40 Days to Personal Revolution

Tomorrow we have a final meeting/celebration to mark the end of the 40 Days program I’ve been participating in at Cleveland Yoga. We were buddied up with a partner on our first day, and my partner was Rachel. She’s cool. Like, Burning Man cool(she goes every year). She runs her own super creative branding company.

She decided to write a list of “40 Reasons to Continue the 40 Day Lifestyle.”

Rachel’s list inspired me to write my own list about what I have accomplished over the last 40 days. Turns out, I’ve been busy.

1) Got my hair cut.

2) Got all new bras and underwear.

3) Meditated every day, usually twice.

4) Got the kitchen re-did. I finally have a dishwasher, and new counter tops are on the way.

5) Ate nothing but fruit for five days. It was supposed to be three days, but I got sick in the middle and started over.

6) Practiced yoga six days a week.

7) Saw the doctor for my lady parts (had not been in years).

8) Started seeing a naturopath.

9) Scheduled a mammogram for tomorrow (have not been in years).

10) Started ballroom dance class with Hot Toddy.

11) Cleaned my office.

12) Cleaned the home school shelves.

13) Researched school possiblities for the kids.

14) Updated my resume and submitted it for a possible per diem writing job.

15) Figured out a way to fit writing two hours a day into my schedule (without having to wake up at 5AM to do it).

16) Continued to study for my nursing boards.

17) Rejoiced over my daughter having a very successful experience at her friend’s slumber party.

18) Ate almost no processed foods.

19) Refused to weigh myself because this is not about weight.

20) Am able now to keep up with a 90 minute hot yoga class.

21) Have done many head stands.

22) Made a new buddy.

23) Ate at least one yoga meal almost every day.

24) Grew to really love yoga and commit to a more regular practice long term.

25) Still got together for a glass of wine on most Wednesday evenings with friends.

26) Saw a big reduction in Seth’s tics. Then a slight increase. Then less again, I think.

27) Thought of a possible nursing niche I can be down with. Not sure if it exists yet.

29) Got an abdominal massage and started the process of healing the trauma associated with my kids’ births.

30) Journaled each week.

31) Did not have caffeine.

32) Became wheat free.

33) Decided on white appliances with the notion stainless is trendy and will become outdated. Saved money rationalizing this way, whether it’s true or not.

34) Hurt my kids’ feelings when one overheard me venting that I never wanted to be a  home schooler.

35) Got through it. Talked it out with the kids. Changed some things to help make it work for me.

36) After beating myself up hard for a couple of days, forgave myself. I’ve  been incredibly giving and devoted to my children, and no one is perfect.

38) Went through every dresser drawer and packed up all the outgrown clothes or stuff we don’t wear. Gave it to the Veterans. They pick up right at your door!

39) Breathed more.

40) Valued myself.

I think it would be a good idea to do the 40 Days thing each year. To reset, and evaluate how my life is going. A lot of energy shifted during this time. I’m feeling really unstuck.

If you are interested in doing the 40 Days program, the book is titled 40 Days to Personal Revolution by Baron Baptiste. I recommend doing it with a buddy. Even an e-mail buddy. Someone to process with and hold some accountability to. It was a very worthwhile experience.

Namaste.

Standing on my head

I have about a week left on my 40 Days journey. I thought I’d be writing about it like crazy, but it’s strange. I’ve felt very “inward.” I put up one post the other day, found it boring and took it down. I really have no interest in diets, or what people are eating, and it was the three day fruit cleanse, and just….well….I don’t know.  I ate a lot of avocados. I survived eating nothing but fruit. Who cares?

It isn’t as challenging as I thought it would be to practice yoga six days a week. I love it. My body feels really expansive as far as flexibility. Yesterday, I was practicing my yoga at home, in my office, and I went into the pose which is the preparation for “head stand.” I always do the prep, never the head stand. I just assume I can’t do a head stand. And while I was there, I had a memory. I could do head stands as a kid, easily. And before I could even think about it, I was doing a headstand, and I stood there in my office, on my mat, on my head, for about ten seconds before remembering I am a 43 year old woman who can’t do a head stand.

Last night while he was brushing his teeth, I stood on my head in the hallway and called Todd. He stepped out of the bathroom and was surprised to find me standing on my head. This morning I did the same party trick for the kids. They were shocked to come around the corner from their bedrooms and find their mother standing on her head in the hall. I might I say, they were thrilled and totally impressed.

I don’t really know what my point is, other than our own thoughts are usually the thing stopping us.  I don’t have to look very far in my life to see other places where a change in my limited beliefs would do me a world of good.

Yoga Releases Trauma

When Riley was about eight months old, I signed up for a 12 week session of yoga. We were living in Illinois, I knew no one. I needed to get out of the house. I wanted to get back in shape. I had not taken yoga in a couple of years.

One night, a guy named Paul was teaching. He had very gentle energy. The class went well. It was just challenging enough. I was pushed, but not too far. The last several moments of yoga class are usually spent in Savasana, lying flat on your back, arms to your sides, palms up, eyes closed. Total relaxation and surrender. Paul played some music during that night’s Savasana and I’ve been trying to find it ever since. It was acoustic guitar. It sounded almost Native American, but maybe not. The voice was that of a gentle father, filled with love for his child. It was like balm on my soul. Maybe my father never loved me like that, but some fathers do. Fathers can treat their babies as precious. In that moment, I felt paternally loved. I wish I could find that music. I don’t even know what the name of the yoga place was to track Paul down and ask him.

Another night, I was in class. The teacher was a woman, who was very no nonsense. She wasn’t gentle like Paul. She was good though. Just different. During the class as I went into downward dog pose, I was surprised as emotions came bubbling up. I held the pose in silence as tears started to hit my mat. I gulped and managed to keep going. During Savasana this “all business” instructor knelt at my head and with strong gentle hands rubbed China Gel (kind of like Ben-Gay) into the back of my neck. I hadn’t asked her to do so, and did not expect it, but it felt okay.

While driving home that night, I had a complete emotional meltdown. Tears just ripped their way out of me and I had to pull over the car on a dark rural road because I could not drive. When I finally could move, I got back onto the road and crept home, sobbing as I clutched the steering wheel. Letting myself into the apartment, Todd was there on the couch, watching TV. Our eyes met and the tears came again. I could not talk. He feared I’d been in an accident. He didn’t know what was wrong. I climbed onto his lap on the couch and began to sob. Began to wail. It wasn’t even my voice anymore. It was young. It was tiny. I cried harder than I have ever cried before or since. He held me and he let me, and he didn’t even know what was wrong. I didn’t know what was wrong either. I still am not sure what it was all about.

I’d suffered incredible trauma just eight months prior during Riley’s arrival, and was sent home 24 hours later to care for a baby with no follow up, after enduring what anyone would consider torture(epidural didn’t take on one side, felt the surgery). Or maybe it was a lifetime of being Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar.

All I know is I released something huge that night. And maybe that’s why I have only taken yoga sporadically over the years. Maybe I’ve been afraid of emotions that big.

Maybe it’s finally time.

Maybe it’s finally safe.

I’ve had a couple of teary moments at yoga lately. I just keep moving through it. It’s okay. I’m just crying. I can cry and do yoga at the same time. And it’s not always like that. Sometimes yoga is pure joy.

The other night, during our final child’s pose, I heard someone a couple of mats over, quietly weeping.

I said a prayer for her, that she be healed.

May we all be healed.

If You’re Thinking of Beginning a Yoga Practice

I took my first yoga class in 1998 as an elective when I was in nursing school. Twice a week, I was mandated to be on a mat, for 1.5 hours. Pure heaven for a stressed out student. I have a chronic shoulder problem. All my stress goes to my right shoulder and it gets all tight and contracted and very painful. I’d tried lots of different things to fix it over the years and nothing helped, but yoga did. I was amazed. If I stop yoga, it comes back, but if I am doing it regularly it keeps the shoulder in check. Since then, I have taken a six week session here, a ten week session there. With months and usually years in between them. I tried doing it at home, but found the distractions of little kids and animals almost impossible to contend with.

Last year I bought a limited pass at the yoga studio I currently go to. The first class I went to was a power yoga class and I made the mistake of thinking I’d just modify the poses and I’d be fine. I wasn’t fine. I was killed. It was hard. This was the teacher. I was so not ready for Parker.

And it’s no wonder I had a hard time motivating myself to get back to the studio after that. It wasn’t until the pass was about to expire that I got my butt to the studio. And in order to use it up, I had to go every other day for a month.

If you have not done yoga in a long time or if you are going to start yoga for the first time, take a beginner class. Take a slow flow class. Take a restorative class. Do yourself a favor and don’t take power yoga, hot. You’re just setting yourself up for failure. You have to build up to the likes of Parker!

But that’s the good thing about this studio. There are classes for every level.

And going every other day! Wow. If you go once a week, it’s like starting over every time. It’s hard. You won’t want to go. Going every other day as much as possible has made a huge difference for me. It’s amazing how quickly the body develops strength and balance when used often. In this 40 Days program, I am doing yoga every day for six days, then off on the 7th. Sometimes it’s only a 1/2 hour at home, but I try to get to the studio as often as possible.

You know what I love about yoga? It’s collective, but it’s also so personal. You are there with a group, and it’s great when the room is breathing in sync, really flowing, but no one gives a rip about where anyone else is at. There are going to be people who are really fit, and there are going to be people who are really not. No one cares. There are people with no flexibility. People who are very flexible. There are athletes. There are pregnant people modifying the poses to fit their needs. There are sexy twenty year-olds. There are ladies who lunch. There are overweight people. There are elderly people,(some fit as fiddles). I am always amazed by the splash of humanity that shows up for any given class. Where else would all of us come together? Nowhere.

To me, it is a victory if I just get there. If I get out the door of my house and make it to the studio, and roll out my mat. I’ve already won. Whatever happens after that is gravy.

Cleveland Yoga has amazing teachers. If you want to be inspired, click here and watch some of their videos. Marni’s and Candy’s videos are really cute. And I love Joanne’s. All of them are great,really.

And guess what folks? One day recently Parker’s was the only class I could fit into my schedule. Fearful, I seriously considered staying home. Like, I could hardly walk for a few days last time! But I went. It was challenging, but I kept up. I could do it! And I’ve only been at it seriously for a few months. (Note: we’re not doing in class what she’s doing in the video).

Yoga. With my sporadic history I hardly feel qualified to be giving advice, but I will anyway.

1) Start slow.

2) Go often.

3) Remember to breathe.

There is a spiritual aspect of yoga. Connecting your body and your breath, you can often find glimpses of God while on your mat. You might even beg for God while holding certain poses!

You might also, after a couple of months, walk up to your husband, flex your butt, and say, “Feel my butt!”

And then bask in his being impressed with it’s new firmness.

Hey, it’s not all about enlightenment.

Namaste.

Day 11

I got my hair cut yesterday. I got it chopped. Like, it was down mid-back and now it’s not even past my shoulders. I went in, thinking I was getting a trim. And then, right as she was starting to cut, I was all….no, I want something different.

Tonight we had a yoga meal. What’s a yoga meal you say? It’s part of the 40Days workshop. You have to stay in your seat. Whatever you need must be on the table already or you don’t need it. No conversation while chewing. You can have conversation, just not with any food in your mouth. Swallow completely before talking. It’s more challenging than you think. Wait until your food is completely chewed and swallowed before picking up your next bite. No more than two handfuls of food on your plate. Finish those and then wait five minutes before taking any more food. Wait until food is completely digested before eating again.

I have been super wigged out and sad the last several days. I do believe it is because I am not emotionally eating. Great incentive to do a program like this right? You’ll be wigged out and sad! Hurray! But I do feel the sadness lifting. I feel things happening. I cut my hair, a sure indicator of an energy shift! I’m doing yoga everyday (resting on the 7th) and I am noticing my range of motion is greatly improving. I didn’t know I was getting all old and contracted, but I’m feeling very open in my shoulders, noticed particularly when I back the car out of our skinny driveway. Some days I can’t make it to the yoga studio but I practice at home, and shoot for at least twenty minutes. Once I get going, my body tends to ask for more. I wind up doing it for 35-60 minutes. The hardest part is starting.

In class, we start out in child’s pose, and it’s supposed to be restful but that first child’s pose is never restful for me. My hips are so tight. It hurts to “rest” that way. By the end of the class I’m limber, I can melt right into child’s pose. It feels good. I breathe.

I love the rejuvenation classes. I love the slow flow classes. I love the basic classes. I love the “hot” classes. I love having a variety of times and classes to choose from. I love seeing progress. One day I can’t do something and then the next day I can. I love coming home with damp clothes and throwing them down the laundry shoot and taking a wicked hot shower.

The program isn’t about eliminating anything per se. I thought it was going to be like that but it’s not. It’s about being conscious. Knowing yourself better. Making time for yourself. Being more present in the world. Not neglecting yourself. 

I think a lot of the sadness, and anger I’ve been feeling is about that. About the neglect. It’s sad when a woman can only muster up enough time to get her hair cut twice a year. It’s sad when she can’t find time to trim, let alone paint her toenails. It’s sad when she’s only had two overnights with her husband in ten years. When she can’t take a shower without a kid coming in to talk her ear off through the curtain. It’s sad when she can’t have an uninterrupted meal or cup of coffee. And sometimes it makes me mad. And then I resist my feelings and pile on the guilt for feeling angry and sad. I have so much! How dare I feel sad or mad.

No clear solutions on how to alleviate my overhwhelm. For now I’ll just keep hitting the mat and see where it takes me.

Namaste. LOL.

 

Together, 24/7

What is something in your life that you have an attachment to that is somewhat limiting your vitality?

This was our question to ponder at last night’s 40 Days weekly meeting.

Mine is that I am the only person in the world who can give my children what they need at this time, even if it is killing me somewhat limiting my vitality. I don’t see a clear way out of doing what we are doing presently, but I’m actively considering there might be other ways to live and learn which can work for all of us, including me.

I’m a little loopy after IVIG, but Seth…he’s fine.

Seth had his third IVIG infusion today and it went well. Todd made sure to get the morning off so he was there for moral support. We went at a slower rate, and even had to slow that down when I noted Seth getting antsy (which was the first sign he was having a problem last time). As soon as they lowered the rate, he was fine. He’s a little trooper and so is his sister who sat there in the tiny room for the four hours it took. (She has her iPod and snacks so it isn’t exactly torture, but it’s a long time to sit).

I am exhausted and didn’t realize how much I was “holding” as in energy, as in worry, as in the weight of the world, until after it was over and I knew he was safe. Presently, I feel like I could nap for a week. Thank you for keeping him in your thoughts and prayers.

My 40 Days program. Let’s see.  They want you to keep a food diary and what I’ve discovered is I mostly eat scraps. I make the kids a meal and eat what they don’t. I rarely have a nice, present, sit down, calm meal. I am so burned out from cooking. For so many years I had to make every little morsel from scratch. And as the mom, I sit down at the table and someone needs this, and someone needs that, and someone needs to be told to chew with their mouth shut, again, and someone spills something and it is never really relaxing for me. I hate being interrupted a bunch of times while I’m eating. And HT’s schedule is so all over the place, he’s not home for dinner half the time, and Seth doesn’t like anything and dinner has become this thankless, stressful obligation, so I slap it on the table like a short order cook and eat “what’s left.”

Kind of horrid if I really think about it. I want to teach my kids to be present when they eat. I want to have lovely conversations at dinner. Is that just a Norman Rockwell pipe dream? Does anyone really do that? What I often am at dinner is annoyed. And whooped. And so I’d rather just not bother. I don’t like eating when I’m irritated (unless it’s chocolate ice cream…then full throttle baby). Or I eat late with Todd, right before bed, nachos, buttered popcorn, etc.) and there’s a bad idea for you.

So I’m thinking I have to be the grown up here, and set the tone. Involve the kids more in dinner prep. Make a prettier presentation. Let them “get” for themselves so I’m not up and down during meals. And most definitely not wait for the man of the house to be home to feed myself. I need to treat myself with as much care as I would  dear friend.

Would I ever have Amy or Melinda over and offer them the scraps of leftover mac & cheese from the kids’ dinner plates? Or maybe give em’ a spoon and let them have at it right out of the pan, standing in the kitchen? Or serve them the crusts off a kid’s sandwich? Or give them a half eaten yogurt? Or a half eaten bowl of cereal?

I would not.

You know why?

Scraps are for hogs. And compost heaps. Not friends. I need to be more of a friend to myself.

I am not a hog or a compost heap.

That might be my new mantra.

Say it with me.

Lovingly yours,

MO’N