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Word Choices

Good morning.

How are your head, heart, and body today?

Today I’m reminding you of upcoming classes and series, explaining a specific word choice, and sharing things I’ve loved this week.

First, upcoming classes:

  • Beginning Sunday, April 16, the six-week Yoga for Grievers series. Ninety-minute classes with asana (poses), breathwork, meditation, and journaling. $150 for the whole series if you pay upfront; $30 per class if you pay as you go.

  • Monday evenings at 7:00. Sixty-minute classes with asana, breathwork, and meditation. Classes are themed around grief but don’t have an arc to them, as the series does. $20 per class or $75 for five classes.

  • Tuesdays at noon. Sixty-minute classes with asana, breathwork, and meditation. Classes are themed around anxiety but, again, don’t have an arc. $20 per class or $75 for five classes.

I’d love to practice with you!

. . .

In recent years, I’ve started using “grievings” instead of “grief” when speaking of, well, grief. It’s a subtle shift, but I think it’s powerful. One thing you might not know about me, especially if you’re meeting me for the first time through Heart Forward Yoga, is that I am also a copy editor. I’ve been one for about fifteen years, and words do, indeed, matter. I am also a writer, and my word choices tend to be intentional—mostly.

So why have I taken to “grievings”? Because it’s active. And plural. My grievings are the result of various deaths: my dad, uncles, family friends. They have stacked up, and the plural fits. But grievings can also be the result of various traumas we’ve experienced, abuses we’ve endured, shifts in identity, losses of work, diagnoses that take our breath away. Grievings, in short, are the rugs pulled out from under our feet.

But it’s the active bit that I find most fitting. Grief changes and shifts. It’s cyclical, not linear. It folds in on itself and unfurls. “Grief,” the term, has come to feel like a static word. It sits heavy in my mouth, in my head. But “grievings” allows for movement, fluidity, shifting. Ever so slight, perhaps, but there.

In yoga we talk about “breathing into” things: tense muscles, the challenge of a pose, different parts of the body. It’s a way of creating space where none existed or it was tight. Sometimes you can’t “breathe into” a release of tension. I’ve shamelessly stolen a phrase from one of my teachers, Clara Roberts Oss: She talks about “breathing into the potential of release.” I love that. Sometimes we aren’t ready to let go of the tension yet. Maybe it has more to teach us. Or maybe the release signals moving forward and we’re not quite ready for that yet. Maybe “breathing into [tight muscle]” just seems weird and we don’t get it. But potential? Potential I get. That someday, perhaps, I’ll be ready to let this tension go. Someday. Perhaps.

Speaking of “grievings” is like that breathing into. It allows them to move from sharp to soft—back and forth on any given day, in any given hour. Our losses are not one thing, one solid, immovable thing. They might feel like they are for a bit, but they do shift. Active words mirror the activity occurring. And that is why you’ll often read or hear me referring to “grievings” instead of “grief.”

. . .

And now, Five Things I’ve Loved about This Week:

  • Our eight-month-old puppy Lewis had surgery on Thursday (didn’t love that) for an obstruction in his tummy (don’t love that) because he eats all the things (have never loved that). What I love about this is that the vet, techs, and assistants at the clinic were amazing, and Lewis is healing well. I’m grateful to have his sweet, ornery, happy self back.

  • Quilting. I was working as a baker for a few months, and after my shifts I didn’t really want to do much of anything. Quilting is a hobby I took up after my uncle Shaun died, and I love the feel of needle, thread, fabric, hoop. I’ve returned to working on a quilt for my husband, and it’s been comforting.

  • Ice cream. No explanation needed.

  • Writing. Here. Elsewhere. Words on a page. It never ceases to amaze me.

  • Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony No. 8. I heard the Minnesota Orchestra perform this years ago, and it struck me then, as it does now, as the most perfect musical representation of anxiety and its release. The utter chaos, the astounding stillness of the horn solo, the largeness of the whole piece. If my anxiety had a soundtrack, this would be it. And somehow, rather than pushing me into anxiety, this piece works as a mirror, allowing me to see the anxiety in new light.

Content warning for following paragraph: gun violence, suicide, mass shootings.

I don’t want to let this e-mail end without acknowledging the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville yesterday. Gun violence hits close to home, since two of my uncles died by suicide by gun. My heart breaks every time an event like this occurs. The traumas we’re inflicting on children, parents, families, everyone by refusing to pass legislation that restricts gun ownership and therefore violence is inexcusable. If you feel hopeless, consider the small ways you can be a light: say something on social media; donate to or volunteer with a gun violence prevention group; ask friends or family members who have guns if they are properly stored. And if it feels too heavy and you simply can’t look at another story about this violence, that’s okay too: rest your mind and body with television or literature or a nap; set a timer when you’re scrolling so you don’t get sucked in; take a walk outside; eat something that makes you happy and nourishes your body and soul. But remember to reengage when you’ve taken a step back. It’s like backing out of a yoga pose that’s too much: come back to neutral, find your breath, look for a way back in. Hold the victims and their families in your head and heart today. While we need to be making policy changes, a prayer, a thought, a kind intention is not unhelpful, if only to remind us of how much work we have to do.

Peace. Wishing so very much for peace,


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