DIY Yoga


Our DIY Yoga takes place in the living room. In an ideal world, perhaps, this area would be clean and spare, inviting spaciousness and simplicity at the same time. It would be uncluttered and solely devoted to its meditative purpose. But we rarely live in such environs, with room enough for this kind of space, and sense enough not to fill it with things. If I can borrow a lesson from what I know about writing, it is this: talking about writing isn’t writing. Having a desire to write isn’t writing. Having a clean office isn’t writing. All these things help, but in the end, only writing is writing. And this, I’ve learned, can be done anywhere once I get in the groove. With this understanding, we commence yoga in our all purpose living room, clearing the area just enough to ease the mats down. I turn on the Pandora yoga station and Steve and I move, without words, without any effort to coordinate, we simply do our own form of yoga, side by side, in the middle of the floating dust motes and the snoring dog, with focused concentration on our own bodies and what it needs at the immediate moment. It has been wonderful.


We have chugged our way through the barren landscape of latent paperwork, sorting through a staggering stack of medical bills, filing and categorizing for taxes. Amid the search for relevant items, I found miscellaneous computer files that belong nowhere in the world I know right now, like “How to Make An Eyebrow”. This bit of expertise was useful when I lost mine three times, along with my eyelashes. Mining our old files as we do taxes is never pleasant but now I find I must be careful or it can throw me into a blast of PTSD that makes my body want to hide in the dark like a wounded animal. Crazy thoughts shimmer through my mind as I worked. The special shoes I bought for the hike up the Inca Trail? Those gleaming beauts were returned soon after I was admitted to the hospital. Should Netflix be under Medical? How about Whole Foods or the Snappy Dragon? Of course not, I know – but Netflix held a buoy out for me when I couldn’t read, and Whole Foods had Halvah when it was the only thing I could eat and the Snappy Dragon, the Thai takeout in Maple Leaf, was proof that I might have a chance in re-joining the outside world again. I say nothing of all this, and simply file things where they are supposed to be, but the thoughts continue to ramble through as thoughts do.


I knew before I came back that I may need some counseling to get back on track. Counseling is like massage… you never know how tight your hips are until they are under someone’s hands. After some prodding and poking at a particular tender spot inside, I recognized how young Shann learned to evade things at home by at going “away”, deep into an interior world and far “away”, into fantasy and science fiction. They were my coping mechanisms. Of course, I never could really go away, I just learned how to hide in my imagination. When I was in the thick of the cancer world, I went away from the assault of “the cure” in exactly the same way. It was, admittedly, a wonderful thing to be entertained and distracted by fantasy dinosaurs who break out of the time space continuum when I couldn’t hold down a single item in my stomach and hardly hold my head up… but there was a cost. It isn’t uncommon to suddenly buckle to my knees (inwardly) as the paper trail stack under chemotherapy and bone marrow biopsy grows larger and my absent mind comes home to find out what has been happening to my body in all its chronological glory.

Most people live in a world protected by an invisible suit of armor. It is one of the most essential parts of who we each are, and it is what allows us each to go into public, mingle with strangers, hug friends, work and play and shop for our daily bread, so to speak. Mine was progressively killed off in 2013.  It didn’t hurt. But to lose something so critical… yet so invisible so as to be utterly undetectable to anyone… wow, no wonder that to remember and grieve my own immune system takes the rug out from under my feet. To remember or not to remember? When is it indulgence and when is it absolutely necessary to take the time to remember and feel this? I know some of the right answers. It is required to meet and feel the pain to ease it. I know this. It is also required that I leave it behind. And doing so bit by bit is perhaps the only way I can safely do it, and still be present for the rest of my life.


April is a tender month, full of new growth. Relax, I whisper to my stiff neck and tight hamstrings. Unfold into bright flowers, like the tight blossoms of the rhododendron beside our living room window. April is the month when I feel it’s okay to fully let go of winter. March seems altogether too early in most parts. But by April, there is no arguing with the luxuriant sunshine that has mustered into our lives. The gentle balance of equinox is over; it is a full on race for doing EVERTYTHING. Or so it feels on the fair days, at least. The world spills over with movement and color—skin meets the warm air and sunshine for the first time this year. Bumblebees tap the windows, hummers zoom past, snakes slither away as my bare feet pass by.


I still live by the fluctuating blood counts of my life. Red blood cells and platelets, made in the bone marrow are slow to recover and reproduce as they should. White blood cells are pretty solid, a boon against infection. CMV is under control, until it isn’t, anyway. Unexpectedly measles has become a player on our island and once again, isolation is suggested. Secluded, I will do, but not completely, because I already have and I just can’t live like a hermit. These thoughts flash through my awareness as I do yoga in the morning. What a world we live in, I think, as the harsh and painful pieces dance side by side with the grace and the beautiful and the dust motes. I want to leave behind the hurt and gloom of last year and join in the island celebration of spring days, but the daily practice reminds me that each day is different. Struggling for some kind of balance, I feel the lie and the truth of being “peachy keen”. I wonder if my dad did the same? He liked irony, so I suppose he did. We all do, don’t you think? My thoughts zoom around such things, in monkey mind, while standing in tree pose, of course.


Elena is home!