myself. But I had an experience of being a caregiver to my own mother and relaying that story to her and asked her, as gently as I could, to please receive what I had to give her. And so I continue to work on myself to receive. It is hard work, but spiritual growth is hard work.
    I had a question for you Kirsten! I have gone back and forth on the idea of homeschooling for years now. And I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing your experience with me on homeschooling and how you balance it between work and life etc. You can write me an email, or send me an article or anything! I am so curious!
    Thank you!

  2. Kirsten, your words explain how I’ve been feeling, and that feels so amazing. I think anxiety may be the rock in my shoe, maybe I should just take my shoes off.

    Our children are amazing teachers. “I prefer climbing trees”, well said Maya. xo

    ps your yoga mat story had me blushing for you, too sweet!

  3. Kirsten. What a nice post to read at this particular juncture, this week, this moment in my life. I have had s nagging snxiety this whole week. The tears have come and then they haven’t… Maybe I should go sort some socks! Xxx

  4. hello,
    i just want to let you know that i really admire how you are using writing as a therapeutic tool. I have a daughter, now a social worker that uses narrative therapy in her practice as she deals with families coping with loved ones experiencing dementia and i also have a brother in law , a psychiatrist , who started his practice decades ago with drama therapy and has since moved into narrative therapy and more recently using journaling as a healing modality for anxiety and depression.
    I was sad to read about your mothers battles with mental illness behind a closed bedroom door. It must have felt like you lost her and the grief associated with that for periods of time in your young life.
    I also experienced something similar when my father suffered a severe stroke when I was a preteen.
    He also went away , to hospital and then rehabilitation but my young sister and I weren’t allowed to visit him or given any explanations as to what happened. In our minds , he had died and when he finally did return home , he was changed , physically , emotionally and mentally. Before his stroke he was a highly intelligent, creative man . He was kind and gentle and he always took time out of his busy work schedule as a professor or engineering to take us on outings in nature, museums and art galleries.
    After his stroke he was depressed, short tempered, inappropriate (a frontal lobe symptom) and unfortunately my younger sister hardly remembers his pre stroke self.
    I really appreciate your rare beauty and your strength.

  5. Kirsten, thanks again so much for sharing your thoughts. I really look forward to reading every week. I love the idea of anxiety being a rock in my shoe that I should just take off and walk bare feet! Your words really resonated with me this week and I thank you for that. Take care, Joelle x

  6. Hi Margie,
    Thanks so much for your note, and sharing, I feel such gratitude that you take the time to read my words. I have told you this before, I admire you, and your comments help my light glow. Thank you. Yes, my poor mother, she tried to have help, in many ways, but sadly, things were just repeatedly hard for her and she seemed to break beyond repair. Still though I never give up the idea that something could magically change. I often speak like my mother has passed, although she is alive and has a wonderful loving spirit, but she can’t function in society. I have not seen her in a long time as our last trip to Australia her anxiety was so bad, it was not possible for us to connect. We do write at least once a week though. I think we will be able to see her next trip. I grew up, since birth, with a completely absent father, who passed away when I was a young adult. I feel like writing really is my best therapy, because then perhaps it helps other too! Life 🙂 xoxo

  7. Thank you so much Joelle, I am so glad you enjoyed this post, and while I know for some anxiety is much more serious than a rock in the shoes, I do hope that those of us that find ourselves in the shallows, know that we can easily get out before we get too deep. Thank you for your support! Kirsten x

  8. Oh Sachi, you put a big smile on my face, and with all your socks to sort, you get and extra lovely long time for thinking 🙂 Knowing you, some time spent digging in the garden would sort things out too! Big hugs to you. I am only a phone call away. xoxo

  9. Leah, I am just so happy we have connected on such a deep meaningful level this week! Thank you for reading my words and for being a wonderful supportive friend, to walk this path with. xoxo

  10. Hi Lily,
    Thank you for sharing this story, I have found myself reflecting on it moments through the day, what a wonderful insight. Your journey with you mother and how you applied this lesson is very powerful, thank you. Such a great lesson. A big YES! I feel like I am getting a lot of homeschool questions lately, lots of people talking to me about it, wondering, wanting guidance or details, so I think it will be best if I write something and share it on my blog. I have a few projects I have to complete first, but writing more about homeschooling is going to happen soon. I will share links in the article when I write it too. Thank you for helping inspire me to commit to that 🙂 Thank you for your generous supportive comments too! Kirsten xo

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