Yoga love, my yoga love

Yes, I’m singing “Baby love” by The Supremes while typing this, and YES, I know. Another post about my love for yoga? Yep. Because last night in yoga, well, it was amazing. A-maz-ing.

No one else in class could hear me silently cheering for myself as I did not one, not two, but three things I had never been able to do before. I wanted to stop the class and say “Look what I can do!!”. And I was in Savasana, I was already taking mental notes for this blog post. And thinking about how things in my life have changed so much in the past 2 and a half years since I began this journey that I never ever ever thought I would.

This practice has taken me from overweight to fit, from insecure to confident, from anxiety to (mostly) calm. Oh I still worry about stuff I can’t control, and have moments of complete freak out, but I also don’t stay in that space for long. I’ve learned to control what I can and let go of what I can’t.

I know a lot of non-yoga people get sooooooo sick of hearing yoga people talk about how great it is. But has anyone stopped to realize they’re singing yogas praises for a good reason?? It’s a body, mind and soul transformation. Not a lot of things can claim all three. I have a few runner friends who feel that way about running. I tried running. I know I can run, which is something I never thought I’d say either. But I had too many injuries and not a deep-in-my-soul love for it. So I get runner love. I hope they can appreciate my yoga love.

And in an effort to remain honest about my practice, yes I almost did fall over last night in a pose I’ve done a hundred thousand times. And I also know why. Because in that moment, that second, my mind drifted and I wasn’t focused. Of course I laughed with Julie because, well, hello? I almost fell over! But after I regained my balance and was realizing what I did wrong, it occurred to me that so many things in our lives are just like that pose and potential fall.

How many times have you lost focus in what you are doing? Things are going well, maybe you start to feel like you can coast a little instead of furiously pedaling, and then you start to swerve. Your resolve starts to waiver and you quickly get jolted back to what can happen if you lose that concentration. Hopefully you can correct your thinking and start again toward your goal. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a hard fall to see that you’ve totally lost your previous determination and it takes a scraped knee or elbow to see how far you fell.

This could be with anything: exercise, diet, anger, dating, addiction, career, kids, spouse, anything. Anything you are trying to change about yourself to make you a better you. Change isn’t easy. There is resistance, sometimes from others who don’t want to see you change, but most of the time, the resistance is right between your own ears. We think things of ourselves that we would never say outloud or to another person. We allow our bad thinking to take over and self sabotage our progress. “I’ll never lose that much weight” or “I’ll never get that promotion” or “I’ll never find someone who will treat me better. I deserve what I’m getting” or “I can have just one (or two or five) and no one will know.” We SAY these things to ourselves!! ACK!

What yoga has taught me is that what happens outside of my mat has nothing to do with me and if I focus on myself and what I can do, nothing can stop me. I can look inside and praise my little victories, even if no one else does. It’s MY victory after all. I can look at how far I’ve come and not be bogged down by how much further I have to go. I can control my mind, my actions, my day by how I respond to my own thinking. Basically, I can get out of my own way.

And by getting out of my own way, I’ve empowered myself. Even if I have a swerve. Or I lose concentration for a second. The more I practice, the stronger I am. The more you have people around you, supporting you, understanding what you’re doing and going through, the easier it is to acknowledge the slip and get right back up. And LEARN from it. Isn’t that what life is all about anyway?

yoga love

Yoga – The Life Changer

I have written about my no-longer-new love of yoga before. But every once in awhile, I have a class where certain things fall into place. I just love when that happens and how something I did to change my outside has transformed my inside.

I can’t tell you the date of my very first class. It isn’t engraved on some healing stone sitting on my bedside table. I’m positive I could ask my Yogi to look it up for me and I could have some sort of anniversary date. I could get it tattooed on my inner wrist to remind myself of the day I took back my life. All I can tell you is that the strides I have made are pretty remarkable when I think back to that first class.

I’ve shared some of this before; I couldn’t even touch my toes, the warm-up was as much “exercise” as I had done in years and I was preeeeeetty sure I was going to pass out within the first 20 minutes. I was sweating from head to toe, and I thought, there is simply NO WAY I was going to be able to do this for an hour.

Guess what? I did it for an hour. It wasn’t pretty, graceful or even in the ball park of proper form. But I stuck it out. And the best part of all? I. Came. Back.

So here we are, now, today, and I have been blessed in so many other ways than just going to a class. I have made friends. I could call them 24/7 if I needed something and I know they would be there for me. I have deepened my friendship with the one who got me there in the first place. She will forever and ever hold a place in my heart and I credit her for giving me the push I needed. I’m pretty sure we would all get kicked out of any other yoga class, as we lay there in savasana and laugh and talk.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post and the thought that occured to me during savasana during our last class. (yes, everything that preceded this paragraph was just the warm up. Sit back, grab your coffee and keep reading.)

As we go through our sun salutations (which by the way, are not so killer anymore and I WOW do I look forward to starting them. Yo has been changing them up some and it’s AWESOME!) she will instruct us to “step forward in to a forward fold”. As we keep going through them, she will say “step or hop to the front in to a forward fold”. I always step. Always. Through all of our sun salutations, always step. So I decided, what the hell. Let’s try to hop. So when we progressed from stepping to step or hop, I hopped. I didn’t come crashing down and the Earth didn’t stop revolving. I simply hopped forward. Hands on the ground, both legs off the ground. Hop. And then I did it again. And again. Through the entire class, each time Yo said to step or hop, I hopped.

Now, I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal. So what? You hopped forward 2-3 feet. Really? This is worthy of a blog post? Yes. Yes it is. Because 80 pounds ago, there was NO WAY these feet would be leaving the ground at the same time. Are you kidding? My arms would’ve crumbled from the sheer weight. But that’s not even the point. My point is that no matter what, you can continue to grow and learn as you push yourself and try to do something you didn’t think you could do. Step OUT of your comfort zone. Step OUT of your own mind that is holding you back.

The second incident is what else happened. We tried a new pose and guess what happened? I fell. On. My. Ass. Fell down.

We started in chair, lowered even further and raised up on to our tip toes. Ok, as if that isn’t challenging enough, we then twisted so left elbow was across right knee. Um yea. Anyone who knows me knows my knees suck. They pop, crack and generally have caused me annoyance for most of my life. I remember being at mass at St. Paul and I would kneel down and my knees would pop so loudly that they echoed through the church.

So there were, on our tip toes, crouched down AND twisted and next thing I know, I’m on the ground. Which goes back to my previous point…..step out of your comfort zone. Try something you don’t think you could do. Because one of two things will happen: You will do it and overcome or you will fall on your ass. Which just means you try again. You gather your courage, take a deep breath in and kick your ego to the door. And you try it. Maybe you have to try 50 times. It might take trying 51 to get it.

So keep trying. Step. Have the courage to try. And keep trying. Because you’re worth it, your life is worth it.

Namaste.

Om-Tattoo-On-Wrist

Hello Blog!

Oh how I’ve missed you! I haven’t written a new blog post in, well, for-ev-er! Life has a way of throwing curve balls just when you think the track couldn’t get any curvier. That’s when you strap in, hold on and find out what you’re really made of.

You also find out who is there and who isn’t when the dust has cleared somewhat. And that’s always surprising isn’t it?

I’m back from vacation. It was wonderful to be away for two weeks and enjoy the sunshine, palm trees and beachy air. We found places in Florida we love and it has confirmed our decision to move. The Florida life is what this girl needs. I think I can handle one more winter here, knowing it will be my last.

Our favorite 2 places were Punta Gorda and Venice. Punta Gorda is a completely different lifestyle as every house has a canal in the back with a boatdock. The canals lead to straight to the Gulf of Mexico. I mean, how amazing is that? Venice has two of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen and the town itself is small and has little shops lining the streets. It reminds me of Uptown Westerville and has a small town feel to it. I could picture being in either location and loving it.

The downside, I ate WAY too much on my two week hiatus and was shocked at the scale when I got back on the first morning. Nothing jump starts motivation than a backward step. I’ve been watching the calories and back to my work out routine (which in all honesty, did not suffer while I was gone. I did yoga, went on bike rides, long walks, but oh dear Lord did the diet go on the back back back burner!) and I’m happy to say I’m only 3 lbs away from where I was before vacation. I know I’ll get there and won’t make that mistake again!

I have my class reunion this weekend too and plugged into my calorie calculator how to lose 20 lbs by this Friday. It kept saying “error” so I yelled at it and put it away. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life!

Oh, and speaking of getting back into the groove of things, I went to my yoga class Saturday and for the first time ever, I “flipped my dog”. After all this time in yoga, I’ve been terrified to even try it. But I did on Saturday, figuring, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I fall? Ok. I fall. Who ever learns something from not falling and failing? But I didn’t fall! I’m sure it wasn’t the prettiest thing and I’m fairly certain I wasn’t doing it completely right, but I flipped and did it. That hand was reaching for the sky baby!

Some day I’ll blog about my hiatus and reach out to others about it, but for now, I’m back! The good, the bad and the ugly surround us all every day. It’s our reaction, and our perception and our ability to move forward in situations that brings us to our knees that defines who we are. And most of the time, when we’re on our knees, we’re there for a good reason. Stay there. Pray about it. Meditate about it. And you’ll be amazed at how you can once again get up and move on with new perspective.

Namaste.

Venice beach

Addiction – The Family Secret

I really wanted to write about this subject today after giving it much thought. I hope I can be succinct and cohesive, but I am also asking for feedback if you would. That’s kind of the point of the blog post.

How many of you have an addict in your family? Any kind of addict. Alcohol, drugs (<– that was whispered like the mom in St. Elmo's Fire….lol), gambling, sex, shopping, eating….anything that causes a problem for the person and the family unit. I bet you do if you're honest with yourself. I bet there's the crazy Uncle you only have to deal with during the holidays because he drinks too much and gets obnoxious or starts telling dirty jokes around the 5 year old kid table. Or your sister who eats her entire meal telling everyone she's not really hungry, but then grabs some extras and hides in the bathroom finishing off another piece of cake plus 3 more rolls. Or the niece everyone thinks is perfect but has been secretly getting high every night and no one notices. What about the guy at work who can't turn down the next project/phone call/email/business trip/etc because he's afraid of not getting the next promotion or being valued enough?

Or maybe it's you. Can you stop drinking? What if you've never been told you have a "problem" before but now you're being asked to stop. Can you? "Well, **I** don't have the problem. My mom, well, SHE was the one hiding bottles through the house, not me. I can stop when I want." Uh huh. But do you? Can you go a month without drinking? Excess shopping? A little weed? A little pill? Working on a day off? What about exercise? Are you addicted to something "good" for you? Do you push it too far? Are you running 7 days a week? Should you?

Anyone who has dealt with an addict will tell you the above scenario is classic denial. There's always always ALWAYS someone worse off than the person you're talking to. Or an excuse for the behavior. And that's a convenient rationale to not admit your own problem. Yes, admitting you have a problem with (insert addiction here) is a first step. Admitting powerlessness over the addiction and that your life has become unmanageable. Step One in AA. And starting at Step One is always the best place to start. The whole one foot in front of the other thing, right?

But what is YOUR role in all of this? The non-addict family member. Do you cover for the gambling spouse who just spent your electric bill money at the craps table? Do you call in sick for the spouse who can't quite make it to work again this morning? Do you explain to your kids to stay away from Aunt Dee because she can't help but to act the way she does? What if it IS your kid? Do you cover and and hide and put on the happy face for the world to see?

Now I'm certainly not suggesting that everyone open up the four walls of their homes and let everything be a gawking free-for-all. Every home has its secrets that most are sure would be horrified if the outside world could look in and see during your most raw, emotional times. That's not what I'm getting at. I AM suggesting that addiction is so incredibly prevalent in our society, and that the old way of thinking is not what is healthy for the entire family. Talking about it, discussing it, sharing it, help to bring it out of the shadows where it can grow and fester. That helps take away that stigma that unfortunately still exists today.

Which brings me back to the non-addicts role. My role. Most of my readers know my husband is an alcoholic. I don't hide it. It's hard. It's difficult. I've written many blog posts about it. I'm active in an Al Anon group. It's been amazing to find that everything I thought I was dealing with alone, someone right down the street was dealing with too. And right around the corner. And all over the city, the state, the country, the world. But no one knows because everyone hides and covers. It's the family secret.

Here's a great saying in AA: "Nothing changes if nothing changes". Simple right? Simple and true. Changing the way WE act and will bring about change in US. Not others. Ourselves. It's a very empowering feeling when you truly start to put yourself first and change the way you think.

I wish I could get more people talking, and in doing that you could realize you aren't alone. You're family isn't the only one. And perhaps helping to shed some light on what is happening will also encourage the addict to seek support and help. Don't let another generation continue the cycle. There's a Step One in AA and in Al Anon. But there's more than one step. Keep moving, keep growing. You can do ANYTHING for a day. Today can be Day One in your life, whether you're the addict or just love someone who is.

Namaste.

Addiction

Overwhelmingly Overwhelmed?

Have you ever just had a day, where you feel the weight of everyone else’s world on your shoulders? Where you don’t know where to look or who to help or what to do, so the easiest thing to do is close the curtains and pretend you aren’t home? Uh huh. You know you have.

And the thing is, it’s not one or two big things. It’s more a culmination of many many many MANY little things. Sprinkle in a few big bombshells and BOOM, that crushing feeling is upon you. Divorces, family members not speaking to other family members, (some family members just fine with never speaking to a certain other family member again), affairs, lost loves, bankruptcy, cancer, alcoholism, recovery, friends struggling with friends, friends struggling with family, lost friendships, lost spouses, lost pets, children sick, weight loss, weight gain, kids struggling in school, with friends, with peers, with boyfriends or girlfriends…..OMG, I could seriously go on longer and that’s just in the past week!!!!!

This is the overwhelming part for me. And I have cried on enough shoulders and vented enough to my family and friends that I owe them my shoulder in their time of need. At least my shoulder. A few of them need me to call the divorce lawyer and pack up that spouse and kick them out. A few need me to get a shovel and a rural (unfrozen) parcel of land and start digging, if ya know what I mean. The fixer in me wants to wave my magic wand, sprinkle some fairy dust and make those impossibly difficult, narcissistic, egomaniac, selfish people into decent normal human beings. But I can’t do that and watching them struggle with this idiotic spouse/friend/person can be overwhelming.

High school kids are hard enough to deal with on good days. When they get mean for the sake of being mean, and hurtful for the sake of being hurtful, what can you do as parent? Most of the time they don’t want you involved anyway. So it gets tricky sometimes. But when the meanness causes your child to weep, do you step in? When and how do friends become enemies? It’s sad and overwhelming.

No matter how hard you try to be optimistic, or looking for the silver lining, what do you do when it’s hard to find? For the parent who finds their child suffering, suggesting they look on the bright side seems callous. What bright side? But do you allow it to make you become withdrawn? Bitter? Angry at the world? Or do you try to be a friend and walk a tightrope of not knowing what to say? A friend found out her daughter has cancer. How do you comfort them, especially when she wants to push everyone away? I don’t know how to help. It’s heartbreaking and overwhelming.

So how do you handle it? No really, I’d love to know. For me, I’m thankful today is a barre day, because even thought my triceps are still sore from Tuesday, I’m gonna work the hell out of them today! It’s gonna be a “sweat dripping off my nose” kind of work out. I know that I can’t be the fix it person to anyone but me. I can lend an ear, a shoulder, support. But I can’t fix it. Great lesson learned in Al Anon is that I can only be in charge of me and my behavior. No one can change someone else. You can try, but then you’re just manipulating. You don’t want to do that, do you? Cuz that’s just not nice. So I’m going to try to focus on me and what I need (this is the year is ME, right?) and I’m going to go work out. And I’m going to remember this:

Just try to be a good person. That’s enough. ~~ The Dalai Lama

Namaste

Load

New Year, New Yoga, New Mindset

Today was the first yoga class of the new year. I had decided as one of my New Years goals was to push myself a little harder, try to do the smallest thing a bit better and truly appreciate what my body was doing and is capable of doing during class. It’s still so difficult for me to see how much progress I have made. I know that sounds silly. It’s not me fishing for compliments either. It’s just me being honest about the way my mind works sometimes. I think we all have a tendency sometimes to be overly critical of ourselves and focus on the flaws instead of the progress. So I’m making a conscience effort this year to do this as the part of the year of me! 🙂

By the way, every time I think of that phrase, I think of Seinfeld and the “Summer of George”. It cracks me.

So with today’s yoga practice with my new mat, new yoga pants and my renewed determination, I set out to push a little farther. Hold my pose a little deeper, stretch myself juuuuuuuuust a bit more. And I’m thrilled to say I did just that. Through the entire practice, I was able to push myself and bring my leg all the way through without touching the ground. Vast improvement in my book! And even though my arms still tremble during side plank, I rocked that baby on both sides the whole entire time, even when we flipped over, top leg behind and arm reaching for the sky. I refused to fall or come out of the pose before instructed. Again, major progress in my book. Beautiful wonderful progress.

Yoga is such a personal journey. It’s graceful, delicate, but strong, determined and focused. I think each of us exhibits those features every day. Some days we show one side more than others. Some days we have to. But it’s always there. Finding something that shows all of those characteristics in for splendid hour is a Godsend.

So while the year is still new, resolutions or goals are still fresh in our minds, try to find that something that is yours. Something that can bring focus and clarity and challenge and renewal to your mind, body and spirit. Because no matter what it is you achieve, it’s yours. No one can take that away from you.

Namaste.

white yoga

Baking during the holidays

I’m actually taking a break from baking right now to write this. More for my peace of mind than anything else. You see……I love to bake. Love it. It’s therapeutic, it makes people happy (usually happy, because most of the time it turns out well!) and during the holidays it’s a given to make cookies and fudge and bark and balls and cakes and rolls and……

The great thing about cooking is that my husband does 99.5% of it. He likes it for the exact reasons I mentioned above. I know it’s crazy that he is the one who goes to work, and then comes home and HE cooks. But he prefers it that way. He cooks, I clean. That’s the deal we made over 20 years ago. He does stress out about it sometimes. And sometimes he makes such a mess that I would swear he tried to dirty every pot, pan and dish in the kitchen just to make me clean it. If I could only get him to ask me to cook on the days he doesn’t feel like it, I would be more than happy to oblige. I have roughly 8 million recipes in my Pinterest folder. I’m sure I could find one that I could actually make if he gave me notice. But I’m getting off track. (As usual!)

I was making a new recipe for cookies again today for my church cookie exchange this coming weekend. I’m making 6 different types cookies that I have never made before. I figured this was a great opportunity to try new things and then give them away and keep them out of my house! I got a recipe from a friend for cookies that everyone has “had” to taste to check it out and now I’ve had to hide the rest of them because they don’t want them given away. SELFISH! I saved them HALF the recipe! But I haven’t had one. Not even a lick of the beater.

Then I made some bark. I was going to give that away to the women who are actually manning the cookie exchange table so they had something to nibble on. I gave a large baggie of it to Ryan’s girlfriend for her to share with her friends. It was a hodge podge of sweet, salty and chocolately. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. But I didn’t have any. (Ok, I might have snuck a few pretzels, but not the finished product! So it doesn’t count, right?)

But then today. Today I was making a dough that has to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours after making but before baking. I’m not sure why, but the author specifically said they don’t turn out as well if not refrigerated for that period of time. If anyone has insight to that, let me know. I get chilling the dough, but a minimum of 24 hours? Never heard such a thing. So I started whipping up the dough this morning so it could sit for the required time. I had to transfer to a bowl from my KitchenAid mixer (so I could use it for other cookies!) and there it was. A mixture of sugar, chocolate covered pomegranates, pistachios, chocolate chips and I thought, well, maybe I should taste what is sticking to this beater, ya know, just to see what this swirl of odd ingredients tasted like. It tasted pretty super fantastic! So another little scrap from the bowl (cuz there’s ALWAYS a little stuck to the bowl, right?) and as I stood in front of my kitchen sink, spatula in hand, a wave of extreme distress came over me.

WHAT WAS I DOING??????

Was a few licks of raw cookie dough what I should be doing? Hello?? I have barre class today! Would it kill me or derail my progress, I would say no. It wouldn’t. But what was I doing? WHY was I doing it? I haven’t licked a beater or bowl in months. And I bake all the time! So why today? Nothing happened? It’s not like something had happened. So I did what anyone doing something they shouldn’t be doing does. I STOPPED!!! Stopped and refocused. And I’m confessing and keeping myself honest. Not just honest to myself (which let’s face it, is the most important thing.) but honest with all of you. Because in community, having others holding you accountable and being honest and responsible helps get through a tough day of craving something you know you shouldn’t have. Being with others who know EXACTLY how you feel, no matter how you are feeling, is one of the best supports a person can have.

So I’m confessing, as well as removing myself from the temptation. Redirect! And the feeling, the impulse, has passed. If you can just hold on for a minute, an hour, a day……the feeling subsides. Then you can be proud of the fact day by day, you’re reaching your goal. YOUR goal. Whatever that goal is. Keep it front and center. Be mindful of it. TALK about it. Be willing to be held accountable for it. Be ever conscience about it. Because when you let your guard down, even for a moment, that temptation (a sugary, chocolately one) is going to be there, telling you it’s ok this once. And before you know it, the whole thing has been thrown out the window. And you have chocolate breath.

cookie dough beater