There are two ways I could tell this story: by pontificating about stress relief and low blood pressure, or by telling you the truth.
OK, there’s some truth to both approaches. But let’s be real:
Birthdays merit celebration, and that’s a mission I take seriously. My expectations are especially high for milestone birthdays. I spent my 30th at a lake house with close friends and my parents, and my 18th at Walt Disney World. (By contrast, I still mourn my 21st, when I was lonely at a summer camp, and my 25th, which is the only birthday on which I worked.) And so the self-imposed pressure was on for 35. I wanted to celebrate with something I would remember.
I posted a challenge on Facebook, crowdsourcing party ideas as any social-media savvy person would. The ideas were all over the place: pajama-and-black-tie party. A 35-mile hike. (If I wasn’t born in July, I could get into that.) A death-match tournament in a bouncy boxing ring, with fighters costumed as superheroes.
But when my friend June chimed in, the answer was obvious:
June “won” herself an invitation to my birthday party.
I’d heard of cat yoga in other cities, usually at shelters. But as much as I love my city, Birmingham isn’t typically on the forefront of these trends. I thought it unlikely that I would find a place that would agree. I soon learned I had underestimated the Greater Birmingham Humane Society.
GBHS staff was thrilled by the idea; it turns out, they’d considered cat yoga already. I brought them a focus group (16 of my closest friends) and they provided eight cats.
It was everything I dreamed of.
I grinned as I walked through the room, guiding my friends through a toned-down version of my regular core strength vinyasa classes. Arm balances were out. Cat-snuggle breaks were in. The atmosphere was jubilant, and I was among some of my favorite people, my favorite animal and my favorite physical activity. (At one point, I announced, “You know you’re in a room full of people you feel safe with when you start prancing.” And prance I did.)
There’s no eloquent take-away here. But I have a hard time letting go of not-so-great memories and unmet expectations. These near-perfect moments, however, are something to cling to. I don’t believe perfect exists, but when life comes close, it’s a reminder of how much joy exists.
The prancing begins around the 36-minute mark, if you’re interested.