Yoga

For years, I resisted taking up yoga again. And I couldn’t have told you why, exactly, except that the resistance was unrelenting. And then, a month ago, the tendons of my right arm, from the base of my skull through to my finger tips, stopped working. I couldn’t grip a cup of water, or use the 10-key. I couldn’t pet the dogs without feeling like my palm had a razor blade at its center. I stopped doing any strength training for a week.

And there, stretched out in front of me, was yoga.

It wasn’t until I put the disc of Rodney Yee into the drive that I realized why I’d resisted. After my surgery, when I was too weak to hike the trail, or walk the dogs around the neighborhood, I’d ordered this disc and tried to put my broken self back together. I’d stretched out on the speckled carpet in the living room, with the dogs flanking me, and watched his chest open wider and wider.

I reached for the nails of my toes. For the ceiling. For the speckled carpet. I leaned over the dogs, and back into the couch. I breathed as though it didn’t hurt me to walk from here to the bathroom. As though holding myself in a sitting position didn’t cost everything. I leaned into my own body and wished and wished and wished.

Not even to be well. Not even that. Not be well or be strong. Just be. Exist. Please continue to exist. It was like a cliff face, my body. I had to climb back up it. To grip my knees, and hip bones. To rest against my pelvis. To claw into these ribs, and breasts, and collar bones. Wrap myself around neck. Bury face into hair.

I had to learn to be broken and alive and recover.

I had to lean into my body and breathe deeply and love my self. This fucking trainwreck of a self. This traitor. This scrawny girl clawing her way back.

I have so much love for this body now. For my terrible posture. For my aching arms. For the way I lean over my own knees in cross-legged forward bend, and then slowly, lean even deeper. So that I can feel the muscles expand and contract and support me. So that I can feel the breath push in and out.

Alive. Not always well. Not always strong. Alive. So alive. Grasping at myself for all I am worth. Holding on. And then letting loose again as though I were nothing but atoms. Nothing but breath. Nothing but this unrelenting desire. This love for every every every thing.

4 thoughts on “Yoga”

  1. I have so much love and fellow-feeling for your journey, Jill, being on a similar trajectory as far as learning to love my body, both its limitations and its strengths, and to honor other people’s human dis/abilities accordingly. I am, as always, grateful for your writing.

  2. I recently restarted my own yoga practice too after a few year hiatus. I started after my first spouse died, as a way to start practicing self care, or grieve maybe? and I eventually stopped… for some reason. I don’t recall. A part of my mind has always just tied the idea to starting again to loss, or maybe desperate need for a foundation… but regardless, I’ve started again, it is time to see if I can flow through the baggage I’ve tied to it.

    I hope your arm feels better soon. Your writing is always beautiful to me.

    1. Thank you, Kira!

      I’m not sure why it took me so much time to see why I was resisting, but I am filled with so much peace when I do yoga. I think in a way I was resisting that peace as well as the connection to my own suffering. Peace is hard.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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