Eight weeks. Eight loooong weeks of everyone living here, visiting here, needing me here…and it ends today. There are no plans inside of The Cohen Abode for the entire weekend, and I plan to kick off the nothingness by doing snow angels on the living room rug for three to four hours.
One thing I kept up with during the madness, though not always at 6:30am, was my reading and writing. I did yoga, though some weeks only once, and cooked meals a few nights a week. I kept up with my promises to myself way better than I ever have before, and that makes me feel like stringing up ribbons all over the house and running through them, arms in the air, Rocky-style. Definitely not all the promises all the time, but a few of them some of the time. It’s a step.
I took a pre-natal yoga class when I was about 9 weeks pregnant. I swore to myself I would be one of those moms who took yoga all through the pregnancy to stay healthy and do right by my baby. Zen Mom, that’s me. I walked in and most of the women knew each other, as it is with any small section of Jacksonville, FL: all the moms already know each other and, frankly, they aren’t interested in adding another mom to the group. But the teacher seemed very welcoming, so I didn’t immediately turn and waddle the other way.
The class in its entirety was basically stretching and a few simple poses. I didn’t feel like I got a workout, nor did I feel anymore Zen-like. I pretty much felt like I paid $15 to tell someone I went to a yoga class. And the very end of the class, though, the teacher ethereally gathered us into a circle at the center of the room and asked us all to hold hands. If there’s one thing I don’t care for in yoga class, it’s touching people. If it’s another thing I don’t care for in life, it’s holding hands with people I don’t know. The long-haired, dread-locked teacher then sat with us and told us we were going to chant something in SanSkrit, which as I recalled was a font in Word so I immediately didn’t understand the directions. She chanted the chant once and the class repeated. Fine. We’ll repeat the SanSkrit and then I’ll be on my way.
I sat, cross-legged and with good posture, closed my eyes as instructed, and repeated the chant three times. At the end of the third chant, I trailed off into a smile feeling good about having participated. We all said it, and as silly as it made me feel, I was a part of it.
As soon as I opened my eyes, I realized we were still doing it. I was the only one with my eyes open watching everyone chant the stupid thing again. I closed them back up.
It was around the seventh repetition of the chant that I opened my eyes again because Oh. Really? We’re still doing this?
I continued chanting, intermittently opening and closing my eyes to determine if I was in fact the only person in the room who couldn’t believe we were about to say this thing for the twentieth time. At one point I actually rolled my eyes as I closed them back up because come oooon. We get it. STOP.
Around the fiftieth time, they did stop. They stopped chatting and everyone naturally settled into the smile that I settled into back at chant number 3. I had no idea what just happened. I probably resembled some sort of deer, or perhaps one of those people who just got a whiff of the fact that they were on Candid Camera. I was waiting for it…waiting for the big reveal where everyone cracks up because JOKE’S ON ME!
Nope. Everyone basked in the after-chant glow and gentle rolled up their yoga mats. I did the same, although I did it while suspiciously eyeing everyone and telepathically asking, “Was that for real? Did you know this was going to be happening? Weird, right?” No one answered, or even looked at me, so I just walked to my car and never went back. Zen Mom Fail.
Since that experience, I’ve learned that not every promise I make to myself I have to keep. At least, I don’t have to keep it in it’s original form. I still love yoga, but I go to a different studio now with people who don’t ask me to touch or chant. I promised myself for years I wouldn’t eat refined sugar or gluten anymore. You know what? Sometimes I cheat. It’s rare, and it’s usually worth it. I promised myself I would get up every morning at 6:30am and write. Some mornings, though, the alarm goes off and I think it would be smarter for me to get the extra hour of sleep. So I do it. Even worse, sometimes I turn my alarm off the night before knowing that it’s more important I grab the extra zzz’s than to have the think time.
It seems every time I make myself a hard and fast promise, I never keep it and then I feel like I let myself down. But when I re-write the promise, like this: “I promise that I will do my best to make it to one yoga class each week, knowing that some weeks it just won’t be possible…” I leave myself much more room to succeed and, therefore, feel like less of a lazy jerk. And you know, no one ever judges the promises I make to myself. Most people don’t even know about them, but of those who do no one has ever said, “Really? Your promise is to try and make it to one yoga class? That’s weak.” They’re usually just impressed I even set a goal to begin with.
Go easy on yourself. Set a goal that gives you a chance to succeed, taking into consideration the fact that you’re a parent or a spouse or a hard-working adult who devotes time and energy to a million different people and things everyday. Keep your promises, but go easy.