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Packing Lunches | KERRI EIKER

Packing Lunches

After practicing yoga for 16 years I finally took the plunge and signed up for yoga teacher training.
“Oh, the classes are so intense, prepare yourself.” A recent graduate warned.
“Uh-huh.”  I said wondering what could possibly be intense about a yoga teacher training class.  I mean…Its just yoga…It’s not like I’m studying to become a surgeon or something.
I “prepared” for my upcoming classes by shopping for new yoga pants, buying a new yoga mat and purchasing the books for our required reading on amazon’s used and cheap option.  It felt good to have a little project to sink my teeth into as my main role as mother, for almost three decades, is sadly and swiftly coming to a close.
When we moved into this big old house in Braddock there were seven of us.  My oldest sons left first, my daughter leaves this July.  Joshua has a few more years with us but with his busy sports schedule I rarely see him.  Soon Eric and I will be rattling around the quiet rooms of this house, a house that screams that it is not happy unless it is filled with children.
I was vacuuming the front room, the room where we often gather for celebrations, family meetings, private talks or entertaining guests. There is no TV to contaminate the energy of this room.  The baby grand piano sits in one corner, the room still seems to echo from the older boys musical talents.  During the season, our Christmas tree is placed in the opposite corner–the presents pile up and expand well into the room so that by late December the room will have become a happy obstacle course.
As I vacuumed I was lost in the memories held in this room, until a bright light struck my eyes. The mirror that hangs on the wall at the landing of the staircase reflected the sunlight that filled Jamie’s empty room.  I studied the reflection of my son’s former room.  Sunlight bounced off an empty floor, skeletal hardware framed the windows where Jamie’s curtains used to hang.  The light that danced around his room seemed to be frantically searching for something to grab on to, someone to warm and to feed.  Finding the room painfully empty the sunlight simply found my mirror and sadly bounced itself back up into the atmosphere.
I hate that empty room.  The bareness drains my heart.  The silence leaves an icy cold painful sensation in my ears.
I realized I had an entire weekend to spend alone in that big old house.  I grabbed my mat and my yoga books and, like the sun, escaped the deafening silence of my house. I settled in on my purple mat in the park.  The mat still smelled new, like those long ago Christmas presents; the smell of a new baby doll for Elizabeth–that chemically but sweet rubber smell. I opened my books, which were void of that pleasurable new smell.  They were faded, marked in, pages folded and some torn. Somehow, I found the tattered books comforting, with all these transitions in my world launching me into uncharted territory leafing through a broken-in book felt less daunting.
When my classes finally started I confidently sauntered on into the studio like I always do.  22 of us began in familiar settings, chanting followed by a brief asana (yoga pose) class.    As the evening wore on I noticed that I was the second oldest person in the room and I believe I was the only one without a tattoo.  I felt a little out of place.  Our instructors passed out three ringed binders and assigned us to small groups where we would discuss, research, and present our findings on a specific topic.
Research? Present? Three ringed binders?  I was expecting bare feet, bells and bliss.  This was feeling a lot like school!
Our research group consisted of me, and three other students all in their 20’s.  They effortlessly began a discussion and prepared for the presentation.  I labored to research our topic, only half understanding the deeply complex philosophical theory.  Before I had even jotted down any notes my compadres were assembling a poster presentation with references to the time line.  BCE and CE were acronyms written beside facts.
“What is BCE? What’s CE?  What happened to Before Christ and Anno Domini?”  I asked. Completely lost and confused about what we were about to present.
“Five minutes.”  Our instructor let us know.  My group hustled, putting together their portion of the presentation as if they had just been in school recently…wait…I suppose they had all just been in school recently.  Some of them are probably currently in school.  I have not been in a classroom since I was 27.  That was 22 years ago when, Before Common Era (BCE) and Common Era (CE), power point, and smart phones did not exist.  Back then when I prepared for a presentation I had a while to practice–in front of the mirror, in the car…I would have had time to check and make sure I didn’t have kale chips stuck in my teeth and I would have applied some makeup.
I panicked when it was my turn to talk.  I smiled, then remembering about the kale chips quickly donned a serious face.  I started talking about a subject I knew almost nothing about.  I kept hearing my own words escape from my mouth and they didn’t stop.  I rambled for several minutes before I was kindly rescued by one of my partners.  I felt like I was in a foreign country and I did not speak the language.
“Bring a packed lunch.”  Was a direction among our other instructions for the next day.  Pack a lunch.  I was truly back in school.
That night sleep eluded me.  My head was jam packed with dense information that I hoped in time would become less cryptic and more useful.  I recalled the warning to prepare myself for the intensity of the program as the list of instructions for class the next day kept playing in my mind. I got up and executed the one detail I was capable of preforming.  Packing lunch.
How many school lunches had I packed for my kids over the years?  I wondered as I pulled out a brown paper bag from the pantry shelf. I used my calculator and discovered it was somewhere around 8,640.
How many school lunches do I have left to pack?  Only around 700.
With next to no sleep I knew I was going to need a little more nourishment than kale chips to see me through the day.  I packed a power lunch with superfood ingredients I could only sneak in small portions into my kid’s lunches.
Transitions can be hard.  The unfamiliar is frightening.  As much as I’d like to cling to the best time of my life, being a mom and watching my kids grow up, there isn’t anything to cling to.  Memories are sweet but they are not tangible.  Even the sunshine reflected its brilliance back to itself when it discovered my empty rooms.
How to pack a power lunch for mom.  Feeding and nourishing myself.
Beet juice Process in a juicer: 1 apple, 4 carrots, I large beet, a substantial hunk of ginger, one lemon.
Curried lentil salad:  Buy Vegie Annie’s coveted and addictive curried lentil salad kit and make it fresh at home.  (Place orders at annie@veggieannie.com)
Avocado and lime.  Cut an avocado in half, squeeze fresh lime juice over and leave pit in.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Pack some salt and a spoon.
Hummus, mung beans and fresh baked pita bread.  Buy spicy hummus at the common market in small containers.  It stays fresh that way.  Sprout your own mung beans (sprouting jars and directions as well as mung beans available at the common market) Buy fresh baked pita bread from your favorite bakery…or the common market.
At lunch tear pita in bite sized pieces and dip into hummus.  Top with crisp mung beans.  Nourishing yourself while enjoying a new adventure or simply appreciating whatever stage of life you are in because, even though our lives seem at times to be comfortably (or uncomfortably) fixed nothing lasts forever.

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