Time for Self Care

Yes it is finally time for me to have some self-care.  The class I am taking this weekend is all about self-care and I don’t feel a bit selfish about it.  Of course it does help that there are CEU’s attached to it, and it is the starting point for the next series of instruction that I have been planning on studying; Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy. For me however, there is something about camping out at a cheap hotel and taking a class in a larger city that has really good food from different countries. Yes, it is all about the food. I had Lebanese food for lunch; Lamb Kabobs, with the best spinach I have tasted in a long time.  I get really bored with the food in our little town, I keep hoping that we just get a flood of Asians moving in and opening restaurants.  Whenever I go away for any length of time, I try to see how many meals I can have.  That is sad, and I also know that I will be working it off for the next month. Good thing a new set of Yoga Classes will be starting soon not to mention the QiGong and Kungfu.

I have overworked myself since moving the office and getting the FlexSpace off the ground.  The Open House was a great success and our first Death Cafe was an incredible discussion which also informed me that my hero Caitlin Doughty was speaking in town last week, I managed to fit that into my schedule too.  I scheduled this class and then thought what am I doing, I must be crazy? I did right. This is just what I needed. Low key, working on only ourselves, lots of anatomy and stuff I already know so no brain bender there. I can drink my tea and contemplate my navel-literally! This class is all about abdominal work. Plus, I get worked on by one of the instructor’s tomorrow morning. Why can’t all classes I take be like this?

I am now hopefully stepping back on the difficult work and working on the things that I like to do. I am happy to help my friends old and new cultivate their ideal classes.  I hope to start bringing in other teachers for things like this that I am attending this weekend, because the FlexSpace is larger than this space and if they can do it, so can I.

Another hopefully fun thing, and certainly no stress, will be starting up this next Friday morning. Tea with Me!  Yes, I am there, in the office having tea. If you want some tea, just want to ask a quick question. Want to actually see the being that writes this stuff.  Just want to see the FlexSpace to see if it might be useful for something you are dreaming to do. Or want to share a favorite story, or a joke stop on by anytime from 9am until I kick you out so I can work on my first client at 10.  Come have a cup.

Hotel with free wifi –oh yeah – okay so I am doing some work as I sit here with my belly full of good food, after a good massage, drinking good tea. But nothing mind boggling or strenuous, more like catching up on some things and tidying up some loose ends without the puppy coming up to me and slobbering all over my keyboard. No birds telling me what they want me to be doing, no dust bunnies letting me know that I should be vacuuming. Just the hum of the way overused and entirely too old air conditioner (and it is February) to keep me company. Time for creative thought and action. I don’t get enough creative time these days, and boy do I need it.

Having the time to relax and be creative is one of the best things that I can give myself for self-care.  I prefer to write in the mountains but any room to myself will work, as long as the tea kettle is here.  Did you know that is some countries menstruating women take time away from responsibilities to enjoy creative endeavors? I learned that today in class. I think we all need a break from life every now and again to just do something creative.  Something that gives joy to you.  If you cannot find the joy in your own life, it is really difficult to be joyful with others.  Once you have joy it is natural to want to spread it around.  Joy that is spread around, seems like an awfully good idea to me.

Play games, walk in the park, rent a canoe and paddle around, make music. Paint, read, write, sew, or plant something. There are so many things that are creative or can be creatively done that it seems like endless possibilities.  Bring joy into your life, give that gift to yourself.  You will not regret it.

Sleep is also important, and some of that I need to get right now. I hope you do something for yourself this weekend, something that lets you know that you care for you. Lunch tomorrow will be with one of my dearest oldest NC friend, we have the same tastes so it should be good, I can’t wait.

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.