indomitable. / by Julie Anne Caramanico

I haven't written in a while (concussion problems. yes, still.) although I've been feeling pulled to do so. I still have trouble looking at screens for too long. Not to mention that sharing my practice via writing scares me to death. Because really, life is a yoga practice for me. Sharing my yoga practice and/or inspirations means sharing about my life. And if you know me well enough, you know that expressing myself isn't my strong suit. It's my greatest blessing and occasional curse that I think & feel deeply about things. I'm always thinking about what takes place in my life and what it means from a larger perspective. It amazes me really, how there's an ordered chaos to everything. Sometimes I'd rather just turn my brain off and drink a freaking beer! Or you know, practice to get the same effect, whatever. I'd certainly rather not go through the excruciating discomfort of sharing it. But in my experience when there's something you feel like you need to do but it scares you - its a clear sign to do it. And you know what? This is me, for better or worse. 

 

indomitable

/inˈdämədəb(ə)l/

adjective

impossible to subdue or defeat.
"a woman of indomitable spirit"

My grandmother turned 92 last week. We celebrated with the whole family - and then 12 hours later I was sitting at my great aunt's funeral. Within 24 hours I celebrated the life of two really amazing women. It felt like a whirlwind. My Grammom's birthday party was an unexpected outpouring of love for her - about 35 of my aunts, uncles and cousins showed up to sing to her on a Tuesday night. I kept calling it "Sunday dinner on a Tuesday" because that deep family value and tradition of eating together on Sunday has been so ingrained in all of our lives, and it was fitting that we all showed up for her out of the usual routine. There was a strong energy in the house. Full on, straight up love and gratitude that she's still with us. She cried as we sang to her, I cried on my way home. I took a photo of the scene - trying to capture a beautiful moment. I showed it to her after, and she said "When is that from?" ...she thought my uncle was my grandfather in the photo, but he passed a few years back. She's sharp as a tack mentally, so I was surprised and we laughed and laughed but I know she misses him so much. My Grammom is so special to me, and I'm always trying to make her laugh. I tell her I know I'm her favorite, but as one of her 15 grandchildren I know she doesn't know how to love any of us less than completely.

My great aunt was such a wonderful lady. Kind and sweet and funny. She's probably the only human on earth who made me laugh instead of throw an eye roll when she asked who I was dating. She'd always say "So are you dating a right one, or a left one?" "Well Aunt Ida," I'd say, "I kind of want him to be a right one but I think he's a left one". She'd laugh and say "Oh that's alright my dear, the left one's pass the time until a right one finds you". I loved her so much for this. And her pizzelles. God those things were awesome. That woman just knew how to fill you up with joy and food. 

I sat at Ida's funeral and found myself deeply affected by these events. It seemed so connected that they were so close in time to one another - literally within 12 hours. It stuck with me for days, and I kept thinking about what made these women alike, why I love them both so much, and what it was that made these events seem so inexplicably connected. I remembered a moment I witnessed this past Christmas when I watched my Grammom and Aunt Ida greet one another. They held both of each others hands and started tearing up almost immediately. "Are you ok?" My Grammom asked and Ida answered, "It's hard, its hard, you know...". They had both lost their husbands, both in the later stages of life. They just understood each other. They knew each other's struggle. They seemed to see each other so clearly and have so much compassion for one another. As I recalled this moment the words "indomitable human spirit" kept coming into my mind. I realized that these women had a quiet strength that they carried with them through life. Neither of them had easy lives. Between them they survived the depression, a world war, cancer, leukemia, and heartbreaking loss - and I'm sure there were many struggles they faced that I know nothing about. Yet these events, no matter how tragic, never defined them. These women were the epitome of feminine strength - they saw struggle and they kept on living. They took care of themselves & their family with grace, humor, and a whole lot of love.

I don't think either of them did yoga a day in their life. However, I think many people get on their mats looking for something that they mastered - the art of taking care of themselves and the people around them. In my opinion, this is the highest yoga. These inspirational women reminded me of why I practice, why I teach, and showed me what true feminine strength means. We all have access to this indestructible inner strength and spirit, its within each of us. I'm so lucky I have my practice to help me figure out how to do what these women seem to do so naturally. Life can seem really tough sometimes and as humans we are wired for struggle in so many ways, but more importantly we are wired to survive. I share this story in hopes that the next time you get on your mat, you can find that indomitable human spirit. Tap in and take care of you, so you can go out and take care of the people you love.