LATELY I’ve found myself saying “bless you” a lot. To customers I serve in the shop, to participants in my classes, to friends and family on the phone. Or I might say it in relation to a third party; for example on hearing an anecdote about someone I don’t know, responding by saying “oh, that’s funny, bless him/her”.
But here I am blessing all and sundry and smiling while I do it. And not just because they’ve sneezed. What on earth has happened?
This year has been a challenge. There were a few moments where I thought it was going to resemble the Queen’s annus horribilus, except there’ve been no papparazi-attracting divorces in the family and our palace hasn’t burnt down. My partner has been occupied with assignments to complete the second half of a diploma, and anyone who has lived with a student will understand that I’ve been driven out of the house at times to let her shout expletives at the computer in peace.
Earlier in the year I badly strained muscles in my back and couldn’t teach my beloved BodyBalance, let alone move comfortably, for nearly three weeks. Then I came down with a flu that forced me onto the couch for a week, and shortly after that caught a cold that attacked my throat and nasal passages like a carnivorous animal attacking prey. Changes were imminent at the shop but took months to be finalised and the tension was palpable.
Winter felt cold and long and relentless and though it meant the best snow in years even our ski holiday turned into work. The process of donning the gear required to prevent exposure was exhausting; the final step of lacing up ski boots took so much effort that the thought of actually skiing seemed as daunting as Everest without oxygen. We even had to go outside into the freeze every morning to dig the snow away from the heater vent so we could switch it on and have breakfast in comfort.
Then all of sudden the sun came out, literally and metaphorically.
Basing one’s state of mind on the weather is, frankly, foolish. If we were only happy when the weather precisely suited us I estimate that many of us would be miserable for all but a few weeks per year. We’d be swirling around the spectrum of moods like loose papers in a windy street.
Yet what a transformation when spring starts to bring sunny days and warmer temperatures. Faces open up like flowers and smiles illuminate conversations. Indeed people actually have conversations, as distinct from the minimal grunts required for basic communication. I for one could feel my whole body literally unwind.
But simultaneously a few events helped loosen up my attitude as well. Maybe the unwinding body was reflected in my mind and a little brain space opened up.
Matters were resolved at work, though not without effort and some uncomfortable conversations. Apart from having to understand that with the new ownership I am now free to only do what I am asked to do, I was reminded that while we may imagine that our inner struggles are invisible to others they seep through our pores just like the odour of the garlic we ate last night and although we can’t smell it, those around us inhale our mood acutely, and let’s face it, sometimes we’re pretty stinky.
The injury and illnesses I had suffered forced me to stop and reassess the way I was behaving towards myself as well. Lying on the couch with flu in the middle of the day felt so lazy, yet I physically couldn’t do anything else. So I gave up and just lay there and felt what it was like. It felt wonderful. Why don’t I ever let myself do this?
Finally, a couple of interactions with my BodyBalance mentor sealed it. To help practise the latest program release I taught it to my mentor at her home. Even though she has seen me working from the start and has been a participant in several of my classes (when you really love a program it is a gift to chill out and do it while someone else does all the talking), I was nervous as I began. And sure enough I made errors, revealing lapses in preparation. I imagined she must despair that her mentoring had failed and that her plans to retire from instructing should be reconsidered.
When I next saw her she told me she had indeed reconsidered her plans to retire. But that it was the inspiration she got from my instructing that had reignited her passion. She said that not only had she enjoyed my classes but that she saw how the other participants responded, arriving with anticipation and leaving with loosened limbs and softened faces. She felt she still had something to give in teaching this program that is of such value for people’s wellbeing. And she was proud and delighted to see her student blossom.
I feel ablaze. It’s not just ego from my mentor’s praise; something has shifted in my soul and that is what is spilling out when I’m blessing everyone. The challenges of this year have combined to suggest that if I regard myself as competent, relaxed, worth nurturing, and possibly even inspiring, and I let it show, it might encourage others to feel good about themselves too.
Blessings to you for the festive season and the new year.
And a special nod to Bianca and Etsuko.