I was at a kirtan at my home yoga studio last night, and while I always love being there, it was different this time, because the close friend and teacher whom I usually go with has moved to another city. A couple mantras in, it felt lovely but not the same without him. I texted him a photo, telling him I was thinking of him and missed him.
It’s hard for anything to dampen my spirits during Kirtan, and soon enough I was singing and tapping my foot and feeling caught up in the experience. My mind wandered to how long I’ve been practicing at my studio and how much the place means to me. Within its walls, I made my final ED recovery: I was so brittle and frail and afraid when I first started taking classes there. The community taught me how to laugh, how to give thanks, how not to take myself or my life quite so seriously.
I’ve gone to my studio on quite a few holidays or days-after-holidays, feeling lost or lonely or both. I remember going there the morning after a very rough Thanksgiving just a few years ago. My boyfriend and I were on the rocks but not yet acknowledging it, behaving icily and tense instead. When I showed up for class that Friday morning and started to practice, it hit me that things were truly not the same and probably never would be, and I started to cry. After class, when my teacher asked whether I was OK, I told her only it had been a difficult holiday. “We’re always here,” she said.
Weeks later, when the end of my relationship was a sure thing, I went to class on Christmas Eve. The teacher, one of the senior teachers at the studio, said: “we’re open today, we’ll be open tomorrow, and we’ll be open on New Year’s Eve and Day. Your family is always here.”
That was the perfect way to sum up what the community meant to me. As someone who has needed to create much of the family I have in life, through friendship and shared passions, I’ve never taken the space for granted, and I never will.
Just as I was acknowledging this, feeling quietly grateful for what I have, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the same friend and teacher I’d texted at the start of the Kirtan. He’d appeared, as if by magic, all the way from the West Coast. Turns out he’d come to town to pay a last minute visit to his (biological) family, and he’d been only a few blocks away when I reached out. We had a great big hug, I burst into tears, and then we sang our hearts out for a while.
I write often about difficult experiences, both I think it’s important for us to talk about them and because the last few years have been challenging ones for me. But just as it’s important to acknowledge that life can be hard, it’s also important to point out that life can be so sweet and so good sometimes. Along with the struggle, there are moments when we’re given just what we need at the very moment we need it. The universe, or human experience, or whatever you want to call it, can be very generous sometimes.
I’m feeling uplifted today, not just by my friend’s coincidental visit, but by my chosen family and the fact that I live in a world in which there are sacred spaces that hold us all together. It’s a beautiful morning, not too brisk, not too damp, and the breeze outside is very gentle. Before the weekend got underway I was feeling a little overwhelmed by work that needed doing this afternoon, but I don’t feel that way anymore. Instead, I feel a sense of ease. And I’m sending that ease and that peace out to all of you, too.
Happy Sunday. Here are some recipes and reads.
It’s fun to start thinking about Thanksgiving side dishes, and Ali’s blistered green beans with garlic and capers would be a fun, flavorful, and nontraditional addition to the table.
Another option would be this colorful sweet corn and baby potato salad, made with dill and basil (yum).
I’m always looking for new ways to make tofu for bowls and as a standby protein at dinners. These balsamic tomato tofu cutlets look amazing.
A beautiful and simple cauliflower leek soup.
Finally, a perfect little treat for the season: pumpkin pie truffles.
1. A resolution has passed in NYC to ban processed meet from school lunches. It could be a great, local development for animals, kids, and the environment.
2. I’m beyond impressed with this vegan baker.
3. How new technologies continue to make the world noisier.
4. I spent a lot of time becoming familiar with blood glucose monitoring methods this year, during my outpatient diabetes rotation. This article explains both new and old technologies and what they measure nicely.
5. I liked this list of emotions that help us to better experience and befriend our feelings: gratitude, empathy, hope, compassion, validation, wholeheartedness, and peace.
I’ll be back this week with a simple, but lovely dessert for fall. Till soon, friends.