As long as I can remember, my skin has been prone to redness. Exercise turns my face into a blotchy tomato. Cold and wind burnish my skin to a ruddy shine. Even washing my face, no matter how gently, leaves it pink. And there’s a good reason I apply SPF 50 daily—UV rays and I are not friends!
I’ve dealt with acne and/or rosacea (dermatologists can’t agree which is the underlying issue) most of my adult life and have tried just about everything to fix it. Cutting out dairy. Limiting processed sugar. Applying expensive creams. Buying celeb-endorsed treatment systems (Proactiv was both ineffective and bleached my pillowcases). Using prescription ointments. Attempting hormonal intervention (so thankful to be off the pill!). Taking antibiotics… then different antibiotics… and even more kinds of antibiotics. And now retinoids, which at least deliver moderate improvement.
I’m about ten days out from knee surgery and healing is not proceeding as hoped. Just about everything is harder than it should be: walking, sleeping, straightening my leg, bending my leg, showering, getting dressed, respecting my limitations, simply feeling comfortable.
The night after surgery, I took myself through a yoga nidra practice. While lying in that hospital bed, the intention I am at ease came through strong and clear. That mantra has reverberated loudly over the last week and a half.
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.