Friday, June 23, 2017

The Discipline of Restraint

I try to live my life as a disciplined person.  I have certain habits I work to maintain, I'm disciplined about my running, and try to be disciplined in my work.  I always think of discipline as more, harder, faster.  Working harder and longer, pushing yourself past your limits, going to that place of being uncomfortable and challenged.

This week, I discovered the discipline of restraint.  It took me much longer to get back to full health post-virus than I imagined - and truthfully, I'm still not eating 100% normally for fear of my body revolting.  As soon as my body gave an inch of recovery, I wanted to take a mile in jumping back into my normal routine.  I was desperate to go for a run again, especially since I have my final two qualifying races this weekend to gain entry into the 2018 NYC Marathon.  After last year's injury and coming so close - two races away, in fact - and not meeting my long-awaited goal of making this year's marathon, I am chomping at the bit to get these under my belt.

But - I needed a different kind of discipline this week to keep me from racing out of the gate and doing too much too soon, like I did on Friday night which led to a terrible setback...and then another setback on Monday morning.

I felt better - and then waited.  Rested.  Did the gentlest 15-minute YogaGlo possible instead of the strength-building workout I really wanted.  I wanted so badly to be better again, I wasn't giving myself the chance to get better again.

I'm thrilled to report that my self-imposed short leash has worked, and although absolutely wiped out from a 5-class day, I'm feeling so much better and stronger and like my normal self again.  I'm more than ready to tackle a busy weekend - races, family, a Moana-themed birthday party at Karma Kids, and hopefully - fingers crossed - a little wine?

Discipline is not always about pushing yourself.  Sometimes it's about knowing when to hold yourself back - and sometimes that's even harder to do.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Too Much Too Soon / Child's Pose

Nothing humbles you like a stomach virus.  Except maybe forgetting how humbled you were the first time, overdoing it on food and wine (I know!) the second you feel normal, and then getting the humbling smackdown again.  "Too much too soon" is basically my middle name after every single illness or injury I ever have.  You'd think I'd learn.

Physical illness, mental illness, grief, pregnancy, existential stress at the state of the news (and as always, there's so much to rail against) and so much more can shake you off your foundation.  Luckily, yoga is infinitely adaptable - it's not all sweaty vinyasa classes in lululemons.

Meditation, restorative yoga, and my all-time favorite, Child's Pose, are just what the doctor ordered when the doctor has you in a humble ball on the floor.  And it's there for you when you're ready to - slowly - build back up.

So - child's pose today.  Back to the resistance next week.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Life Time

Whenever I come back from my sister's, I'm acutely aware of how much downtime I have.  Even on my busiest of busy days, I have a little time to myself in a way that just doesn't exist for her anymore unless she works hard to schedule it in - and luckily, she makes that self care effort as much as possible.

Being down there, I couldn't help but be acutely present for a majority of the time.  When three kids under 3 are up and running, you have to seriously be on your toes, because Kai will find a ladder and climb it all the way to the top.  I was also super disconnected from the news, which was glorious.  I checked in every so often to make sure I wasn't missing the impeachment (alas) but I let all my podcasts go off to the wayside and the world continued to turn.

This entry's title is taken from a quote I saw a long time ago, posted by a friend whose music taste is vastly different than mine.  I saw the quote before hearing the song (Shine by The Rollins Band), and having just listened to it thanks to the magic of Spotify after all these years of the lyrics floating through my memory, the song sounds nothing at all like I imagined!  All the same, I really love these lines.  And although as an introvert, I have a deeply jealous need for spare, free, and downtime, it's a reminder that time is really all we've got - and no one knows how much of it we have.

It's a reminder to make every moment count and to be there for every moment, no matter what you're doing.  It's also a reminder that there's always someone in this world who manages to do a lot more than us with a lot less time, and we can always push ourselves to use our time better - for ourselves, for others around us, for the world.  When I see how much my sister accomplishes in such little time, it pushes me to live my life better, make fewer excuses, and get on with it.

No such thing as spare time
No such thing as free time
No such thing as down time
All you got is life time
Go!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Where You Are

I'm going to lay it all out there right up front - I am about to write a blog post that is inspired by lyrics from Disney's Moana.  Mock if you wish - but hear me out!

First of all, if you think you're too cool for this movie, I'm here to tell you that you are not.  If anything, this movie is probably too cool for you.

Lin-Manuel Miranda's glorious, perfect music has been swirling in my head since Laura started playing the soundtrack in her kids' classes before I had even seen it.  Like Hamilton, it's dense with driving beats to the point where it will get stuck in your head, and you will have trouble falling asleep when they are stuck in your head.

This past week while visiting my sister (who needs a new title besides SuperMom, because she's even more incredible than that - I'm open to suggestions) and her amazing family, I got to finally watch Moana with the kids.  I've been looking forward to that forever, especially since my sister posted Atlas watching it.  (If you're Facebook friends with my sister, you can spend the next 3 minutes of your life experiencing this cuteness.  If not, I will show you on my phone literally anytime)

Best/Messiest tea party companions ever
It was hilarious and adorable (and ultimately abandoned for playing trains, because - 3 under 3) and once again got the music stuck in my head.

We left that night, which was extra heartbreaking because they're finally old enough to say, "I don't want you to go."  The next morning walking to work, I decided to skip my usual news podcast (yet another parenthetical - I hardly paid attention to the news at all last week, and it was glorious) and listen to something that would cheer me up and get me in a better energy and frame of mind for the first day back to reality post.  Naturally, I went straight to the soundtrack and selected Where You Are.

The song in its entirety, especially in the context of the movie and the story, are obviously very different from my life and emotional situation, but the idea of this one line - "You must find happiness right where you are" - resonated so powerfully to me as I walked the city streets that are at once familiar for being my streets, and iconic because it's New York City.  Sometimes, especially after a much-needed getaway, I forget how lucky I am to be living here in this city that I love and grew up watching on TV, movies, on the news - in awe.

The idea of finding happiness where you are, no matter where you are or what your current circumstance, is fairly yogic.  Yoga focuses less on the idea of happiness and more on the idea of equanimity, contentment, and presence, but I think it's safe to say most of us who practice yoga get a big happiness boost out of it.  The only constant in life is change, and if your happiness is solely dependent on exterior factors, you will eventually be out of luck.  Adaptability and a strong sense of self - while cherishing those outside circumstances that bring you joy - I think are keys to lasting happiness.

I miss and love and adore my family and the south, but I love and adore my life and home up here too.  It's important to remember that both can exist at the same time - the bitterness of missing what's not here right now, and the sweet of finding happiness right where you are.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bounce Back

Yesterday, I ran my fourth half marathon, and my third Brooklyn Half.  It's an amazing race with a really well-designed course that starts at the Brooklyn Museum, takes you into beautiful Prospect Park, and then sends you straight down Ocean Parkway to end at the beach in Coney Island.

The first time I ran Brooklyn, as a newlywed in 2013, I ran my best time at 2 hours, 17 minutes.  I'd yet to have a running injury, but oh lord, I look back on the videos Marc took of me when he was cheering me on from the sidelines and my form was terrible.  I was pronating all over the place, and my knees knocking together look like an ad for How to Eventually Need Knee Surgery.

The second time was last year, with my stalwart and amazing friend Laura.  We both felt undertrained, we both had plantar fasciitis that was concerning to us, and neither of us had the training season we were hoping for, so we were anxious to get the damn thing over with in one piece.

Yesterday carried with it similar worries of last year's race in the sense that I've been extremely neurotic about injuries and injury prevention, but it was less a "thing to get through" and more a challenge to see - am I really and truly well?  Was going for this race that I love so much so soon after a significant injury a stupid idea or the perfect way to get my brain back on board with my body?

The healing force that came into my life in 2014, while I was still dealing with vague mystery hamstring pain that had plagued me all year, was a physical therapist named Fabricio Rodrigues.  I've sung his praises in the blog before but mainly I just recommend him to everyone I encounter who complains as having so much as a slight headache.

Fabricio got me back to running after my hamstring injury, even joining me for my first race back.  When a random case of runner's knee popped up the following winter, he gave me the tools to squash it immediately without slowing down.  He's let me swing by multiple times so he can KT tape me before a race to get me feeling stable, supported, and strong.

And when I continued to run on my plantar fasciitis last summer and tore the damn thing, he made "house calls" to Karma Kids to help my crazily out of balance body as it went through life on crutches / the peg-leg.

Fabricio, me, & Marc
Achilles Run, 2015
He pushed me to swim, which kept me sane and kept my left leg moving pre/post cast.  He's been treating, supporting, and helping me every step of the way through recovery, rehab, and getting back out into running.  He challenges me to do hard, new things, and also knows when I need to be pulled back a little from my running ambitions.  He has coached me to strengthen parts of my body I had no idea weren't already strong, fixed my atrocious running form, and I think about each and every movement my body makes in a completely different way based on what I've learned through my work with him.

Plainly put, I probably would not have run a single pain-free step these nearly three years without him, and I just finished a half marathon entirely due to his expertise, treatment, and friendship.

So, don't be like I've been oh-so many times in my life - don't push through pain if you don't have to.  Bounce Back Physical Therapy is where you'll find not just Fabricio but other caring PT's (and the fabulous Irene at the desk) who can set you back to doing what you love again.  I cannot overstate how profoundly it has changed my life.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

That Beatles Time of Year

Obviously, there's never a bad time to listen to The Beatles, but I've recently been on a bit of a kick lately.  Partly inspired by the lovely Iris's Aroma Yin class at The Giving Tree Yoga Studio, partly by spring, I created a new yoga playlist that is 100% The Beatles (with a couple instrumental versions thrown in to bookend it).

Enjoy!  Feel free to follow me on Spotify, where you can find me as "yoginiannie."





More to come next week - I'm sure I'll have much, much more to say, as I'm running the Brooklyn Half on Saturday!  I'm nervous but mostly excited - it's not just my first big race since recovering from my injury, but it's a big race way sooner than I would have originally expected since going on crutches in August.  So, stay tuned!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Green & Green

Being from the South, springtime in New York always feels like it comes way too late.  By March, I'm expecting full on blooms.  Even though it always comes a little later than I want it to, it still somehow seems to come in perfect time.  March is the slow (painfully slow) thaw, April is for the blossoms, and in May - almost like clockwork - the buds blow away, the leaves fill in, and it's green, green, green everywhere you look.  At long, long, long last.

I always associate May and springtime with green for the obvious reasons, but lately I've had a different green on the brain - money.  As a freelancer married to an actor, money is always on the brain, and 99% of the time it's a source of stress.  I'm sure no one else on earth can relate!

We've used a system for a few years now to track our expenses called You Need a Budget (yes, you do) which has been amazing in keeping us on the same page and helping us communicate about our money or, often, lack thereof.  We didn't always use it as intended, though - we used it more as a tracking tool than as one to actually help us stick to the principles it lays out for eventually saving and aging your money so you break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

YNAB recently updated its whole system, which inspired us to make a fresh start and lay out a new, updated budget to better reflect our life as it is now, rather than a few years ago when we started.  We also recommitted to each other to stick to the budgeting principles and exercise more self discipline than in the past.  (Also, not being injured / not doing lots of showcase shows for little pay really helps in the money department too!)

So now here's where the yoga comes in - as part of the eight limbs of yoga, there are ten ethical guidelines (so to speak) that are things not to do (yamas) and things to do (niyamas).  Budgeting - and even just attempting to budget - employs all of them to some degree, but there are two I feel it touches on the most:  self-study (svadhyaya) and truth (satya).

You manage what you measure.  Tracking your spending requires complete and total transparency with not just yourself but another person.  It can be very easy to deceive yourself and live in a state of denial about spending habits, especially with handy dandy credit cards, which never feel like spending real money the way it does when you use cash.  By utilizing self awareness with every dollar earned and spent, you are automatically gaining more control over your financial habits.

Budgeting not just your own money for your own self, but with another person  makes it harder to keep up that habit, that we all have, of self-deception.  We're all very good at telling ourselves little lies or simply glossing over our bad financial habits, but when you have to track every little thing, and be accountable not just to yourself but with your partner, the truth can't help but come out.  It's not about assigning guilt, blame, or shame, but simply taking an honest look at your habits, strengths, and weaknesses.

What's difficult and sometimes painful in the short run, though, is ultimately what's best in the long run.  (Isn't it annoying how often that's the case in life?)

We seriously can't recommend this app enough, and recommend it all the time to friends and family.  Money is hard.  It's hard when you don't have enough, when you don't understand why you can't get ahead, when you're unsure of how you're managing it.  Yoga is all about awareness and connection - this lets you gain that clarity which leads to accountability.

And while it would be AWESOME if this were a paid advertisement, it's really not - just an entry I've been meaning to do for a long time in praise of one of my favorite things.  (YNAB, if you're listening, I'll totally be a paid shill for you...)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Health Scare

I had a whole draft of a blog in my head all made up, but it has been a day.  And now that I've come down from all the life-stuff of the day, I'm left to ponder with a growing, nauseating dread what 217 elected representatives voted for today.

Forgive the pun-y and ridiculous title.  I'm just so afraid that this is our country now.

In case you're wondering who voted how, check out this helpful page in the NYTimes.

Listen - we all know Obamacare wasn't perfect.  But I know several people who would literally not be alive today without it.  I wouldn't have health insurance without it - and you better believe I use my health insurance.

Instead of having a group of adults who can intelligently discuss policy and talk about improving our health care system, we have a group of children who stick their fingers in their ears and simply shout about destroying any bit of legacy President Obama may have had.  They've denigrated this so deeply that there are literally people in the world who don't realize that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same thing.  It's politics.  Not policy.  How much do you want to bet that most of these jackals haven't even read the bill?  We know the President hasn't.

Victim of a sexual assault?  You now have a pre-existing condition under this bill and would be denied health insurance.  So that basically covers half the women the President has ever come into contact with.  Cancer survivors, pregnant women, asthmatics like me - basically everything you could possibly imagine is a pre-existing condition and grounds for denial of coverage, except for erectile dysfunction, probably because the majority of congress suffers from it.  Not that that really matters, since they're not including their own health care plans under this bill.  Even they don't want this unhelpful piece of garbage that doesn't solve any actual problems of Obamacare - it just creates all new ones.

This has nothing to do with yoga.  I'm angry.  I'm sad.  I feel sick.  I'll do some yoga tomorrow and feel better and more balanced and better able to fight back and do what I can to protest this horror of a bill.

Please, please, please - call your reps.  Write your reps.  Show up at town halls and give them hell.  And then tell me what else I can do.  I feel at such a loss.  All my reps are solid blue - they're already going to vote my way.  So I'm open to ideas, friends.  Tell me what to do.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Long Run & Long Road

I haven't written about running as much lately - partly because this was originally intended to be a yoga blog, so I do try to write about that occasionally, but mostly because these last few weeks of training have been more stressful.

When I agreed to run the Brooklyn Half this year with my wonderful Laura, I did so with nerves and reservations.  It's one of my all-time favorite races, and when I first ran it in 2013 I felt amazing and unstoppable.  It's the race that convinced me I was capable of running a marathon.  But looking at the calendar and looking at my expected recovery time, it seemed like there was enough time to responsibly train without overdoing it.

As I started to kick my mileage up a little bit in mid-March, however, I had fewer pain-free runs and more consistent encounters with aches and pains.  Not enough to indicate re-injury, but just enough to bump up my anxiety ever-higher.  It was tricky to differentiate the normal and expected running pain versus things I should be truly worried about.  I've been hyper-aware, which is a good thing, but it led to being hyper-worried, which is not.  May 20th suddenly went from seeming very far away to much, much too close.

I started to realize in the last week or so that I wasn't enjoying my running - which is the whole damn point.  I love running.  It's one of my all time favorite things in the world to do.  I've been so consumed with the worry and paranoia that I might not be able to do it that I've been keeping myself from fully enjoying the fact that I am doing it.  I'm under the care of an excellent physical therapist every week who helps me get stronger and deal with my issues.  I'm building more cardio.  And a lot of my aches and pains, I've come to realize, are a result of the fact that I'm finally running with much better form than I used to - which in itself is a road to injury-free running.

Awareness and worry don't have to go hand in hand.  Moreover, they shouldn't go hand-in-hand.  It tints everything, just as it did last summer when I was on the opposite end of the spectrum - stubbornly ignoring pain that should have sparked some worry and attention.

The trick, I think, is to find that happy medium.  Last summer I wanted so badly to be fine and healthy that I was able to convince myself that the pain I was feeling - almost all day every day - couldn't possibly lead to anything serious.  I felt that I had a complete handle on it, and instead of resting until the pain was gone, I would take a week off because that was all I was willing to give up.  This past month, I've been worrying myself out of enjoyment and failing to notice how much better I feel now than I even did last summer when I was technically in better shape.

I seem to have to learn this lesson again and again - attitude is everything.  After a particularly helpful PT session yesterday, I decided to go into this morning's run - the peak of my training and the last long run before the race and also on a windy, rainy day - with awareness without the side of worry.  Paying attention to my body and when it needed a break or a stretch or to walk but enjoying myself every step of the way.  The difference it made was unbelievable, and instead of worrying and doubting this ten miles, I enjoyed it and was able to end it with exhilaration, pride, and trust that I'm doing everything I can to stay healthy while still pursuing my goals.

And seriously, it doesn't hurt that I have a killer new running playlist.  Something else I realized today is that I've been deliberately avoiding running with music because I haven't wanted to get carried away and go faster than I ought to.  While I think this was totally responsible and the right thing for the first few weeks back, I'm at the point now where I'm able to push my pace.  The first half of today's run was accompanied by a podcast (the excellent Pod Save America) and I decided for the second half to finally treat myself to some music - the first time since last summer I've run with any music at all.

I completely forgot how good it feels to run with music.  Running without any earbuds at all is its own kind of magic, don't get me wrong - but Nina and Janis were just what the doctor ordered to help me get my joy back.


Check it out here - start with Sinnerman, shuffle the rest, and enjoy every moment.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

An Earth Day Recent-History Lesson

Earth Day (which also happens to be the seven year blog-a-versary for this ol' thing) is today, and it's fitting that I just learned about an environmental activist I had never heard of before.

Julia Butterfly Hill may be a familiar name to you, but I'm sad to say her name didn't ever register in my time as a self absorbed middle and then high schooler in suburban Virginia.  She sat in a redwood tree in California to protest deforestation for two years.

She sat in a tree.  She lived in a tree.

For two. freaking. years.

Meanwhile, I've been feeling so powerless and useless and frustrated lately in the face of the never-ending tsunami of news of corruption and incompetence coming out of the White House (or Mar-a-Lago, more often than not), and on the one hand, hearing about this just makes me feel even worse and even more useless.  I donate to charities, I keep myself informed, I write and call my elected officials, I make my living helping women and kids feel empowered and peaceful, I do my best to use reusable shopping bags over plastic, but what am I really doing?  What is any of it really doing?  (And dear lord, the amount of times I don't have a reusable shopping bag and contribute to the plastic crisis!)

On the other hand- it actually makes me feel better.

I learned about Julia because one of the world's most spectacular yoga teachers and humans, Elizabeth Barnett, spoke about her in class at The Giving Tree last night, and read a quotation of hers that brought me to tears.  I'll pull from her website:

No matter the diversity of beliefs, we all know we live in a world full of problems.  Yet, one of the biggest problems is that not enough of us realize that we also live in a world full of solutions - and then live our lives as these solutions in action.

May you know that your every thought, word, and action makes a difference.

The question we need to ask ourselves is not, "Can one person make a difference?"  Each and every one of us does make a difference.  It is actually impossible to not make a difference.  So the question we need to ask ourselves is, "What kind of a difference do I want to make?"


It sort of reminds me of the butterfly effect (no relation).  The smallest action can have a massive impact.  Even though sometimes the things I might do feel small and trivial and not actually helping to save the world, it's better than choosing not to do it at all.

It also reminds me to be brave and try to do more than I am.  Even when I don't know what that is, or if I struggle with self doubt.

Every day, to once again crib from Elizabeth, is Earth Day.  We need it more than it needs us.

Let's all do something big or something small, but let's do something, today and every day to help support it, and support our future as a species.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bus Yoga!

This week was spring break for public schools in NYC, which also means it was spring break for the kids classes at Karma Kids.  Our truncated schedule (prenatal & baby classes only) and my boss's well-deserved vacation left me with both way more and way less time in my schedule at the same time, somehow.

The point being - I'm squeezing my weekly blog in at the last second before Marc and I take a very mini-break of our own as we head to Philadelphia to see our spectacularly talented friend Jake Blouch in The Walnut Theatre's The Importance of Being Earnest.  We are taking a Megabus there this morning and a Megabus home this afternoon - and tragically, that means a lot of travel time with me unable to read due to the last stubborn bits of lingering childhood carsickness.

So, I've got my knitting needles, my headphones, my crossed fingers - and alternate nostril breathing, or nadi shodhana.

My friend and often-times guru Laura Frye suffers much more acutely than me from carsickness, and she swears by this yoga breathing technique to get her through.  It's also incredibly handy for springtime, especially on weeks like these where NYC is finally (FINALLY!) seeing our first real leaves and blooms and green - and pollen.

Thanks to http://www.healthyhints.com.au for this adorable and useful illustration

Sit comfortably.  Gently close your left nostril and inhale into the right.  Retain the breath for one to five seconds.  Gently close the right nostril and exhale out the left.  If you wish, retain the exhalation for one to five seconds.  Inhale into the left nostril, and retain the breath for one to five seconds.  Gently close the left nostril and exhale out the right.

Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

Stress reduction, nausea reduction, allergy reduction - nadi shodhana is one of the most useful and simple pranayama, or breathing, techniques you'll find in a yoga practice.

Time to catch a bus!  Happy spring break, everyone!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Paradigm Shift / Pratipaksha Bhavana

When I was new to yoga, I loved reading Yoga Journal every month.  I subscribed to it, and was stoked when I was able to get a reduced rate as part of my liability insurance once I became a teacher.

The last few years, though - eh.

Part of it is almost certainly that I've allowed time to diminish my interest in to the capital-Y Yoga practice - reading the sutras, learning more about the history and diving deeper into the non-asana parts of the practice.  I expected to be knee-deep in it forever, but when I took a shift toward kids yoga and prenatal yoga years ago, that became less a part of my teaching and therefore I let it slip as part of my personal practice.

The other part of it is that the magazine has largely let itself turn into Glamour with a side of yoga. Every issue it seems like there are more and more pages - not just advertisements, mind you, which come with the territory, but actual magazine content - that's nothing but product placement.  The clothes you have to have, the meditation cushion you need.  Every single cover - every single cover - has been reduced to "8 poses to cultivate inner peace!"  "10 poses to strengthen your core!"  "The 4 poses you need to beat the winter blues!"

Yes, yoga poses are amazing and helpful and can do all those things.  But...come on.  It's not a magic bullet or a magic cure.  Yoga should be better than that, and the magazine's continual quick-fix implications feel gross.

Anyway - getting off my high horse, let me take a moment to actually give props to YogaJournal - or to a teacher quoted in an interview with them, at least.  It's been a long time since I've turned to the Yoga Sutras for help and guidance, but I've been thinking about them more lately, and this week was reminded of sutra 2.33.  My favorite interpretation is from Nischala Joy Devi from her lovely book The Secret Power of Yoga.

"When presented with disquieting thoughts and feelings, cultivate an opposite, elevated attitude.  This is pratipaksha bhavana."

Like a lot in the yoga sutras, it sounds so ridiculously simple.  Having negative thoughts?  Think happy thoughts!  Yay!  All better!

The key word here is cultivate.  The presence of that word indicates an acknowledgement that this is not always so simple.  To cultivate is to try, to foster, to encourage, to seek, or - my favorite definition, from Merriam-Webster: "to improve by labor, care, or study."

My favorite example of this physically is the idea of countering fatigue and exhaustion by doing something as simple as ten jumping jacks.  Just try not to change your energy level after that - you can't help it!  The key is to get yourself up to standing and doing those jumping jacks in the first place to spark the change in your energy level.

As hard as it can be to get your body to move when it's tired, it's all the harder (for me, at least) to get the mind to move when it's stuck on negative thoughts and perceptions.  Whether it's a person whose actions or words have you hurt or angry or a simple case of a negative mood, the mind usually wants to stay in that negative space.  My mother-in-law always refers to the law of inertia (usually in a physical context), and for me that totally applies to a bad mood.  My mind in a whiney space wants to stay in a whiney space.

Tiffany Russo, the yoga teacher quoted in YogaJournal, explains this sutra further: "Patanjali said it's taking a negative and making it a positive.  I think it's also that moment when you can pause and choose to make a shift.  That's yoga - if you can pay attention enough to pause, you have a strong sense of your foundation, and you can blossom and grow from there."

This strikes a chord with me, and makes me think of one of my all-time favorite books My Stroke of Insight, where brain scientist Jill Bolte-Taylor details the stroke she suffered and how much more she learned about the power of our brains as a result.  She teaches us that we have so much power in how we interpret events and thoughts.

We can make a choice to focus on the negative or to focus on the positive.  We can make a choice to step back, take a breath, take a pause, and re-evaluate any given situation from a different perspective.  It's simple, but simple doesn't mean it's easy.  As we say at Karma Kids - that's why we call it a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect.

So - well done, YogaJournal.  Amidst your all-too-typical front cover promises that all my life's problems will be fixed with your "7 poses to find quiet amidst chaos," I feel so much more connected to the true work and benefits of yoga.  More of that, please!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Partial Book Report / Cultivating Play

Have you ever read a book that strikes such a chord with you that you almost don't want to read it because it's overwhelming?

Last month, my book club and I selected Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection after one of our members said she was rereading it.  Coincidentally, my sister happened to be reading that when she came up for her visit last month, so I was excited to get into it, especially after seeing Brene Brown's TED talks.

It's so dense with nuggets of great information and moments of, "Yes, that's so me," that I was very particular about when I read it.  And even as I was reading it, I'd know I would need to reread it several times for it all to sink in.  So, I'm not up to writing a full entry about it because it encompasses a lot - but one element of it has been popping up a lot this last week.

The book is divided up into ten Guideposts - things we ought to work on cultivating, and things we ought to work on letting go.  Easier said that done - another reason why this book overwhelms!

Guidepost # 7 is Cultivating Play & Rest - Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol (hello, NYC) and productivity as self-worth (ME).

Now, the letting go stuff is a waaaaay longer post / therapy session, but cultivating play and rest is really important to me.  I feel incredibly blessed that I work at a place which, though it can be stressful and demanding like any job, is devoted to play.  Even beyond playing yoga with the little yogis who come to our classes, the other teachers and I are constantly playing to find new poses, new games, new events, and new ways to connect to our community and each other.  Just this week I had the opportunity to spontaneously turn into a mermaid as the class that Laura was teaching went on their under the sea yoga adventure!

We talk a lot at Karma Kids Yoga, especially when we're talking about bigger kids and teens, about what a huge stress reliever laughter is.  When was the last time you were in a fit of hysterical laughter?  Like belly cramping, face hurting, genuine-danger-of-peeing-your-pants laughter?

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a laughter meditation.  We share it with the trainees in our Teen Yoga Teacher Training Intensive and it's always the most incredible release.  Yoga doesn't always have to be so holy and serious and all about flexibility or silence - you can play it!

Especially with the news moving at a speed impossible to keep up with, we need the balance of play and laughter in our lives more than ever.  So find a toddler to run around with, grab some friends willing to be ridiculous with you and try a laughter meditation, watch something silly (maybe even live theatre!).  It's hands down the most fun way to beat stress and anxiety while cultivating the joy of play.

Me with the creator of Karma Kids Yoga and all the fun and games I get to enjoy every day, Shari Vilchez-Blatt.
There was much laughter and play as we figured out how to get in to this awesome new partner pose.



Saturday, March 25, 2017

What is your happy place?

Ever since the election, and even more so since the most frightening ever Inauguration Day, I've been trying to temper staying informed and being involved with putting more effort toward adding things that make me happy to my days.  It's a silver lining of the cloud we find ourselves stuck under that this administration has me turning more than ever to practices of self care and focusing on the positive.

In that spirit, I want to start a series of entries focused on those things that bring me joy in life.  A happy place seems like a good place to start.

There are many places I'd identify as my Happy Place, and the one I'm featuring today isn't necessarily a specific place.  Races are a major happy place for me.

This past Sunday, I fulfilled my volunteer credit to work toward getting into the 2018 Marathon.  I went to bed at 9:30, woke up at 4:20, and was out the door by 4:40 heading to Central Park.  If you think that's early, just ask the volunteers for bag check - I think they had to be there at 3:30!  Total madness.

There's a quiet excitement in Central Park before sunrise on the day of the NYC Half Marathon.  20,000 runners are preparing to descend upon the park, heading to their respective park entrance depending on their corrals, checking bags, bouncing up and down or wearing soon-to-be-donated sweatshirts to stay warm.  Volunteers are cheerful and excited and giving as much crazy energy as they can - to stay awake, to stay warm, and to get the runners even more pumped up.


This is the second year I've been a NYRR Ambassador for the Half and both years it has been freezing cold.  One of these days I'll remember that March in NYC does not equal March in the south.  In the south, March is basically the start of flip flop weather!  The cold does, however, I think make the energy even more fun.  Runners who are feeling nervous probably feel a little more nervous, runners who are feeling excited probably feel more excited - and since most runners are feeling both of those emotions at once, it makes for really intense energy really early in the morning.

By the time the first two waves of runners are headed through security and toward the corral, the sun starts to rise over the park.  The world starts to feel a little more real, although there's a profound sense of unreality at sunrise in Central Park, especially when you've already been up for three and a half hours.


My volunteer shift is fun, simple, and rewarding, and this year I got to take advantage of the amazing NYRR RunCenter and their free lockers and went for a run myself around the park after my shift ended.  Running around the course, cheering the runners on, seeing the gorgeous snow in Central Park, seeing the area get flooded with typical Sunday tourists and atypical excited, cheering friends and family just creates even more joyful, excited energy.

Usually, I'm a runner at a race - and usually, the race is a smaller one, like a 5K or a 4 miler.  Volunteering is so valuable not just because it's so very necessary for races to function, but because it reminds you of what is so wonderful and special about racing from a totally different perspective.  It also brings back both bitter and very, very sweet memories of my half marathons and marathon.  Being on the outside looking in helps you see things from a different angle and, for me,  helps me value it all the more the next time I get to be the one wearing the race bib.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A dose of irrational love

The snow day sucked the motivation out of me to do a decent entry yesterday - I did a self-driven home practice for the first time in ages, though, as the snow fell early on Tuesday morning, so that was fabulous.  I still get a yoga related gold star, despite giving my blog the short shrift.

I have a lot of things to write about in the coming weeks, but for now, I'm just going to share something that I really, really, really needed to hear today, for a wide variety of reasons in a wide variety of circumstances.

These words are attributed to Mother Teresa, though some original lines were written by Kent Keith.  She certainly made it famous, in any case.

Wishing everyone peace and warmth on yet another frigid, frigid NYC night!


People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough.
Give the best you've got anyway.
You see,
in the final analysis it is between you and God;
it was never between you and them anyway.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

One Down, Ten to Go

When I tore the plantar fascia in my left foot last year, I wasn't just upset because of being confined to crutches and all the expense and inconvenience and garbage that entails.  I was just two races away from qualifying for the 2017 NYC Marathon under the New York Road Runner's 9:1 program - run in 9 races, volunteer in 1 during a calendar year, and you automatically gain entry into the following year's marathon.

Running in the 2017 marathon was to have particular significance for me because it would fall around my ten year anniversary of being a runner.  I'm a big nerd when it comes to anniversaries and special occasions and pretty much any excuse to celebrate or acknowledge milestones, and the symmetry just seemed to perfect.

Shortly after I first started running in August of 2007, I subscribed to Runner's World.  The idea of running any farther than a 5K seemed like an insane, superhuman feat of unattainable athleticism.  I was intrigued by the columns and articles meant for runners far more advanced than I, and by the constant emphasis on half marathons and marathons.  The race that sounded the most appealing - if I were an athlete instead of just an out of shape college graduate trying running for the first time because I secretly always wanted to and didn't think I could - was the New York City Marathon.

Now, obviously last summer's injury was not a death sentence.  I'm here, I'm almost 100% recovered, and I'm back chasing the goal of the NYC Marathon.  And honestly, I don't care if I ever run another marathon ever again after I conquer this goal.  The marathon distance is not my favorite, and the Disney marathon was really rough.  But there's just something about the New York City marathon - about running through all five boroughs, all of the neighborhoods and cultures and people and life of the city, that has been on my mind for what feels like forever.  I don't really have a bucket list - I just have this one thing that I want desperately to do.

As grateful and happy as I've been to dip my toes back into running, the fastidious, precise part of me that was so pleased by the symmetry of completing this goal on in the same year I'd celebrate 10 years of running was still incredibly disappointed by the loss of the race this year.  And of course, though I entered the lottery for the 2017 marathon, I didn't get a spot.  (It's about as likely as winning the Hamilton lottery if you opened the Hamilton lottery out to the entire world.)

And yet - there's another way to look at it.  As my always-helpful husband pointed out, I can look at the 2018 marathon as a way to kick off the first year of my second decade of running.

And in 2017, this tenth year of running, my challenge to make it to that 2018 marathon is to complete - oh, how funny - 10 races.  Running in 9, volunteering in 1.  My neurotic desire for symmetry is satisfied!

All of that incredibly long and wordy and self indulgent intro is to say - I ran my first race toward that goal on Sunday.  I ran my first race in over 7 months on Sunday.  I ran my first race after injury and rehab and muscle atrophy and oh so much physical therapy homework on Sunday.

After layering with approximately 47,000 pieces of clothing for the 5-degree-with-the-wind-chill-weather and making the hour long schlep up to Washington Heights (it's a lovely race but NEVER AGAIN!), I made it to my corral, bouncing up and down with all the other crazy people running the race with me.  (Some of whom were in shorts.  SHORTS!) Once we crossed the start line and really got going, I kept thinking back to my first race ever, back in the early spring of 2008.  My sister came up from South Carolina, where she was living at the time (or was she in Charlotte by that point?) to run it with me, as she started running shortly after I did and we Galloway method-ed together, which was an awesome way to long-distance bond.

The course was around a place I know and love well, the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.  And oh lord, I thought I was dying.  I think it was the first time I ever ran 3.1 miles, it was probably the hilliest course I'd ever run (and how could it have been that hilly?).  My sister ran ahead at a certain point, and I ran/walked it the rest of the way myself, wondering if I could make it.  My mom was at the finish line cheering us on - a physical manifestation of the metaphorical cheering on she does constantly for us.

My concerns about this run on Sunday were simply paying attention to any pain or sensation in my feet, making sure I didn't let the excitement of a race keep me from my run/walk plan of taking it easy, and making sure my eyeballs didn't freeze solid.  Luckily, I had success on all fronts - although my run/walk ratio was definitely a little off in the first and third miles.

The emotions that overcame me approaching and crossing the finish line were so similar to those I've felt crossing the finish lines of my distance races - the half marathons, the oh so painful marathon.  The sense of accomplishment was for much more than running 3.1 miles, but to being free to go back to doing something I love so much and the hard work it took to get back there.

For a yoga teacher, I can be incredibly inflexible.  I get hung up on an idea of how I want things to be, how I think things are supposed to be - and when things go wrong, when plans, change, when injuries and sickness happen, it can take a long time for me to calm down and get perspective.  It took awhile, but I think I'm there.  I'm so grateful for this giant mess of a race and for the opportunity to participate in 9 more this year on my long, long road to run NYC.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I love running. That is all.

I've had a topic I've wanted to blog about for almost a month now, and it keeps getting sidelined.  Plus I had a phenomenal visit with my big sister this week!  It'll all have to wait til next week because today, I am just overwhelmed with joy and literally crying and have to shout out the rooftop of the Internets that I love running.

I've been gradually increasing my run intervals since I started back to (w)running at the beginning of February, and today I broke the one-minute interval of running - hooray!  Today's run was 30 minutes at 2 minutes walking / 1 minute, 30 seconds running.  If my left heel and right big toe continue to improve, next week I hope to bump that to 2:2 intervals.

Compared to the half marathons I've run and the marathon I ran (which admittedly was probably my poorest performance and worst-feeling race of all the races I've done) and the smaller road races, this is total peanuts.  But compared to the August 16th-end of January, it's like an ultramarathon, with all the endorphins, sense of accomplishment, and pure joy that go along with it.  (I assume.  Ultramarathons, I can confidently say, are not in my future)

Running gets me outside when I otherwise wouldn't be out.  This past week was gorgeous (thanks, Global Warming?) and this morning is right back to chilly weather.  But oh man, the light blue February sky, the early morning sun peeking through Monet clouds, seeing the vast empty park and the other few hardy souls out running or walking, letting my mind go off leash and unplugged and wandering to the Brooklyn Half and someday, dammit, the NYC Marathon, and all the work it takes to get there, and the things I've done right in the past and the things I've done wrong, paying attention to my form, and just being so unbelievably grateful for my body and for what it's capable of and for what it's gone through and overcome and what it will accomplish.

When I got home and moved into my post-run routine of snack and stretch, I just started crying out of nowhere.  Granted, a part of it is probably due to the fact that I had a terrible night's sleep last night, and bad sleep = quick tears for me every single time - but I really had just turned into a leaky faucet of thankfulness.  I am so grateful to have gone from being in a cast to where I am now, even though where I ultimately want to be is far beyond where I currently am...if that makes sense.  Having the ability to even just run 90 seconds at a time gives me an unbelievable well of hope.

There is a lot to be frightened of and angry about at this moment in our world and our country, and that's all the more reason to move deeper toward what brings you satisfaction and joy.   If you have something that makes you feel this way, go to it today.  If you don't, go exploring and find something. I suggest going for a run.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Sounds of Silence

Full disclosure:  As I write this, I am bouncing and fidgeting in my seat with anticipation and excitement at seeing my sister in an hour.  Just one hour!!!  I can't take it.  It's her first kid-free, husband-free getaway since the kiddos were born, and we are going to eat all the food.

Since my attention will be 100% swept away this week as a result, I'm writing today.

This morning marked another first in my return to running - or as I'm referring to it for now, (w)running, because my intervals for any given run contain a higher ratio of walking than running as I ease back in.  My left heel, for the record, feels great - about 98% recovered after these frustrating last six months of recovery.  My right big toe, which I just stubbed stupidly on New Year's Eve, is still talking to me a little it.  It's always something...

Today was my first run post-injury that I did with zero headphones.  No music, no podcasts, no nothing (except my running app telling me when to walk).  Nothing in my ears but the sound of my breath, my steps, and my neighborhood.  It's an absolutely invaluable form of meditation that I didn't even realize how much I missed.

I've been desperately missing the endorphins from running these last six months.  I've missed being outside, I've missed that active alone time, I've missed romance runs with Marc, the chance to do training runs with Laura, missed running into friends in the park, missed the unmatched feeling of having accomplished something great before most people (non parent-people, anyway) are awake on a Sunday morning.

The silence - the head space, if you will - was something I forgot about.  It's one of those things that you know is good for you, you know you genuinely enjoy, yet you sort of sabotage yourself on.  We've become conditioned to always be looking for the next source of information input, and so I feel I have to have a podcast or a playlist or I won't enjoy myself.  I keep forgetting - my own company is pretty awesome, and it's so important to give my brain time and space to wander off.  Plus, nothing is motivating like a really detailed daydream about running the NYC marathon.

If you're not a runner, take a walk - or do a solo yoga practice that you make up as you go along with no music and no guidance.  Find some kind of activity with which you'd normally have some background noise and turn off the noise.  It's one of the easiest and most satisfying shortcuts to presence.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How to open your heart, even when you're tired. Or lazy. Or both!

Happy (day after) Valentine's Day!  Or as I like to think of it, Love & Chocolate day.  It's always been one of my favorite holidays, even though I spent most of them single in my teens and early twenties.  I never wanted to be one of those negative, bitter folks about it - why force it into a pigeonhole of just being about romantic love?  We all have people we love in our lives, and my God, who doesn't love an excuse to eat all the chocolate?

This week, in the spirit of opening and sharing our hearts around Valentine's Day, I want to share one of my favorite restorative poses - a pose I love all the more because I actually cannot stand the non-restorative version of it.

Matsyasana, or fish pose, is a very intense upper-back-and-neck backbend.  For me, there is nothing restful or peaceful or pleasant about it.  My neck doesn't like going that far back, my throat doesn't like being that exposed, and I always feel like my shoulders are shoving themselves into my ears.

From YogaJournal.com, as photographed by David Martinez.  Not my fave...
The restorative version of this pose, however, is absolutely delicious for a variety of reasons.  First of all, there are a billion different ways to do it.  Even though my favorite version involves two yoga blocks, you can enjoy this pose even if you don't own a single yoga-related item (including a mat).  You can use a yoga bolster, pillows, rolled up or folded up blankets, or even super thick books to mimic the feel and heigh of blocks.

The fact that I couldn't find a picture of my favorite way to do it on the Internets just shows you how many ways there are to enjoy this deliciousness - check out the variety of a Google image search of it.

The idea is to support yourself and prop yourself up until you are 100% comfortable and can sustain your position for 5-15 minutes.  (Or longer!)  Prop up either starting at the base of your spine or just below the shoulder blades - you can either prop the head up so it's level, or give yourself a hint of that big throat opener by letting it rest on the ground or propping it up a little lower than your heart.

In restorative fish, take slow, deep breaths with a focus on the inhalation and the deep expansion of the ribcage.  You can keep your focus on the breath or come into any number of visualizations.  Imagine the breath massaging or soothing your heart, or imagine your heart as a warm, shining beacon of light.  Or, you know.  Just relax and take a little yoga nap.

Pictured with smaller-than-average yoga blocks - I prefer a slightly thicker block, but it still feels deeeeelicious.
It's a lovely (and yes, cutesy) pose for this full-of-love holiday, but it's also a really great pose to take in the thick of winter.  Walking around the city, we all scrunch our shoulders up and hunch forward to stave off the cold and wind, leading to caveman posture and ridiculously tight chests and shoulders.

Bonus points - take a deep breath of some essential oils (like Eucalyptus, Peppermint, or a blend like doTerra's Breathe) to really open up.  You can also put your feet together and add on supported baddha konasana (or cobbler's pose / butterfly) by supporting your knees with blankets, pillows, or blocks.  YUM.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Running. Just in time.

I have to start by saying - I should really plan on writing my blog before reading the news.  My plan was simply to write about the absolute joy and glory and gratitude of finally, finally, FINALLY - after almost six months - I went on my first walk/run since my injury.  And as of this morning, my second!

And then - Betsy DeVos and the inevitable gutting of our public schools.  HR 861.  A permeating feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, despair, rage.  A feeling that all the phone calls and protests are for naught.  How can I write about something so trivial as running after all of that?

Because running will be an absolutely essential tool for my sanity during these hard times.  Last week I touched a bit on self care, and running is really more of the same.  Part of why it's been so hard not to run is that it automatically gives me more energy and confidence and ability to take other people's crap without taking it on.  Running doesn't just make me physically stronger and more powerful, it makes me mentally and emotionally stronger and more powerful.

If there's one thing the left needs over these next years, it's strength and power.

I'm starting slow.  Walking for 4 minutes, running for 1 in intervals for 30 minutes this week.  Seeing how I feel.  Checking in with my feet. (Yes, feet plural - my right big toe doesn't want to feel left out of all the attention my left heel is getting) But even that slow, steady start is bringing back a strength and a joy that I haven't felt in so long I almost forgot how amazing it feels.

We're going to get knocked down a lot in the coming years, no doubt about it.  What matters is the strength to get back up and fight harder and smarter with each subsequent issue worth fighting for.   I waited about a thousand times longer to get back to running then I thought I would have to when I first went to the doctor back in August, but there is no time like the present to get it all back.

Stay tuned for more about how my running - and eventual races - are going to be put toward good causes in this good fight.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Self care for the resistance

I was going to write much more about this, but it's one of those days where I honestly just don't have a lot to give.  Just posting feels like enough.  I fully admit that I am feeling beat down by all of the horrifying news that has been coming out.  Even if you put everything policy related aside, it's the attitude toward the press, purging the state department, firing the acting attorney general, and complete mismanagement and gag orders of government agencies that are really making it hard to sleep at night.

Luckily, we have helpful folks like this lady to help remind us to calm down and not operate in panic mode 24/7.  No one can survive that way - and no one can be useful that way.  Check out her article on medium.com here.

I promise next week I'll write with more perspective and elegance about how to find and embrace the good during these crazy times.  Today, I need to get away from the screen to not go crazy myself.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book Report: Plan B (and its extreme timeliness)

Well, hello there on a Sunday!  My designated day of the week to post is Tuesday, and more often than not I'm dragging myself kicking and screaming to the computer, either feeling like I have nothing to say or that I have so much to say that there's no way I could even start.

After a week like this, well...it's definitely the latter.

Other blogging challenges for me lately have been political.  I make no secret that I'm a liberal (also, I'm a yoga teacher living in New York City - it doesn't take a genius to figure that one out) but in the past I usually tried to avoid anything too political on this blog.  I have plenty of conservative family and friends who I love and I don't like the idea of alienating anyone.

What's happening now in our country, though, is way beyond politics.  It's not about liberal or conservative, it's about decency and respect for the truth, about keeping with our core American values.

Again, as a yogi it should shock no one that I gravitated toward the calm, measured, thoughtful, educated candidate who practices meditation as opposed to the one who can't name a particular group of people without putting the othering "the" in front of them (i.e. "the" blacks, "the" gays, "the" Mexicans), and who has said, "Show me someone without an ego, and I'll show you a loser."

Even her slogan of "Stronger Together" is all about the true essence of what yoga is - connection, yoking together, all things being one.  Hell, it's our country's national motto - e pluribus unum.  Out of many, one.  So I strive to be inclusive rather than divisive, and at the same time feel a profound patriotic duty not to remain silent when the stakes are this high.

So where does this book come in?

In our fearless leader's absence, the fabulous ladies' book club I've been a part of for years has been left in my care.  At my friend Laura's insistence, and given the struggles we have to look forward to, I chose for our next book Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott.  It's a memoir about her improbable conversion to Christianity after being raised by fiercely atheist/agnostic parents and friends in California during the 60's and 70's.  I'm not a Christian, but Laura and Lisa (aforementioned fearless leader of our club) are, and I always love talking faith and spirituality with them.  They always inspire me.

In anticipation of loving Lamott (I already loved her memoir on writing, Bird by Bird) I stocked up on her stuff before heading to Costa Rica.  I wound up leaving Traveling Mercies with my wonderful mother-in-law, as it's right up her alley.  She is also a devout Christian, and while she doesn't share Lamott's poltiics (or mine, for that matter), she also grew up in California around the same time and found a lot to relate to.

So after devouring Traveling Mercies, I moved right along to Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.  It was written years after Traveling Mercies in the early throes of the Bush administration's tragic decision to go to war in Iraq.  It was so striking to find Lamott having such similar anxieties and feelings of writhing, angry powerlessness as I feel now.  It felt comforting to know she survived it - although I think we all agree we are in a wildly different league than with Bush.  At least he has class.

Although portions of Plan B would probably not be the most enjoyable read for a conservative - Lamott pulls zero punches with how she feels - it's not all politically focused.  Again, it's mostly a spiritual memoir about her faith, and she also talks a lot about being a mother, a friend, coping with her contentious relationship with her mother and her mother's Alzheimer's, and surviving life's challenges and tragedies.

Much of her books are collections of essays that Lamott has written for publications like Salon.  Happily, I can share with you in entirety one of my favorite essays of hers that had the most resonance.  This sentence in particular struck a chord in my heart, "I felt addicted to the energy of scorning my president.  I thought that if people like me stopped hating him, it would mean that he had won."  And thus follows an essay about one of the single hardest challenges of my life - the notion of forgiveness.

Later, she goes on to say:

Driving home, I tried to hold on to what I'd heard that day: that loving your enemies was nonnegotiable.  It meant trying to respect them, it meant identifying with their humanity and weakness.  It didn't mean unconditional acceptance of their crazy behavior.  They were still accountable for the atrocities they'd perpetrated, as you were accountable for yours.  But you worked at doing better, at loving them, for the profoundest spiritual reason:  You were trying not to make things worse. 


It touches on an element that I've struggled with a lot all election season.  To be passionate without going crazy.  To be informed without becoming obsessed.  To have some peace in your heart, even if the news makes you despair.  It's like the old quote, often attributed to the Buddha - "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of hurting another person - you are the one who gets burned."

The entire essay is really worth a read:  "Loving Bush, Day 2."  And just go ahead and order the book, which is seriously worth it:  Plan B:  Further Thoughts on Faith

---

Yesterday was exhilarating.  The women's march in literally all 7 continents did my heart so much good.  To feel so connected, to feel so one, with so many people was heartening.

But it hasn't fundamentally changed anything - not yet, at least.  The work that is yet to be done is less fun, and much harder.  We still have a President who sends his press secretary to dispute accurate reporting on the size of his inauguration crowd instead of actual life and death issues facing this country.  In attempting to protect his ego, he puts us all at risk.

Yet even though I'm not a Christian, and even though I am sure as hell not a Trump supporter, and even though I don't pray with much regularity or structure or faith that I'm actually being heard - I'm going to pray for this President.  I have never prayed regularly for a President before, not even Obama.  He did just fine without my help.

But I will be praying every. single. day. that whatever forces or Gods are out there help him to keep us safe.  Help him to keep him off his goddamn Twitter.  Help him to see truth and seek truth to the best of his ability, even if it's not that great.  I will be praying that he listen to the better angels of his nature - and he must have some, he is still a human being.  I will be praying that he grows a semblance of thick skin, that he can ignore inevitable criticism and get to work.  I will pray his attention span grows.  I will pray every single day.

And I will donate, and I will call, and I will write letters, and I will march when there are marches, and I will do everything in my power to stop him from destroying this country that I love.  We are the popular vote.  We are not going away.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Whole 30 Round 4 / New Year's Round 2

So, tragically, we had to return to the US after a magical time in Costa Rica.  It was extraordinary beyond any description - we cried having to say goodbye, and have already made plans to return March 2018 to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary.

Every morning - with the exception of the morning we had surf lessons (so fun!!) - I did my very own yoga practice outside in an observation deck my father-in-law had built outside, just above the house.  Like the house itself, it has both a jungle view and an ocean view.  No guidance, no teacher but me.  No music, no soundtrack but nature.  I can't adequately describe how special and moving it was, each and every day, so I'll just the pictures speak a thousand words.

 It was so special getting to share my in-laws dream house with them and spending so much time together.  We were incredibly sad to part, but so grateful to them in knowing that this home is in our family forever.

Coming back, I wasted no time - Sunday was Day 1 of my 4th round of Whole30.  It's definitely the most whiplash-like I've ever done it, in the sense that the day before was full of non Whole30 foods and spent largely in the air, rather than in the kitchen prepping and cooking.
But having done it a few times gives me the advantage of having a predictable few simple, easy meals I can easily whip up.  My mom is joining me too, which always makes it easier and more fun!

So while I'm mourning the end of both vacation and the Obama administration, it feels like a second crack at New Year's.  A second crack at that feeling of fresh-start, of getting ourselves grounded.  Reaffirming resolutions, immediately taking drastic steps to improve my health on as many fronts as I can, and settling back in to our home sweet home feels really good.  Almost as good as the Costa Rican sun, but I'll still take it!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Adios for now...

Sitting down to write this, I'm 100% distracted by wondering if I remembered to do everything on the eve of our first vacation in two years.  Did I tie up all the loose ends at work?  Did I pack everything?  Prepare everything?

I'm in a fairly scattered place to be writing a blog, is what I'm saying.

2016 decided not to leave without throwing in a few parting shots so very typical of the year.  I came down with a New Year's cold (feels like my 407th since November) and jammed the bejesus out of my right big toe, in a repeat of a minor injury (that I never got treated because I am so foolish sometimes) I got about three years ago.  It doesn't quite want to straighten on its own and while I can move it through a full range of motion, I can't do that without pain.

So, sigh.

Small potatoes, and immediate challenges to my sunny 2017 attitude.  I am 100% someone who buys into the magic of The New Year and resolutions and intentions and all of that.  So two things that are sure to set me off to all of my super unattractive and super un-yogic traits of being angry and sad and frustrated and self-pitying - being sick and being injured.  Check and check.

Luckily, my word for 2017 - Light.

Lighten up.  Spread light.  All the myriad of ways you can think of it.  I want more light.

There is a lot of darkness to come in 2017, and I want to fight against it without becoming a part of it.

Luckily, I'm about to go to Costa Rica - where I can soak up light by the absolute barrel-ful.

So I'll expound and pontificate on that more when I get back - hopefully with a clean bill of health, a fully functioning right toe, a fully healed and pain free left plantar fascia and heel, and a tan - but for now, I leave you with one of the most beautiful songs that make me think of my 2017 intention.  You should all listen to it.  Track 10, the last track of this totally lovely album by Leo Sidran.