Warrior for Independence

In 1776 our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence. They were tired of someone who didn’t know their circumstances, telling them what to do and think.
On January 1, 2013 I signed a declaration of independence of my own.
For months, my body had implored me. Please, cried the little voice in my head, do something for sustainable health.
Fat chance, Body, I’d said. I’m the head that wears the crown. I have no time for gyms and no patience for zumba.
My body rebelled in time for the holidays. No fireworks, just guerilla warfare.  Little battles against me were easy to disregard at first. I ignored the exhaustion, the lines on my face, and kept going, powering through to conquer my tiny corner of the world on little sleep and less exercise. After all, isn’t putting everyone else’s needs first part of the deal when you’re a mom?
My answer waylaid me with a full-blown attack of yuckiness. I’d like to have crawled in bed for a month, but the holidays were upon us. I was in full retreat.
I promised my body to work with it rather than against it. I prefer moderation than deprivation when it comes to food. I prefer pleasure to pain when it comes to exercise. My husband is a beast on the bicycle and never lets a baked good pass his lips. My friends have regular exercise schedules and know a jillion ways to prepare a veggie. I declared my independence from giving a damn about their choices and their thoughts about mine. I applaud the healthy lifestyles, but I can’t compare. Our struggles are not the same.
Making a healthier life to enjoy was going to be achieved my way.
So, on January 1, with no chance of defeat, I declared my independence from this world filled with experts and listened to my body. I set the big ol’  achievable goal for 2013: Work out at least once a month.
Yeah, that’s right.
Don’t judge.
That’s more than previous months. The first time I went to yoga and lunged into a warrior pose, I won a battle.
And you know what is liberating about listening to my body and living by my own code? I surpassed my own expectations.  Just as our great nation has grown from 13 colonies, my healthy living has improved.
At first, I tried practicing yoga once a week.  Then I slipped into practicing every single day.  Even if my kids are dive-bombing me during downward dog, I’ve found a way to exercise. I’m not running or cycling or cross-training, but I’m doing what makes mehealthier. Yoga makes me think of the food I put into my body and want to choose better.  Maybe other things will come later, but for now this is what I do for me.
At the beginning of many sessions, instructor Heather Ezell of Hang Zen reminds us that yoga is not a competition with other people.  Yoga conflicts with my naturally competitive nature. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. Yoga makes me focus. I declare my daily independence and strike a warrior pose, ready to live my best life.
Last week, Heather mentioned that yoga is often misconstrued. “It’s not a religion. It’s not about getting a firm tushy.” She smiled. “It’s about kindness: Kindness to yourself and those around you.”
Isn’t that what independence is as well?
Brandi Barnett is our Blogger of the Month.
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    • Thanks, Dee Dee! Photo credits belong to Kevin Ezell of Hang Zen yoga for the yoga shot and Valarie Olson for the headshot.

      You are probably correct about pigeon pose, Dee Dee. I’m guessing my warrior pose must still need some work since he didn’t send pics of it!

  1. Kristin says:

    It’s so easy to be influenced, and dare I say ‘guilted’ into doing things we think work for us because it’s what our spouse/friends/family/society is doing. Kudos to you for finding your own path and not being swayed from it. That takes courage and is the best kind of independence. 🙂

    • Thanks, Kristin. I’m lucky to have always been surrounded by healthy role models as friends. Feeling like a failure in comparison is pretty rotten–especially when they’re not making the comparisons! Ah, maturity has arrived and I’m finally getting over myself.;)

  2. Great post, Brandi, I’ve been thinking a lot about yoga lately. Thinking I may pick it up again. I think I need to gain some independence for my body as well. Thanks for the advice.

    • Find your way, Jen. If you want to do yoga, come visit me. We have the 108 Yoga Studio in Tahlequah with amazing instructors, and Lake Tenkiller has Hang Zen.

  3. ShaRhonda says:

    Okay. Brandi, seriously you might be my new Bloggy Booty Friend. Maybe this yoga thing is something I need. My friend Deb loves it. I’ll make it a goal at least 1x this summer to find a class. Great post and go you!

  4. Lisa Marotta says:

    Hello Miss July! This independence thing is quite a concept- the freedom to listen to your body and take care of yourself is hard fought and well deserved. Hooray for you! Hope to do my own version of this mindfulness stuff with you on the lake soon. Looking forward to your posts this month!

  5. Annita Rackley says:

    “Yoga is one of those things that you won’t toy with for long,” a comment I read by a veteran yoga practitioner. I adore yoga, but I’ve become an “honorary member” of the practice lately. Another yoga master Sri.K. Pattabhi Jois said it best:
    “Anyone can practice. Young man can practice. Old man can practice. Very old man can practice. Man who is sick, he can practice. Man who doesn’t have strength can practice. Except lazy people; lazy people can’t practice ashtanga yoga.”
    I have concluded that I am lazy and that my back problems (2 lumbar, 1 thoracic, and 1 cervical disk that protrude and have calcified) are an easy cop out for not doing the practice. I was making great progress and suddenly, one day, I just stopped. I dream about becoming a yoga practitioner again. So, as Aerosmith sang, “Dream on, Dream on, Dream on, Dream yourself a dream come true.”

    • I am saddened to hear of your pain. Although my back problems differ from yours, yoga (and chiropractic care) has helped my back pain immensely. When I don’t do it, my body barks at me. I hope you find a pain-free life again soon.

  6. Jenna Klein says:

    Love how your personality shines through this post. Congratulations to you for now being a dedicated excercisee and also being blogger of the month!

    • I’m Deb, ShaRhonda’s friend! And I love love yoga. We just got back from being on vacation over a week and I was able to do yoga in our hotel room, had it on my itunes. Now you are challenging me, because I don’t do it often enough. I love to run and lift weights, but really need the balance of yoga too. 🙂

      • You were doing it on vacation with itunes? Fancy schmancy! That’s dedication in my book. But you’re a runner and weightlifter, so you know a thing or two about dedicated exercise.

        As for “balance,” I know I’ve grown in yoga because I confess over the years I’ve skipped classes because I didn’t want to endure the final meditation part. Now? I love it. That’s where I know I’ve found my balance again.:)

  7. Sabine says:

    You just reminded me how much I liked yoga when I went. I think I will give it another go. Also, your headshot is adorable! It’s just…happy.

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