I am right footed and left handed. In dance I could turn and leap much better on my right leg and in yoga I can balance much easier on my right foot. My left hand can hold a side plank for a really long time, shoot a basketball and throw a football with my boys, cut up food for our dinner and write a sweet letter to someone I love. I ask a lot of the strong sides of me.
A few years ago I injured my right hamstring and it took forever to heal, I have a recurring stress fracture in my right foot and lately my entire left arm has been hurting from wrist to shoulder. My arm feels too strong right now. It hurts to bind my hands behind me, which did feel amazing. It seems like I’ve taken my strong side for granted, abused it, and now it’s rebelling against me.
This morning in my practice I decided to give my left arm and shoulder some TLC and I asked my right arm to support, gently push, pull and be patient with my left side by letting it hold poses longer. It was during this “Love my Left Arm” yoga practice that I felt how easily a strength can become a weakness.
I have a mantra that I have probably been repeating since Kindergarten: Just Show Up. I say it to myself, my kids, my students, anyone who wants to know how I’ve survived my life so far. And although I don’t impose this idea in my advice to others, to myself I also demand that I show up with a big smile on my face. Now it seems that this value is turning against me as well. I’m feeling inauthentic and sometimes even bitter when I force myself to go to places I don’t want to go.
I try to always finish what I start and if I say I’m going to be there, I will be there. Until this past Sunday. Mother’s Day. As holidays will sometimes do, Mother’s Day sent me into a bit of a tailspin filled with disappointment in myself and others both past and present. About an hour before we were scheduled to be at a family function to celebrate this day, I bailed. When I first realized that I would not be able to fake it this time, I panicked. I thought it was going to be this big dramatic thing where everyone would be disappointed in me and ask a hundred questions and, in the craziness of my panic I thought that they might insist I get myself together and drag myself to the celebration.
But it wasn’t so bad. I gave a good, but simple explanation with my apologies to both my host and my kids. I could tell there was disappointment, but I could also sense understanding. I probably could have shown up. But had I forced myself to go somewhere that was not right for me in the moment, there would have been a price. Just like forcing my strong arm to hold me up when it really needs a break, I have been forcing myself into situations that I cannot wholeheartedly attend. Showing up usually is the right thing to do, but if I can’t show up exactly where I honestly am, both in my body and in my spirit, I am going to start giving myself a break. People will love me without a smile on my face if they really love me and yoga wants me to honor my body where it is, every day.