tree rings

all those little moments that make up the whole.
inanity, ponderism, and questionings.
{a blog by A. E. Montana}

Last night my man and I went to yoga class together. We got there a little early, before many people had shown up, and while it was just us two in the lobby he held me close and told me that he loves how we are a team, and get to do things together that we enjoy. He said I’m everything he’s wanted in a partner, and he’s done looking.
And asked if I would marry him.
Obviously, I said yes! My teacher/mentor was so excited that it happened at the studio! We are currently juggling real life and a bajillion phone calls, texts and facebook messages from all the wonderful people in our lives as they hear the good news.
We’re looking at Oct 25 for the big day. I am SO THANKFUL to be loved by this big-hearted, safe, strong guy. Looking forward to spending my life loving on him back, as we walk through life together.

Last night I was spontaneously taken out, to chill at a bar pretty close to my place, by this handsome manly man holding my heart. 
Bars do not have good lighting for self-indulgent attempts at adorable couple shots. 
Who cares. I have no complaints. Life is beautiful, I am secure, and my future is slowly unfolding in front of me more every day. 
I’m enjoying the journey. So much change and growing. 
Happy weekend, folks :) 
<3 —A

Last night I was spontaneously taken out, to chill at a bar pretty close to my place, by this handsome manly man holding my heart.
Bars do not have good lighting for self-indulgent attempts at adorable couple shots.
Who cares. I have no complaints. Life is beautiful, I am secure, and my future is slowly unfolding in front of me more every day.
I’m enjoying the journey. So much change and growing.
Happy weekend, folks :)
<3 —A

1

Sickness and Joy


I’m generally a very healthy person. I eat well, exercise frequently, sleep enough, and manage my stress while I enjoy a very active lifestyle. This is probably why I have a very low tolerance for feeling unwell in any way, especially if it happens outside of my natural schedule and purposeful detoxing.

A couple weeks ago, my boyfriend and I made a four-hour drive (turning into almost five, since we are novices at trying to navigate barely-road country roads) to the wedding of two very good friends of mine. I had been looking forward to this celebration for a long time, anticipating a fun night of a couple drinks and dancing with my man before driving a few hours back to my aunt’s house for the night afterwards. However, between the wedding and the reception, I started getting the sense that I wasn’t feeling my normal self. By the time we got to the reception, I was genuinely ill and on the verge of tears - mostly from the frustration of a surprise malady ruining our evening of fun, but also because I felt horrible. Seeing my discomfort, my sweet guy suggested we leave early and get back to our base for the night, opting for some emergency home treatments from Walmart and Netflix till we both crashed on the couch.

The next day wasn’t much better. I had wanted to walk around the city we were staying in and enjoy it, since he hadn’t visited there in a very long time. The light drizzle was beckoning to explore, so I ignored my discomfort as much as I could and managed a few hours of meandering and window shopping. We drove the couple hours home after that and ended up with another low-key night. I still felt bad about our plans getting re-routed because of me and wished I wasn’t so miserable, not just because I was miserable, but because it was keeping my body from letting me enjoy life how I wanted to.

We progressed on to our week and I was getting better for a few days, until suddenly I relapsed more severely than the first time. I barely made it through work before a complete meltdown and calling my doctor. It’s very rare that I can’t figure out and successfully treat some symptom in my own body, but I was at my wit’s end, frustrated and in pain. She offered some great advice, I followed through, and a couple short hours later I was miraculously better.

I was humbled and thankful for my return to health and ecstatic that my weekend wouldn’t be ruined by feeling horrible and weak and tired. I jumped back full-force into workouts, yoga classes, work, and life, being mindful to sleep a little extra and eat very well to maintain my recovery. A week later I woke up to a horrible rash that appeared overnight. By the end of the day I was in agony. I finally attributed it to an allergic reaction to a salve I had been using on some dry skin. It came as a complete surprise as I’d used it for years without any adverse effects.

This escalated to the point where I was relying on salt soaks and medicated ointment, unable to enjoy yoga classes or much of anything else, as by the end of the day each day I was extremely uncomfortable. I spent a couple days angry, frustrated, and tired of dealing with something that didn’t feel good or normal to me.

Suddenly, in the middle of a nice hot soak, I realized that the last month or so I hadn’t really appreciated my body. I mean, I was happy when I recovered and when I felt good enough to continue with my own plans - but when I was stopped in my tracks by some pain or illness, I resented my body and hated the fact that I was trapped in a defected vessel.

I had slipped into the mode most of us exist in of treating my body like a mere machine: input, output, let’s do what we can to make sure this frame performs for us like it should. When it broke down, all I wanted to do was fix it so I could continue with my life. I’ve studied enough holistic medicine and healthy, well-rounded lifestyles to know that just treating symptoms is usually not the way to solve an issue in the body. Usually, the lasting cure lies in understanding what is going on in the body that is out of balance and correcting it from the source.

I started wondering if my nasty angry attitude about being sick was a factor in the severity of it. Sitting and enjoying the soothing water and essential oil vapors, I thought about how I couldn’t remember the last time I simply soaked and let my body detox…and then acknowledged that the reason for this was because sitting in a tub put me face to face with all of my secret insecurities and body issues. It was easier to appreciate certain parts of my body when I didn’t have to see them and be reminded how they didn’t measure up to my unrealistic standards.

Not that I consider myself ugly or undesirable; I happen to really like my body and love exploring the limits of what it is capable of. But, like pretty much everyone, I have my spots. I get compliments on how fit and trim I am from people frequently enough, and my man sincerely appreciates every inch of who I am. While I was sitting there though, I thought about how long it took me to genuinely believe him when he said positive things about me, especially the areas that weren’t my favorite - maybe I still had to work on believing him about those parts.

Yoga has taught me and constantly affirmed to me that whatever my body is capable of, however big or small, is worthy of praise and should be honored over what my expectation is of myself. That’s a very humbling place to be if you like to be the best at everything. It’s led me to a lot more confidence than I ever thought I could achieve, plus some progress I’m pretty proud of since I’ve worked hard for every ounce of muscle. That night I wondered how differently I would see my body if I began to treat it as not just a vessel, but an extension of who I am. After all, our bodies are a gift unique to each one of us while we walk here, and we take them for granted a lot. They go through a lot of abuse and neglect while we expect them to function just as well as if we fine-tuned them every day.

The daily mindfulness of breath in my yoga practice has helped me tune into what’s going on in all the corners of my body, and maintain an intentional approach in movement and eating and living in general in a way that is nurturing to my system. Sometimes life competes with that rhythmic existence and distracts me from that mindfulness, though, and usually my body can take that for only so long before it responds with something that really gets my attention or stops me in my tracks.

What if we could maintain that rhythm of balance in our bodies, not just so we can function but so we can fully appreciate our frames as expressions of who we are? Do we really want what people recognize as us to represent a fatigued, run-down, ill self? Don’t we want to be confident, vibrant, and able? I honestly believe this shift starts with gratitude instead of frustration. Try being thankful that your body is telling you it needs something and see how that changes your healing experience. I know, even as I am still on the road to recovery, that it has shifted mine. I’m patiently focusing on understanding the changes it is making and attending to all the levels I can that need attention.

Of course, I’m also eagerly anticipating the all-clear signal that I can jump full-force back into my usual schedule, because really, I enjoy life. And I want my body and energy to be a reflection and a source of that joy.

A. E. Montana

4

Tonight’s yoga practice

began with me coming off a long day and being too tired to want to go, but deciding that’s why I needed to go. Haha.
I wasn’t as weak-exhausted as I thought I’d feel during sun-salutation warm-ups, but instead found that I had this thrilling calm control since I wasn’t all wound up from the day’s stress (there was stress; I just decided not to let it stick).
And some delicious openness in my joints. My shoulders would be so messed up if it wasn’t for a regular practice.
Overall, it just feels so indescribably GOOD to give it as much shit as you’ve got while you’re on that mat, and then just melt into the floor after you’ve washed all the rest of everything away in a giant whoosh of breath.
;)

1

syncho̱retheí [a poem, 2012]

had a dream that I fell through a doorway and landed in a bed of tattered blankets and dusty leaves. suddenly the bed disintegrated and I was sitting on the forest floor, with stones and moss and branches around me, and I saw a flickering light between the trees
so I rose and traveled towards it, floating above the forest debris. it kept going deeper and deeper into the darkness and mist, which I hardly noticed because I was bent on following it. I pushed past branches and bracken
and the woods grew thicker until I thought I would get ensnared in the grabbing hands of the trees
but then, it opened into a clearing, and I was able to breathe. I searched for the light, standing on my own two feet
but it was nowhere to be seen. I fell to my knees
in despair and pounded the ground with my fists. they came up bloodied and full of earth. I tried to wipe them on my shirt but they would not come clean
until You approached out of nowhere and kissed me gently
pushing the tears from my cheeks with Your thumbs and holding me tight with Your gaze, so peaceful and deep.
once again, I found I couldn’t breathe. You took my torn hands in Your own and said the most beautiful words to me:
“I have forgiven you already.”
and my heart was sparkling clean.

A. E. Montana

1

I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of ideas. I’ve seen people kill in the name of them; and die defending them. But you cannot kill an idea, cannot touch it or hold it. Ideas do not bleed, it cannot feel pain, and it does not love. And it is not an idea that I miss, it is a man.

—Evey, from ‘V for Vendetta’ (2006)

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