I have come to the conclusion that there is a Monday Michelle and she is a raging and totally unrepentant bitch. Today was another Monday marked by me mentally cursing out my yoga and meditation teachers….okay, fine, some of it was out loud, too. There is just something about Mondays that twists everything inside me and just makes me want to throttle someone. Again, you would think two rounds of meditation, yoga, five morning sun salutations, and daily gratitude journaling would make a difference – mais non, mes amis, mais non.
Speaking of French, I am on day 22 of practicing Portuguese and I am even more convinced this language was created just to fuck with me – verdade. It does not help that I am learning using two apps, a book and CD, and a boyfriend who speaks and understands Portuguese, but has no formal schooling in it. This means that when I am frothing at the mouth over the inconsistent use of articles before possessives all he can do is shrug his shoulders and say “that’s how it is.” Completely unacceptable answer! I had to text his mother for some clarity. Thankfully, she was able to shed some light on the issue. I tried to sign up for an in person class, but they cancelled it “due to lack of interest.” So it was back to the apps and book for me.
Switching back to meditations now (keep up!). Thankfully, one of my meditations had to be switched to Friday and I was finally able to chill the fuck out and appreciate it. A few things I managed to clean from that session:
- Have to get scrappy with joy
- You are not the voice of the mind, you are the one who hears it. You don’t have to accept or act on every thought.
- We witness the mind, we are not the mind.
- See the day through the eyes of compassion.
As someone who thinks too much, spirals too easily, and tends to believe all of my thoughts and feelings, the two middle points were most impactful for me. They remind me of Die Vampire Die! – a song I played to Brazilian Helicopter Pilot on my phone and sand at the same time when he was getting anxious about going back to school. That song has gotten me through some rough times. They also made me think of Ana Marie Cox, host of Crooked Media’s “With Friends Like These” podcast, and what she said once on an episode. I don’t have the exact quote, but what I wrote in my planner is: Maybe the voices are the fire alarm = you need to take care of yourself.
It’s hard for me to hold onto these good thoughts even though they ring true and are helpful. That insidious voice in my head that says I am undeserving and a terrible girlfriend/daughter/sister/friend is very loud sometimes and it is always very sure. In the face of such certainty, it’s difficult to say “this is not me” or “what is actually wrong?” Hopefully more meditation and practice will help and there will be more days where I win and the voice fades into the background
During a different meditation, when we were imagining our lungs and trying to feel different parts of them, the teacher told us to look out our windows at any trees nearby. She said that the trees are your lungs. See how the branches are, it’s just like your lungs. Intellectually, I understood the metaphor, the imagery, and the symbolism, but my gut instinct was – NOPE. My lungs are not trees and they never will be. You want to know why? Trees have leaves and, at least where I come from, those leaves all fall off once a year. The thought of wet, decaying leaves filling up my lungs and suffocating me makes my chest draw tight.
You see, I have activity-induced asthma. Suffocation and not being able to breathe terrify me. A week or so into the lockdown it occurred to me that my asthma might be one of the underlying conditions that make people more susceptible to COVID-19 and more likely to have complications if they catch it. I did a quick internet search and, yes, asthma is considered one of those underlying conditions. I stopped right there, put my phone away and told myself that my asthma is mild and only activity-induced. I was actually quite safe.
Today on one of my podcasts, the host interviewed a man who recovered from COVID-19. He was a former marathon runner, very healthy, not old, and probably should have resolved his case of COVID-19 easily. Except, he explained, he had an underlying condition. Activity-induced asthma. He had to go to the hospital and was eventually intubated and put on a ventilator. In NYC, where I am and where he was hospitalized, 80% of patients do not come off the ventilator. He was one of the 20% who made it off. It just really puts a lot of things in perspective.
During one of my yoga classes last week, the instructor say, “Turn on your cameras if you want to be seen.” I couldn’t help but think, are we really being seen? I am lucky that I live with my partner. He sees me every day. He sees my efforts and my failures, my tears and my laughter. He witnesses me in my struggle and I witness him in his. I do not feel seen when I turn on a video camera. I know that most of the time I’m in a video chat I am distracted by my own video, so I assume that’s what everyone else is looking at – themselves. This yoga instructor was good. She called out people by name, saying she saw them, and it made me tear up.
But let’s end on something funny. I watched the One World: Together at Home concert on Saturday night. I pretty much cried for two hours straight. I started the concert by myself on the couch, drowning in tears and snot as endless commercials about front line workers played and artists sang about beautiful worlds and strength. BHP was in the kitchen working on his homework. He finished and went over to do the dishes. As he went to turn on the water he heard a gurgling sob behind him and turned to see his girlfriend blubbering on the couch. He immediately snuggled me and watched the rest of the concert with me, while I leaked everywhere and shit-talked Jimmy Fallon.
But the ACTUAL funny thing – Brazilian Helicopter Pilot is being very good about exercising and every week he alternates body weight training with riding his bike. When he does his body weight training he puts on music to motivate him through the endless planks and push-ups. Well, last week he was sweating it out to his favorite songs a.k.a death metal and I was putzing on the computer (maintaining just the right marshmallow body is very hard work, thank you!). Death metal is not my cup of tea, shocking, I know, but it helps him focus so I don’t really pay attention to what he plays when he works out.
He finished his workout and went into the bathroom to shower, switching his music to the bathroom speaker. For the narrative’s sake, we’ll say he had on Lamb of God as he disappeared into the bathroom. I hear the shower turn on and not a minute into his shower, the song ends and on come on “É Isso Aí (The Blower’s Daughter)” and BHP starts singing it with his whole heart. The transition was glorious. One minute screaming guitars and terrifying growling vocals and then smooth acoustic guitar and Ana Carolina, Seu Jorge, and BHP serenading me. BHP proceeds to sing the whole song, and then, just as seamlessly, the song changes to Metallica’s “One” and without missing a beat, once the intro was done, BHP starts singing that. Ele é perfeito (but you didn’t hear it from me).
Alright, be safe everyone! Wash your hands. Socially distance. Drink your water.
P.S. – BHP is watching a VRY SRS Netflix show about soccer. I glanced over while typing up this post and saw the guy who was an asshole in the first episode looking all torn up sitting in his posh chair, in his lovely sitting room, and I, of course, decide this is a great time to butt in with “Aw, did he lose a futebol game?” BHP pauses the episode, turns and looks at me and says “His wife had a miscarriage and he’s finally opening up about it.” I didn’t think I could top “Winter is coming!” as Kings Landing burned (in my defense I was walking between the bedroom and the bathroom, had no context for what was going on, and the ashes falling from the sky looked a lot like snow), but I managed! Good job, Michelle!
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I love my daughter, the writer!
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