Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm Molting

Little Jane. 1996 - 2010. She never like the camera. But she sure liked me.

All the things I've loved and that have kept me safe and housed and tethered are falling away. Like pieces of armour dropped on a long march.

My dog, who died today in my arms.

The Boy, who is gone.

My hair that I cut off.

My apartment that I'm leaving soon.

It makes me wonder what I'll find up ahead when it's just me and my skin out there.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Have Mat, Will Travel

This was where my bike ride took me. I had a broken spoke so I had to bag the ride and go to EMS for a repair. Except that they didn't open for an hour. So, I rolled out my mat, enjoyed the empty parking lot, blue sky and sea breeze and did a lovely 40 minute practice.

I started with some Sun As & Bs. Then did a series of triangle, parsvakonasana to ardha chandrasana. Prasarita Parsvattonasana with my head touching the ground (not quite up into tri pod headstand.) Some pigeon, upavishta konasana, janusirsasana, paschimottanasana. We haven't been doing many forward bends in class and I miss them. I tried crow which was made slightly more difficult by the slick coating of sun screen and bug spray that I had applied earlier, but it forced me to use my core more. I held the poses for 5 deep breaths, adjusting them and really feeling them without the noise of a teacher instructing me but still working from the inside out to express them.


It was nice to be outside. I think that is what has kept me from practicing at home with my low ceilings, I need more space. I want more space. And the continuous breeze even though the sun was on me felt so good.

I feel weirdly like I haven't moved enough today. I think because I was all prepared for a couple of hours of biking, and now my bike is in the shop (getting a lot of good things done) and it's too sunny to go out on my other bike and I'm covered in sweat and sun screen and bug spray and I feel all discombobulated. I should just go buy some cheese.

"I mean, I can't put my legs behind my head or anything."

This is what someone said to me the other day when we were talking about yoga. And I've heard it, or some variation of it, before.

You know what you never hear from a beginning runner? "I mean, I can't run an ultra-marathon yet or anything."

Or from a beginning cyclist? "I mean, I can't get up the Pyrenees with Lance or anything."

And yet people think that they need to come to yoga already being able to do all the things you learn in yoga.

When I re-started my practice this spring, the very first class I went to found me unable to bend my knee very much in warrior 2. My quads had not done any work in months and they wondered what on earth I was doing to them. My teacher wanted me to bend my leg more, but I just said "this is as far as it's going today." "I love it!" he exclaimed and we carried on.

We both knew that as I got stronger (which didn't take very long) my leg would bend and I'd have a nice right angle and we could then work on other stuff but for now (then) it was enough that I was on my mat.

I'm going mountain biking again this morning. I mean, I can't hop over a log and the trails aren't really steep, but I think I'll still have fun. : )

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ballet Class

(photo source.)

Yoga today felt like ballet class. In Russia. None of the lovely fun poses from yesterday, just hard hard work. As though we were standing at the barre doing the same positions over and over until our muscles ached. And as though someone was walking around with a switch. And all I wanted to do was pirouette around the room.

At one point during prasarita padottanasna C (standing wide legged forward bend) with our hands clasped behind out backs and then coming up over our heads as we leaned forward, the teacher came and stood beside me, planted her leg in front of mine (so I couldn't bend my knees) and then pushed my hands forward keeping her hand on my back so I couldn't come up. It was an alarming adjustment, mostly in my mind because it felt so uncharacteristically harsh, but also in my hamstrings. I held it with a twisted face trying to breath through it. I know I could have said "stop" and almost did, but I breathed instead. My hamstring was fine. My brain was not.

My Saturday teacher is a wonderful teacher, an Ashtangi, but physically the classes are so hard for me. A lot of junk was bubbling up in class today. That's another reason I find them so hard. In my other classes the teacher and I will talk a bit, laugh sometimes, while still working hard and making progress on things. On Saturdays, there is no release of that energy or frustration. It just bubbles and simmers and swirls around in my brain. I think that's why on Saturdays 80% of the time I end up crying by the end of class. Not huge blubbery crying, but yoga crying.

There are no more Saturday classes until Fall, so I'm going to use that time to build my home practice. I bought an Ashtanga DVD which I haven't watched yet. I feel like I want to use these next 6 weeks or so to get my head and my body in order so that these classes aren't so tough.

It is so humid today. I need to figure out what to do with the farmer's market veggies so they don't wilt all over the place. And then move them so I can hang out there.

Friday, July 23, 2010

When You Just Don't Feel Like It

This was what kept me home from yoga last night (and off my mat at home). Also, I think my couch's gravitational pull is stronger some days than other. I'll blame the random 2 a.m. wake up for skipping the 8 a.m. yoga class today. But I did sign up for 9:30 even though I don't really feel like going. It will get me out of the house and on with my other errands.

I need to practice at home more. If I am really serious about wanting to progress to the more difficult poses, I need to practice at home
. (This is what I wrote this morning before leaving for yoga class.)

Then this is what we did in class.
And I actually did it! (Photo source. Bird of Paradise pose)

And this, crane pose. Which was awesome and strong. I try to remember Sadie Nardini when I do crow. I like her cues.

And 8 Crooked Limb Pose.
(Both from YogaJournal.com)

It was an awesome class and I felt good and strong. And so glad I went. I think I'm out of my yoga funk where I felt like I wasn't doing anything fun and challenging.

And we worked on my chaturanga to up-dog, I had been dipping down way to far and then couldn't get back up (but also couldn't stop before I got down too far) without putting my thighs down. My teacher now has me only going down as far as I can while still maintaining control in my arms, and then flipping into up dog. This means my chest is high off the ground, but it feels like I will progress better this way, and my alignment feels better too.

We'll see what tomorrow morning brings, and whether too many Jelly Belly jelly beans improve my practice or hinder it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bummer, Dude.

(My niece, when she was a baby.)

I'm having one of those days where I want to hold a baby and sniff its head and have it lie there sleeping on my chest. And then return it to its parents after 15 minutes or so.

One of those days filled with little annoyances and small (well, medium sized) disappointments that just start to weigh on you a bit. Forgotten soon enough, I suppose, but here with me today.

And I'm reading this book about finding husband after 35 using techniques learned at Harvard Biz School, which is hysterically funny, sad, frightening and intriguing all at once. Apparently if I follow her plan I should have a husband in 12-18 months. Except that her Program (yes, its referred to as "The Program") involves setting aside 10-20% of your income to go towards your "marketing," making telemarketing calls to every single person you remotely know to see if they know any single people, finding a "mentor" who has 2 hours a week to spare helping you with The Program, and then devising a series of tests for your man once you find him just to make sure he really is the right one. One of the tests she suggests is asking him to help one of your friends move. Seriously.

In the spirit of that book I took myself to a Spanish wine and cheese pairing class last week, since, you know, that's where single men hang out. Actually, it's where lesbians and other single straight women looking for single men hang out. But the food was amazing, the wine was fantastic and I got a tour of a cheese cave (which doesn't really look like a cave.) And the cheese monger had dreamy eyes.

If you are lucky I'll share some of my adventures in this realm from time to time, just so you don't get bored on my journey to forearm balance and handstand.

There are thunderstorm warnings tonight. Maybe a nice storm and the change in barometric pressure will blow these bahs out of here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I felt like such a scatterbrain today! Twice at work I had that "oh, crap I forgot to do that!" feeling. Thankfully it was not related to client work, but still threw me off.

Then I had brought my yoga clothes so I could go to class after work and when I got to class I realized I had no pants. The studio has a boutique attached so I was able to buy some pants (and borrow a mat since I had forgotten mine) but again, it left me unsettled.

My practice didn't feel great but it did feel good to be practicing so early in the week. Even though I was the only one in class and had to hold warrior longer than I wanted so we could get my back femur doing one thing and my other inner thigh spiraling somewhere while my leg straightened by didn't hyperextend and my ankle muscle siezed into a mini charley horse.

Sunday I biked 17 miles so my legs appreciated the stretching. And last night I ate cheese for dinner and went to bed too early, waking up at 2:30 and not falling back asleep so my body appreciates the yoga, too. I knew that class would keep me out of the house during prime snacking hour and prevent me from crashing too early.

Zonked now and looking forward to sleep. Long, continuous sleep.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Floating Savasana

What a day! I am wiped out. But thankfully did not wipe out.

After this morning's intense yoga class my plan was to hang out inside all day to avoid the sun and heat. Then my friend emailed and said she had just gotten a new mountain bike and was going to the trails with her husband. Next thing I knew I was dressed and throwing my bike in the back of my SUV and out the door. If you can't beat the heat, join it!

How have I never gone mountain biking in my life?! It was so much fun! Being on the trails and having to constantly be paying attention and present so you don't fall or jam your pedal into a rock or wipe out in a big thing of mud is really a good time. It's like yoga, kind of, where if your mind gets all noisy you'll fall so you really have to pay attention and work but also trust your bike. Then you get to a calmer part of the trail and it's like resting in down dog.

We did about 8 miles in the woods, then a few on the road.

Finally home and showered and I decided not to swim since I was tired and drinking rose'. But then 6:30 rolled around and I knew the water would be awesome so I was back on that bike for a couple more miles to the beach.

The water was heavenly, and it turns out that a lot of people come back to my little beach in the evening and they bring dinner. It's very cute to see while I swim back and forth and float. Tonight I finished my swim with a floating savasana. Just lying back, totally relaxed, palms up, exactly like savasana on the floor but in the water. Ears just under the water so all I can hear is the rocks rolling against each other.

I think that must be what heaven is like.

How I Lost Zero Pounds With Yoga (and hiking, biking and swimming)

(me and Monadnock)

Back in March I started attending yoga classes on a regular basis, 4-5 days a week. Then as spring unfolded I began biking again, and hiking. Now that summer is here I've added swimming to my weekly activities.

I would love to be able to tell you that the yoga (and other stuff) helped me release the "extra" 30 pounds I've been carrying for a few years. How I've been amazed at how the weight melted off and I've had to get rid of all my clothes and can hardly believe I'm the same person. How my arms look like Madonna's, my quads rival Lance Armstrong's and my abs look like some awesome abs on some amazing person.

But none of that actually happened. And shows no sign of happening. I have no dropped one blessed pound.

Yes, my arms are getting defined, my quads are showing shape (we won't talk about the belly) my strength has increased since that first day in class when I could barely hold my second warrior, I can do upward bow pose, my inversions are better, I sort of kicked up into forearm balance yesterday, my dolphin is swimming and strong, I hung on during the Level 3 class this morning where my teachers were students along side me, I felt amazing and strong during my hike last weekend.

But, folks, I'm still overweight. I'll pause while you gasp and wonder what I must be eating to counteract the hundreds and thousands of calories I'm burning every week. (It's actually the same as I was eating while I sat around and did nothing and didn't lose weight.)

So, that's what's happening here. Yoga and hiking and biking and swimming won't magically make the weight fall off you. They will kick your butt and make you cry and soar and want to give high-fives to people, but they will do nothing at all to the number on the scale. And that's ok with me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


My priority right now is not learning to run. It is swimming when the tides are right (like tonight, choppy but warm), biking, doing yoga and hiking. There isn't time to spend doing something I don't enjoy which could negatively impact my doing of the things I do enjoy by making my legs sore or cutting into my time to do those things.

Maybe in the fall or winter, when it's colder and I can't swim and it's dark so I don't want to bike, then I'll start running. But right now it would not be a beneficial addition to my life. And I'm ok with that.

My desire to do a triathlon could probably be met by doing a bike ride with a group or something like that.

So, I shall save Week1Day2 of C25k for some day in the future.

For now, I have a hike to plan, a bike to put away and a swim suit to hang on the line.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Today I rested. After work I turned on the AC, drank beer, ate pizza and watched the Lindsay Lohan hearing on TMZ.com. That was awesome. Dirty looks, angry mutterings, pleading glances, then tears, recrimmination, a stern judge and 90 days in jail followed by 90 days inpatient treatment. All easily avoided if you skip drinking, drugging & driving, lying, blaming other people, making excuses, skipping out on things, pretending the rules don't pertain to you and then lying a little more. Let that be a lesson to you.

Now my belly is full, my quads are still sore and I'

Plan for the rest of the night: transport the cold air around with me, read, and chill.

Tomorrow is day 2 of C25K... I swear that I will complete it. Come hell or high temps. I promise. I swear. As long as this pizza is no longer in my belly and my legs don't feel like lead and it's not 90 degrees out...

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Ladies Leisurely Quad-Town Triathlon

I did a triathlon today. My own made up schedule and route and as I was taking yet another break under a shady tree, I decided that it would be called the Ladies Leisurely Quad-Town Triathlon. And I shall hold it every year, and we shall pretend we are biking in costumes like this:And swimming in those heavy wool things, and running, well, Ladies don't really run all that fast so we shall perhaps alternate between running and walking lest we get the vapors.

It started with a 40 minute swim this morning. Heavenly as always. I think that I have a high tolerance for cold water, because I'm generally the only one swimming. Other people hop in and out giving those little hoots you give when the water is cold. I give a few hoots, but then I settle in. I'm thankful for the swimming lesson in the ocean when I was little - I remember cold morning with the teacher on the shore in a fleece jacket and us in the water, shivering away. But now I can swim and not mind the cold water so it was for the best!

After the swim I biked home (it's less than 2 miles) and had second breakfast - cold polenta with shrimp - changed, sunscreened up and headed back out. I have to say that pre-hydrating and eating more before the ride make a big different.

I biked 6.5 miles to the High School, which is located at the top of 2 hills. I discovered that my bike doesn't have enough gears as I cranked up those hills. The old 10 speed may not last me much longer... I sat for a bit in the shade and recovered my breath and thought about the fact that I then had to do Week 1, Day 1 of Couch to 5k. It's alternating 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes, with a 5 minute walk warm up & cool down.

I really need to find a better place to train for running than a non-shaded, black asphalt, high school track. Talk about miserable heat. I also need to find a bra that gives me support (which I had) but still allows for full breathing (not so much). Running is pretty much the most unpleasant activity to me. It wasn't pretty, but I made it. Does it get better?

Back to the shade for my cool down walk, and some more bench-lying and plotting my route home. I picked something I figured would be about 10 miles, and take me through the woods and not on any major hills. It was a great route, and in the middle of the woods is a spring where the park has installed faucets so you can fill water bottles. It was the perfect place to re-fill, as I'm finding my hydration pack only gets me through an hour of biking in the hot weather.

I had thankfully chosen a route that was mostly down hill on my way home, which was very welcome.

17 miles total (21 including this morning) through 4 towns and I was back home.

I feel very good. The only part that sucked was the running/walking in the hot sun. I could bike and swim all day long. I'm hoping that the running gets better, and that I can find a shady place to practice.
ETA: I couldn't pass up the evening high tide, so I went back for another swim and discovered that my old-lady sidestroke is quite speedy and aerodynamic. Would this be an inappropriate stroke for a tri? Also, I should practice with my face in the water. I usually wear a hat and sunglasses to protect my face. As one woman remarked, "This is August water!" It was almost too warm. I was hoping to get quite chilled which makes for better sleep. I think I am just chilled enough.

What a heavenly day.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Think I Am Part Mermaid

I don't know how else to explain the irresistible pull the ocean had on me tonight. I was happily in my polenta & shrimp-induced food calmness (not quite coma) and enjoying a glass of rose' when the next thing I knew I was checking the tide, the time of sunset, and in my bathing suit and on my bike on my way to the beach.

It's a tiny little thing, rocky shore and not much parking, but there were a few families settling in for the night with chairs and dinner. No one else in the water though, except me. It was the perfect temperature, just the tiniest bit choppy. I swam for a while. Then just floated, head back, arms out, seeing only the sky, hearing only the clinking of the rocks against each other from the waves. I wanted to nap there. I thought "if I try to do a triathlon, what if I don't want to leave the water? What if I just stay and swim and float and they wonder - who is that girl who won't get out of the water and on her bike?" and "High tide is tomorrow at 6am, can I come back then?"

When it was time to leave, my legs didn't know what to do. They had turned back into legs and were clumsy trying to leave the water, collapsing under me to leave me sitting on a rock for a bit, my brain trying to make the transition out of the water and back onto land. I made it, biked home, turned back into a human again.

Inland, By Edna St. Vincent Millay

People that build their houses inland,
People that buy a plot of ground
Shaped like a house, and build a house there,
Far from the sea-board, far from the sound

Of water sucking the hollow ledges,
Tons of water striking the shore,—
What do they long for, as I long for
One salt smell of the sea once more?

People the waves have not awakened,
Spanking the boats at the harbour's head,
What do they long for, as I long for,—
Starting up in my inland bed,

Beating the narrow walls, and finding
Neither a window nor a door,
Screaming to God for death by drowning,—
One salt taste of the sea once more?

Lucky I Have Strong Legs Like My Mother

I inherited giant muscular calves from my mother. They will never be dainty and when I was younger I used to wonder if surgery to remove extra calf muscle was possible. (WTF?!) But, when I'm on my bike I appreciate the extra help. I pretend that I'm like Lance Armstrong with his specially built lungs that help his over the Pyrenees. My specially built legs help me over the hills of Cohasset. It's kind of the same, right?

I biked 16.25 miles today. I took the red mountain bike because it's slightly more comfortable to ride, but it is an albatross. It is so much heavier than the road bike and getting up hills on it is harder since I have less leverage. But I wanted sort of a slow scenic ride, and that's what I had, through the woods, along the ocean, past the beach where they were having a sand castle contest. I ran out of water at mile 14, which I didn't expect. Now I know to fill my Camelback up the whole way, and maybe throw in an extra bottle just in case. I was fine the rest of the way home, it was mostly down hill.

My right knee hurt for some of it, and now my right groin feels strained but I'm going to keep stretching it out and hopefully that will help.

Yesterday was a good yoga class, then a walk in the woods before having some drinks by the ocean.

I didn't start the C25K today because I really just wanted to be on my bike. Alternate plans are: go tonight (chances: slim to none) or go tomorrow morning (chances: good.)

Plans for now: re-fuel with some farmer's market pasta and the emergency cupcake I found stashed in the freezer.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Holiday, Celebrate

Someday I will do this. Madonna in a fancy pincha mayurasana/forearm balance. Borrowed from an email sent to me by Back Bay Yoga. She's an Ashtangi, of course.

This gives me hope. Because I think Madonna is 50 (pause to shudder at the thought of how quickly time flies) and she can do this. So maybe when I'm 50 I'll be able to do it.

Going to yoga this morning. Then the farmer's market. I'm going to stock up on things and freeze some of them to avoid having to go to Whole Foods during the week.

And I have a new bike helmet & bucket hat so my head will be nice and safe if I go for a bike or a swim or a walk.

Also, I'm having the crazy idea to do the Couch to 5K program so that I can do a mini-triathlon some day. Because I've got the biking and swimming part down, it seems a shame not to try running to put all the pieces together.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Despite Appearances

I did not have a bad day today. Had you been looking in on me as I had the brilliant idea to get my car inspected on my day off, and then received the news that it would cost $1400, or maybe $1800 to get it to pass, and oh, you need a new front license plate, and then drove to the other shop closer to my house to have it looked at again, and sat for another 45 minutes while they went through it, oh, only $1000, good news. Still need new plate. Don't get pulled over. Bring it back Tuesday.

Then coming home to find that my aging dog had left a gift for me on the bathroom floor. Clean that up. Take the clothes off the line. Dishes need washing. Clothes need folding. (Thank god there are no children who need tending.)

But the reality is - it's all ok. None of it is a crisis. No matter the cost of the car repairs, I can afford it and then my car will be better and last me longer. Dishes can be washed. Clothes can be folded. Life will go on. No one is sick. No one is dying. No one has been betrayed. I come home to a safe and clean and beautiful neighborhood. I have everything I need. My life is beautiful.

Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I love this poem. Every so often when I start to get anxious, I think "oh, if I am good and get things in order and exercise and clean and do all the right things something will notice and it will be better. I'll be good, I swear." Then I remember this poem, I do not have to be good and walk on my knees. I just have to be. And I can clean or exercise, not because I need to be good but because it feels good to move and live in a pleasant environment.

But it was still a tiring day, with lots of reminding myself that it wasn't a bad day. So I might just find a sad movie to watch and start again tomorrow.

The Journey

I returned to the yoga studio today. Somehow the days slipped by with biking and walking and not yoga. "Somehow" is a cop out. There was no yoga because I didn't do yoga. No somehow about it.

Anyway, I always think that the one hour Friday morning class will be easy because it's an hour. Oh, no. Think again. Teacher and I both want me to get into forearm balance, which meant lots of dolphin and plank. And my favorite flow from parsvakonasana into ardha chandrasana, which felt much stronger and graceful than it has in the past. And I was able to do all my chaturanga dandhasanas with straight legs and then flip up into up-dog without dropping my hips and legs to the ground. It took some brute strength but I'll get to the graceful flow soon enough.

Then we worked on my forearm balance. I can get to down dog, and shift forward to put my shoulders about my elbows, and there the weakness sets in. My arms and shoulders and hands that feel so strong in other poses, just start to feel so weak. So we work. I lift one leg up, then the other. Then rest. Then do head stand to get me upside down, to work on lifting my shoulderblades up (down) my back. Then shoulderstand with my triceps pleading with me to be done.

At the end of Savasana, my teacher read this poem:
The Journey, by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.
So, I'm off to stride deeper and deeper into the world, determined to save the only life I can save.