Thursday, April 10, 2014

Model Morning

It's that glorious time of the year again - the quarterly Athleta event!  Because fashion is always two seasons ahead, I was kindly invited to check out the fall fashions Athleta has coming up.  Considering how absolutely freezing the winter has been and the spring continues to be (seriously, why so few 60-degree days? And WHERE ARE THE BUDS?), I confess that seeing fuzzy sweaters and fall things was almost a little depressing.  I am in 1,000% countdown-to-summer mode right now!

It's always a huge treat to come to one of these events.  As is often the case, we were invited to take a complimentary fitness class, given a complimentary outfit, and some complimentary tasty breakfast treats.  Something new this time around was complimentary express manicures!  I could seriously get used to this...

One of my favorite things about these events is definitely exploring other fitness programs.  It's how I discovered and absolutely fell in love with Refine Method and it often gives me a chance to head to parts of the city I don't normally go to.

Today's adventure was down to Bowery off of Spring St to take a class from the brand spankin'-new fitness studio ModelFIT, helmed by trainer to Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models Justin Gelband (often referred to in press as "The Model Whisperer" - an enviable title!).  I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, and I'm not entirely sure of my feelings having taken the class.


On the plus side, it was definitely a powerful upper body workout (as promised), and there was some bonus but much appreciated hip/butt work as well.  I liked the look of the studio and all of the toys and accessories they had (ankle weights!!  brilliant), but I was really not sure how I felt about Justin - and I'm kind of still not.  I get the sense he's much better one-on-one than in a larger group.  He just jumped right into the class with zero preamble and I almost got the sense he didn't want to be there.  Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but he was so "strictly business" that it affected my motivation a bit.  I don't mind being yelled at boot-camp style by any means, but for god's sake, throw me a little humor or encouragement or personality or something! 

Overall, what was promised, was delivered - a great workout.  He's clearly talented based on his clientele and the overall response from my fellow participants (most of whom are actual legitimate journalists but I think there are some fellow NYC bloggers among the group) was positive. 

The manicure was lovely and such a nice bonus treat, and the clothes look fantastic!  My only slight beef - apparently tapered leg is coming back into style.  Ack.  Not a good look for most people, I'd argue.  I thought we left that look to die in the early 90's?  And yet it's Athleta, so they're soooo comfy...

They have their usual bright blues and fuchsias but they also had a rack of really lovely neutral/nude colors.  The 80's and 90's are definitely rearing their loud, patterned, cut-off top, tapered leg heads, and if anyone can make it look and feel good, it's Athleta!

They're an awesome company that always shows me a great time.  I love supporting them - love the generous teacher discount they offer! - and am always excited to see what's coming up next in fitness in the city and in their lines.





Thursday, April 3, 2014

Flat Tires & Perspective

When I was interning in Sarasota, FL at the beautiful Florida Studio Theatre, I met some incredible people.  None so unique as Doctor Nik, aka Doc, who rode around the theatre and the city on his flamingo bike, rocket bike, and any other crazy kind of bike you could imagine, has two of the sweetest basset hounds I've ever seen, and was an absolute font of silliness, wisdom, and kindness.

Something he posted on facebook a few weeks ago wormed its way into my brain and I've found that it keeps coming back to me over and over again, and it's amazing how much it's changed my perspective on little everyday things in my life that I'd normally stress over or take a negative attitude toward.


Doc says, "A flat tire isn't a bad thing until you make it one."


To me, this is very akin to the line in Hamlet, "There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so."


These are basically saying the same thing, yet for some reason Doc's resonates more with me (Well done, Doc, you trumped Shakespeare!).  Much to my philisophical husband's chagrin, I tend to be very literal minded, and  although my high minded yogic self completely agrees with the sentiment, I always found myself arguing with this line of Shakespeare's - torture is certainly bad!  Losing a loved one.  Losing a limb!  It's the ultimate declaration of the yogic concept of non-attachment, which is one of the hardest ones to wrap your brain around.


As lovely and profound as it is, I can rarely bring myself to totally acquiesce to this line from Hamlet, but for some reason the way Doc phrases it I can completely get on board with.  Maybe it's the more specific and mundane event of a flat tire as opposed to the open ended nothing of Shakespeare's line makes it a little more palatable for my nit-picky and argumentative brain.


Regardless of whether you react favorably or not to either quote or the idea that they present, I invite you to try applying the idea to little things in your every day life.  Being late.  Getting stuck in traffic or on the subway.  Catching a cold.  Something unexpected and stressful at work.  Canceling plans.  Unexpectedly small paychecks or large bills.  A burnt out lightbulb, a hole in your shirt, an unexpected detour.  Take anything that might pop up in your day that you'd normally respond to with complaints and frustration and try to take a moment to see what positive spin you can take on it - even if it's just that adversity builds character!


The more we apply this practice to the everyday, to the mundane, to the things that annoy us but don't upend our lives (the way the Big Stuff does - loss, severe illness, etc.) the more we prepare ourselves for the inevitable days when we will have to cope with the big stuff.  You take the time to act instead of react and to look for the positive ways you can either change or surrender to the situation.


My one memory of a literal flat tire was back in Virginia.  It wound up keeping me from seeing a show I wanted to see (granted, I had already seen it like 5 times, as I am wont to do), but it gave me a chance to bond with my mom's new-at-the-time boyfriend and to see his generosity of spirit in action.  I felt a level of gratitude and affection for him that I don't know if I had yet felt up until that point.  I'm sure it was a massive inconvenience to whatever he had going on that day, but he appeared almost instantly and completely took care of me.  


It was stressful at first, but wound up being perfectly okay.  When I look back on it, I feel it as a positive memory over a negative one, and as one that marked a mini milestone in our relationship - and had I continued to let stress rule the day, who knows if I'd even remember it at all ten years later?

"A flat tire isn't a bad thing until you make it one." 


Listen to the Doctor, friends, and make it a beautiful day.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Good morning!

So many of my posts are about morning rituals or general daily practices, I've found.  Whether it's about getting back to the basics with a simple seated meditation following the breath, finding joy by singing in the morning, or a variety of physical but not-necessarily-yogic practices, I've been struggling for the past year and a half with consistency in my home practice.  In my last entry two weeks ago (I took a week off for anniversary fun in PA!) I wrote about how there are so many Internet/iPhone resources that I've found helpful in my own home yoga practice outside of a studio.

Two of these resources together in particular, YogaGlo and my Insight Timer app, have been instrumental in helping me find a morning ritual that I've been pretty consistent with the past two weeks.  With the exception of a few lazy, yoga-less mornings on my anniversary weekend, there is a ritual from the amazing yoga teacher Amy Ippoliti called, "Set a Positive Tone for Your Entire Day" available for YogaGlo users.

It requires pen and paper, or maybe a journal if you're the journaling type, and a place to sit.  I won't go through the entire video, as I know YogaGlo is sometimes a little intense with copyrighting, and this is Amy's practice.  But I can say I've modified it a little bit to suit my needs, and have used the Interval Bell setting on my Insight Timer app so that I can be self guided through this practice without having to rely on a teacher telling me when to shift my focus or write things down.

It's essentially a very mindful way of having a "gratitude" journal or a "success" journal.  You take a few moments to connect with your breath, to reflect on what you're thankful for, and briefly come out of meditation to write down your top 3 or 5.  Going back into meditation, you then start to reflect on what went will for you the day before, and then coming out of it to write those down.

From there, the possibilities are endless.  You can throw in some pranayama (breath work) of any kind - I prefer kapalabhati - or a visual meditation where you can visualize the breath coming in through the third eye, through the heart, or through the crown of the head.  Or if that's a little too hippie-dippy for you or hard to connect with, just follow the breath as it travels in and out of the nose.  Amy is a big fan of heart breathing which is lovely, but as someone who tends to hold a lot of tension in my chest, I prefer to direct my focus elsewhere.

You can also end by imaging the qualities you want to bring in to today.  Or if you're practicing this in the evening, the qualities you want to bring to your day tomorrow or the kind of rest you'd like to have if you tend to have trouble sleeping.  If you're practicing in the evening, ending in legs up the wall or a few moments in child's pose can be really lovely.

This is a great practice if you struggle with meditation because your to-do list or other thoughts keep cropping up and distracting you - there's a pen and paper right there for you to get the thoughts out of your head so you can bring your attention back to what you'd like to bring it to.  I highly recommend checking the video out - YogaGlo allows you to watch a preview of it if you are not a member.

Happy Thursday morning, everyone, and I hope it's a beautiful day for you!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Techno-Yoga

Scraping the bottom of the barrel for a post title this week, perhaps, but it hopefully conveys the topic.  I'm going to write today about ways technology help my yoga practice.

I'm hardly unique in utilizing the Internet and my iPhone when it comes to yoga - it seems every couple of months there are new articles and lists out there sharing with you the best apps to de-stress, unplug, meditate, work out - you name it.  There's a reason why, "There's an app for that" is a thing.

So this may not be totally revolutionary as a topic, but these four things I'll listen have been revolutionary for me personally.  I hope they, or one, can make a difference for you as well:

1. Karma Kids Yoga - Studio Live TV

This one is unique because although it's not a resource I utilize for myself as often as others, it's really special in that it allows me to connect with more students than just the ones in front of me on any given day.  Studio Live TV partnered with Karma Kids Yoga's Pre/Postnatal program to deliver classes on demand to our students who for whatever reason can't make it to the studio.  The most special thing about this for me is that my sister has been able to take classes not just from me but from teachers who I respect, admire, and learn from at our Peace In studio.  The classes are specifically geared toward Pre and Postnatal, but they're appropriate for anyone looking for a core-based class that will leave you feeling strong and calm afterward.

2. Yoga Journal - Videos

My classic, all-time go to when I need some quick yoga at home.  I'm sure I've plugged this before, and one video in particular.  I discovered this part of the site back in either 2008 or 2009, when one of my favorite free yoga websites suddenly stopped being free.  The videos only get up to about 35 minutes, but sometimes all I really want is 10 or 15, and they've got that too.  There are a wide variety of teachers and styles to choose from, and tons of really short tutorial videos on just one or two particular poses.  I really just have a few videos that I tend to do over and over here, but every so often I'll dip my toes into something new and I'm usually pleased with it.  For my money, though (and even though it's free, I would pay for this), the best on the site is Jason Crandell's Evening Relaxation Sequence.  I've done this off and on for over five years now, I never tire of it and it has not lost its blissful effect on me.  It's one of the oldest videos on the site, I think.  Jason Crandell is the bomb.

3. YogaGlo

Speaking of Jason Crandell (transition!), you can find a ton more from him and a ton more in general at YogaGlo.com.  The stunning Laura Frye (whose amazing yoga classes you can find on Studio Live) turned me on to this site.  It's not free, sadly, costing about $18 a month, but holy moly do you get your money's worth.  There are over 2,200 classes from dozens of teachers, and it grows every day.  Some I've seen or read about in YogaJournal, some I don't recognize, but everything I've tried and seen from it so far is amazing.  My man Jason Crandell blew my mind last night with a sequence called Yoga for Your Calves and Feet which is exactly what my body needs right now as I get ready to dip my toes into getting back into running in a couple of weeks (very, very, very, very slowly, mind you).  There are also meditation practices from meditation expert Sally Kempton, and classes that range from 5 minutes to two hours.  For $18 a month you get unlimited access to this, which is like having unlimited access to 100 yoga studios a month.  I highly recommend it, for yoga students as well as yoga teachers as it is an endless library of learning.

4. InsightTimer

Last but not least, my trusty (and free) meditation app.  Now I mentioned apps at the beginning of the post, but I haven't really done that much exploring.  Truth be told, I think it would just overwhelm me to go through all the options and I'd wind up not practicing at all but just being obsessed with which app would send me off into bliss with the tap of my finger.  Basically, I'm afraid it would send me down a rabbit hole.

There's not much fanciness to the InsightTimer app, although it has changed and expanded a bit since I first discovered it ages ago.  I downloaded it so I could set a timer on my meditation practice and be brought out from it with something other than Marimba.  There are a variety of Tibetan bowl tones you can choose from that will put you into it and take you out of it with a gentle, beautiful sound.  My favorite part is you can also put in interval bells which is perfect if I want to do 10 minutes of active yoga, 5 minutes of meditation - or even better, if I want to do a restorative practice.  10 minutes for restorative child's pose, 15 for legs up the wall...you get the idea.  A gentle little bell signals each transition, with a more distinct one signaling that time is up.  They've expanded and added some guided meditations, but I haven't tried any of them out yet.



So there you have it!  Four recommendations, four easy ways to bring yoga into your home.  Two are 100% free, and the other two are a bargain!  I'd love to hear feedback from anyone who has given them a try.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Keep it Simple Stupid

I almost picked a blander name for this post (I think working with kids has made me a little overly sensitive) until I remembered that the phrase "Keep it simple stupid" originated from the US Navy, of which my Granddaddy was a Captain.  So yogic or not yogic, nice or not nice - whatever.  Today I just want to write about a very, very, very, very simple meditation principle.  (Also, according to Wikipedia, there should be no comma/implication that the person to whom you're speaking.  Although I think we can all agree we tend to use the comma and the implication these days...)

I didn't write last week, and for good reason.  I normally write on Thursday, my usual day off, but last week I spent Wednesday night through Sunday in Malvern, PA with my beloved hubby who made his fabulous debut as Mr. Darcy in People's Light and Theatre Company's excellent production of Pride and Prejudice.  It was a glorious four days of resting my foot, reading a phenomenal book, watching the show, making friends with the cast, and of course, soaking up every single second with Marc that I possibly could.

On Saturday, we ventured out of the theatre complex for brunch and to replenish our wine supply.  (I swear this is leading to meditation)  At the local liquor store - and by the way, alcohol is so much cheaper there! - we happened to run into the People's Light's Artistic Director, Abigail Adams.  Marc had told me about Abigail and really likes her a lot, so we chatted as we waited in the checkout line.  The topic somehow turned to yoga and meditation, and we asked her what meditation technique she practices.

With the laid back air of someone who has been practicing many moons longer than I have, she simply said, "Just follow the breath.  In and out."

That was it.  That's all she said, and I'm embarrassed to say it was a bit of a revelation.

I certainly teach this technique, and I practice it a little bit, but I also love exploring so much, and I'm always searching for "my" perfect mantra or visualization or crazy combination of whatever I can grasp at, that I so rarely just focus on my breath when I sit.  I'm always afraid it's not going to be compelling enough for me to keep myself from traveling down the road of my bazillion thoughts, or that it'll cause me to breathe in a stilted, artificial way.  In my early days of meditating, that always happened to me, so I sort of abandoned this most simple technique.

When I got into my morning routine on Monday, I decided to give it a try.  Lo and behold...it's really, really nice.  So simple, so focused.  It's brilliant if you're someone just getting into meditation, but some people - like me - might need something a little shinier to keep their interest, like a mantra.  Or like literally imagining something shiny.  If you're a practiced meditator or someone who is feeling at loose ends with what technique to latch on to, strip everything else away and give this bare-bones, simple technique another look.

My last little bit of advice is something I've been told a couple of times and so often forget to do, but now I'm making it mandatory - always keep some paper and a pen next to you when meditating.  So often I'll be nice and relaxed and then immediately remember something work related I have to do or tell someone.  Or I'll have some kind of brilliant idea I want to remember.

For instance, my sister and I are in an ongoing discussion about possible baby names for her twins (a boy and a girl!!!) and I've had a couple of ideas come to me while in meditation.  Instead of spending the rest of the 5 minutes I have left trying to make sure I don't forget the name, I just write it down.  Hence - hit the mental pause button, write it down, and come back to the breath.

So there we go.  Follow the breath, keep a notepad near by so all your genius gets recorded for when you come out of it.  Keep it simple - or as we'd say in kids yoga, "Easy peasy lemon-squeeze-y."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Joys of Singing

It's been a bit of a rough week.  It's been a rough start to 2014 overall, I'd have to say - my morale is up and down with the injury (although I am miles and miles better, I'm still not yet back to my old active self), this winter seems absolutely endless, I've been missing my husband like crazy, and I have friends who've been dealing with far bigger problems than me which makes me feel incredibly sad and low for them.  There's just been a lot of overall stress and more down moments and days than I normally have.

I've been looking toward more gentle yoga and meditation to help me deal with that and with the frustration of having temporarily lost running, cycling, and sweaty yoga as a stress reliever.  Sometimes, though, it winds up just marinating in whatever's bumming me out instead of shaking myself out of the stress or the blahs.

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, but it was a Buzzfeed "article" that really crystalized what I needed to do as a pure mood booster, and thus what to write about this week!  The seeds had started to be planted a bit a couple of weeks ago when my good friend and fellow kid's yoga teacher and I saw Frozen together - Skyler was leading a Frozen themed birthday party for Karma Kids Yoga, so, you know, it was work.  (It's sentences like that that make me internally slap myself upside the head for ever feeling stressed about work.)  We were finally able to see for ourselves why every single kid who has walked through the door lately is obsessed with and/or singing Let it Go - we laughed, we cried, we loved it, and we had so much fun that we're planning a sleepover almost entirely devoted to singing.

Thinking about that, and then reading this Buzzfeed article (which at least has links to more legit articles within it), I resolved to spend my entire morning yesterday while getting ready for work singing to my Happy Love Songs playlist.  Sure enough, after waking up in a questionable mood due to some bizarre dreams, I was incredibly cheered walking out the door.

When we explain chanting and "Om" to kids, we often compare it to singing.  It's an accurate comparison, and chanting and singing share a lot of the same benefits.  Chanting 3 Om's, singing to a Disney (or whatever your poison) song - you're engaging the same muscles, creating the same vibrations, and literally changing the energy in your body.

Sometimes just sitting or gentle child's pose isn't enough.  I feel it even with teaching - if I'm in a crummy mood and don't feel like teaching a class, 9 times out of 10 I feel so much better after having done it.  I'm smiling even when I don't feel like it (not that that's something you should do all the time), I'm moving my body, I'm using my voice (and singing, if it's a kid's class).

I also realized, since I haven't driven in about 3 1/2 years, I don't sing nearly as much for myself as I used to.  Some people sing in the shower, but I always would sing in the car.  Especially when I'd regularly make trips between Newport News and Richmond, road trips to visit my sister or my mom, or when I was in company management where driving was a huge part of the job, I'd exhaust myself belting out (trying to anyway) The Last Five Years, Wicked, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell - and when my voice was exhausted, my love Bob Dylan was always there for me, and I could always sound better than him!

So if you're still struggling with the winter blues, two things.  First, head outside because it's all the way up to the 40's today (!!!!!!), and then - sing a little something.  Even if you feel silly.  Just do it.  See what happens!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Healers and Healing

Last week I mentioned Dr. Sherri Greene, who has been unbelievable in helping me on the road to recovery with my mystery foot injury.  I truly cannot recommend her services highly or enthusiastically enough - she is the most wonderful doctor I've ever been to see.  I have a lot of friends who are yogis, dancers, performing artists - and might be more likely than the average bear to encounter issues with their feet.  Friends - go see Dr. Sherri!  She and Nina, who takes care of the administrative end of things, are so kind and personable.  The phrase "bedside manner" doesn't quite seem appropriate because it sounds too formal to describe who they are and how they work.  They're personable, compassionate, and real.

Each visit with Dr. Sherri I've been seen promptly and given her complete and undivided attention and compassion.  She's a holistic podiatrist who doesn't just talk to me about what's physically wrong with my foot but how I psychologically and emotionally deal with the injury or with any time I get sick or am slowed down and how my emotional life and stress level affects my physical health and vice versa.  We've had big discussions on how our fears can manifest things in the body and how just as powerfully, when you surrender to the lesson the injury has to teach you, healing can sometimes come even more quickly.

In addition to the holistic side of her practice and her ventures into the unconventional side of care, she has the absolute top equipment when it comes to conventional medicine.  She's been giving my foot cold laser therapy which is unbelievably lucky for me since she's the first podiatrist in New York City to have this technology right in her office.  Many sports medicine doctors and medical practitioners have been relying on cold laser therapy technology for years as ways to avoid or prevent surgery for major injuries to professional athletes.

Despite how clearly (and often!) she and the folks who sell the machine have explained to me how the technology works, I'm rather hopeless at explaining it myself.  Essentially, the cold laser light is able to penetrate through the skin to the muscle, bone, and tissue and allow the body to start to work to repair itself.  Check out this link for a more detailed (and intelligent) explanation.

I truly can't recommend Dr. Sherri Greene and her practice highly enough.  Fellow New Yorkers, please check her out if you're ever in need!  She has been a life saver and no matter what my prognosis is, I feel better emotionally and physically after every single time I see her.


On a related note, I got an email this week from a man named Dr. Mario Trucillo, Medical Editor of the American Recall Center.  He and his colleagues work to provide the most up to date information on device and drug recalls.  I have no idea how he found me out and decided I was worth reaching out to, but I am very humbled and pleased that he did so!  He shared with me the story of a woman named Amy Brown, who is a fellow yogi and yoga teacher as well as a spin enthusiast and instructor.  Amy has suffered through multiple hip replacements after receiving a faulty metal replacement in 2007.

Her story is frightening, inspiring, and another reminder to me to keep my own issues in perspective!  She's doing well now, and her story is really worth checking out - read Amy's story here.  Thanks for reaching out, Dr. Trucillo, and I hope everyone bookmarks the American Recall Center's site as a great resource!


For those of my fellow east-coasters, happy snow day!  And if you are out on the sidewalks, subways, or roads, please go slow and stay safe!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Gratitude

Good freezing morning!  So continues the story I started last week...

I've felt the need to write about this for a couple weeks now - the downsides and the upsides of sustaining an injury as a super active person - and living in a city that was not made for anyone who needs to slow down for any reason ever.  I've felt a lot of pressure to share the entire experience and to share it exactly right, and to say exactly what I wanted to say about it in the right way.  As a result, I've put it off to a point where my emotions about it aren't quite as fresh.  Maybe it's best that way - I tend to get a little long winded about these things, and I think a simpler approach works just fine.

After the wonderful, wonderful marathon - everything hurt.  Absolutely everything.  I only got a half-night's sleep after the race (shocking considering how long I'd been awake that day!) because my legs hurt too much for me to fall back asleep when I woke up in the middle of the night. The following day - Tuesday - everything felt so much better!  Keeping my legs moving really helped almost every part of my soreness dissipate - and then I took a step.  My left foot was in a kind of pain that was beyond soreness, and deep down I knew it.  But I'm quite good at denial and when I don't want to be sick or hurt or in pain, I just stubbornly press on and cross my fingers that it'll go away - a habit I don't think was quite this bad before I was a New Yorker!

To make a long story a little less long, I tried to push through it until I just couldn't anymore, and my amazing friend Dayle loaned me some crutches.  After a full day of rest, I was back to work and my wonderful boss Shari at Karma Kids sent me straight to her longtime podiatrist and friend - Dr. Sherri, as she's known around KKY.

I was sentenced to two weeks on crutches, 24/7.  Two weeks of no teaching.  And also getting to wear an incredibly fashionable boot - open toed, for extra comfort during the snow and rain.  All of this, of course, occurring days before Marc was to leave for PA (again!) for his second round of Pride & Prejudice, this time at a different (and wonderful!) theatre and this time as Mr. Darcy.

I definitely went through a massive phase of self pitying and frustration.  Doing anything by myself on crutches seemed impossible (thank god for the sippy cup I brought home from Disney!), and not being able to teach and make money and having to pay out of pocket for the doctor was a double whammy after a pricey trip to Disney.  My plan post marathon was to work like crazy and make as much money as possible - especially since Marc is gone for awhile.

Eventually, I got to that place where I was able to gain a little perspective.  People kept sharing stories with me of friends they knew who had sustained much worse injuries and I realized that it was a blessing I wasn't actually in much pain as long as I was staying off it.  There was a light at the end of the tunnel and the tunnel wasn't nearly as long for me as for others.  Then I called to mind the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and forget it - no more self pity for me!

I tried to shift my perspective and have fun with playing with what I could and couldn't do on the crutches.  I was blessed with the extreme generosity of my family and friends who helped me out however they could.  I realized that my word for 2014 (which I haven't even blogged about!  insane), Space, was being forcibly thrown in my face.  Slowing down, reflecting on not teaching, on not practicing, on not running - I had plenty of space for all of that.  And most miraculous of all, the injury isn't a stress fracture as we all feared!

A lot of yogis will talk about how injuries are our greatest teachers, or are even a gift.  When you're in the midst of dealing with one, that's the last thing you want to hear.  And I certainly can't speak to what it's like to recover from something more massive - as injuries go, I'm well aware of the fact that I got off light.  I'm just feeling incredibly grateful that I was eventually able to get positive again and break myself out of the dangerous self pity I was initially feeling.  To break myself out of the endless cycle of TV (although I do not regret my giant Boardwalk Empire marathons!) and go back to actually reading, to writing, to doing what little practice I was able to do.  It also gave me the time to slow down and actually reflect on the damn marathon I had worked so hard toward.

Now I'm slowly jumping back into teaching, into walking, and into setting my intentions for these next few weeks.

On a mostly unrelated note, I just have to comment on the death of one of my favorite actors, on Marc's favorite actor, and one of the most wonderful theatre artists of my lifetime.  Philip Seymour Hoffman's death was so shocking and so upsetting, and just made me want to hold tighter to my loved ones.

So I leave you with one of my favorite moments of his, from a film I haven't seen in quite a while, actually.  I hope everyone has a beautiful, warm, day, filled with gratitude for what you have - whatever you have - while you have it.  Life is short.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Marathon

Oh how I've been putting off the next entry in my blog!!  I used to be so disciplined about getting in an entry a week, even if it wasn't much or just a link to someone else's ideas, but so much has happened in three (three!) short weeks that I feel overwhelmed with the sense of obligation to write about all of it.

First of all, I ran a marathon.  A marathon that I haven't really properly reflected upon, because I was in the midst of a whirlwind trip of amazing nonstop fun with my wonderful family, and one that I haven't properly processed because it's been bookended by injury - and more importantly, worry, anxiety, and self-pity around those injuries.

I was so resentful and scared to be going into it with a messed up hamstring (which, by the way, although it still felt painful the morning of the race, magically worked itself out during the first couple miles and went away!) that it eclipsed a lot of the excitement I would have otherwise felt.  I was definitely excited, but being afraid of not being able to even run a mile put a damper on it.

The race itself, physically, felt really rough.  Maybe it was because the crazy weather and the crazy hamstring took away my last week of training runs, who knows - but it was a lot more painful than any of my long training runs, and a lot earlier on too.  Well before the halfway mark I was feeling like getting under 5 hours wasn't going to be physically possible, which was disappointing - despite the fact that I should have just been focusing on finishing it at all and enjoying being there!  I lightened up a little in the second half, though sadly my knee and foot pain did not!

The race was like one long (5.34.39) conversation with myself.  I was surrounded by thousands of other runners and fun Disney characters and amazing volunteers and spectators and high school marching bands and great music, but as many runners who run without headphones will attest, there's nothing to do but talk to yourself and listen.  Mantras came up a lot - "Healthy and Strong" was a big one in the last 5 miles when everything hurt and felt anything but!  After listening to "Two Gomers Run For Their Lives," one of my favorite podcasts, I've adopted one of their sayings, which they adapted from a Bible quote - "Take your thoughts captive."  Anthony says that to himself (or is told by his wife!) when he knows his own worry or negative thoughts are getting in the way of his physical capabilities or his happiness.  It's right in line with this entry I wrote back in November, and was a huge guiding force in how I maintained positivity during the race.  And it really was fun!
Best sister ever!


It was very different from how I imagined it would be - from the beginning, this was all about doing it with my sister.  We've done every "first" race together - 5K, 10K, and half marathon.  Part of why we did Disney at all was because of how she fell in love with it while on her honeymoon there - she was so excited to go back and do a race Disney style!  It was incredibly hard for her to step back and decide not to run, but it was absolutely the right thing to do.  The most important thing is the health and safety of her and the two beautiful babies she's growing.  It's the first big race like that I've done without her by my side to keep constant conversation going - and to keep each other on pace!  But luckily - it's very easy to text during walk breaks!

I also had the most amazing support via text from her, my mom, my husband, and my friends (especially Lisa, who was literally praying for me during her church service while I was running!).  My mom and sister, of course, were there in person and able to cheer me on from Mile 5 and, most importantly, at the finish line.

Crossing the finish line was unbelievable.  I got to see my mom and sister in the stands and wave as I took the last several steps.  Mickey Mouse was right there waiting with a congratulatory high five, which was the coolest thing ever.  I was fighting tears almost the whole race, as is usually the case on a big race - there are so many incredible moments, so many heart-stirring signs of love and support from spectators, so many inspiring fellow runners.  Being Disney and being a full (and my first!) marathon made it ten times worse!  So much Disney music and Disney joy and childhood memories and constant messages of magic and perseverance - oh god, it's a miracle I wasn't crying the whole damn time.  Plus there were moments the pain in my knees made me want to cry for sure. 

I nearly lost it when I saw that Mile 25 was bringing us through France in Epcot - my favorite (albeit fake) country!

I finally let it all go approaching and crossing the finish line.  It was amazing and unbelievable.

I unfortunately did sustain some kind of mystery injury in my left foot - either from the race itself or from foolishly walking around for the following week (between Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and going back to work & teaching), I've been crutch-bound for the past week and a half.  That's been its own marathon and its own teacher, but as I'm writing this, I realize I've been completely focused on the injuries and I haven't just let the marathon be.  I think this is enough for one entry.  More to come next week.

The only thing left to say is thank you to everyone who sent me any supportive words or thoughts at all throughout the whole process.  Having the friends, family, and support system I have is a blessing I don't take lightly and never want to take for granted.


In front of Cinderell-y's castle!
By the way, Megan's shirt says "I was planned" and "I was a surprise!"
So cute and so true!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Completely Freaked Out and Shameless Plea for Help, Prayers, & Encouragement

This entry was going to be all lovely and contemplative - talking about New Year's and the upcoming marathon and the whole journey and how today is really the first day it's going to be sinking in just how close it is.

However, I just had to cut my last training run - not to mention my first run in a week because of this insane weather - short after 2.5 miles because my right hamstring just tightened up and started killing me.  It had felt a little tight the last couple of days - maybe from spinning on Monday, maybe from teaching 12 classes in the last 3 days, who knows - but I figured I'd just run it out and it would warm up and work itself out.

Instead, it got worse.  A lot worse.  I would stop, walk, stretch...try running a little bit more.  Stop, walk stretch - statically, dynamically, every which way - and the pain worsened if anything.  I couldn't run one mile without stopping.

I bombarded my loving husband with my tears and complete freaked-outness just as he was waking up and he's been a lovely and strong supporter - telling me it's still all mental and that I did the right thing and to take care of it.

I really want to go back out asap and finish the damn run.  I felt like I really needed this run to set my mental state straight.  Now all I can think of is how if I feel this way on Sunday morning, there's no way in hell I can run 26.2 miles.

I was feeling prepared and ready, despite feeling resentful of the weather keeping me from running.  Now...oy.  I don't want to give too much energy to how I feel.

Advice? Thoughts?  Prayers?  I need it all!