Yoga training typically culminates on a late Sunday afternoon with the Sutras. We’ve hit chapter two, which is the meat of the mental practice – because yoga is all about reaching the interior whether it be the muscles and organs or the thoughts and emotions.

We spent a great deal of time on teaching beginners, so Patanjali got shorted. Thirty-five minutes is inadequate to the task of fleshing tapas.


Tapas is all about the pain and the letting it go. Emphasis on “letting it go”.

Patanjali insists that we are only anchored to the physical world through the pesky inconvenience of having bodies. Bodies that are not us.  The true “me” of me is not my body at all. Therefore, all experience happens to the body and what “I” should be doing is experiencing, acknowledging and then letting it go.

Everything. Good, bad, meh and bloody awful. Feel it. Know it. Wave goodbye.

“Nothing is permanent,” Cat, our instructor, pointed out.

True. It’s our attachment to the idea that good things should have no end and bad things are unfair (I’m overly simplifying) that leads us into the mud and mires us there.

I just listened.

Not because I have no thoughts or concrete experiences to share, but because I know that this is one of those deceptively simple ideas that become nightmarishly difficult when reality envelopes a person.

“Our reactions are choices,” another woman chimed in.

Essentially, we can shape our lives through letting go or just acknowledging that all experiences are finite.

And here the conversation veered into the anecdotal experiences that, I think, aren’t helpful.

A fellow student was in a serious accident and was told by her doctors that she would never regain the use of her arm. She told us that had she listened to the doctors, she would indeed have no function, but she chose to ignore them and rehabbed herself to the point where she is now able to use her arm – not 100% – but no one could tell by simply looking at her that she has difficulties.

I hate these analogies. They are exceptions and they lead others to believe that we are all destined to be exceptions when we aren’t.

We are the rule. Sometimes reality is what it is. No exceptions.

This doesn’t preclude trying to be an exception but it does mean that more often than not, one will have to accept that they are the rule and then – let it go.

“We can change our reality,” Cat said.

But we can’t. Reality is. Sometimes all we can choose is our reactions and how to live within the reality. There are some realities that can’t be let go. They can only be managed.

Managed isn’t the best term, I’ll admit, but there are experiences that stick even though we have let them go.

Will is dead. I have a dead first husband. Not much I can do with that. Very little to work with. Certainly can’t change it.

But I can acknowledge it and let it go, knowing that its effect on me is permanent and that “letting go” might have to be revisited periodically throughout my life.

Same holds true for my classmate. If she had not been able to regain the use of her arm, she would still have had to let the experience go and live within the parameters of her altered reality.

I don’t know if Patanjali addresses this later on, but letting go is a process and it can take years or a lifetime. The choice – I believe – is the attempt to let go in the first place or to cling and not bother.

Sigh. I don’t lead with my widow foot. There was a time when I would if I thought there was some advantage to it. I was all about easing my burdens through any means necessary through the caregiving years and right after Will died. But these days, I am vague about my status.


I talk about Rob, the fact that I have grown step-daughters, that he and I are raising a seven year old still and that we’ve only been married for going on three years. I don’t elaborate on the how’s, why’s or huh’s – because the math could lead a person to speculate all manner of options leading to the bottom line that is my life.

It’s not that I am ashamed or even overly worried about the effect that my having been widowed once – a while back now – has on people. It can vary but normally people are a bit taken aback and by the time they find words – if they are inclined to words at all – I’ve moved the conversation along.

I do that because I don’t feel new people need to offer me condolences or feel sad for me.

But yesterday at yoga, in the course of being drawn out about my writing, I got backed into a bit of a corner – mostly because I’d tried to talk around the topic of my memoir instead of just laying it all out – and I revealed, in as few words as possible, the whole widow thing.

Later, during a discussion of the vritt’s – I posted about them recently – I used going through the motions after the death of a spouse as an example of how sometimes sleepwalking through life is not a bad thing but is instead a cushion to help a person get by. I framed it in light of my own experience.

One of the great things about moving away from Iowa was leaving behind those who knew about Will. People who could bear some witness to the me of that span of time. It was nice to be shed of them in a way.

Gradually I have revealed this part of my life to people, but as I talked about my memoir to the women in my training, I admitted that what keeps me from finishing it is the fear of it being published and widely read. Mostly, because I don’t want to be known as a widow. Someone who went all “boot-strappy” on her life and overcame … adversity? Is it really adversity if it’s a normal life event that everyone will go through at some point or another if they partner up and stay together?

“Some people find my life interesting,” I told the group at one point, “but I don’t want to be a guru or self-help maven. This is how I did it and have someone think it is the right way, the only way instead of just a way.”

Someone commented here once that I was her grief guru. That is something I can’t be. I believe only in the process of life under which all the details fall and one of them is coping with death and moving on with life at some point.

Ach, I am rambling. I don’t know what to say to people anymore about grief, which is another problem with finishing the memoir. I feel removed from it though never safe from it, if you know what I mean.

Time to hit the showers, me thinks.

Trusty Uhaul Truck

Image by Open Wheel via Flickr

The last tote was strapped to the topper of the Avalanche at about 7PM this evening. My best friend, Vicki, arrived with her youngest daughter and helped Rob and I load up the remaining items to be sold (or given away) into her van. The house was empty of everything but the few pieces of furniture that will go to my “niece” to furnish her new apartment next month. It was time to leave.




Time to say goodbye.


I went through the house alone. I had to close the garage door and leave the opener on the counter for the new owners. There were two openers. I think the other got packed. Next time we are hiring this packing crap done.


The last time the house was this empty was the day we moved in. Fours years ago in exactly two months from today. Four years ago. Katy was eleven months old. I was packing another house. Will was dying.

I can’t say that I will miss the house. I have said already it has few memories that one could call happy, and it was my prison for a long time. Still, it hurt to say goodbye. And it was silly really because like the hospice and the cemetery, Will was not there. I could hear him admonish me in a tone of voice that ranged somewhere between patience and exasperation, reminding me.


Outside and heading towards the truck and U-Haul with tears still streaming, Rob met me with an already sweat soggy shoulder and a strong, comforting embrace. Everything was still as it was a moment earlier and yet everything was all right as well.


Goodbye house. Goodbye Des Moines. But not goodbye to Will. After all, like Elvis, he had already left the building.