Friday, July 22, 2016

Heart Openers

One of {many} things I love about 
yoga is how much it teaches me 
beyond my mat.

Recently, the studio where I 
practice held a benefit class,
with donations going to a local
family who'd lost their little boy
in a swimming pool accident a
week earlier. 

The loss of this sweet boy was on
my mind as I walked into the quiet
studio and rolled out my mat. A
young mom came in with her little
girl and after they set up their
own mats in the front row, the
tiny child casually shrugged on a
set of fairy wings and sat down,
ready for class to begin.

We physically carry grief by
drawing inward ~ shoulders rolled
forward, head down, our teacher
shared as she opened the class.

Today, we'll concentrate on
heart openers: a series of poses
to counter this tendency and bring
both physical and emotional release.

The little boy's name we were 
honoring was Daniel, and she asked
us to visualize his favorite 
color ~ green ~ surrounding his
family with love as we slowly
breathed in and out, our arms 
outstretched by our sides.

{Many of the businesses in town
had draped their windows in green
or were sporting green balloons
in front of their store fronts
in homage to Daniel.}

The week before this class, I'd
attended a memorial out of town
for a dear friend's 16 year old
son, who'd died suddenly at camp.

Both the visitation and the
memorial were surreal. 

Use your breath, I heard my yoga
teacher's voice say inside my
head, as I waited in the very long
line to embrace my friend, tears
stinging my eyes.

Deep inhale.  Deep exhale.

Michael was beloved and full of
light; an aspiring sports writer
who'd been writing his own blog
for three years.  He rooted for
several favorite teams around the
country, and was especially fond
of the Chicago Cubs.

His memorial ended with those of us
in attendance singing a song 
about the Cubs that Michael and
two buddies had submitted for a
Chicago radio competition.

Back home the next morning at yoga,
the instructor ended class with
these words:

It takes four muscles to smile,
but 72 to frown.  

You choose.

I immediately thought of another
close pal, who also lost her son,
a college freshman, two years
ago.  He was known for his kind
heart and his megawatt smile.

And so, I smiled for Jake.

And as I walk and admire the
brilliant greens of summer, I
think of Daniel.

And yesterday, as I prepared
dinner, I switched on the little
TV in my kitchen to a Cubs game,
remembering Michael.

Heart openers, too, in their
own special way.

Life's losses can turn our hearts,
minds and bodies inward, if we don't
consciously choose to throw
back our shoulders and search for
that which is still good and kind
and lovely around us.

So, let's strap on our fairy wings
and embrace the wonder that
is living, for ourselves as well
as for those who we love, no
longer here with us.

Feel the wind caressing our
faces and the green leaves that
dance in the trees around us.

Dispense smiles.

Cheer loudly whether our team
is winning or losing.

Stay open to life.


(all pics my own)


Rambling Tart said...

How I love that little girl and her fairy wings. What a beautiful way to remember these dearly loved boys and honor their shining light in this world. xo

Monica T. said...

A glorious plan! I recall your other loss s well, and I am glad that something as simple as a smile can honor those we have loved and lost.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Dear, dear Suzanne, it's been WAY TOO LONG since I've been here. My apologies for not having come, but my praise to you once again for your powerful writing (and lovely photos) - where ON EARTH did you take the photo of the sunflowers? I have a friend in Medina who promised me a photo shoot of her sunflower field in August!

What you speak of here is very painful, but for every pain, there is a balm. Like with most ailments I believe, the root of the pain is one thing to deal with, but if the cause of the pain is something that cannot be reversed, then living with the pain in a triumphant way is the key. Living through grief can be our art, our message to ourselves, to the world around us, and through that, we find solace. However, I cannot image what the parents of these young angels must feel. May every breath we all take be a breeze from heaven. Thank you so much for coming to visit me! Anita

Kristi A said...

My loving friend Suzanne - you 'blow' me away yet again. Thank you for honoring us, as Jake's mom, the mere mention of his name, the smile you share, the breath breathed in the earlier comment, all pierce a hole in the darkness, light shows up. Love gets through - thank you <3

Judy Hartman said...

I have just discovered your blog, full of inspiring thoughts, beautiful photos and heartfelt intentions.
So very glad to have stumbled upon this beautiful place in the blogosphere! xx

Shelly Wildman said...

Love, love, love this, Suzanne. Thank you for those beautiful reminders. So sorry for the sadness you've experienced recently.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

And here is wishing you a fabulous week. I just came home from Lake Calhoun where watching the people in canoes and paddle boards was so magical! And thank you for commenting my friend! About grief being an mother was the master at this. During her illness, she masterfully painted her last days with the most beautiful dignity I'd ever seen. She left me her memory and to this day, 29 years later, I still "grieve" but in a happy way. This grieving is called poetry and it develops as my memory of her comes and goes and most of all, shapes me.

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

A beautiful and heartfelt post. So very sorry for your loss, 16 years old is too soon. It makes one stop and pause and ponder all those we have lost and how we can honor their life. You have mentioned so many ways, smiling, talking about them and doing so of the things they likes.

I attend yoga class each morning and as I lay on my mat I send light and love out to those I love and to the world. I leave there feeling better, more open to the world and more positive.

I wish I had a little butterfly sitting in front of me at yoga! What an uplifting sight!

Have a great week and thank you for sharing your light, heart, and beauty!

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

This is such a light-filled post, Suzanne...and spoke to my heart. I am so sorry for all of the losses in your lives. It has been a difficult summer around here, and with the accompanying stress, I have been doing a lot of that turning inward thing. I recently made the decision to turn my worries around to be good to myself...eating well, exercising, sleeping, and being present in the moment. And that helps me to be there for the others who need me.
Oh...the sweet fairy wings...

Barb Brookbank said...

Hello Suzanne ... first of all just let me say how sorry I am for all the losses of these beautiful young people. Your post was incredibly poignant and sad, yet filled with hope somehow. I don't even have the words ... but I love reading your blog. xoxo and hugs ...