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.