Being a student usually means getting involved in campus life; joining clubs, attending social events, creating friendships with fellow students. That’s tough to do with an online program (like the PGDip I’m doing at the University of York), but the pandemic pushing activities online has been a tremendous boon!
I’ve joined the Graduate Students Association for Zoom with a Zoo (so much fun!), signed up for virtual pub quizzes, and become a member of the UoY Feminist Society—all without leaving home. FemSoc members are welcome to contribute to the society’s blog and I wrote a post reviewing Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. The long-distance friendship angle makes the book even more relevant, but don’t be fooled that it’s a manual for making new friends or maintaining platonic relationships. And the authors aren’t suggesting any shortcuts for the time, energy, and affection necessary to nurture good friendships, whether they’re in-person or over video chat.
There’s a swirling sense of anxiety. And it’s making me unsettled.
I know logically that I’m quite well-protected. It’s not a challenge to stay fed and sheltered and entertained. I’m pretty healthy and likely to stay that way. I have just about every creature comfort at my disposal. But those rational thoughts don’t stop me from fretting about the state of the world.
A few things help: talking with friends, family, and a professional (shout out to Building Bridges for excellent online counselling), giant hugs from my very-in-bubble husband, staying off social media if I’m feeling meh, getting into nature, cuddling with Sofie (she’s less and less amenable, but occasionally consents), and meditating.
Earlier this week my mum mentioned that it would have been her father’s 104th birthday. It shocked me to realise how long ago he passed away… more than a decade and a half. Despite not having many memories of my younger years (I’m told I had a happy childhood and the photos certainly support that!), I’ve retained strong impressions of my grampa. They’re mostly fleeting images or smells or a remembered turn of phrase or tone of voice; often comforting and rarely complete. And sometimes those memories arise at strange times.
I love savasana. Practicing it. Teaching it. Evangelising about it.
And after more than two decades practicing yoga and loving corpse pose, I’ve discovered a new way to lie flat on my back. Pressing the soles of my feet against a wall has brought a new twist to this old practice—and given me a newfound appreciation for the possibilities of the pose.
When we lived in Vancouver, I taught a regular yin yoga class on Friday evenings. A perfect time slot for kind-of-lazy, totally relaxing yoga… and the pub two doors down from the studio probably made an end-of-the-week practice even more enticing!
I’m bringing back the tradition by starting up virtual last-Friday-of-the-month yin sessions, with the option to practice live with me starting at 8pm European time (see what that is in your timezone) or enjoy the recorded class at your leisure over the weekend.
I’ve found dumpster-on-fire gifs a more relevant and appropriate response in 2020 than I could ever have imagined. Cancelled trip? Cartoon dumpster on fire. Laid off and job hunting in a seriously low economy? Well, that merits a flaming dumpster floating down a flooded street.
Of course 2020 has brought some good things. A couple of healthy, happy babies were born to people I love earlier in the year (not me, thankfully). The lock-down period was relatively easy for me and my husband (maybe even downright delightful for Sofie having both of her humans around almost all the time). I’ve discovered the joys of teaching yoga online (I’m planning another virtual yin yoga class for Friday, August 28th—more info coming soon) and practicing with teachers from a distance (HealHaus in NYC has been a lifeline).
And I’ve come up with my perfect margarita. An ideal cocktail for reflecting on 2020’s dumpster fire tendencies and planning for better days.
Most of us could stand to show ourselves and others a little more kindness. And I feel that need for compassion is more with the amplified sense of hatred, fear, confusion, and division that’s reflected in my social media feeds.
I ended my last online Yin Yoga class with a short meditation to encourage compassion for ourselves and others and I’ve recorded this short practice to share more broadly.