Friday 8 June 2018

Finding a Moment

 [Image: a woman's pink and purple-clad legs and pale feet can be seen lying on a fluoro green yoga mat on a green lawn. She is lying in a backyard and a brown brick house, hedge, white plastic chair and pot plants can be seen in the background. To the left of the mat, a clear walking stick can be seen. At the foot of the mat four chickens, two gold, one white and a large brown and gold, are moving towards the woman's toes.]

I'm up and dressed today and then I'm not. I have pushed too far and finally landed on my bum. My descent to the kitchen floor a tangible reminder that my body continues doing as it pleases. I am over it. Adrift and finding it difficult to navigate a path out from the familiar exhaustion and wave of ennui that has made its presence known repeatedly during the past 12 years of illness.

I'm not one to do New Year Resolutions but somehow I've found myself needing to just do. There's been no real thought about the doing. What shape it'll take or how long I'll keep it up. But it's happened all the same.

Summer is not my time of year. I am an Autumnal spirit and with the practicalities of my body, the milder days of golden leaves are the only time of year I feel somewhat myself. So finding a tug to motion in the midst of clear hot days left me in unfamiliar territory. On reflection perhaps that was the key.

I'm an all or nothing kind of gal. Pacing is still not my friend and I often find myself taking photos in the morning and in bed by mid-afternoon, sore from exercise and connecting my left bum cheek to my thankfully cleaned-yesterday tiles. I have been getting #upanddressed more often than not. Spurred on by participating in a Shop Your Wardrobe project, #syw18. And I have been doing yoga every morning as part of Yoga with Adriene's 30 Day Yoga Program: Truth.

I get up, slug down coffee and meds, and try to find a spot in the backyard where there is a patch of shade and less chook poo (free-ranging your chickens has a downside). I smother myself with Bushman's in the hope of keeping the Australian Summer fly invasion at bay and lay down on my beaten old yoga mat.

And now I find I've made it to day 30 doing as much of the program as I can and lying in Child's pose when I cannot. My chooks dance around the mat. Their inquisitive noises drowning out much of the native birdsong and frequently, the voice emanating from my phone. A surprise early on, in the form of a large steaming chicken present deposited on the mat, has me leaving one eye open every time I am instructed to close my eyes and think about my breath.

This routine is more the unexpected development of a moment each day rather than a prescriptive completion of a yoga session. The 30-day program continues on whether I turn up or not. And some days I haven't. Life happens. Visitors come. After an overly eager attempt at yoga followed by making a brunch for my family I ended up a tangled mess of limbs on my bed, the rest of the day and part of the next lost to the oblivion of coma sleep. So I do or don't do depending on what is happening with fickle flesh and bone.

But I miss it. Not necessarily the cautious stretching of limbs and still awkward poses, but the moment. The part that is calling to me, leaving me itching to grab my old green mat and head out the back door headless of the state of my body, is the small patch of life outside my backdoor. I find myself concentrating on my breath and slowly relaxing and then the natural world begins to find it's way in. I often complain about the sterile world that is the housing estate in which I live. My barometer for nature is heavily skewed from years lived on the outer edges of temperate rainforest and national park. While I have no echidnas in my backyard and my heart still aches for the two-story tree ferns whose dust I once bemoaned as it found it's way through even closed windows in our rattly old house, there is still nature here.

[Image: a view of a small part of my backyard. Green hedges, grass and gum trees. Our aquaponics and blue sky. Pops of red can be seen in the firm of my umbrella and the geraniums and my yoga pants]

While I lie on the mat, eyes closed forehead to the mat, and arms outstretched I hear it all around me. The bees and multitude of other flying insects create a hum that underlies all other noise. There are large groups of birds flying overhead towards the large dam on the floodplain come cow paddocks the next street over. Red-wattle birds bathe and snap in Freyja's water bowls or sit chartering in the boughs of our neighbour's gums. Various wrens bounce delicately around the yard finding safety in the bushes along the fence line, along with the native blackbirds who enjoy the safety of tight twigs after digging in amongst my veggies. Magpies sing and crows set the chooks into fearful alarm. The cacophony of life swirls around me.

Place my mat near the small patch of the dappled shade of the gums and warmed eucalyptus swims in my nostrils while small gumnuts rain on my prostrate body. Gumnuts, natures Leggo. A body's weight focused on a knee under which a tiny wooden caltrop has made its resting place is not one I'd recommend. But the smell of the oils and the sound of the wind through the leaves are like a drug lulling me to quiescence.

And always there are my chooks. Never content to leave me alone on the mat, especially when there's a chance I may have treats tucked away somewhere between pasty skin and colourful lycra. While my toes are nibbled or the mat pecked the constant inquisitive cooing is hard to not love. They have unique personalities all of which are reflected in their interaction while I am at their level. Evie II is incredibly inquisitive. In my face attentive as I speak to her. Gloria, in her senior years, has taken a liking to my purple toes. Lola engages in drive-bys demanding treats or strutting beneath my downward dog. Little Blue and Zsa Zsa wouldn't spit on me if I was on fire and rarely come close unless there are treats which they'll deign to eat from my hand before treating me with disdain once more. Rose is oblivious. She might follow the others as they run over for an initial investigation into the possibility of treats, but if none arise she's gone back to investigating the rest of the yard or kicking my garden beds all over the lawn. And so it is each day. My feathered girl gang part and parcel of the experience.

[Image: 3 chickens can be seen at the foot of green yoga mat which has a woman's pasty feet at the end. They are all on the lawn. A brown brick house and general yard junk can be seen in the background.]

And then there's Freyja. My every present shadow who cannot understand why she can't lie on the mat. Who slowly rolls her weight onto my head as I lie in savasana. Who snuffles my face or ear while I try to concentrate on my breath. I breathe in her comforting doggy smell. My nose wrinkles at her need for a bath and breath that tells me once more that she has been hoovering chicken poo and other rancid treats, but it is familiar and calming nonetheless. My constant companion of 9 years and after last years stress and heartache I'll take every gag-inducing whiff. I can't move her heavy body with my weak arms so I endure the press of hot fur with half-hearted irritation. She has brief, seemingly uninitiated, moments of excitement that leave me pummeled with long limbs and broomstick tail. Before, energy spent, she returns to her passive encroachment on lurid green rubber.

[Image: a large merle Great Dane snoozes with her head and foot on the side of a green yoga mat. A woman's pale feet can be seen. She wears black pants and a grey top. In the background the besser blocks supporting the bottom of the aquaponics system can be seen.]

I hear the quiet Namaste from my phone and the short burst of music. I can't move. In truth, I don't want to. I want to hold the moment for as long as possible. Before the outside world encroaches and I have to engage with the day to day.

I'm trying to carry it with me. Some days are easier than others and some it's simply not possible. I sit here months later as Winter begins. Lying in the backyard is exhausting though I still try to find the moment in shorter and shorter forays. I've had a tough couple of months but the pull remains.

Now I am surrounded by ruffled chicken pom-poms who fluff and brace against the wind, and Freyja refuses to come outside for more than dinner and a pee. I add layers and mugs of steaming coffee. The buzz of insects is lost in winds filled with Southern ice and the enthusiasm of the local birdlife muted until they chatter on their way to evening roosts. Every now and then I pull out my mat and just sit. It's enough at present to simply allow the echo of the Summer ritual embrace me.