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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sometimes Less is More


When I teach yoga
I am realizing that I don't want to be anyone else 
and as a newer teacher 
I'm still refining my "voice" 
I'm sure that will always be the case
as hopefully we are continually growing and changing 
I stumble
and sometimes I'm surprised with what comes out of my mouth
There are moments of WTF did I just say?!! 
and times when I say something so profound
that even I sit up and take notice 
thinking
"Wow, I really needed to hear that today!" 
It is all okay 
because I need to remember that it is not my class anyway
I am simply a guide
My students teach me so much more than I teach them 
When I stumble
it is usually because I want the class to be whatever my version of "perfect" is
Trying to be perfect never works out to my advantage 
We are the one who gets in our own way
Last night
teaching felt especially satisfying
I was at ease
and had decided that I would give a two minute mini Savasana in between each of the Yin postures 
so that the students could take the time to notice the effects of each pose within their bodies
I had so much positive feedback
We didn't have time for as many postures 
but sometimes less is definitely more
During Savasana
(also known as corpse pose)
which is the final resting pose in a yoga class
I always sit and scan the room 
I place my eyes on each and every student
as if sweetly tucking them in for the night
and I wish them peace
And finally 
I wish myself peace
This may be my path
but we all journey together

Photography by~Angela Minard

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Always Remember


This poem is dedicated to my husband, David, on our 26th wedding anniversary
Happy Anniversary, Honey! 
We've got this! 

Always Remember

Remember when you hesitantly asked me to dance?
Surprising you with "Yes"
Looking up into your face
which always reminds me of The Man in the Moon
glowing, open and kind
we awkwardly swayed side to side 
attempting to make small talk over the blaring music

Watching your lips as you spoke
my eyes traveled nervously 
from your mouth
to your feet
back and forth
back and forth

You wore cowboy boots
and I wondered
if you listened 
to country music
The thought amused me
and years later
when I was cleaning out our closet
I came across those same boots
unworn for many years 
turned up at the toes and misshapen
I shook my head
laughingly tossing your forgotten boots in the donation box
Now I almost wish I had kept them...

After our dance
I didn't think about you at all
and not because you didn't interest me
You did...
I forgot because I was scared to want you
Wanting hurt

Calling me two weeks later
asking me to dinner
your voice sounded both shy and hopeful 
and although afraid to say yes this time
I didn't have the heart or will to refuse

Walking down the aisle 
toward you, and a life together
I was petrified, but so in love
Looking into your sweet blue eyes
I silently begged you to see
See me
See us

Loving together
our four baby boys
sleepless nights
summer days
teasing laughter
worried minds
hospital stays
passionate love
occasional misunderstandings 
You are still my favorite companion and friend

"Yes, I will forever"

always remember...

Angela Minard 2016©



Friday, April 15, 2016

Scream


Scream

Outside my window
the white sky is marbled 
with veins of charcoal
A winter sky in April
From far away
whispered thoughts
drift over the stillness of my body
Startled by the sound of my name being called
I listen intently
holding my breath
until I finally realize it is my own voice calling
Clamping my mouth tightly closed
I breathe purposefully through my nose
in 2,3,4
out 2,3,4,5
until the urge to scream disappears
Droplets of rain occasionally tap the window
as the lyrics to a song by The Clash plays in my head
on repeat...
"Should I stay or should I go
Should I stay or should I go now?"
The rhythm is more upbeat than I feel
I feel 
nothing
but still the question
without a clear answer
So I wait...
continuing to breathe
in 2,3,4,5
out, 2,3,4,5,6,7
I reach for my phone
find your number
wait for the sound
Of your voice 
and eventually 
I scream...

Angela Minard 2016©

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Purgatory



Purgatory

When I was a child
 I would play the "breath holding" game with myself
It wasn't the kind of 
"breath holding to gain attention from parents" game
It was simply a challenge
How long could I deprive myself of air?
 life?
The strangest thing is that the longer you hold your breath
the more alive you feel
The heart beats even louder and more ferociously
The body warms and trembles to stay alive
until eventually the mouth flies open
like an ugly, gasping Piranah
an exhale that feels like failure
worn like shame...
As I grew up
breath holding evolved into food withholding
It was simply a challenge
How long could I deprive myself of food?
Long enough for my heart to beat erratically
for my muscles to cramp
 and to shiver all day
even in the summer
Feeling alive...
this slow act of suicide
How long could I press my fingers into my flesh
before I would feel the pain?
the belly I loathed dotted with perfect thumb sized bruises
Where is this poem leading?
to life?
death?
or somewhere
in between...

Angela Minard 2016©

Artwork~ "Hungry" by Leslie Ann O'Dell

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Tiny Package



Tiny Package

I remember
this
beautiful containment
a neat and tiny package
buzzing numbness
almost like being alive
almost...
I'm tired of my own voice
messy and overflowing
spilling like sticky blood
 never to be washed away
closing my eyes
I reach my stained hands toward you
but I still see her
too much to hold
too much to love
I remember
this
beautiful containment... 

Angela Minard 2016©

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Porcelain




Porcelain

Her heart...
imploding
exploding
there is no other way

escape is merely an illusion
but oh, how she tries

less than a whisper into the darkness
the shadows obscure certainty
tiny fists clutching monstrous deceptions
her heart holds it well

Wide eyes
 close
 open
close
open
as if made of porcelain
a vacant, blinking doll

The most beautiful treasures
are veiled
beneath harsh desert skies
like a mirage
resplendent
and yet seemingly unreachable

to love big
is to get small and quiet
until all you can hear
is the truth

Her heart...
imploding
exploding
there is no other way

Angela Minard 2016©

Friday, March 11, 2016

How You Feel



I am in a strange place in my life, and I'm not even sure if I have the ability to articulate it here. 
Often the reason I write is to help me make better sense of not only this world, but my place within the confusion. 
I haven't written here in a couple of weeks, and at first it was because I wasn't feeling well physically. 
Of course, it is normal for that to carry over into not feeling well emotionally, but that sinking feeling of the blues can be terrifying for someone prone to depression and anxiety. 
My yoga practice is how 
I center myself, and how I reconnect physically and emotionally, but my body was too tired. 
I easily fall into a self-critical thought pattern, and I decided that just because my physical practice was on hiatus, I could still meditate. 
That would be my yoga practice...
I still have so much to learn! 
The problem with sitting in a silent meditation for me, with only my breath, is that I dissociate. 
I'm a pro at leaving my body, so that was not working. 
Instead of using an alternative, I berated myself for not being able to meditate "right." 
I asked a friend from teacher's training, who specializes in meditation, and also happens to be a psychologist, if I should continue to keep trying. 
Even though in my heart, I knew I should find an alternative, like guided meditation, I needed someone else to tell me it was okay, and she did. 
I don't  have to be perfect. 
I need joy to teach yoga, but joy was missing. I get stuck in a feeling, and fear that it will last forever. 
I'm definitely not the most rational person in the world. 
I talk the talk, but I do not always walk the walk. 
I should mention that one by one, our boys are moving out. 
Every morning, I walk by empty bedrooms, and although I love that they are moving toward independence, it is different...
I will be 50 in August...
am I even a grown up? 
I'm still working on that, so it feels incongruous with reality. 
I'm taking my sweet time...
I want everything! 
I want to take care of myself, but to be coddled, and it changes from moment to moment. 
Is this how you feel?
Do you feel like your heart is breaking from joy and pain, and that you don't even know the difference?
Do you? 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

About Caring



I saw this coming... 
I noticed the fatigue, the aching, the tightness in my chest suggesting a panic attack was imminent. I knew I needed to slow down, and had even planned a spring break breather. Fortunately, or unfortunately, my body is on it's own schedule, and spring break wasn't soon enough. The first sign was an unattractive fever blister, followed by the full blown flu. Thank you, Universe! I get it! There is always a lesson, and as my life came to a halt, I had no choice but to listen. 
I love being a caregiver. If you give me a chance, I will wrap you in a warm hug, and tell you how amazing you are. I'm not nearly as comfortable being the recipient, and that may be an understatement. While being sick, my lovely friends offered support, soup, pep talks, and love. When asked if I needed anything, I refused. It didn't matter. I was still well taken care of. I was embraced with care at every turn. Complete strangers cared for me, and it brought me to tears. I have arthritis in my hips, and I needed a steroid injection. On Monday morning, I went to the pain clinic here in town, ready for the giant, terrifying needle. The nurse who checked me in was soft spoken, and kind. She asked if I wanted a warm blanket while I waited. I said, "No, thank you." She draped a warm blanket over me anyway, placed her hand on mine, and smiled. The doctor and his assistant came in and talked with me. The assistant was a yoga teacher, so we chit chatted about yoga, and then she took me back to the doctor. Everyone was incredibly kind, and that kindness began to swell inside of me. That swelling feeling usually means tears, but I fought the good fight. I had the injection, and afterwards, again they asked if I wanted a blanket, or juice. 
"No, no, I'm fine, but thank you..."
Still, I was covered with a cozy blanket, and handed a cup of orange juice. My blood pressure was taken a few times, and when I was on my way out, the nurse who had been with me the most grinned, and whispered, "What is your favorite color?" She disappeared, and then returned with two pale purple tulips wrapped in green tissue paper. My throat was tight, but I managed to thank her as I left with my husband.  I'm uncomfortable with people caring about me, but it touched me deeply, and it made me think of how often I refuse kindness. Why? It is wonderful! As if that wasn't enough, when I returned to the studio to teach yoga on Thursday, my students were the sweetest! At the end of my class, I found two students cleaning up my room, and sweeping the floor for me. Accepting care feels awkward , but I am deserving of care, and as always, I learn from strangers, as well as my friends, family, and students. 
This life is...
Wow!

"The person you'll have the hardest time opening to and truly loving without reserve is yourself. Once you can do that, you can love the whole universe unconditionally."
~Adyashanti

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Deserving Pain



I have been in pain for weeks, clenching my jaw through yoga practices, and doing the opposite of what I tell my students to do, which is to listen to and honor their bodies. It isn't the first time I have pushed through pain. Emotionally and physically, it is how I lived for a very long time. Although recovered from anorexia, the toll it took on my body has left my bones and joints weak from osteoporosis. I developed osteoarthritis specifically in my hip joints, and eventually they will both need to be replaced. I manage the pain with medication, but occasionally need steroid injections to decrease the inflammation. I have been teaching a lot of classes, and physically exhausting myself. The added pain is wearing me down. I went in to see the orthopedic surgeon, and the nurse took my temperature. I had a fever of 101.8. I have no idea why. I don't have a cold or anything. I just feel exhausted. I love teaching yoga, but it is difficult when you don't feel well. I'm feeling down today because I couldn't get the injection with a fever. I started to beat myself up with negative self talk, as if the anorexia was a choice, and I brought this all on myself. I know better, but I went there for awhile. Eating disorders are mental illnesses, and not a choice. I don't deserve to be in pain, and I worked hard to get where I am today. I gave myself a pep talk, and I know it will all work itself out as long as I don't allow myself to be defeated by my own mind. Impeccable self care is needed, along with compassion and patience. All of those are a challenge for me, but I can do it! 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Labels



I have had this blog now for about 8 years
It began as a recovery journal 
and has evolved into a space for poetry
positive thoughts 
and how yoga was the catalyst for my healing
but it is no longer about my destruction 
My identity is not the many diagnoses I have procured throughout the years
I am not anorexic or a PTSD acronym
depressed or suicidal 
I am not manic or bi-polar 
I am not a label 
I am a person...
sometimes happy
and sometimes sad 
I am scared, overwhelmed, giddy, and devastated 
I am human 
I am joyful, and insecure
doubtful, and filled with hope...
We are all a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors
and when our colors radiate out 
the magnificence blinds me 
My identity is more complex than all of those meaningless descriptors 
and yet we can easily allow ourselves to become trapped inside of empty boxes
We begin to wear these labels as an excuse 
and although they can be necessary for treatment 
they are not meant to be crippling
What if we began describing ourselves by our abilities and not our supposed disabilities?
Try something different
If all you ever talk about are your illnesses 
your pain
and why you can't do something
 trust me; you are pushing people away
and it is not because people don't care
At a certain point
if you do not move beyond those lifeless adjectives
you will drown in them
You deserve a life filled with a mosaic of beautiful colors
so begin painting your world with a new pallete
and see what happens

Artwork by~ Carol Cavalaris






Friday, February 5, 2016

Remember This


Remember This

I imagine radiating joy
as the winter sun pulses
dazzling crystal blue sky
vast and cloudless

I imagine your spirit
smiling on the inside
as the warm bubbles tickle;
rising from your belly 
into my heart
before gently emerging 
dancing across your face

This...This...This...
swells within my heart; breath catching
vibrant and alive
echoing into the silent, empty spaces

Remember
This...
This...
This...

"I am not burdened by your feelings
but rather honored
that of all of the people in your life
you choose me..."

Angela Minard 2016©

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Practice Joy



I have been thinking about joy this week. Even the word "joy" brings about a shift in energy, doesn't it? I instinctively begin reaching, as if I could grasp that beautiful feeling, holding it close. I taught a few yoga classes today, and I read this quote throughout my classes. 

"Difficult times are your greatest opportunity to practice yourself into joy." 
~The Secret Scrolls by Rhonda Byrne

Does that mean you choose joy or happiness? No, not all of the time, or at least I don't think so...

I disagree with telling people that they can choose to be happy. It isn't a light switch that you can turn on and off, and no one would choose depression. Like anything you are striving for in life, it is a practice. Especially when I am in the depths of winter, and the shadows lengthen over me, I pursue those experiences and people that bring me joy. Close your eyes, and breathe joy; Taste joy, smell, joy, touch and remember those times of complete surrender. Anything you are passionate about takes practice. We may have an innate gift or talent, but it still takes refinement to excel in anything. Writing brings me joy. I can lose myself in the process, and is as healing and necessary to me as breathing. I often struggle to stay present. I am a worrier by nature, but the process of observation draws me into the present moment. All five senses are activated, and I feel with the entirety of who I am. I not only see who I am, but everything around me becomes crystal clear as well. It is magical, and I don't take it for granted. I also forget...I fall into the darkness. My breath becomes shallow, I hide in dusty corners, and I forget the light, which is all of the joy I have ever known. It is a practice, this joy I speak of...

When you forget, make a "joy list." Pull it out in times of darkness. Close your eyes, and breathe. Remember joy, cultivate joy, and practice. Difficult times are a wake up call. 
Practice. Joy. 

"For hours, we lay in it, wanting for nothing, turning blades of grass into butterflies with just the touch of our fingers, whatever we imagined made real by our will and desire."
~Libba Bray

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Where Success is Measured by Failure


Where Success is Measured by Failure


"Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room..."
where no one will know you 
or your history
where you will have zero access 
to anyone you even half way trust
where you will be drugged into oblivion 
pharmaceutical numbness;
where you will miss work
and be forced to lie 
in order to keep your job
where you learn 
to keep your fucking mouth shut
vowing that if it ever gets to this point
again
you will succeed

Angela Minard 2016©


Artwork~ "Incomplete" by thuyngan.deviantart.com

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Beautiful


Beautiful

It is January
and so she counts the days
Three before the deepest sleep
Safe
with you
for awhile
she believes...
Stepping into an early darkness 
 waiting in the parking lot
aching
She doesn't want to drive away
Pausing for a rest
within the emptiness
She is tired
and may not survive 
the days in between
"Describe my face."
"Tell me what you see," you encourage
but the words do not come 
Your eyes; 
the soft color of moss growing along the roots of forest trees in the spring
Your mouth; 
crookedly amused or set in a straight line...
Love 
makes everyone extraordinarily beautiful
She wanted to tell you
Beautiful...

Angela Minard 2016©

Monday, January 18, 2016

Walking Through Fear



I remember standing in line with the heat of the Texas sun flooding down, as I held my brothers small, sweaty hand. We were waiting to see "Grease," and the buttery smell of popcorn rushing out of the air conditioned theater each time someone opened or closed the door made me feel sick to my stomach. I was eleven, and I didn't understand the word "rape." I didn't have the vocabulary at the time for what had happened to me. The timeline in my head is confused, but it must have happened not long before this memory.  We stood in the heat, and I remember feeling lost and numb. As soon as we stepped inside the lobby, I vomited all over the ticket takers shoes. My brother began to cry. I took him into the bathroom, wiped his tears, and scrubbed the splattered bile from my tennis shoes with a useless paper towel. We weren't with an adult, but they let us in without question to see the movie. That probably wouldn't happen in 2016. I dropped into that film as if my life depended on it. I was every song, every line, and every laugh. It was then that I must have decided I no longer wanted to be me. I don't think of that time in my life very often anymore, but I still live with certain fears. A preview for that movie was on the television the other evening, which brought back that particular memory. I was also triggered at the yoga studio because I now teach a 7:00-8:15 p.m. class on Monday nights. I'm nervous to walk to my car in the dark when I close alone. We are located near a Pizza Hut, and often there are a couple of guys out there taking their smoke breaks. I fear groups of men even more than I fear a man who is alone because I was raped by two, and I'm almost certain that while I was being raped, there were other people who knew it was going on. I'm trying, but it causes a lot of anxiety for me. It also brings out some anger, because I'm tired of being afraid. I even thought about giving up that class because of it, and that is ridiculous. I do not want to allow fear to get in the way of living my life. I am not a little girl anymore. Wish me luck tonight as I walk through my fear.


"Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." ~Sarah Williams

Artwork by~ Akageno Saru