Carmel Magazine

Summer/Fall 2020

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Page 47 of 171

S olace comes in the form of sit- ting in a chair. Nothing special, just a chair I pulled from the dining room table that we use twice a year, on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The chair has an orange, padded seat and a wildly colorful pat- tern crawling up the back. No arms. Sturdy wooden legs. It is here I've found my sanity, my peace, maybe even my calling, during this pandemic. When shelter-in-place began in California, my dear mother was fresh out of major surgery for cancer. At first, we were able to visit her, but by mid-March, those face-to-face meetings were no longer allowed due to COVID-19 precautions. Any planned excursions also went out the window and I, along with much of the world, was going a bit stir-crazy in my house. Soon, social media was exploding with people sharing tips to ease our stressed minds. "What is it," I thought, "that I enjoy and can do fairly well?" The answer was stretching and yoga. So I stacked-up some books and magazines and propped my phone on top. I turned on Instagram Live at noon in mid-March and stretched for 15 minutes. "You can stretch from a chair at work or while taking a break from your new workplace—your home!" I nagged. "Everyone can find 15 minutes in their day!" The chair stretch picked-up steam, some days having close to 200 souls, limbs akimbo on the other side of the screen along with me, their scatterbrained host. I did it again planning to stop on day 10, then 30, then 90. As I write this, it's the last week in July and the latest session marked day 134. "I've always wanted to try yoga," one person commented. "I'm a certified teacher—let's do it!" I replied. So, we added "pre- beginner" yoga to the end of stretch for an additional 20 minutes. "Yoga for those who are too intimidated to try," I called it at first. We are all practically intermediate yogis now, never imagining this would continue for five months. As my mother's health waned, keeping her in Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (CHOMP) with no visitors allowed for weeks at a time, I used the sessions as a source of camaraderie and encouragement without explaining the particu- lars of my situation to virtual strangers. But it was as if they could feel and assuage my pain. We began getting to "know" each other: the artist, the Oxford scholar, the Realtor, and the local restaurant manager, to name a few. The members started forming friendships, and all of a sudden, we called ourselves, "the tribe." I had T-shirts made for tribe mem- bers, and people started swapping recipes and ideas, stories and tears. "We missed you" scrolls by on my tiny screen, as members of the group welcome back others who've returned after being out of town or at work for a few days. As my mother was ailing and at CHOMP more than at home, the tribe has had a peek at my struggle. I've received more encour- agement cards and birthday gifts than I ever dreamed of, as people secretly messaged my husband to obtain our P.O. Box number. Flowers and cards have been sent. I've conducted chair stretch with bedhead and with tears in my eyes; poolside at a hotel on Highway 101 and at the Monterey Zoo. But mostly with my husband by my side as we sit on our dining room chairs, tattered yoga mats, four dogs, and a cat, at our feet, every single day at noon. I don't even think I've brushed my teeth that many days in a row. My mom called at 11 this morning, weak and on a pain pump. I wondered how the heck I'd be able to present a happy face to our group. "Isn't it almost time for your class?" my mom asked. "Yes," I squeaked out, fighting tears. "Well get off the phone, lady! You need to get ready," she said. And I did, cutting it so close from the shower that I still had a towel on my wet hair. Where would I be without the stretch? I don't know, but it wouldn't be good. I've grown to rely on "the tribe" as much as they rely on seeing that I'm "live;" my Instagram avatar signaling that we're on our chairs and ready to go at noon, Pacific Standard Time. I won't stop until a force of nature greater than me makes it so. Dina Eastwood is a former news anchor at KSBW TV, past host of "Candid Camera" and has starred on a reality show on the E! Network. She is a writer, editor and yogini. She resides on the Monterey Peninsula with her daughter, Morgan. BEHIND THE SPOTLIGHT D I N A E A S T W O O D I've grown to rely on "the tribe" as much as they rely on seeing that I'm "live;" my Instagram avatar signaling that we're on our chairs and ready to go at noon, Pacific Standard Time. A Seat for Sanity 46 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S U M M E R / F A L L 2 0 2 0

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