Fifty and Aligning

Kim Weeks

I turned fifty last month, and it was a watershed event. As a Capricorn, and #1 Competition and #2 Achiever in Gallup’s CliftonStrengths, I’m always trying to do my best and am comparing my progress and performance with others. Particularly anyone reading this will laugh, or relax (I hope for both!), because all three of these interweaving influences led me to yoga. If I’d stayed on Wall Street, I’m not sure what would have happened. I would have overachieved myself into deep troughs of depression and other diseases, is my guess.

Yoga is the only thing I’ve ever done, other than get lost in math equations, write longform pieces like this one, read, or play piano or electric guitar, in which I lose my typical performance- and often anxiety-based relationship with time. Put simply, I am able to let go. Who I am at my core led me not only down the rabbit hole of two advanced yoga trainings before I became a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher; it has also led me to train hundreds of folks along the way to help them try and see their practice from as many different and transformative angles as possible. 

The body, mind, and breath are infinitely intersectional. My yoga practice has been an anchor and reminder of this for me for 28 years.

Turning fifty was huge. In the year prior: my family and I decided to move west in America 1,400 miles; Covid-19 had opened up like toxic wine into every aspect of our breathable, knowable lives; we had suddenly lost my husband’s mother; and I left a hometown of 20 years in D.C. that has left such an indelible mark on my heart that I may never be able to explain the hole that remains without it.

When I turned fifty, I was surrounded by love and lush gifts from friends, but visits from or trips with my besties were all delayed by busy schedules, Covid, and winter storms. I spent lots of time skiing. I felt tremendous gratitude for my mother and father, who are so much farther along in this life path than me and who showered me with love that day. To celebrate the actual day, though, I was aware of how I just have no friends here, and that making friends later in life is way harder than when you’re young. Everyone is so busy right now raising kids, for the most part, or being busy with their careers AND raising kids! Myself included, to be very fair! So I hemmed and hawed for more than two weeks before I finally invited two neighbor lady friends to dinner with me. It was like asking two girls to go to the mall with me in middle school; I had no idea if they liked me or would even want to share a meal with me. Fortunately, they did, and it turns out I’m just as likeable married and a mother in perimenopause as I was at twenty-fine and just beginning my adult life.

Oh yes! The perimenopause bit. That’s the point of this post. Turning fifty, with its sea waves of hormonal change, brings much new information to the mind. You can feel some brittleness emerge and the pliancy of the joints realign. You are (or, I am) less interested in the farthest and deepest reaches of a pose, for example, but rather in the intricacies of the steps of the subtler body on the way there—on the way anywhere. 

Realizing that you’re halfway through a time-based project in the macro existence changes your perspective (which, to be clear, has changed with your body itself) when you’re looking at the micro. And that’s really all you can do: ping between the big and the small, the sublime and ordinary, the joy and the pain, and see yourself. All of these things run through you. Yoga teaches you that none of it is you. You are all that, “tat tvam asi,” in Sanskrit. This is what I’m looking forward to as the days unfold.