A Glimpse of Zen, or, How My Mind Works During Yoga

this is going to be amazing, it’s been far too long since I’ve been one with myself, ahhhhhh

when WAS the last time I went to a yoga class?

should I have gone pee one more time?

why do I have to pee so much? maybe I should get that checked out? maybe I should make an appointment for the doctor? Oh, I need to make an appointment with the dentist too. Where’s my phone to make a note to remind myself… dammit. not here.

apparently it’s grade 5 in here. strawberry scented lip gloss. really?? nice to meet you mat neighbour. *slowly slides mat over, away from offending smell*

I’m going to leave my hair unbound and feel the freedom.

freedom of hair equals hair in nose and mouth and eyes. hair tie in. hair freedom is overrated.

how can just sitting and breathing be so uncomfortable – and so annoying.

yes, finally, time to get moving!

I can totally get into that pose. used to do it all the time. loved it. and…. nope.

oh, this one, yes, this one is soooo good. and….nope.

Bend, reach, turn, look and – oh you have got to be f*&%ing kidding me. only if you want to hear that work out loud and not censored. nope.

child’s pose is for quitters. I can hold downward dog for 8 breaths. yup. and… child’s pose it is.

have my knees always been this fat?

jump into forward bend, yes! ….or not. walking there is good too though.

I love the colour of this tank top. wait, when did my body turn into the michelin man. I am never wearing this top again. as a matter of fact, when did my body start to look like THIS? ok, do not look in the mirror. ever. it adds 25 pounds and 10 years apparently. 

fold forward, how freaking far away is the floor???

there are my feet, finally. I need a pedicure. badly.

I need to shave my legs. badly.

oh, sweetie is coming for the weekend. yes, legs need to be shaved.

grins…. ok, stop that train of thought. ahem, back to yoga.

yoga helps with flexibility… grins….STOP that train of thought!

how is it that I can only successfully grow a maximum of 3 nails on each hand at any given time? It’s like the universe has some sort of rule for my fingernails.

dammit I forgot to make a nail appointment. need to remember that when I get back to the office

did I log off my computer when I left? did I logout of facebook? what if I die here and someone has to go into my computer? hmmmm. is it just burnt toast when you’re having a stroke? or is it other smells? maybe that wasn’t her lip gloss,. maybe it was a stroke and I was smelling strawberries. Am I too young for a stroke? no… young people have strokes too. would I know if I was? maybe that pain in my shoulder isn’t the joint, maybe it’s warning sign of a heart attack???

shut up brain, you’re fine. breath. it’s yoga and zen time!

how long is an hour!!! isn’t this over yet?

I liked it better when I taught the Yoga classes. that way I got to do all the poses I liked…

finally, we’re laying down.

must. move. hair. tie. ouch.



not zen

how can I relax when I’m on a thin mat on a concrete floor with fans going??? no, I don’t feel the peaceful energy of the universe. I’m shivering and need to pee. again.

and done.

I should do this every week. or never again. either way.



It’s ok, there’s a pill for that

Do you ever wonder “how did we get here – and how do we think it’s ok?!”.
Watching the morning news at the gym and it occurs to me that the round of commercials that I’ve just been subjected were all indicative of just how twisted our “normal” society has become.

Now, if something here offends you, I’m sorry that you’ve been offended. Not that I’m sorry I’m saying this, but that it doesn’t sit right for you. The truth hurts sometimes and my experience as a personal trainer and lifestyle consultant over the years has shown me that people will put a lot of passion and energy into defending their right to be unhealthy and make poor choices for their goals. Enough about that for now though…

Here’s what my two-minute commercial break showed me…

So… The ads on the news break consisted of Cialis (erectile dysfunction), Stressless.com (an online forum board, “counselling” options, product sales for items to help ease your stressful life etc), an ad for a new depression medication (with enough side effects to make depression sound pretty good actually compared to what the pills can do to you), adult incontinence pads, a new diabetes meter that gives you a light indicator as well as the number of your blood sugar (green is good, red is bad). And lastly, an ad for a sleep apnea clinic and nightly mask.
All this in two minutes or so. Enough time and enough input to make any person realize that what is being served on a platter to the general public is the portrayal of our society as one that is impotent, stressed, depressed, incontinent and diabetic. Nice snapshot…and not an inaccurate one sadly.
Something else that struck me is the actor portrayals in these ads. Every one of them showed the intended subject as an average mid-age looking person. The man needing cialis was probably around 40. Healthy and fit looking, active in the commercial and with what looks like a loving, romantic relationship (certainly made more so by erections on demand). The incontinent women were almost all under 50ish and disturbingly happy about wearing pads to pee in because “pee happens!”. The diabetic was a mother of young children with no noticeable weight issues (she did mention she was adult o nset type)… so “normal” looking.
What does this say? It says that normal is dysfunctional…and it’s ok. There’s a pill for that, there’s a gimmick to help with that. You aren’t shown a realistic version of who these items are for. That would maybe make you feel bad.
Now, granted, there are people who – through no actions of their own doing – have issues that need to be managed. Diabetes that is Type 1 is a horrible disease that can’t be cured and it’s a blessing that medicine has made the gains needed to mostly manage it. Depression and other forms of mental illness are a serious issue that, many times, needs medication to keep the person safe and help them get better. The impact of stress on our lives can be devastating and that is something that, sometimes, we have no control over. Bodies go through physical changes caused by age or occurrences that result in issues that need to be dealt with. All true.
But… and here’s what bothers me… these ads give the message – quietly – that it’s not your fault. See, it seems to say, healthy, fit, active people have all these problems so it’s not your fault that you have them too. What they don’t show is the reality that most of these issues are a result of people making poor choices and choosing to do the easy option. It’s so much easier to take a pill and give yourself injections and watch your blood pressure climb (it’s ok, there’s another pill for that too) rather than to change your eating habits and get off the couch and away from your desk for walks. Why start being more active and take personal responsibility for your health when you can just be lazy and indulge yourself in bad habits and then settle for a life lived less than what it could have been. Can you have a great life while living with limitations? Yes, absolutely. But can you have more options and more avenues open to how you experience this life and what you get to do if you are healthier and not dependant on medications and sleep masks and everything else that keeps you tethered? Yes, absolutely!
I’ve seen enough people who have become free and clear of years-long issues they thought they would never be rid of simply by working to lose weight and get more active and change their eating habits to know that a lot of times – that’s all it takes. Chronic snoring (even apnea) can greatly lessen or even disappear when weight is lost and blood pressure is back to normal. Pre-diabetic test results can turn around with diet and exercise changes. Incontinence can, many times, be “cured” by pelvic floor exercises. The options are there.
It’s hard work to push yourself when you don’t really want to. A fast food meal from the drive through is easier than making something at home. A couple of chocolate cupcakes might be more appealing than yogurt and fruit for snack time. Sadly, our culture has decided that it’s better to pander to the masses that want a way to manage the consequences of their own inaction or poor choices than it is to enable people to make changes.

That what I saw in my two-minute commercial break.

Now back to your regularly programmed life. Try to not settle for less than it can be.

Finally moving day, aka, day three of three, new this time around

I’m a person who holds firm to the belief to not drag out something that’s stressful or difficult to get through. Rip that bandage off quickly, power through and just get it done, it’s better to do it and get it done than to drag it out. Yet right now, I’m trying something different.

It’s moving weekend for me. I say weekend instead of day because I’m doing this move a little more flexible-like and spread out. Taking the time to take advantage of a two week overlap of places. Moving in the little stuff, the fragile and awkward things this past weekend.. the big, actual move in date being today. It’s a new experience for me, being able to embrace the fact that I can do it the easy way. It’s not in my nature but I’m trying to expand my horizons in a healthier way. So, instead of the usual “I am going to do everything in one day and exhaust myself and hurt myself”. this move is more drawn out, and a slower pace.

My usual way to do this would have been to still do it all in one day, even with the overlap. A truckload, followed by numerous car trips with the pictures, the plants, the awkward things that don’t do well in the big moving truck; the fridge and freezer stuff; the last minute bathroom and kitchen things; a race to get the truck rental back on time and having to leave all those “little things” to get that done; fast food that leaves you feeling even worse than hungry… a day that would begin before the sun came up and end falling into bed late that night, exhausted and sore with a mind full of things to do as soon as I jump out of bed the next morning.

When I contemplated using to my advantage the fact that I don’t “need” to be out in one day, my initial thoughts were “no way”. Today, in the wee hours of the final moving day for me, it strikes me though that this has been good. Yes, it’s drawn it out. However, as I look around my soon-to-be old place and it is all simple furniture and boxes with none of the “little things” that seem to be the cause of most move day exhaustion and just-want-to-be-done-but-we-aren’t-yet feelings. True, it’ll still be a long and hard day but it won’t be as stressful. Hell, I even have time to write a blog post!

Not bad, it only took me 20 plus years and more than a dozen moves of my own planning before I figured this out. Better late than never. 🙂

2015 Won’t do’s

Day one, blank page

It’s a start of a new year and with that comes all of the resolutions and goal making. I’ve always hated resolutions. There’s nothing quite like making the same ones year after to year to make you feel great about yourself and your accomplishments, is there?

Yet, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for the build up and the sense of renewal and the chance for a fresh start and the inspiration that comes along with it all. Add to that the fact that I am an unapologetic lover of lists and charts and spreadsheets… I have the perfect storm for New Years goal setting…sigh. So, in the interest of feeding that need *and* feeling like I’m not just sitting down to make another list of things that I’m “absolutelygoingtodobutwillonlykeepupforatbesttwoweeks”; here is my anti-list of resolutions.

Things that I won’t do in 2015

I will stop reinforcing beliefs of myself that are wrong. plain and simple. using the words that give more power to internal beliefs that need to stop, needs to stop. “I can’t” are two words that carry a lot of weight and I have let them creep into my internal vocabulary far too often.
I will stop putting my desires on the back burner. the years tick by and with every one that does, the time left to achieve what I want to grows shorter. It’s time to remember to put what I want to do back on my priority list.
I will stop forgetting that I am the crafter of my life. I very often tend to let it slip that every choice I make is a choice. If I am tired of something or fed up, I need to remember that I’m the one I take my problems to. And I’m the one to solve them.
I will stop accepting “good enough”. I deserve outstanding and amazing and wonderful in ALL aspects of my life. I only have this one (so far as I know), it’s time to stop accepting less than spectacular.
I will stop doing things that make me feel less than I know I am. I am my own worst saboteur. Time to stop that.

I have a list of the usual things that I want to achieve, and those are important as well, but not as much as these are to me.

Interestingly enough, NOT doing just a few things, will make my ability to DO the things I want to, that much more achievable. Trying to tick off the resolution list of things that I want to achieve won’t be possible if I keep doing these behaviours. Plain and simple. Somethings have to be not done to clear space to get other things done.

Blank page not so blank. Intentions set and feet are on the ground running.

Buckle up, baby

That feeling, that vague something that you just can’t put your finger on the pulse of. That sense that something just has to give…
At times, like running blind and deaf, careening about as I scramble for a hand-hold in the darkness. It’s my Self, treading water, knowing that I can’t keep afloat indefinitely.

The spark that has caught and flickered is there. A part of Me is quietly sitting and blowing on the ember… bringing to life the flame… that part of Me that is waiting, less and less patiently, for me to acknowledge what I already know but can’t quite grasp.

Almost cyclical in occurrence. A knowing that I’m not realizing what I need to. What I should be.The frustration building. Small and not-quite-enough changes made here and there. the venting of the pressure to release before critical and allow the day to day to go on.

All the while the fire burns steady; stoking the ever rising force that screams for change, for transformation, for authenticity and abundance.

The sense of anticipation, of seeking and searching. Not for an answer… I know I’m the one holding the light to see the path… Waiting for what? To have myself lift the light a little higher, to see a little clearer… to realize what I already know. I have the answer, I just need to know it.

There have been brief times of clarity. Times when my spirit sits content and I feel … found… by my Self. Times that have been a struggle to hold to after they pass. A mourning for those times overcomes me as “real life” slams back in. Only reinforcing that it’s those glimpses of authenticity that are “real life” … they aren’t an escape or a distraction, they are how it should be… known because of how my Self soars at those times.

The unease with how things are is growing and I can feel the urgency there as the knowledge that change is afoot gets stronger.

Time to retreat, look inside, chart a course, light the path brightly and buckle up for the ride. I’m a hell of a good navigator and an even better driver ;).

From not walking to running

Inside the mind of a committed (read: obsessed) exercise enthusiast, or, how I went from “I am not going to even walk today” to running 10km.

5am: Eyes closed still. Sleepy. Been awake since 4:30 when the cat jumped on my belly and woke up my need to pee. Can’t fall back asleep; the alarm is set for 5:30… I’m not getting up any earlier…. Run day today. Ugh.

5:15am (ish): The cat is onto me. She knows I’m awake but I’m pretending to be asleep and ignore her pleas for food. I can hear the rain outside. I’m tired. It’s clearly raining hard. Probably windy. Definitely cold. I’m tired. Really don’t want to run… but I should…

5 minutes later: I know… I’ll go to the gym and run on the treadmill. No rain, no wind, not chilly. *envisions banging head repeatedly on brick wall* I can’t do it. The treadmill is the hamster wheel of hell. I’d rather not run at all than run on a treadmill.

5 minutes later: Well now, there’s an idea. Not go for a run… I should take a rest day. I know, I know, this is my month of my self-imposed challenge of exercise every day, no days off. Buuuut…. rest days are important, just as important as anything else. That’s when your body heals and repairs itself so it can become stronger….. I know this stuff, I’m a personal trainer and Yoga teacher… yes, I’ll take a rest day.

5:30am (alarm finally goes off): Sigh, up and time to get ready for work. I’m glad I’m taking a rest day… it’ll be good for me. I’m not even going to go for a walk today. Nope, complete rest day. Restorative. Good.

6:00am: I’m going to head out for the 5km route. I’ll just do a walk/run and take it easy. Better than nothing and I’ll be glad when it’s done that I did it. Can’t take the guilt of being sedentary.

6:15am: dressed and ready to go just about. Another glance outside and switching to the slightly more water repellant jacket as it’s coming down like crazy out there. It’s ok though, just a 5km walk/run. Won’t be out there long.

6:30am: out the door and starting to run. A few blocks in and everything feels good. Maybe I’ll skip the intervals and just do a straight through run for the 5km.

…Approaching the turn off that will take me from the 5km loop route to the 7.5 km route…
If I can do the 5km, maybe I’ll do the longer run… I won’t run it though… I’ll walk/run interval it.

…At the approximate 2.5km point… Usually take a 30 or 60 second walk break here but hmmm, maybe I’ll skip this one. I’ll do King George Terrace hill then do a walk break… yeah, let’s see how hard I can push through the hill without a walk break first…
… Hill done and kicked ass on it. No point in a walk break now that it’s levelled off… and I’ve made it this far. Maybe I’ll do the full 7.5km without a walk… yeah… see how hard I can go today.

…approaching the turn point that is the halfway mark for the 7.5 km route… hmmm, I’m feeling good, great even. What if I didn’t turn here and instead I kept to the right and kept going for the 10km route? I don’t have to run all of it… I can walk/run interval it. Yeah

… ignores the turn and heads on, now committed to the 10km route.

… 5 minutes later… it would be stupid to walk NOW. I’ve made it this far and I still feel great! I can totally do this without walking! I’m not going to walk.

…Approaching the Marina which signals the last 2.5 km of the route. Almost there. I can definitely do this without walking… I wonder how my time is? My timer is at home so I won’t know till I get there…

… I feel so proud that I’ve done this without walking – it doesn’t matter what my time is. Just doing it without walk breaks is accomplishment enough.

… I bet if I just pushed a little harder I could finish in a better time than last time.

… Not that the time is important.

… Oh hell, who am I kidding…let’s see how hard I can push and how fast I can do this last couple of kilometers. Timing is everything.

*Arrives home, sweaty, soaked from the rain but feeling amazing*

And that’s how you go from snuggled in bed, swearing you are not even going for a walk to running one of the fastest 10km’s you’ve done in 10 years.

Life hurts, but it feels good too

The past…the experiences that we have had…things that have happened to us and actions that we have done… all are a part of who we are and what makes us the people we are.

I firmly believe that life should be lived like how you drive a car; eyes ahead at where you’re going with glances back every now and then and keeping a lookout for what’s edging up beside you too ;). You can’t go forward very well if all you’re doing is looking at where you came from. I am not defined by what I see of my life in my rear view mirror. Yet I am influenced by what’s back there.

Everything that I have come through – the good, the bad, the horrible and the amazing – it all has helped shape who I am today. The moments that felt impossible to live through have helped me to better be present in the moments that bring a smile to my Self.

Today marks the day, 24 years ago, that I lived through an experience that brought me to a moment that I thought would be the last one I would ever have. Attacked while walking to work and sexually assaulted at knifepoint. Thinking in my mind that I was so incredulous that this was how my end would be. Coming out of that event in shock that I made it. I went back home right after (it was less than a block from home), calmly took a shower, changed and , after assuring my husband that I was ok and just wanted to not think about, went to work. Repression and avoidance – you bet. That’s how I dealt with things. I did report it that night and followed through with legal necessities such as they were.

For many of the first few years after, I was barely able to get through the date. The rest of the year I would be oblivious to it but I would start to get anxious weeks before. Nightmares, panic attacks…the fears gripped me horribly as the date would come around. Then something happened. I decided that it wasn’t going to affect me anymore; and I pushed it down and told myself that it had no impact on me. And I did a really good job of that for a number of years.

Then two and a half years ago, a death in my life blew that ability to ignore all apart. I did my best even with that. My “best” being trying to push even that down and just move forward. That only lasted a few months before it all fell apart and I had a breakdown… a breakdown that I have spent almost two years trying to come back from. I had spent my life perfecting the art of being “fine” and “strong” and crafting the ability to take anything that came my way and keep going. The truth is though that, when you take emotions and lock them away, eventually, the dam breaks and it all has to be dealt with.

So I’ve worked at facing what I have tried to not feel for so long. Not just the assault but so many things in my life. The truth I have come to see is that for me, my strength comes not from being able to suppress and power through… my strength comes from being able to acknowledge and feel, fully feel, the pain and the hurt and the fears, and still keep going. With it all there, not driven away. To live with it, because there isn’t another option. Feeling the pain, the hurt, the loss, the fears… Feeling joy, abandon, bliss, serenity… Letting go of labelling bad or good… Feeling means I’m alive, and after living with the apathy of depression, I’ll take a rollercoaster of emotions over feeling nothing at all, thank you very much. Yes, life hurts sometimes – but it also has moments of feeling more happiness than you think you can ever experience. You can’t have one side of the coin without the other.

So today, instead of pretending it’s just another day and that it has no significance…I acknowledge it for what it is; a day that has helped bring me to where, and who, I am now. And that person is strong – strong enough to admit that sometimes I’m not. And that’s what gives me the strength to go on and be ok.