Receive (Moving Part II)

March 11, 2012 § 17 Comments

To receive is to accept, not to get. It is impossible not to have, but it is possible not to know you have.
A Course In Miracles

Lately, I have been consumed with thoughts of moving from northern Virginia to North Carolina, which we will be doing in early June. It’s not like it’s a surprise of course. Because my husband is in the Navy, we move every two years, like clockwork. And yet, each time we think about packing up, I am shocked by how attached I am to the place I am living. Even if I don’t like it all that much.

I am insanely great at complaining about moving. Honestly, I should get some kind of award. “You did know I was in the Navy before you married me?” my husband sometimes asks me, “Right?”

Scott will have a great job on Camp Lejeune, which is the biggest marine base in the country. It will be nice to be close to the ocean again and I am looking forward to leaving the fast pace of DC. But still, all I can think of are the public schools and the fact that there aren’t any yoga studios down there. I keep thinking of all that I am not going to have.

When I went to Kripalu for 3 days at the end of December for a yoga workshop with Rolf Gates, I knew it was too big to understand right away. It was wonderful and difficult. It was nurturing and confronting. It felt like home and it felt like the middle of nowhere. In a small way, it reminded me of what it’s like to be me, always on the go, always looking ahead, preparing to leave while we are still unpacking the boxes.

On the first day of our workshop, Rolf had us do an exercise I have done with him before a few times. “Spend the next 5 minutes,” he told us, “Writing about who you want to be and what you want that experience to be like.” I remember the first time I did it during the first week of my yoga teacher training with Rolf last April. Then, I had picked up my pen and paper with a sense of panic. Who do I want to be? Yikes.

What eventually made it onto paper that first time was that I wanted to teach yoga to military wives, like me. This idea had been in the back of my mind for a while, but seeing it on paper for the first time made my hands shake a little. It seemed like more than I was allowed to ask for. Most likely, I would not be up to the task.

As I prepared to do the exercise for a third time on that cold December day at Kripalu, I thought I knew who I wanted to be. I still wanted to teach yoga on a military base. What else was there to say? I paused, with my pen in the air and looked out the floor to ceiling window. Brown leaves sailed against the colorless sky and I thought about how wonderful it was at Kripalu and how far it was from North Carolina.

And then I sat up and felt a rush of something like lightning fill my insides. “Holy shit,” I thought. “I got exactly what I wanted.” Here I was, complaining about moving to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, to the biggest marine base in the country, and yet, what had I asked for six months earlier? Who do I want to be? What do I want that experience to be like?

My heart was pounding and I looked around the room at so many heads bent over notebooks. There was the huge purple wall of the studio. There was the bare winter day outside. And then there was me on my mat, feeling as though I had just won the lottery. I felt my face turn up into a grin and tried to stop it. Eventually I gave in and just allowed myself to be happy, to be a little bit ecstatic, to believe if only for a little while that miracles happen, that sometimes, you get exactly what you ask for.

When I returned from Kripalu, I went online and found the web site for the gym on the Camp Lejeune base. In true military fashion, it took 12 phone calls to finally get in touch with the group exercise instructor and I had to leave a message. She called me back right away and I told her I was interested in teaching yoga.

“When are you moving?” she asked.

“In June.”

“Well, that’s perfect timing,” she said. “We’re opening up a mind body studio in July with a big yoga studio on base and we’re going to need instructors.”

What’s been so interesting to me over the past few months is how I keep refusing to receive what I am given, even it it’s exactly what I wanted. What’s almost comical is how my mind keeps turning to fear rather than gratitude, how it keeps spinning towards panic rather than joy.

Even now, after 21 months of despising Washington DC, I am thinking of all that I am going to miss here: the amazing, bigger than life yoga scene, the Baptiste-style power yoga studio I found in Georgetown, right along the canal, the Dean & Deluca micro-ground chai tea I have become addicted to, the mountain bike trails and the museums and how just when you think winter is never going to end, you wake up and see that the cherry blossoms are already pink against the cold sky.

On my way to yoga yesterday, my usual route around the Pentagon was closed and to get to the Key Bridge, I had to take the George Washington Parkway, and then zip up past Arlington Cemetery. I drove by the back side of the Iwo Jima Memorial, which is probably my favorite landmark in the city. This strikes me as odd as I am usually not a fan of anything war-related, but there is something about all those men leaning in to put that flag in the ground. Driving the way I did, I had a clear view of the only man not touching the flag, the one reaching with outstretched fingers, the one whose hands never touch the flag, who is forever holding onto the air.

Seeing that man always brings tears to my eyes, and yesterday I realized it might be because he reminds me so much of myself. I wish I could just relax into all the good things in my life, but I have never stopped being the girl who is always waiting for something bad to happen. I keep thinking that if I win, I’ll be safe, but what happens when I win is that I immediately begin to fear losing.

My word this winter was “Soften,” (which I stole from Claudia Cummins, whose blogs First Sip and Inside Out I am obsessed with and read almost as soon as I get up in the morning.).

A few weeks after repeating “Soften” like a mantra, I stopped making my bed before leaving the house. (This was a teeny bit difficult as I am a compulsive bed-maker).The boys and I spent so many cold and decadent afternoons huddled under our fleece sheets and down blankets reading books. Gus and I fell asleep sometimes while Oliver slipped out to play, and once or twice, in the evening, instead of going to yoga, I went back under those covers. It was delicious. It felt like more than I was allowed to have, and yet, it had been there all along.

Now that spring has arrived and the daffodils are coming up everywhere, I am trying to let go of my habit of reaching with my fingers outstretched. I want to enjoy what I have already received, which turns out to be a lot.

Yesterday, Gus and I went to Whole Foods to get a slice of vegan pizza (again, not likely to be available on Camp Lejeune) and in the parking lot, he stopped by a pothole filled with white confetti and pointed to it. “What is all of this Mommy?” he asked and my first reaction was to try to swoop him away. “It’s trash Gus,” I said, “Don’t touch that.”

But then I looked again and saw that the pothole wasn’t filled with trash at all. It was overflowing with cherry blossoms.

PS In my quest to “lighten up” I am participating in a 21-day cleanse with Laura Plumb, my yoga teacher in San Diego. She and her husband are amazing and together they founded the Deep Yoga School of Healing Arts. Laura will be leading the cleanse which will be completely supported with 3 group phone calls, emails, recipes, and if you choose, a care package full of Laura’s Ayurvedic spices, jam, and kitchari mix. The food-based cleanse (so you won’t be starving and eat half a cake by your third day) begins on March 20th, so if you would like to join me click here. There are 3 very affordable options.


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§ 17 Responses to Receive (Moving Part II)

  • Laura Plumb says:

    A friend of mine is a nurse. Once when I asked her why she is always so happy, she replied that one day a few years earlier, she just decided to believe in miracles.

    Your post reminds me of that simple truth, a sign, too, that you are living in Grace.

    Thank you, Pamela!

  • Your mind is a wonderful place. Keep up the great writing.

  • Alana says:

    Oh goodness – I know that way of focusing on fear instead of gratitude, of waiting for the bad news after the good. I lived that way for sooooooo long. It still comes up for me every now and then but sometime over the last few years, it shifted. I shifted. I’m still working on receiving though (I love the quote at the top).
    I can see you on the mat, pen in hand, grinning at your realization. What a fantastic moment. You’re getting exactly what you want – or something better. Again, I’m thrilled to be along for the (virtual) ride.
    Sending you deep breaths and joy as you pack your lives up once again.

  • This is so evocative and wise that I simply accept it and know that it, and your spirit, and your teaching are treasures already falling effortlessly upon myself and others like cherry blossom petals. You are good at giving, and for that I thank you—and perhaps part of our yogic, healing, noble-warrior journey includes some sort of virtual yoga soul-school in which we accept for each other as well as ourselves, much as we strive to be of service and give to each other. Trust that your joy makes all who care about you happy—that you serve others by letting all that is good be fully tasted. I relate to your struggles and see light breaking through clouds and shining upon my own often-conflicted struggles by virtue of your triumphs, your honesty and the poetry of your courage.

  • Lindsey says:

    Wow. Just wow. Receiving isn’t easy for me, either – I’m sure I’ve shared with you what is probably my very favorite quote (and you know that is saying a lot since I have about a million I love) is:

    Live gives us what we need when we need it. Receiving what it gives us a whole other thing.

    And oh how true that is. I can’t stop thinking about the pothole full of cherry blossoms. xoxo

  • Cathy says:

    I am also someone who has difficulty enjoying the good because I’m waiting for the bad. For me it just seems inevitable. I’ve had great cause this year to try to find the good and keeping perspective. And the best line ever, by Sheryl Crow, “it’s not having what you want. It’s wanting what you have.”

    I am so happy for you that the pieces seem to be falling into place. It sounds like you really have something to look forward to. Congrats.

  • I am always feeling like Wile E. Coyote, with his Acme kit, waiting for the anvil to fall.

    And the anvil does fall, but in cartoon-land, it doesn’t do any lasting damage. Ah, the beauty of cartoons.

    Sarcasm aside, I think you are wonderful, and I know you will thrive in a place that is quieter than DC. I just know it.

  • I am so deeply happy for you and all that is to come! I feel so blessed to follow your amazing journey! Thanks!

  • Wolf Pascoe says:

    It takes a lot of energy to remain in a defensive, contracted place. It leaves no room to let anything else in. I watch your struggles and think, “That’s me.” I always found A Course in Miracles maddeningly opaque. But now I understand. It’s all cheery blossoms.

  • earthhuggy2 says:

    it has taken me a few days to come back to this, and it’s amazing how perfectly that always seems to work out. i, too, am receiving right now, exactly what i needed to read: choosing gratitude over fear. 🙂 i love that you are going to teach yoga! i love cherry blossoms (of course it is the “in” season for them and maybe not such a coincidence that i just blogged about them, too, but still it is a nice connection). i have never looked that closely at the iwo jima memorial, so i never noticed that the one man was not actually touching the flag. but now that i’m looking at it, it occurs to me that he did in fact touch it, before the image was frozen in time forever. and only because he released it, was the flag able to go upright. i am not into the war imagery either but i see a lot there having to do with attachment to outcomes, or letting go, or, as you say, opening up to receiving what is already being given to you. it doesn’t make what you are losing and saying goodbye to any less real, or the grieving any less necessary or poignant… i love that you encompass all of that in your writing.

  • “What’s been so interesting to me over the past few months is how I keep refusing to receive what I am given, even it it’s exactly what I wanted.”

    Wow. This describes so many of us.

    I had to learn to be a “receiver” when my husband was in Iraq, and it wasn’t easy. But I let go of it as soon as he returned. I think I’ve just been prompted to take inventory. For that, I am grateful.

    Big thanks to Kasey for sending me your way!

  • My dear friend, I’m sorry I’m so late getting here, but as always I resonate to your words. Your last line, especially, leaves me breathless. And this idea of “refusing to receive what I am given, even it it’s exactly what I wanted” just might be the central conflict of my life. I am thrilled by the idea of your bringing yoga to military families. What a beautiful calling you are answering. xo

  • Ari says:

    So happy for you! This is why they say “be careful of what you wish for …” :).
    I am like you too, always waiting for the bad and can’t enjoy the beautiful moments.
    Sometimes when great things happen to me, I just wanna go home and hide under my covers. I don’t know why.

  • Penny says:

    Hi Found your blog and just adore it. you have a wonderful turn of phrase and a heartfelt insight. I really enjoy your well thought through and cleverly written words. Thank you.

  • I see so much of myself in your words that reading them always leaves me a little breathless. You have taught me many things with your words; I can just imagine the beauty and power of you teaching yoga. Wish I could be one of your students.

    I am thrilled that you’ve asked and received and had your heart open to see your gift.


  • Just getting caught up… I love this. There is so much in life that appears to be trash and is really cherry blossoms… so much.

    Thank you for pointing that out.


  • Very late to this post, but as always, wholly inspired by your writing, your thinking, your sharing. And feeling a bit of something opening up inside of me just as it does every time I read your words. I like this writing exercise you did, and I think it may be time that I do something similar for yourself.

    I hope you are well. I see an adventure coming your way, and I’m eager to hear all about it! I hope you’ll tell us about it as you can.

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