Last Saturday, I went to Wixom, MI for the DDP Yoga workshop. It has been my dream to meet DDP in person; I owe him all the health and happiness I have found since starting DDP Yoga, and I wanted the opportunity to thank him in person. At that time, despite it being my biggest dream, I couldn’t afford to go the retreat in Mexico. In fact, I couldn’t even afford to get to Wixom for the workshop.
However, my friend, and DDP’s webmaster, Robert, contacted me over instant messenger, and asked if I could go. He pretty much begged me to go by saying there weren’t enough people going. It was the dead of winter, and Wixom is a good five hours from my house by car, so I said I’d think about it, but felt it was unlikely. At that point my husband arrived home and asked what I was up to. Knowing how much I longed to get to the retreat, he decided to check if he could get me to Wixom on his airline miles and hotel rewards (he travels a lot for work). And with that, I told Robert to sign me up, and thus commenced the longest fortnight of my life as I waited for the workshop date to finally arrive!
The day of the flight, there was snow and arctic vortices as far as the eye could see. As I was wandering around the airport looking for vegan, gluten-free, organic food (I found some!), I couldn’t help but notice that an alarming number of flights were being cancelled. Please, you can strand me in Michigan after the workshop, but just let me get there! My flight got delayed but we eventually boarded and the flight was surprisingly uneventful. I made it to the hotel and thanks to the fitness center being open 24 hours, I was able to get in the 3 miles my marathon schedule demanded.
The next day, despite losing an hour to time zones, I woke up at the crack of dawn. I killed some time on the treadmill and did some planks as per this month’s Warriors in Training challenge, a decision I would come to regret later. Google maps warned of “Heavy Traffic”, so I left 30 minutes early. The “Heavy Traffic” amounted to about three other cars on the eight lane freeway, so I arrived 30 minutes early.
When I got there, I met fellow TeamDDPyoga-ers whom I had interacted with online, as well as new friends I had no prior relationship with. Then, I looked over my shoulder into the lobby and caught my first glimpse of DDP in person. I wanted to run and attack him with a bear hug whilst spewing out an incoherent laundry list of all the reasons I am thankful for him. I decided to be respectful of the fact that he probably had things to do, and that the actual event organizers had a right to meet with him, so I stayed where I was and just gazed in weird, teenage-like adoration.
DDP came into the main gym, and took the time to say hi to everyone. When he got me, I couldn’t contain myself and gave him a hug, while (expectation) thanking him for everything in one cogent sentence, (reality) spewing a lot of word vomit at him. After a while, we were all seated and DDP gave a great, and highly entertaining discussion of food matters, the history of DPD Yoga, his own history and related topics. It was really engaging, and gave me a lot to think about. He let us go for a break before we started the Diamond Dozen.
When we were learning the fundamental moves, he did an amazing job of making the moves simultaneously accessible to the people using canes or walking frames and challenging to the MMA fighter who had more muscle than I have ever seen in one place. As a trainee DDP Yoga instructor, watching him juggle the variety of fitness levels was inspiring. I also learned how to get more out of certain moves that I thought I had down pat (Walk the Dog, for example). When we got to “plank” position, DDP abruptly called me onto the stage to model how it was done. As I was demonstrating plank, I remember thinking how cool it was that I got to be up on stage, and how excited I was to tell my friends and family that I had been called on.
All of a sudden, DDP calls up the event organizer, Craig Funk (the muscular – and not too hard on the eyes – MMA fighter I mentioned earlier), and said we were going to have a contest to see who could hold plank. Instantly, my early morning running and planking came back to haunt me and my arms started shaking. Craig, on the other hand, looked like he was about as stressed as if he were sitting in a recliner. He started with the characteristic smack-talk, “Why are you shaking?” so I responded, “Turning stuff on (if you do DDP Yoga, you’ll get that reference).”
In the background, I could hear DDP talking to the crowd, but between my own inner monologue, and warding off Craig’s remarkably effective smack-talk, all I heard from DDP was, “Something, something…plank…something, something… challenge,” and naturally assumed he was talking about the various plank challenges I have been involved in around teamDDPyoga.com.
That’s not what he was talking about. Suddenly, a large cheque was beside me, and everyone was applauding. In that moment, all that went through my head was, “Am I meant to continue with the plank competition?” Then I realized that was probably a ruse (I’m smart). I put a knee down, which led DDP to announce with delight that Craig had one. He handed me the cheque, after saying some really nice things that made me cry in front of a roomful of people, and I announced that I was “going to Mexico!”
We finished up the Diamond Dozen, and honestly, that is a bit of a blur to me. Then we had another break, and came back to do the main workout. DDP’s videographer needed to leave, so he interviewed me during the workout. I don’t really remember what I said, but I do remember thinking that I was talking really fast. I can’t imagine that there’s anything remotely salvageable, but everyone knows Steve Yu is the Jedi master of editing, so it will be interesting to see the longer video of the challenge update. I rejoined the workout, but that too is a bit hazy on the recollection front.
After the workshop, DDP stayed to chat with everyone, answer more questions, take photos and sign pictures for people. He was amazingly approachable, friendly and unassuming. We posed for photos with the cheque, doing the Diamond Cutter, and he signed a really special message into my Level 1 training manual. Sadly, my dumb iPhone messed up a lot of the photos, but everything else was so amazing, I don’t really mind.
When I finally left, I drove to the Detroit airport, and wandered around with a massive cheque under my arm, and an even larger grin on my face. Before I knew it I was home, and I decided to kill the time between then and when I could talk to Christina about the competition (she didn’t find out until the day after), by planning my trip to Mexico.
The following Monday and Tuesday, Christina and I concocted plans to make some videos together. We each had quite different ideas, so we decided to do mine first as it required the least amount of planning. I was by that point completely stricken with the respiratory plague that had knocked out my husband and daughter the week before. That didn’t stop me from planning a video shoot that required me to sit outside in the polar vortex. I ended up doing two shoots as the first had some audio issues. When I was editing the movie, I ended up using a lot of Christina’s footage because my laryngitis combined with the 2°F weather to make me sound like Harvey Fierstein. Nonetheless, the video came out pretty well, and I hope it went some of the way to showing DDP, and everyone else associated with DDP Yoga, at least some of the gratitude we feel toward them.
On Wednesday, Christina and I phoned in to DDP Radio as DDP announced the winners. My voice was still sounding Peter Brady-esque, but it was a fun interview, and we had the chance to express our gratitude, and to say some of the things we were trying to say when we were interviewed. On the show, I was asked if I figured out that the story about there not being enough people was a lie, and had to admit that I was oblivious! Both Christina and I were able to express at least some of our gratitude for this amazing honour and recognition, as well as for the respect for our friendship that DDP showed by refusing to pick one of us over the other.
Since the show, the outpouring of love and support we have received has been overwhelming. To a certain extent, I have processed the fact that we won, though the trip to Wixom still seems like a magical dream. The thing that I can’t get over is that I haven’t been doing DDP Yoga for a full year – that anniversary happens on April 9th. In under a year, I have met my weight goals – four times! I have found something I am passionate enough about to certify as an instructor. I have gone from dreading the staircase to running a half-marathon and training for a full. I have developed and met my Idol. I have won a contest. I have planned for a trip to Mexico. I have developed close friendships and an amazing network of support. I have discovered that I have a passion for helping others, and I have received the most amazing gratitude and recognition for that passion. I have also received an outlet for that passion in TeamDDPyoga.com.
Despite all those achievements, it’s not hard to envision where to go from here. I have a marathon to run. I may attempt two next year. I have a certification to complete, and after that I plan to certify as a nutritionist. I have a dozen yoga positions I want to master (Forearm Balance still atop that list!) That’s the beauty of DDP Yoga; there’s always some place to go.
I wanted to end this post with an amazing sentence that showcases the extent of my gratitude, the level of emotion I have for DDP Yoga, and the numerous things it has done for me. I can’t. There are no words that carry enough strength to convey what I feel.
Well, there’s one.