Which feeds you more, the writing or the yoga?
The year Fourteen turned Five, he announced he wanted to have a “going to the moon” birthday party. We invited his entire nursery school class, the Caterpillars, and all fourteen were planning to join us. Five is one of those governing points, the moment at which parents feel free to drop their children at a birthday party, arriving at the dot of two, escaping, and picking them up two hours later, just as the last fork-full of cake is being squished between eager lips. Most of the children in attendance celebrated their birthdays with friends at party places full of bounce houses or stables with ponies. Fourteen’s father and I were brave or foolhardy enough to host the moon party at home.
After the invitations were made and delivered, Turning-Five, his little sister not-yet-two, and I set about making a moon piñata. We bought an oversized red balloon, inflated it, and hung it from a stepladder over newspapers in the kitchen. I made flour and water paste and we tore strips of newspaper, slid them through the paste, and slapped them on the balloon. When the children found out we couldn’t paint the piñata until it was dry, Not-Yet-Two toddled away and Turning-Five got absorbed in a book. I sat on the floor pasting newspaper strips to the balloon, worried it wouldn’t be as resistant to battery as a store-bought piñata. But I had scoured the Internet for a moon-shaped piñata and been unsuccessful. I added more glue to more paper and applied more layers to the sphere.
It took a full week for the piñata to finally dry, and we painted it a happy yellow, the glowing full moon from the night sky. Then, I popped the balloon by cutting through the layers, made a large enough hole, and the children stuffed it full of candy, noise makers, and plastic animals. I used clear packing tape to patch the hole, and it was ready to hang on party day.
Other preparations included downloading a movie clip of the moon landing, edited together with a few launch scenes from the movie Apollo 13, covering star wands in glitter and hot-gluing trailing ribbons to the handles, baking a moon cake sixteen inches around, procuring snacks and drinks, and stringing twinkly stars from interior doorways. I wrote down the party plan: 2:00-2:15, guests arrive; 2:15, show video; 2:25, have everyone wave their star wands and arrive “at the moon.” 2:30-3:00 moon games in the backyard. 3:00-3:10, wash hands. 3:10-3:30 snacks and cake. 3:30-3:40, wash hands. 3:40-4:00, break piñata. If there was any part of the equation I wasn’t certain of, it was whether the piñata would hold for 15 minutes or so of bashing.
When the first guest arrived and the mother dropped her child in our care, Turning-Five’s father looked to me with raised eyebrows, “she’s not staying?” I shook my head. “Do we have enough for them to do?” I glanced at the piñata and waved my written-up plan at him. “We’ll be fine,” I said, mustering more confidence than I felt.
And so if I tell you that at 2:15 all of the guests were sitting in front of the TV, star wand party favors in their hands, glued to the moon landing and gasping as Neil Armstrong stepped out of Apollo 11, and at 3:55 they were bashing the piñata with all of their might, you would need to know that I was both pleased and breathing a huge sigh of relief. If anything went wrong at all, it was that the piñata was so strong the children couldn’t break it. In the moment before frustration turned to whiny mayhem, after each child had taken two full turns whacking at the moon, we got rid of the blindfold, handed the bat to the strongest kid, and let him beat on it without stopping until he finally created a crack. Turning-Five’s father shook the moon piñata then and ripped at the opening with his hands, scattering the contents across the early spring lawn. The children scrambled and their parents peeked over the fence, right on time to collect them.
I had filed away the moon-theme birthday party—now among the family party legends alongside the rainbow party, the get-messy party, the castle party, and the party for my mother at which the dining room chandelier dramatically caught on fire, exploded and dropped burning to the floor—until recently when I found myself planning a birthday party for a different two-year-old, my yoga studio. A more professional business owner might call it an anniversary, but last year when the studio was merely one, I looked up anniversary and birthday and couldn’t find a distinction. So I called one a birthday because birthdays are more cheerful than anniversaries.
Like a little person, a toddling studio with more-or-less adult guests still requires games, amusements, party favors, snacks, beverages, and cake (well, two cakes in this case). Planning was fun: door prizes, a guest book, and a guess-the-number game; Yoga Twister, for which I made up the rules and created a huge taped game board on the studio floor; a hooping demonstration by the studio’s talented and lithe hooping instructor; Kirtan, chanting and singing with our devoted Bhakti band; free classes on the day before and day of the party; and snacks and cakes, which I shopped for and made.
And just like any other birthday party, the deep cleaning, shopping, baking, taping, and making absorbed more of my time than studio work usually does, and I was pulled away from some of the other things I normally do. Like writing. My blog was neglected and I missed a variety of days in celebration of which I would have liked to add a post—the full moon in September, the first day of fall, National Punctuation Day, and the studio’s birthday itself. It wasn’t even just that I didn’t have time to write, in the little time I set aside to do so, I found I couldn’t put together a sentence that suited me.
The party was a delight, went off without a hitch, and I believe that both the studio and the people who enjoy their practices there were celebrated. Two in business years feels very similar to two in people years, but I tell myself that the studio is older, more mature, and may start taking on a little more of its own care. I tell myself this because I don’t like that recognizing its birthday took me away from one of my other, most important pursuits. “Which feeds you more,” Frank the talented Rolfer asked me during treatment, “the writing or the yoga?” “Honestly, I wouldn’t want one without the other,” I told him.
And this I know to be true. Practicing yoga, teaching yoga, owning a yoga studio: these have all given me insights into the world, space to grow and learn, physical awareness and stability, and a deeper connection to breath and thought. But writing gives me something else—writing is the place where I can pause and restore, bring memories like Fourteen’s fifth birthday party to mind, and share anew in their energy and meaning. With yoga practice I can notice the world around me, fall in love with a rainbow, glory in the full moon, turn within or move into the universe arms stretched wide. Without writing about my experiences, such moments slip away into a day crowded with moving pieces. Whether in a list, a blog post, or a work of fiction, if I examine what and how I live with words, I feel better, stronger, more complete, more alive.
The new moon dawned Thursday–the Hunter’s Moon–may this new month bring you a smooth transition of seasons, a lovely, languid fall with lots of pretty colors, and at least one delicious piece of cake. Thanks for sharing my journey, Namaste & love, Rxo