Friday, February 18, 2011


I hadn't opened the drawers in that dresser for months. Not since we'd cleaned out what few of his belongings he'd deemed unnecessary enough to leave at my house while he continued to live in his own apartment. We had placed all his things in a single trash bag while I cried hot, heartbroken tears. It's fitting that we used a trash bag to pack up the things he'd left behind over the six years we dated. It felt as though I was throwing away everything by sending him away.

Eight months later, I finally decided it was time to move my own things into the dresser I'd adopted from a friend especially for his clothes, hoping that he would feel more, what? Obligated to move in? Comfortable with the idea of cohabitation? Whatever I had been hoping for, it never happened. And so I pulled out a few of the empty drawers and began transferring socks and tee-shirts and pajamas. When those drawers were full I pulled out another and found myself staring into a pile of stuff I wasn't prepared for. A work uniform, tee-shirts, a sweatshirt.

Sitting there on my knees in front of that drawer, I didn't cry. I didn't hold his shirt to my nose, hoping for a whiff of his scent. I didn't even consider the future I had dreamed up for us, the one that never materialized. Instead, I pulled the clothes out of the drawer and piled them in a box, making room for my own things.

Later, when I was putting away some books, a folded piece of paper floated to the floor. Before I opened it and reread my words, I knew what it was. A letter I wrote to him on the last anniversary we celebrated together. I read it a second time, feeling not sadness or regret, but a lighthearted distance, a gratitude for my ability to love another so deeply and a hope that I'd be writing letters like that once again.

On another day, I opened the closet in the guest room looking for wrapping paper and found a tie he must have missed when folding his suit and adding it to the trash bag. The suit I bought him so he would come with me to the wedding of a friend. I laughed at the memory of the two of us struggling with that tie in the parking lot for so long that we were almost late for the ceremony.

The memories rarely elicit tears anymore. They are facts of my life--nothing more, nothing less. Oh, there is that DVD we watched together on one of our first dates. Here is a plate he borrowed from his mother to bring me dinner one night. A pile of greeting cards I gave him that he never took home to his apartment. A purse, a sweater, a necklace he gave me for this holiday or that celebration. The emotion I once attached to these things has dwindled. The memories have become soft around the edges. Not neutral, but not negative either, and rarely sad.

They are leftovers, plain and simple. Like bread crumbs trailing behind me on the path of my life, they remind me of where I have been. But I leave them there for the birds. I don't need to find my way back.

This post was written in response to the new weekly prompt at The Red Dress Club created to help develop memoir writing skills.

Write a piece - 600 word limit - about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it's so meaningful to you or your character.

Constructive criticism is welcome.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day Doldrums

I'm a day late posting this because I just couldn't bring myself to write it yesterday in the midst of all the hearts and love and flowers and cards. I honestly thought I'd take it better. I thought it would be easy to get through if I just focused on the love I do have in my life.

But it wasn't. Especially when friends and co-workers started talking about the flowers and gifts they were receiving while I sat at my desk and wondered if I'd ever have a Valentine again.

The thing is, this Valentine's Day didn't feel much different to me than it has the last few years, despite the fact that I'm now single. For six years I did have a Valentine, and that still wasn't enough. Even when I was in a relationship, Valentine's Day rarely brought a card or flowers or gifts. It was just another day when I would give all the love I had and would end up feeling spent and empty because he gave me so little in return.

It was that realization, that remembering, that made me sad on Valentine's Day. Not the absence of flowers or a box of candy, not even the absence of a significant other, but the undeniable truth of how little I had settled for in my last relationship, how little I had loved and cared for myself.

Feeling sad and lonely, I came home to find two Valentines in my mailbox. The first was from a blog friend who seems to have a knack for sending me the sweetest gifts and notes exactly when I need them (thanks, Jen!). The second was from a long-time friend who has proven herself to be a true Valentine, showing me a love that is full and complete and entirely unconditional. By the time I fell asleep last night, after reading and rereading her card, I felt buoyed by the love I do have and reminded that Valentines Day is just a day like any other day. Today, just like yesterday, is an opportunity to be someone's Valentine, to be my own Valentine, to give--and just as importantly to receive--love completely.

(Photo Credit: seyed mostafa zamani)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Finding Strength in Yoga

We've all heard the celebrities swear that yoga makes their bodies tight and toned. And I have to admit that when I started yoga teacher training, a rather large part of my motivation was the potential physical benefit of a regular yoga practice. As you can probably tell from my blog posts of late, it seems that I'm getting much more emotionally, mentally and spiritually from the dedicated practice of yoga than I am physically.

That's not to say my body isn't changing. I find myself wishing I'd taken "before" photos, so that I could share my physical progress with you all. My butt is lifting, my waist is more defined, my shoulders are stronger, my biceps and triceps are actually cut and visible. I'm able to do things that I doubted I'd ever be able to do, like balance in Bakasana and lift fully into Urdhva Dhanurasana. And I'm working my way toward headstand, slowly but surely.

One of the biggest things I'm learning about the physical practice of yoga (asana) is that it's such a small part of what yoga truly is. There are actually eight limbs of yoga, only one of which refers to the physical postures. So while I'm actively working to move more deeply into Downward Facing Dog and to practice better form in Chaturanga Dandasana, the real work is coming in other areas of my life.

I suspected that might be the case when I signed up for the training. After all, I'd just ended a six-year relationship and was planning to submerse myself in an intensive program. I knew emotions would come up and I'd run into walls. How could I not? But here's the thing: I had no idea the extent to which yoga would open me up and reveal who I truly am.

The lessons I'm learning on my mat through my physical practice--to keep breathing, even when I'm uncomfortable; to listen to my body; to trust in my own strength; to push myself gently, and handle myself with care--these lessons don't just end on the mat. I see myself applying them in my life when I'm in a stressful situation, starting to become irritable, and I calm myself with a few slow, deep breaths. Or when I'm feeling exhausted by a hectic schedule and treat myself to a hot bath and an early bedtime instead of forcing my body through another long day. Or when I recognize I'm making excuses instead of fully living my life and I forgive myself and then begin to carefully push myself, taking the first hesitant steps toward my future.

Yes, yoga is giving me a fit body. But it is also strengthening my mind, my spirit. Then again, maybe yoga is just quieting the noise and clearing away the underbrush so that I can see what was there all along.

(Photo credit: lululemon athletica)

This piece was cross-posted at, where I'll be journaling about my experience as I learn to teach yoga (and become a more dedicated yoga student in the process).

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