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Is it Hot in Here?

Is it Hot in Here?

For the past 6 months, my husband and I have been attending classes at a Bikram yoga studio. If you aren’t familiar with Bikram, here’s what you need to know:

It’s hot.

Okay, okay. It’s more than that. For people like me, with digestive tracts made of rotting garbage and fire, it’s actually very beneficial. It releases toxins through the 3.72 gallons of sweat I provide during each 90 minute class and it also increases the blood flow to my ungrateful pancreas and ill-tempered liver. A bummer for me, however, is that heat exacerbates my digestive disorder in some pretty spectacular ways. It takes the worst parts of my illness and amplifies them.

There are classes where I feel like a Zen-master. I bend and stretch and ohm in ways I didn’t even know my body could, and I feel great. I barely notice the 104 degree heat and that it’s so humid in the studio that it’s about to rain. Then there are the other classes. The ones where it’s too much work to just lay like a melted marshmallow Peep on the mat, and my internal dialogue sounds something like this:

“Why did you do this to us?”

“Shut up. It’s good for us.”

“I am going to make you pay. I’ve been talking to Stomach and Colon, and we have a plan.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“Try me. Look at your husband back there. HE’S not panting like a Chihuahua during a thunderstorm. What’s YOUR problem?”

“It’s not a competition.” (silently competing harder)

(Instructor) “Now, let’s move on to Wind Removing Pose.”

“Oh, no. NoNoNoNoNo. Dear Jesus, please put your hand of embarrassment-prevention on my belly. Silence the evil of Stomach and unleash your righteous fury on Colon, telling him to ‘just be cool, man.’ I know I’m not supposed to bargain with you, but if it helps, I will cover myself in sackcloth and ashes and sing of your mighty works on Monument Circle—just please, please get me through the next 30 minutes with my dignity intact.”

Jesus, in His infinite mercy, always heeds my prayer and I make it through. I roll the dice again in the next class, not knowing if it’s going to be 90 minutes of magical, organ-compressing bliss, or of pure, vomity torture.

When the heat gets intense, my worst parts act up. It’s the same way in my non-yoga life. As work and motherhood and day-to-day pressures start to make me sweat, I am no longer the flexible and focused wife, mama and stepmama that I want to be. Anxiety and crabbiness start pouring out of me and my inner dialogue gets downright mean. So how I do silence it? I am slowly learning, but I have a long way to go.

More than anything, I have to ask for help when I need it. I’m going to make a confession to all of you: I enjoy a little self-imposed martyrdom now and then. I just do. It’s easier to let myself wallow in my “Poor me! I have to do this all by myself!” than it is to just ask for help and admit that I can’t stand the heat of life. Don’t be a grumpy hero, y’all. Ask for help.

Secondly, I need to let go of the way that I do things and realize that my way is not necessarily the best way, and it’s certainly not the only way. I can’t tell you how many times I have refused the offer of help from my husband or one of the kids because I thought “I’m just going to have to do it over anyway.” Why? Because they put the bowls in the top rack of the dishwasher instead of the bottom? Because they use a little too much furniture polish when they dust? The horror! Instead of letting the people who love me most show me that love by helping me when I need it, I load the dishwasher and dust the furniture my way, and then feel sorry for myself because of it. Goodness. That’s embarrassing to see in print, but it’s true.

If you find yourself doing the same things, I hope you can join me in the effort to let go of the grip we have on our to-do lists and just ask for help when we can’t take the heat. Like Bikram, it takes a ton of practice and patience with yourself, but we can do this. Namaste.

Why would anyone want to do THAT?

Why would anyone want to do THAT?

Since this is our first meeting, I would like to start our cyber relationship by offering you an uncomfortably tight virtual hug.  You need one, right?  If you stumbled across my page, you might be a member in the big, bumbling, wonderful club that is Blended Families.  If you are like me, you may not have been aware that at no additional cost, membership also includes a lifetime position in the Man-Eating, Gold-Digging, Home-Wrecking Evil Stepmothers Club.  You don’t even have to apply!  It’s automatic!   Your husband’s ex-wife will provide ample, constant, and some might say even excessive recommendations to the voting board (your new stepchildren) and your membership will be assured.  Ladies, it’s your job to get kicked out of that club.  For some of you, it will be easy.  For others, not so much.  For a select few of you, your adoring stepchildren will sing your praises as you braid their hair and craft haikus about how perfect your newly blended family is.  If you’re in the last category, please get out. Okay, okay…you can stay.  Your time will come.  Puberty. Breakups.  You’re not immune, my comfortable friends.

Now that we’re clear on the basics of membership, you might be wondering how to answer the question “Why would anyone want to do that to themselves?”  Sign up for a lifetime of stressful weekends, awkward family functions, holiday visitation jigsaw puzzles, etc?  WHY?  Because it’s worth it.  It’s that simple, and that’s what you have to remember. Because you love the person that you married (or are going to marry), and for that reason, you had better love what comes with that person with every ounce of love and understanding that you can muster, or you will find yourself right back where you started, and the kids will suffer more than they already have in the aftermath of their biological parents’ breakup. No pressure.

Blended families need the kind of support you can’t find in the average self-help book.   I don’t mean to imply that I have all the answers that the books lack.  I don’t.  Most days, I don’t even know what the question is, let alone how to answer it. What I do have, is a very supportive husband, who happens to be my best friend; 5 wonderful, silly, sweet, kind-hearted kids (step and biological); an extended family who rallies behind us and treats all of our kids the same; and most importantly a strong faith in God.  Somehow He never gets tired of my pitiful pleas for wisdom and my constant apologies for screwing it all up.

This is not a blog to bash exes, rant about step kids or trash your spouse.  That being said, my primary language is sarcasm, and honestly, if I don’t joke about it, it’s probably not important to me. My family–all of it, in all its forms–is of the utmost importance to me.  So prepare for the sarcasm, friends.  It’s my medicine and I hope that in some small way that it helps heal you too.