April 16, 2012

Dear Mum, Thanks for the Iron.

Dear Mum,

Thanks for that iron and ironing board you bought me a few weeks ago. I had made it this far (to the ripe old age of 25) without them and honestly, I had never planned on buying such things, but now that I’ve got that shiny iron tucked away in my laundry room, I’m glad. It’s turning out to be quite useful, and not just for making my clothes look halfway decent.

Today was a wrinkly day, to say the least. I spent my whole gimpy Ashtanga yoga practice this morning in a mind-tornado, obsessing over all the caustic and scathing remarks that I wish I could say to this one particular person. And when I wasn’t occupied with these imaginary verbal jousts, I was contemplating slashing the tires of this other person present at the shala. Needless to say, it was a less than positive or productive practice. No citta-vritti-nirodahah here! Ah yes, that’s why it’s called a practice, right?

I left the shala crying tears of rage. I felt mad at the world, mad at my injury, mad at my teacher and on top of that I was hating on myself for gaining a few pounds this past week, just in time to be a bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding. Ugh! I know it’s a bit petty of me to be upset about that, trust me; I beat myself up about that too, but you’re my mother, so I know you will forgive me for being ridiculously superficial at times.

Let me tell you, it was damn near impossible to pull myself up out of this self-absorbed, pathetic slump and slap a sweet smile on my face in time to teach my morning Vinyasa class. But I dug deep into my WASPy reserve of emotional repression skills and I pulled through.

Perhaps it would sound better in yoga-speak, “I put my small, ego-driven self to the side so that I could be more present to focus on the individuals who had honored me with their presence at the yoga studio this morning in order to help them align with their higher Selves.” Nah, that’s silly, because in all honesty, Mum, it was really just good old make-believe “happy.” Sometimes the “fake-it-til-you-make-it method” works, and some days, not so much.


But this afternoon things started to turn around. The sun was pouring through my living room windows. I was alone; the house was quiet and the day was winding down. I remembered that I needed to iron my fiance’s Fabindia vest, so I set up my brand-spanking-new ironing board and fancy iron and I started slowly smoothing away the wrinkles.

Just like you’ve always told me, ironing is really soothing and meditative. I have memories of watching you peacefully ironing my father’s shirts and linen dinner napkins, with a smile on your face and classical music on the radio. I remember my father teasing you for having such a beautiful laundry room—spare, white and elegant with a large window overlooking the back garden. But for you, that time and that space was important, a haven from the chaos of the outside world.

I watched the iron pass over the woolen fabric with a puff of steam, turning ridges and wrinkles into smooth, even surfaces. Standing there, quietly focused on the simple task of ironing, I was able to tune into my breathing and to my self in a way that I had failed to in my “real” yoga practice that day.

Ironing the vest for my beloved friend and partner became an act of devotion and meditation.

As I finished clumsily pressing the vest (by the way, you might need to give me one more ironing lesson one of these day), I really felt better. Folding up the board, I released a deep sigh of relief. It was a minor accomplishment, this smoothed-out, wrinkle-free vest, but at least I had managed to make one thing right today.

Some days that’s all you can ask for.

So thank you Mummy dearest, you truly are one of my greatest teachers.

I love you,



Editor: Brianna Bemel

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