summer always throws me off. school was a structure, a routine, a familiar blanket to wrap myself in after stepping, temporarily, into a new normal. graduating law school was exhilarating, exciting. i was proud but also scared. i surprised even myself by turning down a job i knew i would have loved. i found myself scrambling, suddenly, searching for a different one. i learned to teach yoga in between interviews, forever switching between creased pants & spandex. i can’t complain. i eventually landed in a semipermanent new normal, albeit frantically, at a personal injury firm in madison doing discovery work on a gasoline spill case. i never thought i’d actually find work against the machine in my profession but somehow it kind of fell into my lap. every morning i drink my coffee at my desk, call my clients & look out over lake monona as i nod empathetically while they tell me their troubles, much larger than any i could dream of, even though i know they can’t see me over the telephone line.
“aparigraha.” i said it slowly on a wednesday night in a candlelit room in the first yoga class i ever taught. it means non-gripping, non-grasping, non-hoarding, i told my students. non-attachment. can you find it? on your mat, when your body won’t take the shape you want it to? in your life, when there’s nothing familiar to reach for? i had a hard time with it myself. the week i started my day job i was living in milwaukee, driving three hours every single day for over a month to either work in madison or train to be a yoga teacher in suburban chicago. i should have been grateful to find work & i was, but a little part of me was hesitant. i’ve been with my boyfriend over a decade. i’d hoped to find work in his city; pull the stops on all our goodbyes. i love madison: all it’s quirks fit perfectly into mine, like the hands of two people who have been lacing their fingers together since they were 14 years old. i had already written the city a farewell letter in my head, though, & i found it difficult to let go of the outcome i’d mapped in my own mind about where i’d live & how.
it helps when people around you are wonderful examples of how to live. my friends come to my yoga classes, excited. i was calm instantly meeting their gazes, unable to stop myself from breaking into a big, comfortable smile. they bring me flowers & cookies & check in on me throughout my days. one helped me move not once, but twice, wrapping & unwrapping the things i’ve carried across four states & six apartments with the care she’d show even her own belongings. another one’s heart has been broken so badly i don’t even know how to begin to hold it, yet we found throw-your-head-back laughter as we sat across from each other on a patio eating lunch on wednesday afternoon. yet another couldn’t find a job as fast as she wanted to & by the time she did, she was only a few weeks away from being ready to run a marathon. i can’t do nothing, she explained, as we talked about her longest run so far.
you can do nothing, i tell my students, as i keep them in savasana longer than they want to be there. that’s one of the hardest things for us all to accept – that we can “do nothing,” that we can just be & that’s enough & that’s okay. it teaches us things about ourselves. it’s like holding up a mirror. if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of what it is you’re running from. it is possible, of course, to practice doing nothing even while on a run. fresh air can be hard to find these days. it can be difficult to notice yourself, alive, heart beating, lungs breathing, when we all walk down these urban streets scrolling through our cell phones, pushing each other away even as we cross paths. but there’s a certain ease that settles in around you once you realize doing nothing is okay & is actually everything. it’s okay to do nothing while everything does you, while you catch what life throws at you, sit with it for a little & figure out how to unpack it, cardboard box by cardboard box.
aparigraha: just being, just accepting & not reacting, not attaching to the outcome – what it actually is, or what you wanted it to be. the strength & ability to do so is within me, i know, but sometimes i forget until i’m inspired by others, accessing their own depths in ways i never thought possible. the grace of my friends inspires me always, even through the transitions, to tap into my own.
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pumpkin spice granola
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/2 cup maple syrup (or any other sweetener you have on hand)
-a sprinkle of brown sugar
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-3 cups oats
-1 cup chopped raw walnuts*
-1 cup pumpkin seeds
-1 cup raw coconut flakes*
-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon & 1/4 tsp each of nutmeg/cardamom/ginger/clove)
-1 tsp salt
-1 cup chocolate chips
1. preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. meanwhile, mix wet ingredients & spices together in a big mixing bowl (olive oil, maple syrup or other sweetener, brown sugar, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices & salt).
3. fold in remaining ingredients except for chocolate chips.
4. bake for 30 minutes, take out, stir & bake for 20 more minutes or until crunchy & deep golden brown in color.
5. let cool before adding chocolate chips.
6. try it in a mug with some almond milk for breakfast. you’ll be glad ya did. :)