At 53, I Think That I Finally Have The Maturity To Embrace Yoga

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You can call me “Madonna” from now on because, since my four-hour yoga retreat on Saturday, I am officially at one with my body, nature and the limitations of my pelvic floor.

Unlike the majority of my mates, I’ve come a little late to the yoga party. I’ve struggled to find my inner or spiritual self, or whatever everyone else seems to get out of it. And fortunately, the excuse of a dodgy lower back – the pain in which is exacerbated by stretching parts of your body that aren’t supposed to be stretched – has given me an excuse. And yoga is also expensive, especially when compared to homemade Freeletics on the beach, that increase your dickhead factor at the same time.

Many of my friends have turned to yoga in later life, for the purposes of body strengthening and to rid themselves of stress. And I must admit that the type of people that do yoga always seem to have an aura of calmness about them that I envy (sort of). They’re a bit like born-again Christians – they just seem like nice people – something I hoped would rub off on me as I set out for Saturday’s session.

I suppose that l felt finally mature enough to “own” my “queefs” as I contorted my body into poses I wouldn’t even attempt in front of the old man after a cask of wine, and to chant without cracking up. And the idea of switching my mind off for a few hours from my to-do list, what I’m cooking for dinner, and what’s next on Netflix, held some appeal.

But FUCK! Yoga is seriously harder than the “Jane Fonda Workout,” when you really try; particularly when you’ve been sold the event as a three-hour sleep-fest by a well-meaning friend and so you’re in the zone for an expensive three-hour nap. My relaxation scale goes from 1. being knocked out on medication, to 10. watching back-to-back episodes of “The Bachelor” on the couch with a bottle of wine, so, no, I don’t call balancing on the balls of my feet – bum three inches off the floor – relaxing. Although I did surprise myself with how wide I can still open my legs – something I shan’t be sharing with the old man.

The Sanskrit mantras sounded like a foreign language – because they are – and I had no real idea to whom or what I was chanting as I Ommed in unison our passionate Canadian yogi, who was on the guitar. But who am I to knock something that frees your mind from the anxieties of life? Indeed, I quite enjoyed working my fingers busily around my beads, ignoring that little voice in my head that kept asking me ‘what the fuck are you doing?’

Be honest, give anyone a neck massage, an eye pack and a warm blanket and most of us will do whatever the fuck is asked of us. And it’s easy to be cynical about things we don’t understand or that take us out of our comfort zone – something I AM a natural at – but when we give them a go, sometimes we surprise ourselves.

Not even the idea of a vegetarian lunch in recompense for two hours of physical purgatory phased me afterward. Admittedly, I’m not certain that I fully relaxed my skin, my organs or my bones (?) during the session, but I did manage to dislodge one of those hard bogeys that really hurt during the nasal breathing.

 

Forgiveness And The Ability To Say Sorry

valentines-day-3135789_1920 (1)Ask any member of my family and they will confirm that one of my biggest faults is my lack of forgiveness and more pertinently my inability to say “sorry.” It is not something I can deny, and neither will I apologize for it – obviously.

 

Perhaps my absence of empathy in this regard has something to do with my star sign – because Leos are renowned for their arrogance – perhaps it is a defense mechanism that I have developed over the years to prevent myself from getting hurt, or perhaps it is because I lack any spiritual influence in my life.

 

Don’t worry, I’m not the sort of crazy that scratches cars with sharp knives or sews out-of-date prawns into curtains. No, my punishment of choice is much more evil. It is the punishment of silence and eternal banishment to another kingdom, never to be heard from again – so, as you will appreciate, not an attractive quality, and not one that I am not particularly proud of.

 

The old man has certainly experienced the brunt of my anger on many occasions and once NC and I endured a four-day sulking match when she was still barely out of nappies. However, maturity and the loss of some dear people in my life has taught me that we don’t always get the chance to say “sorry” – which is something that terrifies me, particularly when my grudges, (in hindsight), are particularly shallow. So, while in years gone by I could justify ignoring my father for years, these days I force myself to thaw out quicker and extend the olive branch, ever-conscious of the fragility of life.

 

That being said, the attitude of the father of the family killed in the murder-suicide last week astounded me. Because I’m certain I would struggle to employ the word “forgiveness” in the same sentence as the alleged murderer’s name, a matter of days after my four children had been murdered in their beds. As you know, I am the staunchest supporter of mental illness, but I cannot condone or excuse murder or domestic abuse on any level. Perhaps, I might muster some small sense of pity on my own deathbed, but in no situation could I see myself forgiving such a heinous perpetration of my family’s human rights and trust in the immediate aftermath of such a tragedy. As the police have confirmed that the father is not a suspect in the tragedy, I can only attribute his quick response to shock, medication or faith. Yet…if he has truly managed to find forgiveness, I have to commend him.

 

It is important to remember that ‘just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses.’ What it does do, however, is ‘bring the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger.’ (Greater Good Magazine)

 

The wisdom and clear-headedness (!) of age confirms the futility and danger of anger to both our mental and physical health and offers us the alternative solution of removing toxicity out of our lives completely, rather than trying to maintain the perilous ties of a damaging relationship. I am an expert in this field. From British stock – hence, over-apologetic and terrified of confrontation – whenever I have found myself tested and unable to handle the emotional fallout and consequences of relationships-gone-bad in the past, I have either stuck my head in the sand or walked away and severed the tie completely.

 

However, the problem with that approach is its capacity to leave us very lonely, which is (fortunately) when that wisdom of age can step in again to remind us that some relationships are worth egg on your face and fighting for, and to stop acting like a dickhead.

 

 

 

 

 

Middle-Aged Immaturity (And The Tale Of The Carrot Penis)

The Tale of the Carrot PenisSo the photo of the carrot penis which so obviously tickled my juvenile fancy, didn’t quite resonate in the same way on my Facebook page.

As I suspected, my middle-age peers seem to have acquired that elusive level of grown up maturity (previously seen in our parents), at some point during the last five years.

And I must have been sleeping when it happened.

I can fully admit to being immature. I often wish my attitude was different, because my schoolboy strain of silly humour has landed me in my fair share of trouble in the past. I just seem to see things differently to a lot of people. I tend to become easily distracted by trivia and really stupid things can entertain me for hours. There are evidently a few interpretations to the saying ‘being as old as you feel’, and this week I was obviously feeling around age twelve again.

The tale of the carrot penis was a prime example.

I should point out, however, that my physical maturity does not match my mental maturity. As I don’t look young for my age, people have foolish expectations of me possessing a mature, more refined level of wit, (spectacularly contradicted recently, if you were lucky enough to spot me nosediving into a friend’s drive in ridiculously high teenage heels and a maxi dress).

But a lot of the time, if I’m honest, I do feel mentally closer to the maturity of a teenager. I have what you might call a ‘sick’ sense of humour (in the old-fashioned sense).

Which is what happened with the carrot.

You see, I just don’t seem to possess a verbal filter. A therapist would probably say that my inappropriate response to absurd situations (like people inadvertently making fools of themselves) is a coping mechanism; that if you laugh at something potentially awful, you eradicate the risk of it being so bad. Therapy appears to have an answer for almost all socially unacceptable behaviours. But my reaction could equally be linked to a facet of my anticipatory anxiety, which unfortunately seems to impact a lot of my mental processes; both good and bad.

So here’s what happened with the carrot penis. I would be interested to know on a scale of 1-10 (1 being ‘not at all’ and 10 being ‘shockingly bad parent’) how inappropriate you think my behaviour really was.

It started when I went to peel the carrots for dinner on Wednesday and I found the carrot (in the image) in the bag. Now I imagine that the NORMAL middle-aged female reaction upon finding a penis-shaped carrot would be something along the lines of, ‘what an odd-shaped carrot’.

Not exactly MY response, unfortunately.

Penis, stiffy, hard-on, boner flitted immediately across the synapses of my brain, triggering the switch. Because you see, as much as I might aspire to be Helen Mirren or Kate Blanchett, in reality the way my brain reacts to potentially ridiculous/dangerous situations is far more Ferris Bueller or Tom Hanks in Big.

Woefully, my reaction didn’t stop there. I blame the physiological malfunction in my brain which is connected to the area responsible for my ‘filter’. Which in laymen’s terms means I don’t have one. So whilst NORMAL women of a certain age would have just ignored the carrot’s peculiarly uncanny resemblance to a PHALLUS, (or smirked privately and MOVED ON), my brain went into characteristic overdrive. I simply don’t absorb AND contemplate information. Impulsivity leads the way in my world.

So instead of just chopping that f*cking carrot, I rushed upstairs with my carrot penis clutched tightly in my sticky little hand and raced straight into Nerd Child’s room, (killing myself with laughter at my pathetic little private joke), and barging in, I shouted, ‘TA DA! What does this remind you of’?

I have questioned the golden-ness of silence.

She looked up at me in horror. If anyone has ever watched Abfab, it was a Saffy/Edina moment and one I wish I could have rewound instantly the minute I saw her disapproval.

So obviously I tried to backtrack desperately, mortified that once again I had betrayed the trust we strive so hard to maintain.

‘I just…..thought…..it was…..kind of…..funny,’ I blurted feebly, instantly reminded of her shame at my behaviour at her last parent/teenager evening (Here) and at the Sydney University Open Day (Here); that we were still in recovery for.

‘If you’re twelve, Mum.’

So my question is: when does the whole middle-age maturity thing kick in exactly?

It’s just that I think I might be almost ready.

You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever. Germaine Greer

Midlife Mayhem – A Question of Maturity


I fear that I have been demoted to the role of ‘has-been female’ in our household.

I’m tentatively thrilled that my relationship with my teenage daughter is now in the ‘rediscovery’ phase after several turbulent years of adolescence, but I am sensing a resulting shift in the family dynamics. Whilst I’m earnestly trying to embrace our new pact, (I think she has to control her outward frustration with family life and I have to relinquish control of her every breath), some of her new behaviors relating to her ‘growth’ are irking me.

This newfound-maturity thing is not as straightforward as it seems, the main obstacle being that I’m simply not mature. There was no warning that the evil duckling was about to turn into a swan and I was obviously ill prepared for the fall-out. The family has welcomed the sudden change in her disposition, but if I’m honest I’m a little sceptical. Furthermore, I’ve observed that she has begun to infringe on my position in the household and, dare I say it, take on my role of alpha female.

Fortunately, she doesn’t seem fully conscious of her new standing yet, but I’m watching her. Obviously, her father fell for her guile the day she was born, and as nauseating as it is to witness his disempowerment in her presence, even I would be proud of her talent for extracting cash from him. And in spite of her newfound control, her brother still knows how to push the bitch switch and is not afraid of the outcome like the rest of us.

But her outer poise says it all and she now sashays around the house (my territory), exuding a shameless inner confidence and all-round gorgeousness that, frankly, I find confronting! I know I am the adult here and should be embracing her metamorphosis, so why do I see her as a threat?

You see her transformation into a young woman has provoked some serious soul searching on my part, although I have tried to rationalize my feelings of ‘offspring envy’. Maybe I can blame that on hormones too, or maybe I’m being too self-critical. I have adapted quite quickly to most aspects of her transition, after all, like the biological modifications neither of us could control.  Her height was only an issue until I re-introduced heels back into my wardrobe but that pheramonal attraction that boys have to her has been harder to manage, and stomach. Honestly, it’s hard to ignore the aesthetically perfect specimens of walking Testosterone that loiter around our home now, fawning over her, like drones around the Queen Bee. Boys used to behave like that around me, but I only catch the eye of male retirees now, and that’s on a good day.

So, do I retreat and lick my wounds or celebrate the success of my parenting skills? Am I really that shallow that I’m allowing my self-esteem to be threatened by the youth and beauty of my own progeny? Maybe I just need to ‘get a life’, like my ‘man mountain of middle age spread’ advised when I was moaning(his words)/seeking reassurance(mine)?

I admit it – I envy my own daughter! She has artfully crossed the boundary from adolescence to young adult, and in the words of the Spice Girls, acquired ‘girl power’. Once upon a time I used to have that power, but it’s been replaced by wrinkles and unwanted kilos. I envy her youth and looks, covet her intelligence and would trade my Chanel handbag for her endless possibilities.

Maybe I just need to grow up like she has!

High Heels 14 Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com (lucyguthrie 1)

Girl Power Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com