I discovered YouTube yoga-teacher Lesley Fightmaster one Saturday.
I often work Saturdays, but that day my calendar had a reassuring square of blank. What’s more, hubby and the kids had somewhere to be that morning……
Friday had been stressful. My last patient had been Fido –
Soddit. Let’s be honest: no-one calls their dog ‘Fido’. This is 2015, the midst of an ‘Alfie’ epidemic.
‘Fido’ is a fabrication in liu of a real case (client confidentiality and all that). His owners had been given great veterinary advice by Yours Truely, on the back of years of training and experience. Fido’s owners had completely ignored that advice.
It’s not fiction: it happens regularly. Perhaps the owners decided not to give Fido his medicine; or insisted on treating his flea allergy with one of those products that Definitely Doesn’t Kill Fleas; or let him lick out the frying pan despite his recent pancreatitis bout.
Whatever it was, Fido’s owners had made him worse and me furious.
After work, I called at the supermarket for soup. I like to walk in, grab what I need and get out again. But I spent too long stuck behind a tiny, frail old lady with an enormous bag on her shoulder. She was blocking the aisle, looking for her favourite flavour of Covent Garden. I hovvered with my fists clenched.
Then I got stuck behind a learner driver doing 20MPH in a 40-limit going home.
Back to Saturday morning.
The house was a tip: hubby had left a trail. Boxes littered the kitchen work-top; the kids’ sticky porridge dishes were abandoned on the table; hubby’s empty tea-mug, next to the armchair, was already swamped by a thick layer of disguarded pyjamas, toys, shoes, newspapers, works-of-art, banana-skins and – of course – porridge. Grrr!
On a good day, tidying’s OK. It introduces calm and coherence to my household; sets my mind in order; helps to reduce any tension.
On a bad day, I’ve just been left with all the fucking cleaning-up again. I found the lap-top, played some jazz and tidied aggressively.
Interestingly though, I didn’t test my blood sugar. My doctors gives me excellent advice (based on years of training and experience) but sometimes, you see, I ignore it. My kids weren’t even there to use as an excuse.
Fido’s owner probably had an excuse. Perhaps her mother had just died, or perhaps I hadn’t made something clear enough. Or perhaps she was just distracted, or overwhelmed….
When the floor was clear, I settled down for my yoga session in weeks. I was dreading the discovery of how far downhill i’d slipped.
Of course, I was a learner driver once. And I hope to live long enough to be a little old lady who takes forever choosing soup. I will still want to walk into supermarkets, grab what I need and get out again, but that’s probably all she was trying to do, wasn’t it?
And of course, there are plenty of times when hubby has come home to a messy house on my watch. Why can’t I just bloody get on with things instead of getting cross and criticising people all the time?
The yoga instructor had a superb cleavage jutting out of an impossibly slim frame, meticulous make-up and stood in front of a magnificent urban view, somewhere with palm-trees, that was probably from her balcony. Her work-out was one I’d become fond of, tag-lined ‘hardcore.’
It started easily enough. But within minutes she came to one-sided planks and my shoulders collapsed. I pressed STOP, decided that maybe I was hypoglycaemic and threw something heavy at the floor. My own fucking fault, of course. Stupid diabetes.
Maybe, I thought (crunching sweets a few minutes later) there’s an easier hour-long yoga video. I started flicking around Youtube and that’s when I found her. As well as a cool name, Lesley Fightmaster had patterned leggings and a cosy jumper. No cleavage; no portentious background. Just a yoga-mat and some grass that could have been in any park in Sheffield.
During the warm-up, she was flapping at something with her hand.
‘There was a little mosquito,’ the commentary explained.
Later she hoiked up her trousers because they were too big and starting to slip. ‘I’m sorry if that’s distracting.’
And I thought: ‘That’s like me doing yoga’.
Except that she can do all the poses, obviously. She did muck up a balance at one point – ‘I could take it out and make it prettier, but that’s not real life‘ – and I just warmed to her.
I already know that pet owners can’t ‘make’ me angry. People do what they do, and I interpret it as I choose and I feel the way that I feel. It’s my own choice how I respond to those feelings.
I responded OK; I talked through the situation very clamly with Fido’s owner and offered my best solution. I wasn’t rude to the old lady in the supermarket (although I shuold have helped her to find the soup) and I didn’t beep my horn at the Learner Driver. It’s good to be compassionate.
Hubbies are different though. I yelled at Hubby when I got home and saw the mess. I got quite angry with myself about that later.
Have you ever noticed that people who want to think harshly of other people are the ones who want to think harshly of themselves?
Lesley Fightmaster is not hard on herself.
‘It’s about Practice,’ she says, transitioning into some side-planks.
‘Show up, do your best and let the results go.’
I found myself smiling and doing the side-planks with her. It felt luxurious but was actually quite essential, to have the space to stretch my body again.