Lessons Learned and Curaçao Weddings

After more than 12 years going back and forth to my former home, something did change this last trip. We went to the wedding of Anjali, whom we have known all her life. So you can imagine it was a very lovely occasion. As a cherry on the pie, it was an Indian wedding. Several days of celebrations, meeting old friends, visiting Curaçao…it couldn’t have been better.

IMG-20150722-175101It was a last-minute idea, we were just there for another wedding a month ago. That one was a family wedding, Daniela is our niece despite not been related by blood. It was beautiful, sentimental, the kind of event that warms your heart and you will remember forever.  Seeing the bride walking to meet her future husband on the arm of her brother Nathan, brought more than some of us to tears.

1932381_10153367496863767_8473937129773430490_nWe were missing her father and her uncle, such wonderful men, gone too soon. The party under the stars was a joyful celebration and we danced and laughed and gave thanks. It was also a bit sad. Still, that trip was wonderful, we stayed a week, I played bridge, we went to the beach very day, saw friends and family……recharged our batteries. When we left, I wanted to come back as soon as possible. It was as it had always been, a trip home.

IMG_3927This time we were to enjoy another fun five days. Do not get me wrong, it was exactly that. So much fun as Indian weddings can usually be. From the prayers and dinner the day we arrived to the fabulous wedding party four days later. The ceremonies, the mehndi, the bangles, the beautiful costumes, the food, the friends I haven’t seen in while or in years, the children all grown-up married, with children…..what can I say.

On these occasions, you have no time to stop and think. You go with the flow and soak everything, enjoying every minute. Of course, there were the side trips to the beach every time we could. We had a few mishaps with hotel reservations because the internet service was down and the feeling you are not up to par when you chose your outfit……it’s hard to outshine a sari!!

There was no time for much until Sunday afternoon. After a very good breakfast and time spent with family at a barbecue, we returned to the hotel and the beach again. It was late afternoon and not too many people. The water was just perfect. When the sun set in the usual spectacular way, we walked along the beach. It was so peaceful…….and suddenly so lonely!!!

I felt a bit down, something wasn’t quiet right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I could certainly feel it. Walking back to our room, darkness suddenly fell, as it does in the tropics. The entrance to our building was so quiet and in shadows. What a difference from the day before!!! Up in our room, another mishap: nobody had serviced it…..unmade bed, no towels and more shadows. To say I lost it is an understatement. This was too much, I thought, and walked out all the way to the front desk and complained most forcefully. Fortunately, the personnel manning the desk acted quickly: housekeeping sent someone to make the bed, clean the bathroom and a stack of towels, soft and fluffy was delivered.IMG_3957

Refreshed and casually dressed, we walked along darken halls, listening to the break of the waves, the sing-song of birds and the quiet. We went for Italian ice-cream and checked our emails at the restaurant which did have internet service. Not wanting to go back to our rooms, we decided to have a small pizza. Outside, other guests were sitting on comfortable chairs enjoying the balmy air while zipping tropical drinks. Everything was in shadows, have no idea why this made me sad…..there were laughs and everyone was having a great time.

So it was me. Finally, and without even noticing, I realized that this island paradise will never be home gain. It is that simple. Friends that have lived there for years and moved away have told me in more than one occasion that they do not want to go back. I never understood this. Now I do, trips there should be about enjoying what is there now, never about trying to recapture the past. Letting it go as home and embracing it as a wonderful place to visit, that is what these weddings taught me, and not too soon!!!

Twists and Turns: my attempts at Yoga

IMG_3199I have bought a set of videos about yoga for older women. Cat Kabira, an American yoga instructor living in Bali is the host. Margaret Manning, of Sixty and Me, came up with the idea. Such a good idea because today older women are trying new things, new ideas, new attitudes. I am not shying away from any of these, hence this new adventure.

Not that I haven’t tried yoga before, in more than one occasion. I still do a couple of poses everyday to help me relax and start my day a bit more in tune with my inner self. Of course, by now I have no clue if I am doing them right or just following my version. Doesn’t matter, it has worked for me, sort of!!!

Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that started  in India thousands of years ago. Linked to Hinduism, the practice of yoga is more complicated than many people realize. Introduced into the Western world around the middle of the 19th century, yoga has had many rebirths. Starting as a purely philosophical practice, it is now basically a physical exercise. This is what most people practice and it’s called Asana Yoga. I am sure you realize this is a very basic definition, but unfortunately this is what most people accept as yoga.

I IMG_3208 have never been a fan of exercise. Sweating on purpose is not my idea of time well-spent……well, maybe relaxing in a sauna. On the other hand, I am well aware that we all need to have a routine to keep us healthy, nimble, connected with our inner self, happy……you name your reason. I did tried several times to start an exercise routine without too much success. The only constant has been my small weight exercises that I do everyday. Did not want to have flabby arms!!!

IMG_0207Now, my friends know that I am an admirer of Indian culture. I am vegetarian on Mondays and Thursdays, I read anything about India I can get my hands on and I love Indian food, jhutis and glass bangles. I think a sari is the most alluring dress a woman can wear. Some of my Indian friends think I might have been Indian in a previous life. My husband is sure of that!!!

In the last few years, a new version has become the thing: Bikram Hot Yoga. This is practiced in a hot room that helps you sweat your way into flexibility. Supposedly this makes you do your poses better resulting the elimination of stress. I don’t know about that. Heat is never a good thing for me unless it is a hot pad when my lower back bothers me or a beautiful fire when it’s cold outside. You already know how I feel about sweating!!!

I digress. Let’s go back to my yoga practice or lack thereof. I did take, ages ago, some basic lessons. I have beautiful books about it and a small set of cards that explains the basic poses….they come out once in a while. After all, I have tried to keep this going. I take out my yoga mat and wear comfortable clothing, I close my eyes and breathe mindfully, I do some poses and stretches. Believe me, it might not be the real thing, but it does help me.

IMG_3206First of all, the time I’ve spent trying to get my body into these poses is time well spent. I have kept my posture, walking straight and have no problems with osteoporosis. My twists and turns, done consistently, have made me more nimble. It feels great. Right there, I am ahead, don’t you agree?

Second, and very important, my breathing has improved. There are two kinds of breathing that have helped me. The Stimulating Breath: Inhale and exhale through your nose three times in a row, very fast and noisily. This makes you feel energized. After that, rest for a short while. Repeat up to 15 breaths. The 4-7-8 Breathing: Inhale and open your hands to the count of four. Hold your breath and stretch your fingers to the count of seven. Exhale and close your hands to the count of eight. Repeat four times. This is so relaxing!!!

Last, but not least, my balance has improved. It was never great, still is not perfect, but much better. This is important, believe me. I am short and still wear high heels. As we grow older, this is not easy. I refused to always wear flats. They do nothing for your posture, but you need to have good balance. So my yoga poses have helped with this too.

 Back to my new tapes, there was a good reason to buy them besides the obvious: relearning the real yoga asanas. I will not go to a gym or yoga studio, I know myself. These tapes will keep me going for a long time to come. They will be my partners in the battle against settling into a sedentary life. I refuse to do that!!!