A Week of the Unbirthdays

We began the session
With her asking the question,
“Madameoiselle, How do you want this to go?”
I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I don’t know.”
She made me stand tall and then said to me
“Let your shoulders frame your heart, keep your forearm like this, and turn your right knee.”

That was about the extent of my yoga practice with our latest guest, Jill Satterfield.
At first I couldn’t believe it, this was all? What about leap-through-balancing-dancing-seal asana and I-can-do-the-splts-better-than-you pose? With a few simple instructions to assist me in perfecting my standing posture as well as my downward dog, I was pretty much unable to come back to reality for a few minutes. A few little micro-adjustments here and some tweaks there, and I actually found out what some of those foreign yogic words like, “Mula banda” and “diaphragm” mean. The fact that I was so easily hypnotized, she said makes me a classic case of a “cheap date” energy-wise because all it took was telling me to move my hamstrings towards the wall and I was tying spoons together in the air with my eyeballs.

Jill Satterfield, Founder and Director of the School for Compassionate Action in NYC, is a bit like the Mad Hatter in Alice and Wonderland. Not that she has a strange or unusual obsession for tea or pouring it down her shirt, and she did not prance around the chalet singing obnoxious songs, and she doesn’t have crazy hair or a hat disorder. But she does remind us about the ever forgotten concept of the “Unbirthdays”. She told me, in the most beautifully cadenced way, that the subtle interactions in our everyday lives can be the ones that cause the biggest shifts. Internally and externally. 

She reminded me that EVERYDAY is to be celebrated. It’s new and fresh, and offers you the opportunity to ask yourself, “What do you need today?” Then when you have that mastered, “What do you need in this moment?” “How can I be my very best?” Sometimes you need someone to kick you in the butt and make you hit the trail running and only feed you an apple and a garden salad for fuel for three days. Other days, you need to nurse yourself back to health with lemons and tea, and a plethora of Chinese herbs, from your fever of scorching Farenheit degree. And still other days you need to dive headfirst into an ocean of lava just because it’s there and you’re bored.

When Jill came, I was little Miss Alice in Wonderland, hurrying on my way to find that darn rabbit to tell me what time it was and what the meaning of all this was, all the while trying to dodge the Queen of Hearts and the cricket-crying game of croquet. But my curiosity got the best of me, and after eavesdropping on a few healthy healing happy hippy conversations, I sneaked to the table and watched the celebration of the unbirthday take place. It’s amazing how much you grow between birthdays, isn’t it? And I always thought it was just May 13th that caused the onset of age and my forehead crinkles….

On the ski path here, they have signs that show you how much further you have until your destination. Not spelled out in mileage, kilometrage, or as we would do in NH, how many big rocks you will pass….they use TIME. This is the sign I passed today:
Les Bois 0h 20m
Chamonix 0h 50m

That really translates to Emily to Chamonix in 25 minutes, rather than 50. No matter how slow I try to power walk…

Today, on my walk to Chamonix. I did not want the moments to end. It seemed so short. The sun was washing over my face like magical pixie dust that will hopefully transform me into some highly-desired goddess. The clouds perfectly draped across the sky like lace tapestries that I hope to one day own and hang around my bed. And the mountains, it was as if they were holding up my very heartbeat itself. It was breath-taking, awe-inspiring, and all those other words people use before going off and writing some great philosophical work, finding themselves, or pursuing their lifelong dream.

Like most walks, due to the lack of glycogen supply in my muscles, and the fact that the trail ended and life goes on, it too eventually ended.

What made this walk seem so short as opposed to the other two hour treks I have taken on this same path? Why, of course it was something I enjoy doing and the conditions were perfect. I could have been running around in a tank top it was so warm, and my mind was completely and utterly focused on the moment and not any one of the five billion thoughts I can usually think to dwell on for two hours. That’s how Jill’s visit with us was, a ray of sunshine and positivity! Tea and crumpets for our every unbirthdays and an opportunity to see where just a little more space for change and growth can be made today. She helped Tom with his posture, did more yoga with Julie than a Buddhist monk would do in a lifetime at a monastery, linked me up with a contact in my next stomping grounds, and even let me exchange a half hour filled with some of her vast knowledge yogalostically, for a 1/4 of a decent massage.

Now I just need to figure out how to get the guests to massage ME….
My chance is here! The acupuncturist arrives in a few minutes!

Kept up and challenging you to keep up,
— Emily —

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