New Space/New Opportunities

Life is always fascinating in the way it works. I have had to just trust the universe on the very way I pay for my life as meager as it is. A few months ago the building that I have worked in for nearly 15 years was put on the market. The building has been sold twice since I moved into it and I have had no issue. This time, I have this gut feeling. The neighborhood has drastically changed, the building is in poor repair and it wasn’t that great to begin with. But it has been just what I needed over the years of serving on state and national boards and keeping my practice going full tilt. My office is my sanctuary and my storage unit my home away from home. This time I know that it will be bought, it will be razed and it will become some lovely condos. It is what is right to be there now. It is time for the landscape to change and the block to be complete. It is time for me to move on.

I felt very ambivalent about it all from the start of looking 4 months ago. I knew that something would land and it would be just the right thing for me. I stayed open to all possibilities and yes, I even did have days of slight panic as I would look at the calendar and think, hmmmm, the management company hasn’t offered me any new lease, or space. Sometimes my heart would sink when I would search out a place only to go… yeah, no! It was Goldilocks and the three bears over and over again, too dark, too big, too small, too far north, too in the next state over…

Even when I first looked at this building I will now be moving into, the space I saw was too big. One thing was different however, the owners, lovely amazing women, sisters even. They took an interest in me, and in my work, and in what it could become. They read my website, my blogs and they still wanted me to be in their building. I am sure they will read this too so Hi Gals! They were able to work some magic, and within a week I was looking at another space in their building and this one was “Just Right”. Of course, I didn’t realize that at first as my long time suitemate was not able to come along and share the space with me, leaving me with higher rent and once again too much space. So, I will admit it, I freaked again. There it is was, the perfect space for me, but what was I going to do with all that extra room?

Bring in the clowns, or just that crazy group of people I call friends.

I realized that I could use this space to do the things I wanted to do, long before I started working to advance my profession through service on a state and national level. When I named my company I purposefully named it Asian Healing Arts Associates. I wanted to help many people both from the practitioners side and the public need side. At one time I foresaw actually running a big clinic, I got smarter with age and watching others and that is not what I want now.  Until this point in my career the word Associates has never been fulfilled, however, the basic wish to offer more is still there. I always wanted to offer classes and free clinics for not only for the alternative healthcare community but also the greater public at large. I wanted other practitioners in the Healing Arts to have a place to teach and work. It really sunk into my thick skull when thinking out loud to a long time client of mine about how to bring this about it dawned on me that she was always looking for space to put on Lamaze and Parenting classes. I give her credit for not smacking me upside the head but I guess I did that enough as we both laughed over my momentary brain death.

Then I started to think about all the people I knew that just needed a space to grow and release onto the world their own form of teachings. Within 24 hours I have already started the dialog with quite a few people about the future possibilities that this space lends to us. I have come up with a conducive layout of the space, and an estimate of the time and objects I will need to pull this off. I have negotiated, if that is what you want to call it, the lease and terms and know what I have to do in the next few days to make that work. All of this has happened so fast and easy. Great changes in my life have always been fast and fall into place whether I allow myself to stress out over them or not. I am glad that this time I did not allow the stress to take over too much and the flow has been outstanding. Overall I am more shocked than stressed and happy to know what direction my life and work will be taking next. Everything I could have possibly asked for in this transition has happened just as easily as it could thanks to two really cool ladies who I will now do my best to get a yoga teacher for.

I am nervous striking out on my own so to speak, but I know that I will never really be on my own, I will always have a strong group of loving friends and colleagues around me. I dread packing up my office and clearing out over a decade of stuff that has been stored there. I will obsess about every little detail that is required to move a business for the next four weeks. I will leave the details of a wall, door and I am sure some paint up to some competent person who is not me. I will use my dumpster to it’s fullest ability as I purge unneeded stuff. I will need boxes! There is so much to do, not to mentions websites for finish for people and updating my own, a music camp that needs applications up and ready by the end of the year and…. Oh yeah, my client load. I need to schedule a massage for myself! So, if you stop by, bring boxes. I have a move to plan and an open house in the new place to attend in the new year!

Letting go and loosing it

An amazing friend of mine once pointed out that you cannot let the fat go until you get the demons in your mind settled down. They must be on board with this venture too, as they are the reason you gained weight. I couldn’t agree more. My whole life I have thought I was fat and ugly. I am a Midwest farm girl, who can still lift hay bales even pushing 50 years of age.  I have no plans of slowing down. I am too poor to retire so my goal is to just keep going until I fall over, like my ancestors did.  This wicked thought of fat and ugly has been in my head for as long as I can remember. Looking back at old photos now I think holy shit! I wish I had the body now….how did I hate it so much back then? This way of thinking was further drilled in by living with actors and dancers in college and then moving to metropolitan cities were everything was more refined…

This morning, as I lay on my yoga mat taking in the heat of the Bikram studio before the class started, I lifted up my arms and looked at them. I have done this many times, but today I really looked at them. They are half the arms they use to be. Not length wise silly, circumference-ly speaking. When did this happen??? I found myself wondering. I am and always will be that farm girl with big bones and thick muscles one cannot overcome genetics. I will never be a ‘spinner’ size 2 with plastic tits, to match the billboards and the bikini commercialization of life we are forced to see every day. But I don’t have to be fat. OH, those demons just screamed….

Over more than 10 years and tenure, I put on a lot of weight under the stress of that job. I had no outlet: my personal life was not what it needed to be; I let myself get stresses out; –at one point my blood pressure was so high even the BP machine went “OMG!”

Change had to happen, I felt dead already inside, but I was not ready to give up. I made my choices as hard as they were. I stood up to those demons in my head and said “hey! You guys shut up already” and decided to make myself back into the person I knew I was. So I bounced around a bit from gym to gym and routines until I found what worked for me. That I would have never guessed would be Bikram Yoga, or as I called it for the first year, my daily 90 minutes in hell.

First I just wanted to see if I could actually sweat, within five days the flood gate was opened, I not only sweated but everything else started coming out of me. I must have been hell to live with and be around. Within a year I let go of a lot. My job, my position within the national stage of my career, my life, everything was dumped out on the table. Eventually I got up and walked away from everything. At one breakdown point a friend even offered to buy me a new lemon tree after admonishing me for not be a very good Buddhist, I realized then that it was one of those things I would just have to let go of.   Letting go sucks some times.

It has been five years from that starting point. The landscape is entirely different now.  I lost close to 70lbs in those first three years, and have maintained that more or less.   I was wearing pants with a 46inch waist and I wasn’t just sporting a ‘Muffin Top’ it was a damned “Brioche Top”. Worked that bitch off!  Ten inches so far, now I’m in a 35inch waist band with no major fluffy overhang, but there is more that needs to be let go. I have that last 30lbs to go…. I am saying 20-30 just to make it easier on those demons (cause they are still there).  This has been hanging around me for the last 2 years and it just doesn’t seem to want to budge. So, what am I holding on to?

Fear:

  • That I can’t do it
  • That I will still think I am fat and ugly anyways
  • That I will go too far
  • That I will lose my strength
  • That people will look at me
  • That I will hurt myself doing this
  • That the demons will scream too loud and everyone will hear them
  • That others will still think I am fat and ugly
  • That I will be …sexy

I am sure that there are a thousand other reasons. But it is time.

A few months ago I started in earnest again. Time was gained from completing my (I don’t know what number) master’s program (like I needed another piece of paper on my wall) and the yoga studio I love reinstated its 6am classes, which was a real key event. So I have started back in class at a much more reasonable rate of 3 to 4 times a week.  The strength is starting to come back; the flexibility has a way to go especially from a back injury two years ago. In fact, I am starting to feel like I am able to participate as well, if not better in class now than I was doing when I had to stop and take those 18 months off. I am at least starting to sweat again and let go. It feels good, yet not good enough. Bikram is the ‘anti-yoga’ of yoga forms as far I can tell, and the last part of the form is aerobic with all the quick position changes however I still felt like I need more movement. I have been walking at the gym and outside however now I can go without huffing too long, at too fast of pace, that the next notch up would be a full out run for me… and poohs don’t run! If you EVER see me running, just get a gun and shot whatever is chasing me! Please!!! as it is most likely a woozle.

Enter the new challenge: The home that I am now privileged to keep has a new machine… a rowing machine. After staring at it for weeks, poking it, sneering at it, complaining about it, I finally got on it. Unlike my past experience with a NordicTrack machine, I did not end up upside down and tied up in it for hours waiting for roomies to get home and free me.   It was actually intuitive, or maybe it was all the rowing across cow ponds when I was younger. This last week I have played around with it a few times, noticed some problems that created questions, found a friend who rows to come give me a lesson and now have started to add in the rowing on the days I don’t have yoga. It seems like a good complement plus I have this tablet thing, so maybe I can catch up on some of that TV show stuff people seem determined to talk to me about.  I did this once both on the same day…bad idea, unless you like having legs you have to pick up with your arms to move.

So from today forward, demons be damned I am letting go! Anyone who wants to buy me a pair of Levi’s 501’s 34/32 for Christmas go right ahead because this pair will be falling off me by then. I might even get my waist to equal my inseam soon.

See you thirty pounds from now.

 

Premeditative Murder

Today I committed Murder. No cold blooded killing, his was rather warm. Perhaps if mine had been colder it would have been easier. It was fully premeditated, I have been thinking about it and planning for it for well over a year, and actually committed to doing the killing in January. Everyone including myself thought I would come out of it before this fine first Saturday in April but I gathered the knives and went through with it.

He was gorgeous, that didn’t help, the beautifulness made it much more difficult. The fact that I held him in my arms and cuddled him for at least 10 minutes didn’t help either. I apologized profusely. I had to be shown how to handle the knife, how to even hold it, not use to cutting towards my hand it made no sense to me bring up fear of not only killing this poor boy but also hurting my livelihood, my fingers.

I cried, but I knew I had no choice, he was mine now, I could not take him home, and he had to die. First the knife got stuck in his bountiful plumage, next it rolled on the feather shafts, push harder I heard. Then her arm went around me and helped guide my hand that was shaking, ‘it is what he was born for’.

Pressure came I could feel the crunch of ligaments and tissue the squirm of the roster beneath my arm. Then the blood started to flow. I could not see it at first, I had to ask if he was bleeding. Then I saw the puddle, he shifted again and calmed as the blood drained from his body he slipped blissfully into the next realm. The confusion he felt, I felt. The fear he felt, I felt. The relaxation he felt, I felt. Then there was the coldness, the hollowness, the emptiness.

The rest was fairly easy going, having a good grasp of anatomy helps I guess in more than just medicine.  He was the smallest of the ones which made it difficult but I got the idea. Before I knew it he was bagged up and ready to go. I cried again for him on the drive home as he sat in the cooler behind my seat. When I got home, I scurried my chicks into their coop knowing that sometime in the future, their fate would be the same as the boy in the cooler. Then I did what I know from the movies every killer does, I cracked open a cold yummy beer, this one a 2013 vintage dark ale  from TJ’s, guess I will have to get another and put it in the cellar for the next time.

How did I get here? A quiet, somewhat meek, vegetarian for half of my nearly 50 years and vegan for about 6 of those years. There would have been a time in my life in my 20’s when this would never have been possible. While I would not have written the type of threatening letters and such that I know this farm owner/teacher has received and continues to receive…I would have simply not done what I did today. I grew up in farm country Wisconsin I knew and ate plenty of animals as a youth. My uncle was a high up person in a famous meat packing company, my father a scientist who at one point checked out cheese operations as part of his job. We got fresh eggs, milk and meat from literally (and yes, I am using that word correctly!) the guy next door.

My vegetarianism was my choice, I was never one of the militant types when it came to animal rights. Sure, I do dog rescue, but I also understand that as a human we are on the top of the food chain, not to mention that my dogs eat meat too. We humans are there however with consciousness; we have choices to make. Sometimes your body needs animal proteins and that is why animals are breed and raised for us to eat. But think about it: Was the pig you are eating ‘grown’ or ‘raised’? Did the hen really see the light of day before it was put on a truck to the automated processing plant? Did the cow whose muscle was just your steak eat grass or corn?  The HOW is what we NEED to look at now.

When I started eating meat again, I did it very much with the animal in mind, and today was part of that. I realized I could not quite reconcile my need for meat if I could not actually procure it, and by that I do mean kill it.  Now I know I can. Will I again in the future? Maybe. My beautiful rooster is in the crock pot now and actually smelling pretty darn good. Not many people can say that they killed, gutted and made their dinner. Next, will be adding the word raised to the beginning of that list.

It is the cycle of life, the world is fed on the back of the chicken. The trend of boneless, skinless chicken is appalling, besides the fact that you are losing all of the flavor of the bird, you are even more distancing yourself from the organic process of life and death. Death of a chicken is not that pretty, I can tell you that first hand from my life experience now, however death is a part of life. That boy had three strong hands and a lot of thankfulness and love as it passed on in order to make it into my pot tonight. I will be most thankful to its’ sprite when I eat him as his death helps feed me and give me life. I will never have another chicken sandwich without thinking of today, becoming a murderer changes you.

My choices have been to learn some level of self-sufficiency, now I have some chickens, their eggs will make lovely brownies and cakes, and eventually they themselves will become soup. I have gardens filled with everything I can grow, I have a small orchard and berry patches. I will continue to buy things from farmers I know, have a relationship with and respect. This is choice, living life consciously. Knowing that I cannot grow all that my friends and family need to survive on. I choose to live and eat food that is locally grown, organic as possible, and meat that is lovingly raised, humanely and consciously slaughtered for my consumption. Before today, I was not sure that I could kill anything that was not a mercy killing or a bug, but I can, and in some strange way I feel stronger and more okay with the fact of eating meat again. I felt that if I could not go through with this, how could I ever eat it again without beating myself up over the dichotomy? I remember hearing this ‘if you can’t kill it, you shouldn’t eat it’ type of talk from my vegan friends, well, I can so I will now move forward in that peace that my rooster had as he slipped to the next world to feed me tonight. And yes, I am still going to cry a bit more.

 

 

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes

Like this website we all go through changes. The only thing that is constant is change. Something as simple as this new approach to blogging and having that blog on a new website. I know that I love learning new things, but that it takes time and I will miss some older options. Change in our lives will not change. What can change is how we deal with the changes that are thrust upon us, or that we choose to take on.

How many of us wake up in the morning thinking ‘I am just going to flow with what the day brings me.’ Not many although I do try. Usually it is more along the lines of ‘What do I need to do today?’ The hurried list and a cup of coffee as we drop our keys on the way out the door.

So tell me what you think about the new look – I am still tweaking it a lot!!!!

I plan to blog a lot more, as my life changes and I learn more about the plants around us that can help us heal and my practice grows in new ways. I will also be reaching out to old friends learning to refine some past work like the Sooji workshop I took last week. I see that it might be the means to the end goal of finally setting up a limited donation based clinic. Sooji is quick, and to the point, literally, and could be done at a very low cost to me and you.

Thanks to many changes in my like over the past two years, the help of really good friends, and my partner who is an incredible Peruvian shaman(she would laugh at me for using that word but there is no other) I am hitting a very creative high right now and I hope to keep that going for quit a span now.

I will soon start really researching and putting together my paper/thesis for my herbal studies program. I have a little over another year of classes and my topic and rough outline were approved recently: Herbs for Dying, Death, and Transformation. Or as I have it listed in my dropbox: 50 ways to kill your lover, so that the NSA has something interesting to read. 😉  This is something I can see evolving into a book. A really useful one at that, as Americans have … a morbid fear… when it comes to talking about end of life care. We have lost our traditions and our understanding of what happens when we pass on and how to facilitate that. As we grow and our so called ‘greatest generation’ of baby-boomers is starting to leave this dimension I feel this is very needed and timely information.

So change is not all that bad – I rather like it. At least after the struggle with it is over 🙂 Smile and go with the flow who knows where you will end up.

pooh

My Bikram Yoga Journy at 2.5 years of practice

Doing a Bikram Yoga class for me after two and a half years of steady practice, is not any easier than the very first day. Different things are now harder, that first day it was just dealing with the heat in the room. That first month I was just trying to figure out how to move my body. Now there is a whole pantheon of minor details not to mention riding the edge of a panic attack through the entire class.

When I started I was on heavy beta blockers to control my stress level, blood pressure and the panic attacks it caused or that caused it… hard to say. Things seemed under control at that time. I could be a rock star in yoga class, I could laugh at it, and myself without trying. In the last year, I have been coming off of the meds, now I only take them when absolutely necessary. My blood pressure is down to a reasonable level and I have only had a two uncontrollable episodes of sheer terror that is a panic attack within the last year.

Class has helped me learn to control them believe it or not. I feel as if 75% of the time I am 30 seconds away from a full blown panic attack while I am in class, the other 25% it is looming less than 10 seconds away. I have learned what to do during that upper 25%, I stop and breath first and foremost. If I need to, I kneel down. I have a textured mat, that helps a lot, i put my fingers into the holes of the mat and focus on the feelings under their tips. Once I have traced my fingers over the pattern a few times it calms me down and I can get back into the class. I have learned to look only at my mat during these times, as looking at the irregular bricks in the wall, the crumpled towels of those next to me, or the rack of disheveled extra mats makes my OCD crazy and that just compiles into the pending panic as I can not run over there and straighten the mats.

Injuries have also plagued me this last 6 months. I knew as I got more in shape, and my body shifted with the loss of weight the body would go through some ‘reorganization’ as Bikram calls it. Even though I never weighed over 230, and am now down to about 160 I still see a 300 pound woman in the mirror looking back at me. I know that it is not true but in my minds eye it sadly is and I beat myself up for it. This year so far there have been three broken toes, and elbow strain and a spinal twist with a bulging disc that have taken me back a step or two in strength and flexibility. Rehabbing injuries in Bikram is tough as you want to keep up with the class, you have the demanding dialog in your head and one’s own personal ego doesn’t help at all. All of this contributes to that 25% of the class being less then 10 seconds from a panic attack.

I have no idea why, but something in me keeps propelling me forward. I get up, I go to class. I hate it – I love it. It is the only thing that has ever worked for me. On days that I can be nice to me, I notice that there is a start to definition in my arms. I feel Ab muscles in my tummy when I lay on the floor and feel hip bones. I might even think I see ribs from time to time. Keeping up my self loathing of my body has now had to take another step. I now wear just a jogging bra type top and shorts so i can more readily see my fat self in the mirror. I even went to longer shorts/pants to not be able to see the lack of rolls in my thighs as they are disappearing. Maybe I do these things to keep myself motivated to keep going, or maybe I am just a sick fuck, I can not tell.

To class I go, I do my yoga. What I can on that day. I block out the instructor when necessary, (sorry N &J) I breath, I cry, I fight my way through each class. Right now, 2.5 years into it – it sucks. I know it is worth it, I know I am getting healthier both mentally and physically. I know as I strengthen class will get better again and I will feel more of a desire to go then a need to go.