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Comfortable Shoes.

I'm learning to wear comfortable shoes.  I have a bunch of lovely heels, but DAMN, they hurt. They look good on the outside but they feel terrible.  There's a lesson here.

A couple years ago I spent some time in Boston at the beginning of my midlife crisis spiritual awakening. It was, in fact, the second time I had run away from home to tape myself together, and that time, I went back to Cambridge and holed up in the Charles Hotel for a week. When I was there, I hadn't eaten for 10 days, was running obsessively, and hadn't slept more than three hours a row for 18 months. I was not well. Nevertheless, the afternoon I got in, I ran five miles, walked a mile up Mass Ave. to the Baron Baptiste Power Yoga Studio and proceeded to hurt myself striving during a 90 minute hot yoga practice that left me splayed, drenched in sweat, and exhausted.

The next morning I woke up after sleeping 6 hours in a row, (which was an improvement, really, after most of a bottle of wine and a veggie burger), and I could barely move. What did I do? I went right back out to run and yoga. By the time I got to the yoga studio I was on fumes, which, frankly, was not an abnormal feeling, so as the Krishna Das music got started, I was on autopilot and jammed through the first poses. About 10 minutes in the first long hold happened, and as I let go and drifted downwards into chaturanga, I hit the mat and just...stopped.

I lay there, forehead and nose pressed into my mat, my hands in my armpits, ready to push up for the longest time, as the rest of the class flowed through another sun salutation. And another. And another. Each time I intended to "catch up" with the class back in down dog.

But I didn't. I laid there. And the thought arose, as the instructor led the class through the next poses..."I DON'T WANT TO DO THAT." As clear as a bell.

I. Don't. Want. To. Do. That.

My worn out and broken heart said: "It hurts and is hard, and I have already done enough. Too much, really. I've been unkind to myself and to my body and I hurt because of it. I want to be done."

But my internal critic said: "But you'll look like a loser lying here not doing. Why did you come if you didn't want to work? It's only 90 minutes. You'll feel so accomplished when it's over and you can say you went to yoga today. Just keep going. Just do it."

My heart won that day. Not because I was being wise, or conscious, or spiritual, but because I literally, physically, could not go on. I cried uncle.

And I hated that feeling. I hated it so much, I felt so much loss, that I laid there on my mat and wept for the remaining 80 minutes of that practice. In public. In child's pose.

(I got more adjustments during that practice than I've ever gotten before, which was a testament to the seeing of the teacher and the assistants and I'm grateful they were there for me that day.)

Ken, my very wise therapist said recently, "you're not mourning the loss of what once was, you're mourning the loss of your superpowers." It sure was true that day.

That day was the beginning of this change, really. Learning that I could set limits, do what felt good, and not have to be working so hard all the time. It's a daily process, but that was really the first time I said no to anything.

The work then became to determine what exactly I wanted and continue to want to say yes to. Who I am and what I like and what I don't.

Daily, daily, daily, reminding myself it's OK to just be me, to have my needs and temperament and all of it. Choosing to be vocal and brave and say those things without checking first if it's OK with someone else.

I want to choose people in my life the way I choose my shoes, and to stop giving time to things and people that don't give back. When you've spent your life alternately pushing love away or hiding from it, or chasing unavailable people, that's a hard habit to break. I want to choose things to do that cause me joy and not pain and struggle, but when you've taken the uphill path your whole life, out of some attempt to prove your worth to yourself and "the world", it's another hard habit to break.

It gets easier with practice, is all I can say.

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