I had a pretty amazing week last week.

First was Monday, the 4th of July and one of my favorite holidays. For years my health was so bad that I couldn’t enjoy holidays much. I had a friend that took my youngest son to fireworks shows each year and I sat here at home alone. It was sad. The past several years I have been doing better and we shot our own fireworks. There were a couple of years that it was just my son and then there was a year that my daughter was there too. This year we had a cookout and invited a few friends. This was a huge thing for me. They weren’t here for very long and they were all people I knew and liked so that made it easier. For a total hermit like myself-it was surprisingly easy and I was happy we did that.

Then on Tuesday I went to my first ever Ukelele class. I had heard about this for a long time and had thought about going but always flaked out. I am not musically inclined and I am not great around people that I don’t know so I didn’t really have high hopes for this thing. It was free though and they loaned out Ukuleles so I wasn’t losing anything to go try it. I was so glad I went.

The people were welcoming, friendly and fun. We played the ukulele but we also sang and that was a lot of fun too. I am a pretty bad singer but these songs were awesome and it was really a lovely time. I have always wanted to be in a band and there is something about everyones brains doing the same things at the same time when you make music-it seems like magic. I liked this so much that I ended up selling an old electric guitar that I had and getting my own ukulele. Ukuleles are small, I got it a stand and it sits here on my desk-a constant invitation to play it.

On Wednesday I went to my first yoga class. I have been going on walks and doing some stretches and trying to learn some yoga on my own but something kept telling me that I really needed to go to a class. Since I am morbidly obese this didn’t really seem like a great idea. I am usually extremely self-concious… even without having to get up and down off of the floor or having to get in weird positions. Again, I was so glad I went. I went to a kundalini yoga class and there was a lot of chanting and at the end there was a gong thing. I used to attend the Sikh temple here in my town and the Sikh faith really appeals to me so this really was a nice fit for me. I couldn’t do most of what they did but the instructor told me what to do instead and strangely enough-I didn’t care that I had to do different stuff or that everyone in the room knew it. This was all very odd for me.

Then on friday I went to a drum circle. I am not as comfortable with the drums as I was with the Ukulele class but it was wonderful to be there and watch everyone else. I watched people share instruments, pick up things that they weren’t familiar with and experiment with them and I saw some of the loveliest smiles.

One of the strangest things about this week was how many women were in it. I haven’t had a lot of women friends and most of the women that I have met-I haven’t been very impressed with. My family is almost all women and I never really felt like I fit in. When I was 17 I joined the Army and at that time, there weren’t a lot of women in there. After I got out of the military I worked in a machine shop for a while, a chicken plant and a toy factory. There were a lot of men in these places and I always got along with them. When men work they are different than women. They don’t gossip as much, they like to joke around and have fun… and in the places where I worked guys helped each other.

Once I got my education and started nursing I was around plenty of women. Nurses are wonderful people and great-to their patients. To each other, well there is an expression, “Nurses eat their young”. This situation did a lot to reinforce my feeling of women not being such wonderful people.

I have been changing a lot lately. I’m trying hard to change habits and attitudes and this week, without trying-I could see attitudes that have changed that I didn’t actively try to change. Getting out and doing so much is a big change and I didn’t have to force myself. Knowing that I didn’t have to go to any of this and that I could leave if I didn’t like it helped a lot I’m sure. But enjoying the company of women-totally took me by surprise.

I have asked a few times… why men even like women. From the hateful, bitchy, gossipy women I was used to-I really didn’t see a lot of redeeming qualities. Sure women are soft and pretty and they might smell good but who cares about all of that if they are hateful harpies? Well, now I see when you are around sweet, gentle, kind people that are happy to see you, give you hugs and really let their own lights shine without feeling like they have to put someone elses light out-well that is a thing of beauty. I want to be one of those women.

This week truly was something beautiful and different for me. It was almost scary and sad. There is some fear that all of this goodness will go away and much like the story “Flowers for Algernon”, that I will revert back to my isolated, anxious, depressed and cynical self.

I am reminding myself that the things I am putting in place are important. Habit and ritual are important. Self-care is important and holy cow… human contact is important.