Friday, April 26, 2013

The Change: 25

 Sneakers Don't Lie
 (This is an ongoing story. If you want to start at the beginning, click here.)

There are few things as flawless as the body of an 18-year-old boy (except maybe for an 18-year-old girl). Still, I watched AE trace her finger over my son’s musculature, pointing out twists and torques I had never noticed before.  Even if I had noticed them, I wouldn’t have mentioned them to him; he would think I was criticizing him.

I first considered bringing him to AE a while ago. I’d picked up his running shoes to move them from their unsightly pit stop at the front door to their proper home in the mud room.  For some reason, I flipped them over and looked at the soles.  They were worn around the outer edge, the bright blue rubber having given way completely to the white rubber undersole.  From looking at his shoe bottoms, it would appear that only the outsides of his feet ever struck the ground.

If I'd said something about the shoes to him, he would have accused me of dissing the way he runs.  So, of course, I said nothing.

Weeks later, he began complaining of knee pain.  For the past few years, my son has run 6-10 miles a day most days and he worries that his knees are going to degenerate before their time. I took him to the chiropractor who gave him some stretches to do – and that helped a bit – but I worried that his sneakers were telling a story that shouldn’t be ignored.

“I want to take you to AE,” I said to him one day.

“I don’t want to end up like you,” he said.

Yeah, I don’t want him to end up like me either. I've struggled for months about whether to introduce him to this process.  AE assures me that most people get this work done without incident, and as impossible as that seems from my own experience, I do believe her.

The other day I heard a man in the supermarket telling the cashier that his daughter was going in for a knee operation. The guy wasn’t much older than me. His daughter was a runner. I don’t want my son to end up like her, either.

Aside from seeming a little more comfortable than he should having two women appraise his underwear-clad physique, my son’s session was relatively uneventful. He said that mostly it was relaxing and he fell asleep.  No tears. No karma shifts. Just some regular old bodywork that made him feel “more grounded and steady” on his feet when he got off the table, much like I expected my own process to go.

I don’t usually live vicariously through my children, but on this day, I was really wishing his experience were mine.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Change: 24


In an act of supreme faith or colossal stupidity, I brought my son to his first session with AE today.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Change: 23

Finding Our Feet
(This is an ongoing story. If you want to start at the beginning, click here.)

A week or so ago, I spent some time complaining about my foot to Jillian the Yoga Teacher.  Her advice was to treat the pain more like an injury – stay off it, ice it, massage it. She thought that treating it with healing compassion might offer better results than just plowing through life like I’m doing now.

I tried to hear what she was saying, but a loud voice in my head drowned her out, and that loud voice said, “Flash Mob! Flash Mob! Flash Mob!”

By then I’d only been to one flash mob rehearsal, and it left me nearly crippled by the end of the day. Surely, people with serious injuries should not partake in flash mobs, a thought I did not care to entertain.

Jillian spoke again to me about the profound effect of “finding your feet.” She said, “When you can completely connect to the ground and then feel it up here, it’s one of the most amazing feelings you’ll ever have in your life.”

When she said, “Up here,” she patted her upper chest with her hands. She said, “I don’t mean just feel your feet up here,” she said, “I mean feel everything. Because when you ground yourself like that, a lot of emotion can come up.”

It was not her clavicle or ribs she was talking about when she patted herself.  It was her heart.

She talked about facing fears and experiencing grief and all of those things that yogis talk about – feeling our power in the world, feeling a sense of belonging,  connectedness, worthiness, peace.

As she spoke, I felt myself shutting down. I did NOT want to pass up this flash mob and I did NOT want to start feeling a whole slew of pesky emotions. My throat tightened while I listened to her, making me think there might be some merit to what she was saying. (At least about the pent up feelings part.) So I tried to stay as open as I could to hearing her but I tuned a lot of it out.  Then I went home and cried.

Since then, I have been taking extra good care of my feet. Ice. Gentle massage. No undue stressors. I’ve modified my morning yoga routine to include a lot of Tadasana (Mountain Pose), which is basically just standing tall with your hands in prayer at your heart, feeling the earth and finding your feet.

For the first few days, just moving into that pose made me sob. Not in physical pain, but in emotional pain. I worked really hard at staying with the feelings…following them and seeing what was behind them, but I can’t say I gleaned any clarity. Except when I become really conscious of “finding my feet,” my throat tightens. And I keep hearing a voice in my head say over and over: “Please. Don’t go.”


Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Change: 22

Upping The Ante

(This is an ongoing story. If you want to start at the beginning, click here.)

I’m not sure which Flash Mob was the first I ever saw. At first I thought it was the one at a shopping mall where people started standing on the food court tables and spontaneously singing Amazing Grace. It gave me chills and made me cry. But I think the one that started my frenzied flash mob pursuit took place in Israel. It was a dancing flash mob and from the moment I saw it, I really, really, really, really wanted to be a part of a flash mob. Really.

Because I don't sing, I set my sights on a dancing flash mob, and a few years ago, on a cold December morning in Times Square, my prayers were almost answered. My friend, Claudine, and I signed up for a flash mob and “performed” in the middle of Broadway…but it was lame. I’m not going to go into how and why it was lame. I wrote about it and if you’re interested you can read about it HERE and HERE. The point is, it did not satisfy my Flash Mob longing and I still consider myself a Flash Mob Virgin.

Now, I have another opportunity to be in a dancing Flash Mob. It’s coming up soon. But there’s one teeny, tiny problem. I don’t think I can dance. And this is breaking my heart.

I told AE about the Flash Mob and she said she’s going to try her darndest to get me back on my feet again by then. The first rehearsal is this coming weekend. I’m going to go, but I can’t imagine it will go well.  I tried to play tennis this week and it was grim.

All week I’ve been teetering between being wildly optimistic and a Debbie Downer. On my positive days, I’ve taken to talking to my foot – giving it little pep talks and words of encouragement throughout the day. If you see me walking around town muttering toward the ground, that’s probably what I’m doing.

Being able to dance in a Flash Mob right now would require some sort of miracle. Like, a bigger miracle than getting to a train on time. But, sometimes crazy shit can happen.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Change: 21

Do You Understand?
(This is an ongoing story. If you want to start at the beginning, click here.)

Here’s the thing about me: when I’m going through something challenging, all I really want is to be able to talk about it with someone who has gone through the exact same thing.  That’s been the single hardest thing about my work with AE. No two people go through this the same way.

Late last summer, when I was freaking out about how much my foot was starting to hurt, AE offered to let me talk to some people who had done extensive work with her.  And by extensive, I mean complicated.  She calls me “a complicated unwind.” Between my sheared foot and my C-Section scar mucking up the works, she has many layers of gunk to get through.  She used to describe my calves as my “cement boots” because the tissue there was so rubberized, like the consistency of a wetsuit, thick and impenetrable to stabilize the mess my foot had created.

She had six different women call me – all fellow “complicated unwinds” – and share their experiences with me so I could better understand the process.  But none of them had pronating feet like mine. In fact, only one had a foot problem at all. The rest had problems – lots of problems – and lots of surgeries that exacerbated their problems, but no one had problems exactly like mine.

Two women shared with me that they’d dropped inches off their waistlines since their AE work. Both these women also told me that in their 10 months of sessions, they regularly had painful days, where their bodies were “processing” the changes and sometimes they just feel like crap.  I remember thinking, I don’t want to feel like crap, but if I end up thinner I could probably stand it.

Well, I haven’t ended up thinner and in fact I’ve gained weight from all the chocolate I eat to soothe my crappy-feeling self. But the real loss is that I don’t have that thing that I crave, which is to be able to tell someone what happened to me in my session today and for them to totally get it. For them to say, “You know when you’re near the end of your session and you say to AE, ‘I hope I can still walk when I get off this table?’ and she says, ‘Yeah, I hope so, too!’ Doesn’t that just crack you up?” And for me to say, “I know! It’s hilarious!”

No one but me gets how hilarious that is.

Not even Scott. Because, although he’s been to her many times over the past year, his experience is completely different than mine. He doesn’t feel wrung out. He doesn’t have any blowback. We both see AE but it’s like he went to the ballet and I went to the circus.

I have friends who have seen her, and they, too, have completely different experiences. We could talk about trying to fit a purse into the little cubbies in the closet or the scary BEEP the space heater makes if it gets jostled, but that’s about it.

Today AE told me that there’s a man she works on who has feet similar to mine. Almost as bad, she said. But I’m pretty sure he never had a C-Section, and even if he did, he STILL would not unwind in exactly the same way.

After I cried today, AE recounted again the time when, after many sessions, her neck finally released and her body cried for two solid hours.  “It wasn’t from pain,” she said. “It was my body releasing grief. I couldn’t have stopped those tears if someone put a gun to my head.”

And I nodded hungrily. I know. I know. I know. I know.

But I don’t have anyone to talk that way with. I don’t have anyone who will tell me, “I know exactly what you mean.” So I have to just keep telling this story to you, from every angle, hoping I can get you to understand.

Do you understand?


Monday, April 1, 2013

The Change: 20

Chanting Propaganda

(This is an ongoing story. If you want to start at the beginning, click here.)

“Mom, you’re spewing your chanting propaganda again.”  This is what my son said to me when I told him the only reason we made the train was because I chanted.  “This whole experience was bad luck, not good luck,” he said.

I can’t tell the story about AE without talking about chanting, because somehow they go together, even though I can’t say how for sure.

My son and I took a train trip up to Providence on President’s Day. He’ll be going to school there in the fall and they had a program for incoming freshmen. It was bitterly cold up there that day, so I was wearing a full down coat and long johns under my clothing. We’d stayed in a hotel the night before, so I was carrying a backpack full to the brim with necessities like clothes and pajamas, a yoga mat, a book I didn’t once crack open, notebooks, headphones, almonds.  I don’t know what all else was in there but it was heavy and cumbersome. When it was on my back, I felt like a cranky turtle.

The school is maybe a mile from the train station, easily walkable, even with a backpack on, and even with an abundance of clothing, but my foot ached from my work with AE and I couldn’t make the walk.

You can’t hail a cab in Providence (well, I guess you could if there were any around, but there weren't), so I picked up a list of cabs from the student center and started calling them a little before 4:00, leaving us ample time to make our 4:44 train.

The first three companies said they had no one available.  I wasn’t expecting that response and started reassessing my ability to walk the mile to the station. The fourth call I made yielded better results.

“I don’t have anyone in the area right now but I can get someone there in about 15 minutes,” the dispatcher said.

“I have a 4:44 train,” I told him.

“Not to worry. It’s a two-minute drive. You’ll be there in plenty of time.”

Eighteen minutes later I called him back. “Where’s my cab?” I asked. “It’s coming,” he said. “I’m nervous,” I said. “Don’t be,” he said, “it’ll be there in 10 minutes.”

Eleven minutes later I called him again. “Um, I’m kind of freaking out,” I said. “Ma’am, I know you’re anxious, but I can’t stay on the phone with you,” he said. “It’s almost 4:30,” I said. “The cab will be there within six minutes,” he said.

“Dude,” I said, “I called you at 4:00 and you said 15 minutes.”

Apparently some people find the term “Dude” a less-than-affectionate moniker and this gentleman was one of those people. “Do you want me to cancel the call?” he asked. I said no, but the truth is, I didn’t think the cab was ever coming anyway. It was starting to get dark and even if I could walk, I didn’t know my way to the train station. I felt like we were doomed.

On a whim, I called another cab company.  They picked up, put me on hold and never came back on the line.

I called Scott back home and asked him what I should do. “If you miss the train, get on the next train. What else can you do?” he said.

It was 4:33 and there was nothing else to do.  I considered walking up to random cars stopped at the light and asking them if they’d take us to the train for $20. But instead, I chanted. Quietly. Under my breath. And only for about 15 seconds. When I chant with a purpose, it’s a little like a prayer, and this prayer was simply to get us out of this mess.

That’s when the black SUV pulled up to the light.  It had a big green Pegasus airbrushed on the back panel, which made it look a little like a head shop on wheels.  What it did not have was a TAXI sign on the roof, so I just assumed it was a delivery vehicle for some groovy eatery. I watched as two people got into Pegasus. The driver clicked and swiped the screen of her pink-covered iPad for a minute and then she pulled away, making a right turn up the hill.

Just then my cell phone buzzed. “Your car is there, Ma’am.”

“Where?” I said. “I don’t see any cab!”

“She should be right there,” the dispatcher said.

“The Pegasus car? Do you mean Pegasus is my cab???”

Yes, it was. And in very quick succession, the dispatcher called the cab driver, told her she picked up the wrong fare, she kicked them out of the cab, we ran (I hobbled briskly) up the hill, jumped in the cab, sped to the train station, ran (hobbled briskly) in, asked a policeman which track for Penn Station, ran (and hobbled) down the escalator and stepped through the train doors just as they were about to close.

“Do you know why we’re on this train?” I said to my son after we settled into our seats. And that’s when he derided my chanting.

I can’t explain to him how the thing about chanting is that it’s not all goodness all the time, but it brings a lot of unexpected goodness to sometimes-dire situations. And it is because of this unexpected goodness that I’ve been able to do this work with AE.

The fact that I started chanting a few weeks before my first visit to her was no accident. These two things were meant to occur simultaneously. I couldn't have done this work any other time in my life. I’m not sure exactly why, but I’m absolutely certain that it’s true.