Finding Gratefulness on the Mat

On Saturday morning the stars aligned and for the first time in much too long I was present on my mat.

Sometimes it’s tough to know what it means to be present when our lives and our minds are so busy with me, me, me.

But for an hour on Saturday I was able to find presence and defy judgement through breath and flow; freedom while working limbs and trunk into shapes not usually made in the span of a normal day.

When you find that elevated place of spiritual liftedness it’s a a lot like the illusive runner’s high. Not until you meet it do you recognize it’s been there all along, but you have been the thing standing in its way.

Toward the end of class we worked into Bird of Paradise.

I stood on my right leg with my shoulder tucked under my left knee, arm wrapped underneath my left calf, hand  holding the outer edge of my foot. To make the bind, I needed to wrap my right arm around my back to meet the left hand, while pressing through the right foot to find leverage; to stand up, lifting the knee, while pretzel wrapped around myself.

I worked to the point where my loose right arm met its resistance (so far from where it would have liked to have gone), but instead of feeling any negativity toward myself or the pose, my spirit was set free in the act of the trying. I laughed, and standing in mountain with hands in prayer, smiled under thumbs at the site of my fellow yogis “going for it.” Twisted and bound and strong and upright, many of them even straightened the lifted leg.

Like breathing flesh and bone statues, working their bodies into the shapes of birds, I felt profound pride.

The moment had nothing to do with what I could not achieve or never have been able to or how I felt about my differences from others or how I stood alone.

And there it was….

Gratefulness in a moment, in an experience far beyond the boundaries of my own vida loca.

Have you ever had an experience like this on or off the mat? Do you lose gratefulness sometimes and have difficulty locating it again?

M.

Source. Steps 1 and 2 involve a bound lunge. I don’t know what it is about the way I am shaped. I can never get my arms to wrap around enough to be able to grasp my hands into a bind (step 3). Even in revolved triangle, getting my hand into the hip crease is tough. Maybe my arms aren’t long enough?
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Incorporating Strength with Yoga

I went to yoga this morning.

Sweaty, tough, beautiful vinyasa.

The sun salutations were plenty. One legged chaturangas, too. So many utkatasanas (chair pose), core cultivation, crescent lunging, crow (side crow is beyond me; watch superstar Kathryn Budig’s unbelievable video below) and twists.

My arms, back and sides were awaken. They are sleeping again now, but will probably scream at me tomorrow morning after a long night’s rest.

I walked out knowing that the addition of weekly guided vinyasa is going to help me build strength in areas that running alone can’t provide.

Will I have the stamina for both? This remains to be seen.

On the schedule tomorrow is any easy 6-8 miles. Compared to this morning’s yoga class it will be like a good old walk in the park!

Tell me running friends…. Do you incorporate yoga and/or strength training to improve performance?

XOM

Props to the Props

I have been tired and there is a great list of possible culprits; the heat, the running, my kids early rising, allergies, my rough food week, hormones?

Whatever it is I’ve being plagued by exhaustion.

After an energetic run on Saturday morning, my laziness took hold. It was hard to sit at the computer, so I took it with me to work horizontally on the sofa. When the girls needed milk I dragged my body to the fridge only to plop back down after handing over their sippy’s.

It was gross.

I decided to roll out my mat.

Knowing that I wasn’t ready to start standing, I lay flat on my back in savasana. I yawned and stretched there for a minute and then reached for my blocks.

For my friends who don’t practice, blocks are also known as props. They are helpful additions to poses when the body needs assistance getting there. They aid in alignment, too.

Certain poses and I always require blocks.

If, for example, I am going from warrior into half moon, I recognize that a block must be waiting by my front foot to give my hand a lift and to keep my spine from crunching down.

In triangle, it is more important to keep the spine straight that to be able to reach the floor. I’m not a yoga instructor and I try not to judge, but when I see a student pulled forward into triangle and bent over to reach the floor causing a U shape to their form, it takes everything in me not to march over and readjust their positioning.

Caring for the spine is more important than deepening a pose for the sake of the ego.

As I stared at the dining room ceiling deciding where to start, I made the call to stack two blocks and tuck them under my sacrum for a gentle assisted bridge pose.

By lifting the pelvis up off the floor a stretch is created along the spine. With the tail bone hanging over the edge of the blocks, the shoulders roll back, the chest is forced to lift and open, and the arms roll out to the side causing the lungs to fill with fresh air (prana).

I hung out there for a while. It felt good.

When I was ready I played with leg and foot positioning.

With bent knees and one foot planted on the floor, I pointed the toes of the other foot and curled them back toward my rear end, palm of hand to sole of foot and pressed into the mat causing a delicious front quad stretch. For balance I repeated with the other foot.

With legs straight and high, toes splayed and pointed down (yoga feet) I imagined a string being pulled through my heels.

I made a wide legged V and then froggy legs with the balls of my feet pushing together for resistance.

Coming down I eased the blocks out from below me and slowly curled my back flat to the floor. I rocked my knees back and forth until they fell all the way to the right, arms folding over me to the left; an unscheduled supine twist. As always to keep balance, I rolled my knees to the left and arms to the right. Breathing and resting, it felt like a great big body yawn.

The pose I had just exited (supported bridge) led perfectly into a shoulder stand cycle. Without planning or thinking about it I allowed my body to go there.

From an unsupported bridge to a shoulder stand and then to one of my most difficult poses, the plow.

Plow is difficult for girls with DD’s and despite my best efforts I often find myself with a crunchy spine, so instead of pressing my feet entirely overhead, I eased back into shoulder stand before returning to the floor.

The entire cycle was slow and just what I needed; restful and energizing at the same time.

This is the beauty of a home practice. Go with your flow and you get what you need.

Rejuvenated, I turned over and cat-cowed until I was ready for a dog, legs pressed into the floor and walking. One at a time I raised each leg high to the ceiling and then bent over into a hip stretch.

Surprisingly, I had generated enough energy that a few slow and deliberate salutations to the sun came pouring forth (a few breaths per movement).

Before I knew it I was in that zone. I popped up, turned on music and grabbed the incense out of my desk drawer. I struck a match and lit the fire igniting my home practice companion.

The energy that I’d created spread through my house and before I knew it my quietly playing kids wanted in on the action. Just like that my solitary yoga play was done.

A full home practice is is not as easy with kids around and because of them it rarely ends in savasana.

Still, that time on my mat was enough to give me what I needed to be more productive and present in my own life.

With newfound energy I cleaned up the kitchen, gathered cut up paper from around the children’s art table, went outside to water the garden and folded every last piece of clothing from the laundry bed. That alone was a miracle!

If it weren’t for those blocks I would have become one with the sofa; a blob of a mom with a messy house and a sadly wasted day.

So props to the props (in this instance the blocks) and to the home practice that pulled my being out of Lazyland and back to Mommyland where I belonged.

Me in supported bridge with stacked blocks. I put the image through instagram, which accounts for the filtering.
Triangle with a block. Image from ecofriendlyfitness.com.
Half Moon. See how straight her spine is. I imagine if her little girl wasn’t hanging on her leg it would be raised higher making her alignment just perfect. Image from http://www.MindBodyGreen.com.
Supported Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon. This could be me. I relate. Image from http://www.Yogaflavoredlife.com
My yoga teacher Jennifer Campbell-Overbeeke of Campbell Yoga demonstrating a three legged dog with a bent knee hip opener. There is nothing like this pose to open up the hip.
Hands as support in Shoulder Stand. Image from lovemyyoga.com
Plow. Can you see how boobies could cause a problem? http://www.lovemyyoga.com
There a are a lot of different blocks. I have the purple rubbery kind, but I’ve tried cork blocks, too. I don’t have a preference.

Yogis and the Polldaddy

Dearest Yogi Friends!

I have just signed on to Polldaddy in an effort to gather information for the article I am working on regarding the many pathways to yoga.

So many of us who practice know the true peace, enlightenment, centerdness, clarity and detoxifying bendiness that yoga brings to a life.

It is my hope to spread the word and your input will help!

Namaste, Om, and Happy Monday!

xoM

 

My Dancing Feet

I rarely take my hair out of its place atop my head. Always in a knot, put there when it’s wet, it’s easy and it works.

Today it was tied as it always is, but came down during yoga and the dance that ensued.

I used to dance.

I used to rave and club and watch strobe lights turn the faces of my friends the most beautiful shades of blue and green and red; yellow, orange, and pink.

The early nineties in San Francisco were a playground for a free bird like me.

I pierced my nose, danced all night, had cocktails at the End Up for breakfast and wore platform shoes with mini skirts and knee socks. I drove around in a small white Mercedes and cut my hair as short as Mia Farrow with long whispy pieces by my ears.

Life is different today and that time of my youth is a long distant memory. In between play dates and pre-school pick-up, there’s not much opportunity to dance anymore, other than the occasional kitchen pajama party with the iPhone on full blast.

Unless I can manage to attend Carson‘s springtime fire generating vinyasa class, which I did this morning, my dancing feet don’t get much time to do their thing in the presence of people above the age of four.

The class was packed with wall to wall mats. The chatter of eager and waiting yogis was like cheerful music and I tried to record the sound with my phone, though when I played it back the energy that had felt palpable was missing. The waft of incense welcomed me and I found a spot in the center of the room.

I had a feeling there would be some dancing. Fire practices generate heat and the best way to do so is to move. The faster you move the more heat you produce. It’s not a rocket science, really.

The class itself was filled with lots of chaturangas and forward folds, utkatasanas, a few inversions, and a good bit of chanting.

The final movement was a dance called tandava kriya (Shiva’s dance).

Shifting from leg to leg to beats times two, elbow to opposite knee and back, twisting slightly at the waist to the thumping of drums, my pony started to fall.

I pulled out the elastic and my mess of a mop fell down in front of my face.

Back and forth I hopped from foot to foot, elbow to knee and so on. I closed my eyes tuning out anything but the drums. One, two, switch. Back and forth.

After a minute, my pounding heart insisted on slowing, which gave me a chance to look around. I brushed my hair out of my face and opened my eyes to find the entire space filled with dancing yoginis; heated hearts pounding together, lots of free pony tails,  tendrils falling around shoulders.

It was freedom. A moving meditation. Letting go.

For a moment on my mat the young, wild, and free twenty-something me had a chance to escape.

I recognized her underneath all that flying hair.

We were connected and time was suspended.

I didn’t realize how much that girl had been missed.

She was an awful lot of fun.

And boy could she dance!

Stand Like A Mountain

When I first began yoga it was simply out of curiosity. I started slowly and only went to classes that were labeled as beginner.

After a few years and upon my move to Maine where I was back in college for  an Elementary Teacher Certification I started to practice more on my own. With Coldplay and David Gray on constant rotation and a good amount of incense burned, yoga became as important to me as the other most loved parts of my life.

My knowledge base had grown enough to comfortably engage in a fulfilling home practice, but I continued to learn through the wonderful teachings of June at Nataraja Yoga, in the old building on Route 1.

I heard June’s voice come to me yesterday. I still hear her voice when I need to slow down in my life and on my mat. It’s funny, because I never made a connection with her outside of class. I’m not sure she’d recognize me if we bumped into each other on the street. Good teachers stay with you always. It’s a part of their gift.

I was asked recently by someone who has never tried the ancient practice where they should start. My advice is always the same.

Start slowly. Begin with teachers whose goal is non-judgement and never ever push into anything that doesn’t feel right. That’s how you end up getting hurt and I know plenty of people whose type A led them down that road. They quit without discovering the powerful centeredness that yoga creates within one’s being.

It’s a terrible shame.

As I embark on a weekend of Easter Bunny goodies and in an effort to locate the balance (missing as of late) I wanted to share one of the easiest yet often passed over poses; Mountain.

Often in yoga Mountain Pose is used as a resting point before venturing into the next flow. Its like hitting the pause button to catch ones breath before diving in to another round of sun salutations or triangles or any other sort of asana that the body is calling for.

Really, though, it is the beginning. The place where we should start.

With toes pressed evenly into the ground, heels cemented and teetering back and forth for a moment, find your balance.

Breathe.

Let the arms fall straight at your sides. Bend them a little, shake them out until they settle with fingers facing toward the ground. The hands should feel a charge. “Yoga hands,” they’re called, not wimpy or lax. Upper arms and shoulders can roll back and hands can open to the front of the room. I find more energy inhabits the arms when I open them, but I think it’s a personal preference.

Breathe.

Visualize the knee caps raised to the sky, the inner thighs rotate inward. Rock back and forth a little to check your feet. Really check them out. Are they solid? Are you grounded?

Breathe.

Gently tuck your pelvis and tighten the belly as you roll back your shoulders. Feel your chest raise and your neck lengthen. Legs and arms should still be strong.

Belly is still tightened, but soft. This can seem contradictory, but it’s not. You can feel the power deep in your belly, while thinking about softening it. It takes practice, but can be done.

The neck begins to straighten more, the shoulders drop, and by imagining a string being lifted straight from the crown of your head, the tip of your being is pulled to the sky.

Your face should be soft. Imagine the tongue resting in your mouth. Your cheeks are soft; your face looking straight ahead.

You can close your eyes.

And breathe.

In through the nose and out through nose.

In through the nose and out through the mouth if big energy needs to escape.

Continue to stand like a mountain and check in with your body for subtle adjustments to make yourself tall and strong. The challenge is to stay there. Still, yet strong. Fired up, yet calm.

The challenge is to see if you can find your mountain while off the mat; while standing in the grocery store or listening to the screaming of a four-year old whose every pair of pants are tickling her (OCD?).

As I mentioned earlier, my certification was in Elementary School teaching. It was never a certification in yoga. Since I’m not a certified teacher, please take this lesson with a grain of salt and most certainly don’t try this at home unless you are sure you won’t hurt yourself.

If you do think you’d hurt yourself in mountain pose, I would strongly suggest you get yourself to a class where you can be monitored by a professional.

You won’t regret it if you follow a plan that is similar to my own careful and richly rewarding beginning.

Before you know it you’ll be standing taller and breathing easier and singing “Om” without a giggle.

When that day comes you’ll understand all the fuss!

Om shanti shanti and namaste (with hands folded at heart center).

Happy Easter.

Drawing of Mountain Pose from yoga.prevention.com yoga to the rescue.

Marathoning – What Happens When It’s Over

When planning for a marathon there is much online content discussing the steps that can be taken to guide a runner to a successful finish; schedules, gear, injury prevention, pacing, speed work, comparable celebrity finish times. You name it you can find it!

In my experience post race, I was bemused to find that there was not the same abundance of advice regarding recovery. Once I’d heard my name come through that loud-speaker, I was essentially on my own.

It has been fifteen days since I ran my heart out meeting a lifetime personal goal. In retrospect, my physical training was successful. I am still proud of my accomplishment and less bothered by the fact that my time wasn’t within the range I’d had hoped for. I loved every minute, even the painful ones and the ones where I was consumed with doubt.

The mental challenge of going from full-blown training to restful observance of it is a tremendous transition. Recovery days one through four were brutal.

The old habits of emotional eating and anxiety appeared with vigor; they hadn’t been beat in training, only subdued. The fact that they were actually lying dormant was a blow.

On day five I laced up my brand new Newton’s, but the run was slow and hard. I clocked thirteen minutes per mile for a whopping 1.75 before calling it quits.

Figuring it was too soon to get back out there I tried not to be bothered, but my type A was showing and I was really beating myself up about it.

I tried again days later and ran a decent five, but the love wasn’t there. I was glad when I got home. I prayed that this was temporary.

By now I had searched and searched online for information to make sense of what I was experiencing and in my frustration turned to my friends in Internetland who were the first to show me some light.

After tweeting about my lackluster runs, one twitterer mentioned that she’d heard it took one day for every mile to be fully physically recovered. Easy math I could do; one month to give myself some leeway.

A commenter on my blog told me of her own depression that surfaced after her second marathon. It became so bad that she opted for antidepressants to get her through. This kind of honesty is what I wasn’t finding in my search. I was grateful for hers.

And then my sister arrived into town last Monday and I saw my nephew (whom I had helped raise from the time he was one until three), but had not had much communication with in the most recent years. Standing in front of me now was a teenage boy, all five feet nine inches of him. I swung my arms around his neck and the tears started to flow.

When I got home that night they continued.

I called my older sister and kept crying.

A full-blown panic attack followed. I’d never actually had one before, so I was surprised by its force. My heart was beating out of my chest and I had to take a Clonapin to settle down. It didn’t work, so I took another.

I fell asleep and woke the next morning feeling groggy, but better.

As if the fog had lifted, I was able to think with a clear mind and it became obvious that the pressure I was putting on myself to be as strong and powerful as I’d been before the marathon was suddenly gone; like all that training had never happened.

Seeing my nephew was the tip of the emotional iceberg in terms of the way I was managing. I needed a good cry. It needed to come out and I began to feel as if real recovery was finally going to begin.

So does it make sense then that I’d want to go through this again?

Yes, of course!

stubbornness and determination are a part of my gene pool and one must never stop learning in this life.

The next step is to move out of my comfort zone both physically and mentally.

With running taking a short hiatus from my schedule I’ve recently headed back to yoga.

Last week while standing in tree pose with my branches spread wide I straightened my neck to peer toward the sky and thanked God. The second tree pose on the opposite leg allowed me the opportunity to thank Him again.

Yesterday, after rolling onto my right side at the end of savasana I realized I was facing the sun. With hands folded at my third eye and with my other two tightly closed I could feel the warmth from the light. This time I thanked the Universe.

The overall experience of my marathon has not yet finished, though the race itself has.

Today I feel renewed, rested and peaceful,though a bit less physically strong and not quite ready to resume any significant running.

Most importantly I am grateful.

Grateful for the sum of the experience.

My branches extended out more, but you get the idea.
Savasana. Adorable yoga drawing from yoga.prevention.com @ iyogalife slideshow.

My Top 8 Favorite Bloggers

It turns out that one of the nicest pastimes for a mom at home with kids is blog surfing. It’s cheaper than Internet shopping and fills that lonely place inside that vies for adult conversation. I wished I’d discovered it sooner.

In honor of some of the fabulous bloggers who have inspired my own posts, made me laugh out loud, and sent words of encouragement based on things I’ve written, I decided I should list my favorites.

Here they are:

1. Acoursetothefinishline.wordpress.com Theresa writes about training for a marathon while working in education and struggling with infertility. We have a lot in common, since I myself survived the last two. It turns out that she is a bit ahead of me on the marathon training front (we both are using Hal Higdon’s Novice 2), so she’s been a real asset with tons of good advice! Also, I love love love her wit! As I continued to read and we began corresponding a bit, I’ve found that she is also a super girl. My first blogger friend! I think we should all send her positive sticky baby vibes…. she is ready and deserves one!

2.  Losingweightinthecity.com Theodora is one of the first bloggers whose posts I ever read. She had me hooked from the beginning with her story of initial weight loss while living in New York City to her running adventures, most recently with the New York Marathon. I love her writing and also live vicariously through her, since my own time as a young woman in NYC ended over 12 years ago. Scary how time flies!

3. Littlebittybakes.com Liz is adorable! A runner and a baker, she blogs about her life and her recipes. I love her pictures and her passion for what she does. For me, a true disaster in the kitchen, I feel like her recipes are do-able; not too hard for the average bear, like me. I am dying to make her Chai Spice Oatmeal Crispies. Also, could her URL be any cuter?

4. Monicarodgers.wordpress.com Monica is one of two bloggers (on the list) that I actually know in real life. We grew up together during our Summers in Maine, but I put her on my list because I love her voice, her writing, and her take on life. She is incredibly talented in so many areas, most especially as a mom, which is evident throughout her blog. Check out her car seat covers, her photography, her musings. She’s amazing!

5. Examiner.com/running-in-new-york/lora-johnson How could I not include Lora? She is the main reason my readership has gone up and writes her own terrific blog full of really great running information. A lot of her information is regarding area specific (Brooklyn) races, but she also has written some terrific pieces about helping women runners stay heathy and (one of my favorite topics) cool running gear.

6. Aliontherunblog.com Ali’s writing cracks me up. She is a runner who lives with Crohn’s disease and has raised money through Jack Rabbit Sports’ organization called Run For The Rabbit. She was chosen to represent them and her charity is the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. One of my oldest/dearest/bestest friends in real life lives with Crohn’s, so I feel strongly about Ali’s cause. Plus, she sells adorable I Heart Sweat running shirts, with the proceed’s going toward the charity!

7. Cleaneatingchelsey.com Chelsey has the most positive and healthy relationship to food that I’ve found in a blog! As her URL proclaims, she eats clean, but her good habits were spurred by a corn/gluten/lactose intolerance. Despite it, though, I never get the feeling that changing her diet was/is a chore. She loves food and doesn’t eat stuff out of a box! One day I hope to be more like her. Until then I’ll keep reading her blog for motivation and hope that one day her philosophy might rub off onto me and my not so great eating habits.

8. Cafeganesh.com Jennifer is the second blogger that I actually know is a real person. She is a yoga teacher in Raleigh and a Lemondead (Lululemon girl to my non-Lulu obsessed readers). I have been lucky enough to attend two of Jennifer’s classes, but haven’t been to more, solely because this marathon training is a real time sucker. When I saw her last (at the store) she reminded me that I really should come back, and she is right. Until then, I’ll keep reading her blog which is filled with fantastic posts like Pull Your Head Out of Your Asana! She has a great voice; knowledgable about her work and hilarious, too.

Hope you enjoy these writers as much as I have.

Happy reading!

Yogic Sleep

Usually at bedtime I read the girls their two books of choice (each) and then give them time to read them themselves. Sophie typically rolls right over, closes her eyes a couple times, and drifts off to dreamland. It always makes me grin to watch my first-born wild woman settle into sleep.

Sophie isn’t quite as much of a book lover as her sister. Often she chooses the shortest story with the fewest words or a picture book that we can get through fast. Her ultimate goal is sleep, which I can appreciate.

Grace on the other hand has a book reading ritual. She starts at page one and recites the story in her own words. Since she can’t yet read, she remembers the words that I had moments ago spoken to her and sweetly gives it a go. Sometimes she puts her finger under the words and pretends that she knows what she’s reading. I love to hear her quiet voice and marvel at the imagination that goes into her story telling.

To be honest, most night’s I stand by the pink lamp with my hand on the knob giving her the countdown to finish up.

But last night she was reading The Night Before Christmas and The Nutcracker with illustrations by Mary Engelbreit. How could I hurry such beautiful examples of children’s literature?

While she read I  listened, but instead of standing with hand on lamp, started some yogic stretching.

I began in a forward fold and felt my spine lengthen toward the ground. An unforced sigh pressed through my open mouth.

Since I have a rather bendy back, I swung gently back and forth feeling the space between the disks release in the most delicious way. With arms bent and hands holding opposite elbows to pull myself lower, then fingers around big toes, and finally palms placed completely under foot, I was ready to straighten back up.

Grace was finishing up The Nutcracker. On the last page, when Marie is grown and her prince has come back for her, Grace’s only comment was about her pretty long hair. It’s a really beautiful illustration on that last page, long haired Marie and her grown up prince surrounded by candy. She closed the last page and moved onto her second book of the night.

I carefully tightened my abs and with flat back did a reverse swan dive with arms open wide. The energy around me helped pulled me back up.  Arms raised overhead, I thought about my Vinyasa teacher Jen and how she always presses her hands together once overhead, reaches them into a slight backbend and then pulls them down through the third eye to the heart center.  Most yogis press hands overhead, but the addition of a slight backbend before settling at center heart is the perfect finish to a round (of folds). And also, Lord knows I love any excuse for a backbend.

The energy I was pulling felt grounding and palpable.

Forward fold again.

Grace continued to read. I heard her say, “His face was round, his cheeks like apples, his nose like a red cherry.”

I straightened my back to lengthen and peeked up to see her on the page with Santa’s picture.

Back down into a fold I hung myself heavy and my spine lengthened more.  Swan diving up, eyes closed, gathering energy, hands pressed into prayer back above my head, back gently bending, down through the third eye, center heart, and face to knees again, hands to toes. Two more times I found myself back at center heart, where I stopped still and felt myself breathe.

That stillness within myself has been absent as of late.

I reveled in it until I was ready to move again.

I folded forward and twisted my right shoulder toward my left knee. Then the reverse.

The act of twisting brought up the truth; I have been neglecting this practice that gives me so much.

I widened my legs and twisted into a reverse triangle. With right arm up to the sky and left arm holding tight to the opposite ankle. I felt the familiar opening of my heart that a good twist can provide. While not as open as a good strong up dog with shoulders pulled back and down, chest pressed forward, this small twisting action let the side of my heart peek to the sky.

I turned to raise the left arm to the sky, right arm to left ankle, and attempted a bind, by wrapping the left arm around my hip. The bind wasn’t working for me, so back went the hand, yoga fingers to the Gods.

Soon, I found myself back in tadasana, hands pressed in prayer, my breathing slow and steady. I opened my eyes and listened to Grace.

“And he decorated the tree, and he rode out of sight, Merry Christmas night.”

She took her books and rolled over so that they could be laid on the floor next to the bed.   Grabbing her woobies, she pulled the covers up over her head and closed her eyes. The part of the bedtime ritual, which happens a moment before I switch out the light, occurred without her saying a word. I counted out loud, “One, two, three,” and the room went dark.

I crawled into bed with my girls, Sophie already far away and dreaming. Grace said, Love you Mom,” and “Sleep with D angels.”

The next thing I knew it was morning and the sun was almost up.

The three of us slept for a full 12 hours. Was this my Christmas wish coming true a few days late? Maybe.

It’s more likely, though, that my short yoga session facilitated the much-needed and greatly appreciated long winter’s nap.

Beginning tonight, my lamp standing ritual will have a new pre-cursor to light’s going out.  I can barely wait.