A few years back on a July rainy evening, Linda, one of our original members for many years prepared a delicious chicken salad with curry on a bed of crisp mixed greens with crusty baguette bread. It was her turn to host and give a writing prompt. She passed around blank greeting cards and Diana, Jackie, and I choose one each to write a story from the artwork. Linda’s theme for each woman pictured on the card was ‘transformation’.

These were to be a complete flash fiction story 1,000 words or less. Here is my ‘transformation’.

I noticed Jolene the day she came into her first yoga class. She was tiny, shy, with a few freckles across her nose and strawberry braids. She didn’t look more than fifteen, although she was married at that age and now twenty-seven.

The instructor starts the soft music and dims the lights. Jolene spreads her purple towel and sits cross-legged, a look of relief gleaming across her face as she shuts her eyes. She wore no leotards, just a pair of cut-off denim shorts, worn threadbare, and a pink t-shirt faded from the sun after many mornings on the clothesline. This didn’t seem to sway her determination to come every week, at the same time as clockwork.

Every now and then, she came to class wearing blue jeans. I simply asked, “Aren’t those uncomfortable to bend in?” She said, “Hadn’t had time to wash.” She was too busy canning beans from the garden her husband made her put in. Found out later too from Martha who lives next door, it wasn’t the wash she couldn’t get done, it was pleasing her husband that couldn’t get done. I started to find out too much from Martha about Zeke. He was careful not to leave any of his bullying above the belt line.

I took pity on the gossip and made a point to talk to her more. I asked one day if she would like to go to a movie sometime.

“No, can’t.”

The following week I asked if she would like to come to church with me on Sunday. Maybe she was more religious than social.

“No, better not.”

A couple more weeks passed, and I asked one afternoon after Thursday’s class if she needed anything from Wal-Mart and wanted to go.

“I have to wait on Zeke to take me.” She frowned a tiny bit and slipped out the door. Martha ambled over to me and muttered, “Humph…that no good husband sees a girlfriend on Thursday afternoon, otherwise poor Jolene couldn’t get out of the house without him knowin’ about it.”

I finally gave up and decided to let it ride. I didn’t want to seem like a pest. Ten months and eleven days later, and mind you, not on a Thursday afternoon class, but a Monday evening class, she came in and had a tiny brown mustache drawn across her upper lip. It curled slightly at the ends and matched the curl of her soft peach lips. No one said a thing.

Jolene snapped her purple mat open, not the old purple towel, and sat down like before, crossed legs, hands balanced on knees, fingers pinched together, closing her eyes. The instructor began with an odd look and the lights dimmed and the warm-up began. Jolene sat in her spot and didn’t move. She didn’t rise to do a sun salutation, downward dog, or even the child’s pose (which fit her to a T). Nothing. Just sat with her little, brown-drawn mustache and a slight smile. The darndest thing I have ever seen.

After class, Jolene stood and rolled up her purple mat and came right over to me. I stared at this little pint-size young woman with the silly mustache drawn on by an eyebrow pencil across her lip and blurted out, “You taking too many hormone pills?” Jolene flipped a long strawberry blonde braid off her shoulder and replied, “Naw, I just finally woke up to take care of some business at home.”

Once we finished and ready to read, Linda turned on the coffee pot and served her fresh made strawberry pie with a huge dollop of whip cream to enjoy while we read our very different stories from the greeting cards artwork. This is a writer’s group evening.

Chair Yoga

I spent thirty minutes yesterday morning practicing chair yoga. Ever since and during the continued pandemic, my yoga teacher has been virtual. I chose to attend her bi-weekly chair yoga with all its postures. For one thing, being visible from the waist up only is a pretty good way to exercise in confidence. No audience with access for watching the bottom half’s attempt to tighten the gluteus maximus and no observers, except possibly your dog, to watch you learn to move easily and in harmony. You might even sweat some, hoping your teacher notices, as you attempt to tune up decades of other muscles on vacation. I have to say, many a morning, I awaken and entertain the thought of ignoring 8:45 A.M. every Tuesday and Thursday. However, once I enter the Zoom world through the computer in my office, those thirty minutes disappear sooner than I can lift three-pound weights to my shoulders. Too soon, we’re finished and I’m pleased because I’ve just accomplished another day of improving my well-being.

Writing is yoga. Thirty minutes, an hour, two hours spent exercising in another manner. The mind, with its whirlwind whims and urges, slows down. Life quiets as fingers move to create. Stretching, reaching for words, becomes beneficial over time.  Breathing deeply, pausing, then exhaling what lies inside, releases one. This meditation practice involves using a chair once more to sit, to tune out noise, prevent interruptions, and listen to ourselves, what we have to say, what we know. Yoga uses props, as does the writer. A journal, a story, a poem, a pen and paper or a computer, aid the writer with the results being improvement not only in writing, but even in the mind, spirit, and body. It just requires time and good attendance.

If a writer continues to practice day after day, or at least as much as possible, he or she just might feel more motivated to pen more words, more pages, and more books.