Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Getting to Know You (Ok, me)

As I get older, it is refreshing to acknowledge the things I like and don’t like to do. For years, I did things because I felt like they were the right thing to do or what I should be doing. Because everyone else was doing them. Or loved to do them.

Case in point: yoga.

For years, I was a faithful practitioner of yoga, knowing that it would be the best thing for my type-A, control freak, slightly ADD personality. I went every week with my purple mat, in my cute black stretch pants (that incidentally could have benefited from a tummy control panel) and twisted myself into various positions, holding them as long as I could, and trying to think about anything but all of the things I wanted to think about. I never could execute a handstand, but I could live with that, because when it came to the “pigeon pose,” I was a champ.

The only problem was, I wasn’t relaxing. What I was doing was stressing about not being able to relax at yoga. And I was thinking about other stuff that didn’t have anything to do with my own inner peace, chakras, or mindfulness. Every time I got into a pose and was instructed to hold it, my mind went in about five hundred different directions, starting with: “Things I need from Shoprite: eggs, milk, butter, toilet paper…” Then I would refocus (and readjust my tummy-control-less yoga pants) just in time for the next pose and clear my mind. Seconds later, I was back to: “…chicken, bread, toilet paper—oh, right, I already have that on the list—beer…beer…beer…”

My friend, Tami, is a yoga instructor and in the best shape of anyone I know (with the exception of trainer Shari). She is also very serene. She has graciously invited me to her class and while I was tempted to go, I never took the plunge. I couldn’t figure out why. Then, it finally hit me: I don’t really like yoga.

For all of you yoga devotees, let me be perfectly clear: the problem is me, not yoga. Yoga is a fabulous form of mediation and exercise. It’s just not for nut cases like myself.

But for years, I kept thinking that because it was such a fabulous form of mediation and exercise, I should do it. Even though it didn’t do anything for me physically or spiritually. I finally found the courage to articulate this epiphany to my friend, Melissa, who stared back at me and said, “I could have told you that.”

Why are our friends more likely to know more about us than we know about ourselves?

Now that I’ve embraced this new-found self awareness, I have also finally admitted that I really don’t like the beach. It’s hot, it’s crowded, and there’s sand. And flies. And it’s outside.

I also don’t like expensive coffee, I would rather have a big plate of fried chicken than a salad (despite what it does to my cholesterol and triglycerides or whatever they’re called), and I think that programs on public broadcasting stations are for the most part boring. I also prefer a dimestore novel to what is purported to be a literary masterpiece. I will no longer suffer through an “important work” if my mind starts to wander after the first three pages. I also prefer cheap chardonnay to the more expensive ones. But I won’t cheap out on Champagne.

By this time, you’re probably wondering why it took so long to come to some of these truths. I guess I’m just a slow learner.

So, what have you learned about yourself recently? Please share.

Maggie Barbieri


  1. http://SusanMcBride.comSeptember 23, 2009 at 7:59 AM

    Maggie, stop channeling me! It's getting scary! ;-) Love this post!


  2. Not long ago I decided I would simply throw away soap in the shower when I wanted a new bar instead of using it down to it's smallest, itty-bittiest soap morsel. I broke free of small shower soap.

    Power to the free thinkers! :-)

  3. I no longer do the laundry on Monday,just wait until there enough to wash.

    I write before I do other things that need to be done.

    For me, it meant breaking away from my mom's routine which I followed for many, many years.


  4. I still don’t keep a cool temper as well as I’d like, but I do manage to just shrug things off more than when I was younger. When I was young, the old people called this “mellowing”. I now call it mellowing. I’m mellowing. Which sounds like “melting”, but nicer than in the Wicked Witch of the West way.

    I have become, without really being able to say how (probably by practice), a pretty good cook.

    In my 40’s, I suddenly became good about and reasonable with money and even I would have bet against me doing so.

    I’m really not that interested in most other people. Not in an in depth way, anyhow. A couple of handfuls of actual friends will do me fine. You don’t need a posse unless you’re a sheriff.

    Family: don’t believe the hype.

    I’ve learned that I never really click with any adult who doesn’t drink coffee. I should just give up trying when I meet these freaks.

    I’ve learned I hate negativity (or, should that be I love positivity?!) in all its forms.

    Whining makes people very, very unattractive.

    The worst relationship advice ever? Never go to bed angry. That’s just stupid.

    I’m a poor housekeeper, always will be, and it’s just not very important in the long run.

    And, lastly—I think the answer to Maggie’s question is “objectivity”. When our friends look at us, it is with more balance between the subjective and the objective. We are just a little too subjective in assessing ourselves, I think. It takes an editor with a really good eye and mind, if you will, to judge the books that we are behind our covers.

  5. That is the beauty of growing older --- you get wrinkles and your body goes to hell but there is this amazing sense of defiance and glee that you can do what you like! As for yoga - I agree. Hate it. And moreso recently when I tried "hot" Bikram Yoga. I thought I was going to DIE. The room is heated to 105 degrees specifically so muscles can do the poses without straining. I wasn't bored because I was concentrating on trying to steady my pounding heart. I lost 3 pounds though (from sweat) but couldn't talk for two hours afterwards.
    Great post ... ! Oh! And Marilyn, my mum always did her housework first too -- it's only recently I've decided to write before anything else gets done. I live in a chaos.