Monday, April 23, 2012

And we are all so fragile....

Ingrid Michaelson - "Breakable"
“And we are so fragile, our cracking bones make noise. We are just breakable, breakable girls and boys”
Not sure why this song is running through my mind, but it is. I wonder what my inner teacher is trying to tell me when I have a song there in my head for DAYS. There is something important there, at least to me.
Maybe it’s as simple as the lyrics say – we are all fragile, breakable, with so little in the way of true defense. Our hearts are laid out there, open to hurt and pain.
Should it be so? Well, there’s an interesting question. Do I WANT my heart open? Yes I do, I don’t want to be closed off to any opportunities, but at the same time my heart needs some protection  - except refer back to the song – “We are all just breakable girls and boys.” There truly is no protection.
What a conundrum! No wonder my head swims with trying to figure out life. I want to protect, except there is nothing any of us can truly do, especially if we want to feel, and live, and be.
I feel at an ebb right now emotionally. Kind of low, but not so low I’m sad, just dreamy I would say. Probably reflective of the weather, which is grey and rainy. But over all, I’m okay, which is in its own way, wonderful.  Not every day has to be at the top of an emotional mountain. Sometimes, it's okay to sit back, count the raindrops, and wait for the sun. Build up strength for the hard times. Just be.
 “And we are all so fragile"
Let's move this away from self into the world. "WE" are all fragile.  I've seen the saying before, "Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a tough battle." And that is the truth - I'm not unique in fighting inner foes. You are not unique in fighting inner foes. We are all fighting something that to us is monstrous, huge, overwhelming. Everyone is deserving of kindness, tenderness, and love.
So greet a stranger with a smile. Hug a friend. Tell someone you love them. If the smile, hug, or love comes back, great. If not, think a prayer or a good thought towards that person. Give love, get love.
"We are all just breakable boys and girls."

Thoughts to take with me today: Stay tender, stay open, be kind. Smile.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Collaterial damage

About a month ago, I hurt my right hip. I jumped up a bit too quickly in a class and IMMEDIATELY knew I'd done 'something' bad. Pain - yes, it's called a clue.

So I've been sort of nursing it a bit, the cutting back on the cardio helped, a bit gentler in yoga and more stretching, that sort of thing. But it's just not improving; in fact the pain has sort of moved around to the front hip flexor, down the leg to behind the knee, some general numbness, and shooting pains.

Fun stuff!!

Finally, I figure it's just time to have it looked at. The doctor moved it around, looked at the spine, watched me walk, asked a whole bunch of questions, and sent me for x-rays.  He suspects the problem is lumbar spinal stenosis, which is a thickening of the spinal cord in the lumbar region.

Since I'm pretty big into the 'whys' of my life, of course I ask that question.  "Why?" Most of the reasons have never happened to me - no degenerative condition, no genetic predisposition, no previous back injury. Nope, I got none of those.


There is one possible cause.

Excess weight.

It appears when there is excess weight the spine (along with other bones) will thicken to carry the load and in the process the channel where the cord sits can get just a scooch smaller, causing pain, numbness, burning,  and yeah, pretty much what I have.

Collateral damage

Of course, the next set of questions switch from 'why' to 'what' as in 'what do I do now?'

Lose weight --- check
Cardio and strength to develop the muscles -- check
yoga and/or stretching -- check

Doing all of those things already. Good deal - continue

At first, I was annoyed for letting myself gain all that weight. That annoyance lasted about 6 hours. Then I went to being relieved I did something before things got too bad.

The funny thing is, I remember thinking last spring when I decided to start losing weight that I had to do this NOW, not at the beginning of the year, not in 6 months, not in 6 days...but NOW. Time felt short and I felt I was quickly, very quickly running out of options. I remember this frantic, urgent feeling pushing me to keep watching my diet, even when the weight loss moved at a glacial pace. Keep moving even though I was bone tired. Try a new class, a new exercise, push out of the comfort zone, please, oh please do it, but most of all, just don't give up, even when it wasn't fun. Believe your body can change, and it well.

Could that have been my 'inner teacher' we talk about in yoga?  The voice of wisdom? Since it led me to do the right thing, I'm comfortable thinking it most likely it was. And I'm so very grateful I listened and acted. If this pain is as bad as it gets, I can handle it just fine. Not only that, it'll be just another reminder of why I can't be one of the 90% that regains the weight lost. I just cannot do that again. My body may not handle another round of yo-yo dieting.

Bitter? nah, I just won't go there. It would just take too much energy that is better spent else where.

But how about some Naproxen Sodium? Yes, please! With a Tylenol chaser! Even more better!

And most of all, smile. It's gonna be okay. Promise.

Thoughts to take with me today: Lovely deep breaths, long stretches, smiling with my heart, once again, I choose joy and all the good that comes with it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Feeding tubes to lose weight? Really?

OMG -- check out this link, I'll wait.

Okay - so the deal is that someone pays $1500 to have a feeding tube inserted through the nose to the stomach not to lose an amount of weight that is dangerous - oh no - to lose 5 - 10 pounds so they look good for a wedding.

Are... you...freaking...kidding... me?

How can a doctor do this? This has to be unethical to say the least.

Look, I'm not going to say I would have never, ever considered pretty radical stuff to lose weight. I did. But this is just going way too far. Not to mention, it's for such a small amount of weight!

Here's another thought...if a bride can't commit to the hard work to losing those last 5 - 10 pounds, which we all know is mega hard, how is she going to commit to a marriage that is supposed to last a life time?

If I'm the groom, I'm thinking we are in trouble from jump street...

Personally, I want this to be hard sometimes - good, make it hard so I'm not ever tempted to backslide into bad habits. Never easy, never a gift - always work.

Thoughts to take with me today: I value my sanity more and more!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Make me an instrument of Your peace..

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 

I've been reciting this prayer for a while now - in my morning meditation and in the evening. Praying it, and truly thinking about what it says and what it means.

It really directs the attention away from one's self to others - to looking at my own problems and trusting that they will be taken care of, and actively searching to how I can relieve the burdens of those around me. 

What a challenge this is! I must put aside my needs and have faith that they will be met somehow, someway, and instead look at acquaintances, friends, and family to give them love, comfort, consolation, and joy.

I remember reading a yoga sutra about vows, and how you have to be seriously mean a vow because the MOMENT you make it, the vow will be challenged. And this prayer has already brought me a huge opportunity/challenge. This is something I may write about later as I see if it comes to fruition, but leave it at this - this opportunity would go to my love of teaching literacy. No money attached to it, but service? Yes, there is a rich service and all the rewards that come from telling myself that someone else is more vulnerable, more important, and deserving of attention.

These past 10 months have brought remarkable changes and not just physical. There have been ups and downs in my heart and head as I've traveled an emotional and spiritual path to peace.

Maybe it's time to use those new found emotional and spiritual muscles to do some good. 
Maybe it's time for the spotlight to be on someone else. 
Maybe, just maybe, it's time for me to move out of the center and be happy to let someone else grow, learn, and thrive.


So if you are a praying person or a sending out good thoughts person, I'd appreciate either as I watch this opportunity unfold. I'm not expecting anything wonderful immediately, but I'm deeply touched that the possibility was even rolled my way. 

No matter what, I choose joy and all the good that comes with it.

Thoughts to take with me today: Opportunities come from unusual places. Listen with your heart.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I got my world seriously rocked....seriously

Yeah, that was sorta the opposite of fun.

Last Thursday, I go into personal training. Now, let's establish up front, I LOVE personal training, and I really like my trainer. She's taken me a pretty long way and there is a good foundation of trust. Secondly, from time to time I have mentioned that I thought doing some cardio kick boxing would be fun.

No, not so much, not so much at all.

We start with some simple instructions -- jab, cross, hook, upper cut - nothing fancy. Immediately, I sense this is gonna be bad. I can't keep up with the movements, I'm confusing jab for cross, hook for upper cut, and my head is swimming with all the fast movement.

Then we switch to legs - of course I'm nursing yet more injuries - both knees, a hamstring, both shoulders - and everything hurts. And these movements are all catching the worst areas.

Then  I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

Immediately, I'm transported back a year or more to where I refused to look in the mirror because what I saw there didn't match what I thought I looked like.  It literally took her 6 months to get me to even glance at the mirror to check the alignment of my shoulders.

This is bad, really bad.

I look awkward, clumsy, ugly, fat, and stupid.








Seriously, I stopped and looked at her and was on the verge of tears. She was really confused.

"Is there anyone in here judging you?"
"Yeah, me.."
"Because I suck so much at this and I thought I wouldn't."
"You need to learn some humility. You are good at yoga, but you didn't start that way. You can't expect to be good at something right away. It takes time. Besides, you don't really look as bad as you think you do. Stop judging, stop thinking, just do, be in the moment. Where is your head? Be right here."

So easy for you to say. Me? I feel like I've just lost a year's worth of emotional progress in the space of 30 minutes.

We finish with some core work, which allows me to collect myself, and she leaves me to my 'bitchiness' to stretch. Good call, as she is barely out of the door before I'm just done, completely miserable.

Now I have a bit of space and I want to think about what actually happened in that room and what do I learn from it?

So what did happen?

I was pushed completely out of my comfort zone
I've been working too hard, too often, and my body is finally rebelling with multiple injuries, and quite frankly, I hurt all over in places I shouldn't.
I got complacent and in the complacency, I got prideful
I forgot to respect the progress.

Pretty simple actually. And a really good lesson. It's all a progress, it's all a journey, it's all 'one step, one day at a time.'

And although it feels at some level I am giving up, the 'two-a-day' workouts have ended. For at least now. My body needs a rest, a serious reprieve from the constant pounding, a restorative period with more meditation, more yoga, more writing, more breathing, more being.

I've cut back to the bare bones basic cardio and one personal training session a week. And yoga, of course :)  Always yoga.

Let the body heal, think more about the journey, reflect more about what there is still to do, think more about others and less about me.

Then try that cardio kick boxing again, but this time with a gentler and kinder spirit - towards myself - and smile.

Thoughts to take with me today: It's good to look at a mirror, especially if it goes to the soul.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I hope

May my mind come alive today
to the invisible geography
that invites me to new frontiers
to break the dead shell of yesterdays
to risk being disturbed and changed

May I have the courage today
to live the life I would love
to postpone my dream no longer
but do at last what I came here for
and waste my heart on fear no more

John O'Donohue


can i second a line?

....and waste my heart on fear no more...

How many times have I said, 

"When I lose weight, I will _______."
"I can't do____________, I weigh too much."
"What will people think of me if I ___________?"

No more, just no more.

I CHOOSE to be disturbed...
I CHOOSE to shake off old habits
I CHOOSE to take a chance
I CHOOSE to be who I am supposed to be
I CHOOSE to choose joy and all the good that comes with it.

And therefore....

I CHOOSE to start Yoga Teacher Training  (YTT) this fall. 

I REFUSE to put off any more experiences because I'm not thin enough, or pretty enough, or good enough, or any other descriptors I think others could think. No, just no... done with all of that.

Will I be the most flexible, the best prepared, the top of the class? I hope not. I hope I'm at the very bottom. I hope I have 20 or more people to look up to and to see where I can be one day. I hope I walk out of every class with my head spinning with all that I've been exposed to from both the instructor and the other students. Good... I hope I learn humilty along with yoga and never forget from where I came. I will be stronger in the long run for it.

Most of all....

I hope that I never, ever forget the feeling of deep awe I have right now that some mysterious line has been crossed.
I hope that when I do teach I see the possiblities in every student. 
I hope that one day I am able to give back the grace and love I've been so freely given
I hope that my spirit will continue to grow and expand and allow me to take in even more
I hope I never stop learning and never ever think "I've arrived." 

I hope......

Thoughts to take with me today: Namaste