Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In the Shop

My car was in the shop yesterday. It had been running funky and was kind of scaring me when I drove to my workshop with Patricia Walden on Sunday (more on that another day). I could have kept driving it with the weird revving, or non-reving and just "off-ness" but I realized that if I just took it off the road for a day to get fixed, it would be much better in the long run. And I wouldn't have to worry about breaking down on my way to a conference on Friday.

We've had lots of days of gray drizzly skies here. I've been feeling off. So I'm taking myself off the road today. I thought I'd work from home, but I think I'm just going to not do that. I'm going to just chill. Maybe do some yoga. Maybe read. Maybe make enchiladas. Maybe write some stuff on a yellow legal pad.

Tomorrow I'll be back on the road. With the danger of a breakdown averted.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The floor needs sweeping. The dishes need putting away. The coffee needs prepping. The clothes need setting out. The dishwasher needs loading. The lunch needs packing. The junk mail needs recycling. The bed needs making.

A most lazy evening on the couch reading blogs and emails and the newspapers. My introvert recovery time. The quiet, brain resting time I need after last evening was spent on a client conference call, and then some difficult client interactions today. And the prospect of being out tomorrow night networking (with people I love, but it still saps my energy) and then out Thursday night at yoga.

So, tonight was time to crawl inside my little shell (or onto the safe boat of my couch), skip yoga, lose myself in the vast wasteland of words, and just not be present for a bit.

And I'm ok with that.

"We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy." ~ Pema Chodron

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Meeting With Future Me (and a very large beet.)

(A giant beet next to a normal lemon. The beet was about the size of a baby's head.)

I had a little meeting with Future Me today. She's been getting word of all the changes I've been going through and wanted to give me some feedback. Actually, when I make changes in my life now, her life changes. Sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big ways. It's good since she's from the future and knows stuff.

1. Keep doing yoga. She said this is very important. For my physical health and my mental health. She said when I started doing this, and kept up with it, she instantly felt better, stronger, fitter, younger, happier.

2. Keep up with the mindful eating. She said when I started doing this it made a big difference. In my physical health and my mental health. Funny how those things are connected. She said eating what I want when I want it and feeling what I feel when I feel it is a really good idea.

3. Keep moving into the discomfort. Putting off or avoiding uncomfortable things doesn't make them better. Keep on moving towards those things. It will be so much better in the long run. And the short run. And the middle run.

4. Save a little more money. Where you can, when you can. Just squirrel it away.

5. Speak your truth. And live it. Really. It's the only way to be.

6. Keep making enchiladas. They will get better in time.

These were a mix of chicken, pinto beans and corn with some enchilada sauce and tomatoes with green chilies. Then a little cheese. They were good but could be improved. A few will be going in the freezer with some rice and collards for me to take to lunch later. I think Future Me will be pleased.

I Feel Lucky

I'm sitting here on a gray Sunday afternoon, there are birds chirping outside, I just (mindfully) ate some poached chicken with a glass of milk (vegetables will come later), and I'm reading another Geneen Roth book, Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money, and thinking about my life and my relationship with money and food and suddenly I'm struck by how lucky I am.

How lucky to be alive to have this day.

How lucky that I have discovered people like Geneen Roth, and Tara Brach and to have the chance to improve my relationships with money and food and myself during this lifetime.

How lucky and blessed I am to have a body that functions and moves me places, a mind that is still functional.

How lucky I am to be filled with peace, not because every thing is fine and will be fine, but because whatever happens just happens. And then more stuff happens. And that is how life just goes on. And I'm so blessed to be here for it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You have to be alive...

in order to eat burgers like this.

In order to do so much yoga that your hands start to show it

in order to see all the cherry trees that line the streets of this town. In order to sit in your car and read with your feet hanging out the window and the sun on you. In order to lean forward on your yoga mat and kiss your own knees. In order to stand next to people you love and laugh.

And when people die because of bad choices, stupid decisions and utterly preventable actions it makes me just so sad for all the things they will miss. All the things their family and loved ones will miss while blinded by grief. All the things the world will miss.

And it was to all them that I dedicated my yoga practice at the workshop today.

lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu (May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.)

Thursday, May 5, 2011


...the people who annoy me horribly the first time I encounter them, end up being really cool. Like the heavy breathers from my yoga class on Tuesday. It was just the 3 of us in class tonight (and thankfully I was far away from them) but we ended up staying a half hour after class to chat with the teacher about anatomy and shoulder girdles and alignment. Nerds unite!

...I wonder where in the heck my brain comes up with things. Like when my key stuck in the door tonight and my brain flew to "oh, the landlady must have changed the locks and evicted me for some reason. I suppose I am homeless now." Yes, because that's likely. Seriously. What happened to make it skip over "psst, try the other key." It passes in 15 seconds maybe, but why does it even go there?

... I watch the Biggest Loser and cry over the proud parents and people who've succeeded at their goals.

...I listen to the Sarah McLachlan song about being a train wreck waiting to happen and waiting for someone to come pick you up off the tracks and I wonder if that's an enjoyable way to live life or if you just lie there for a while and realize no one is coming to pick you up and you should just really get up. Probably best to not lie down on the tracks in the first place. Also, the husband who used to come pick her up off the tracks? Yeah, they are divorced.

...things like this go through my head.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Intuitive Eating Tuesday

So, here's how my experiment with intuitive/mindful eating went on Tuesday. Intuitive is the "eat what your body wants when you want it" part, and mindful is the "be there when you are eating it" piece.

Breakfast was raisin walnut toast with almond butter. Intuitive score: 90%, I was hungry and it was what I wanted. Mindful score: 50%, I ate it at the couch while reading blogs, but I did stop a few times and notice the texture, smell, etc. Suggestion: go back to the dinner table.

Lunch was prepared at home and brought to work. It was the rest of the broccoli soup poured over the remains of some Annie's mac & cheese and grassfed burger from last night. It was actually very good. Intuitive scale: 90% it was what my body wanted - carbs, veggies, some protein. Mindful scale: 50%. I ate it in front of the computer at work while writing a blog post and then left it for a while while I met with a client. Suggestion: go eat at the little round table in your office. Try eating half the meal there.

There was no snacking at work and lunch left me satisfied. I think bringing ice water helped.

Around 4 I had a snack of the heel end of the raisin bread, and a piece of cheese and a pear. Intuitive scale: 80%, it was what I wanted and I was a bit peckish but I had to eat it at 4pm since I had yoga at 5. Mindful scale: 50%. I ate it in my car, slowly, but while toodling around on my phone. Suggestion: get out of the car and sit on a bench and eat.

Dinner: I got home from yoga at around 7 and checked in with my hunger. Not hungry. Had a beer. Intuitive: 100%. Mindful: 90%. Beer is yummy and the post yoga beer is a good one. Waited to see if I'd get hungry. Decided to have a pear around 8 (probably hunger and a little thirst.) 8:30pm. Slight hunger but everything in my house involves cooking so I'm going to just have a glass of milk. While sitting at the table. Being present with it.

"You can have the other words-chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I'll take grace. I don't know what it is exactly, but I'll take it. "
— Mary Oliver. My favorite poet, talking about my word of the year for 2011.

My Other Yoga Teachers

I have wonderful yoga teachers - Fay, Mary Alice, Kate, Nikki, Tamara. They are wonderfully trained and thoughtful teachers and I learn so much from them. I look forward to their classes and can't wait to learn what they have to teach me.

And then there are the other teachers in my yoga class. The woman who comes in late and plops her dirty mat down next to mine. The woman who sighs and heaves through every pose (which is often a different one than the rest of us are doing.) The other woman who comes to class doused in Jean Nate' perfume.

I thought about whether I should try to learn something from these people. Tolerance. Acceptance. Whatever. They should respect the practice of yoga enough to get to class on time, not wear perfume, clean their mat and shut the eff up while they are breathing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Intuitive Eating Monday & Removing Labels

Breakfast was served at the kitchen table, sans computer, but with my book. Baby steps people. I did pause and become aware of my raisin toast, the smell of the almond butter, the crunch of the bread, the taste of the milk.

Since I was going to be out of the house for lunch, I had to figure out what to do about the "eat what you want when you want it" since I was preemptively trying to figure out what I'd want. I packed some broccoli soup (with extra broccoli!), 2 slices of olive bread, and a piece of cheese. Chances were high that I would want those things when I got hungry because they are tasty and awesome.

I was right. I got hungry for lunch around noon, and heated the soup and ate it with the bread and cheese. I did eat in front of my computer. And I would say my mindfulness level was about 60%.

It's about an hour later and I'm noticing some slight hunger. I'm also noticing that my lukewarm water is not very appealing, so I fetched a cold bottle from the work fridge. Probably bringing a bottle with some ice in it and keeping it in the fridge will be a good plan going forward.
I have an apple here, too.

There are some deadlines coming up for things that have consequences and I'm a bit fuzzy on some of them and waiting for responses from people has my stomach feeling weird, and my mind going on about things. Making room for and acknowledging those physical sensations and thoughts and moving forward with my work and commitments. The same way I feel the physical sensation of pain and tingling in my arm and hand (not heart attack type) and acknowledge it and move forward. And call the acupuncturist again.

I'm trying to move away from "Oh god this is so stressful" towards taking the label off of things and looking at the ingredients. "Stressful" is the label of something, like tax time. But if you take the label off and look at the ingredients you'll see: due date, paperwork, gathering of information, necessity of hiring professional for assistance, financial outlay, increased financial outlay and increased communication from government entity if due date not respected. You also see that you can deal with each one of those ingredients, and some of them are only optional and within your control.

The same way I try to move away from "Oh god I'm anxious." I just pull of the label and look inside - yeah, your stomach feels weird, your heart is beating faster than normal, your arms feel heavy your mind is alerting you to Danger. WTF else is new? Seriously. Enough of that shit. I've got a life to live.

"You want to cry aloud for your mistakes. But to tell the truth the world doesn't need any more of that sound." — Mary Oliver

How To Wash Your Yoga Mat

While this post was inspired by one of my classmates who uses a once light blue mat, which is now streaked with brown dirt streaks, I'm sure there are more of you dirty-mat folks out there. This post is a tutorial in how, and why, to wash your yoga mat.

First of all - the Whys.
1. Your feet. They are dirty. Even if you showered. Did you go barefoot into the bathroom? Did any of your class mates? Did you walk anywhere a shod foot has fallen? Did any of your fellow barefoot yogis? Those little dirty birdy feet are the thing that most touch your mat.

2. Your mula banda area. If it's anything like mine by the time you are in paschimottanasana you've got a sweaty undercarriage. And now it's all over your mat.

3. Your tears. I know I'm not the only one who has ever cried on my mat. Although tears are clean. But still.

4. Your face. When your face hits the mat in child's pose, or maybe even upavishta konasana if you are lucky, how many days worth of feet and butt is it touching? When you kiss the ground, is it clean ground? (I know I'm not the only one who's kissed my yoga mat when I get my face all the way to the ground...)

5. Do you roll your mat? You've just rolled up hair (gag) and dust and ick onto the clean side of your mat. After class, fold it in half so dirty side touches dirty side and then fold gently a time or 2 more. Also, wiping it down with a damp cloth is nice too.

6. Saucha. Purity of the body. One of the niyamas of yoga. I think it also covers purity of the yoga mat. It is also why one should shower before yoga practice.

Your mat is your scared space. It is not like hiking shoes where the dirtier is the better and gives you street cred. Your yoga mat should be pristine, not covered with street crud. And while you may be proud of the sweat and tears (and blood?) that have fallen there, you do not need to let them stay on your mat in order for them to be imprinted on your soul. Everything is impermanent, but some of it needs our help to wash it off.

Now the How. I wash my mat every Sunday. It's a little ritual and comes after a tough Saturday class, and a frequently tough and sweaty (and at a gross studio) Sunday class.

Plop your mat into the bathtub.

Turn the water on. Hot or warm please.

Use a nice natural soap, this one smells like mint. And is the same kind my yoga studio uses. It smells so good! You can also just use plain water, or some baking soda, too.

You are using all your senses here. The smell of the soap. The sound of the water. The feel of the mat under your hands, the feel of your legs kneeling on the floor.

Spritz a few spritzes of soap into the tub.

After you've put the soap on it, get in there with your hands and scrub it, both sides under the running water.

Continue to scrub the mat with your hands, keeping the water running and rinsing it well.

You should be tired now from all the leaning and the scrubbing. Stay with your task. You are bathing the baby Buddha.

Now hang your mat on a drying rack in the tub, to catch the drips. It will be dry by morning.

Alternate method: shower with your mat after your Sunday yoga practice.

Do you wash your mat regularly? Will you start now?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Intuitive Eating Sunday Part 2

2:15 The Mindful Banana. Did some cleaning and then sat to read more of Women, Food and God. Noticed myself getting hungry. Waiting a bit to see if it was actual hunger. Did mental calculation of food eaten today to see if I "should" be hungry. Decided to have a banana. Ate the banana mindfully - sitting at the table. Looking at the slices (I eat my bananas sliced with a fork.) Smelling it. Feeling it. Then decided to try the same exercise with chocolate chips. Put 10 chocolate chips in the dish. Smelled them. At them one by one, noticing eat one and what it tasted and felt like. And what I felt like as I ate it. Ate a small piece of chedder cheese the same way. Took about a half hour to eat those 3 things. Then had a big glass of ice water.

Thought - this mindful eating takes a long time. How will I do this tomorrow? What will I pack for lunch? Will I look freakish if I do this in front of other people. Note to self: come back to the present moment. Be here now. Also, eat what your body wants when you are hungry. And stop when you've had enough.

What does your body want? When have you had enough?

6:30pm. Home from Restorative Yoga class. 2 hours of bliss ending with a head and neck massage. Having a fresh squeezed grapefruit juice with some Bacardi Gold. Heated up broccoli soup, and made 2 runny fried eggs (from my sister's chickens) to put over some rice. A few chocolate chips for dessert. My belly feels just full enough.

I think my body was deprived of vegetables yesterday, which explains all the broccoli soup. And I began thinking of the runny eggs over rice in a bowl during yoga class.

I ate what I wanted when I was hungry. And now that I feel like I've had enough, I'm stopping. Which I guess is the point.

Intuitive Eating Sunday Part 1.

In which I live blog my Intuitive eating experiment.

Morning, coffee because I love it and it brings me joy. After about an hour I had a slice of raisin walnut bread with almond butter. I thought about how I had 2 loaves of bread delivered on Wed. and they are each about half gone. I thought about how glad I was that they are both still fresh since that's not giving me the "I must eat these fast so they don't go stale" thoughts. The toast was good.

11am. Packing the car up to go to the dump. Feeling a little hunger. Thought "I'd better eat something since I'm leaving the house." Thought about what I wanted, a glass of milk. Sat and drank the milk. Thinking that I'm probably also thirsty so I packed a water bottle to bring on my errands.

11:30 Errands done and back home. Feeling hungry. Had a glass of ice water while I thought about what I wanted. I have 4 broccoli stalks that need to be used. I'm making cream of broccoli soup from Joy of Cooking. All 4 stalks used. Realizing that if I want to eat at the table instead of the couch I have to clear the table and figure out where important papers and binders go.

An inhospitable table, with binder with work stuff, a book for my niece, AAA membership renewal, a sweater, a make up bag, a cookbook, some headphones, and of course the requisite pink piece of construction paper where I write down how much I weigh.

Cleared the table and actually found proper places for everything. Including lunch.

12:29 Done with lunch. I sat at the table with a bowl of soup, and 2 slices of olive bread. The soup was very good. I noticed while I ate what it tasted like, and how full I was feeling. Things I normally don't notice when I'm eating while being on the internet or watching a show. I realized that I wish I'd left more large pieces of broccoli in it, so after eating I added more chunks to the soup, for next time I eat some. Right now I feel 70% full. Comfortable, but giving it some time. My senses feel satisfied. My body feels fueled. My refrigerator feels happy to not have so much broccoli in it waiting to be used.

12:48 Had a second bowl with more broccoli chunks. Now I am 85% full. Still comfortable but not hungry for more. My stomach and my mind are done eating.

Plan for the rest of the day: clean, restorative yoga at 4, eating what I want when I'm hungry. Feeling what I feel when I feel it. Radical.

Books and Food and Yoga (And washing your yoga mat.)

I recently started reading Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth. It's a bit similar to the other book I'm reading Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha. Both emphasize the importance of being present, practicing acceptance of thoughts and feelings and not running away from them and things like that.

Women, Food and God made me think about all the reason I eat (and not necessarily overeat) other than being hungry:
  1. Convenience. It's morning and time to go to work, so I have to eat breakfast since I'm not going to bring a toaster and almond butter to work work.
  2. Because I'm going to yoga or on a bike ride and need to fuel up so I don't keel over during class or on my ride.
  3. Because I'm going out with friends and even though I'm not really hungry now I have to eat otherwise I'll end up having to eat bar food when I get hungry and that's gross.
  4. Because I'm going out with friends and I need some bread in my stomach since I'm going to have drinks.
  5. Because I'm at work and bored.
  6. Because I'm thirsty and don't realize it.
  7. Because the food tastes good.
  8. Because the restaurant gave me a big servings and I just keep picking at it.
  9. Because it's meal time.
  10. Because meal time is a long way off so I'll need a snack to get me there.
  11. Because I just got home from work.
  12. Because I need reach a certain number of calories or points for the day.
There's probably more.

Anyway, yesterday I decided to see what it would be like if I just paid attention to what my body wanted when it wanted it. Here's what I ended up with:
Pre yoga, 8am: slice of raisin walnut bread with almond butter.
Post yoga (driving to visit family. Per W,F & G you aren't supposed to eat in the car, but this was mindful eating) 11am: apple.
At my mom's around noon: piece of cheese and some Annies Cheddar Bunnies.
In someone's yard listening to a band, around 3: a beer.
At my sister's house before leaving to drive home: slice of cold pizza.
At home, before heading to a friends 6pm: slice of olive bread.
At my friend's house 7pm: glass of wine, a few tortilla chips with corn & bean salsa.
At nice restaurant, 9pm: lobster cakes over spinach. Yum. A grapefruit & vodka drink. Also yum.

Apparently if left to my own devices I will eat bread. I didn't feel overly hungry or overly stuffed at all. I was surprised to find that even though I hadn't really had lunch, I wasn't hungry until 4 or so. I had thought we were going to dinner at 8, but when we got there at 9 I wasn't wanting a huge entree. The lobster cakes were the perfect little thing. And I realized that we can go back again earlier if I want something else from there.

I realized that I sort of do the same thing with yoga, doing it sometimes for reasons other than just wanting to do it:
  1. Because now is class time.
  2. Because I won't be able to get to class over the next few days so I should go now.
  3. Because this teacher only teaches at this particular time so I should go.
  4. Because I don't want the teacher to feel bad if the class is smaller because I'm not there.
  5. Because I should.
  6. Because it's good for me.
  7. Because I never regret going.
  8. Because it's what I do.
  9. Because I'm working on a pose and want to get better at it.
  10. Because the studio is closed but I feel like I should do something at home.
Granted, doing yoga when I don't feel like it doesn't lead to feeling sluggish like eating when I'm not hungry does. But it can lead to a sloppy practice. I went yesterday morning due to reasons 1, 3, 5, and 6. I was sleepy. My arm hurt. The woman next to me arrived late and has a light blue mat that is streaked with brown dirt streaks. And she doesn't shower before class. I spent nearly the entire class distracted by how much she bothers me. I wanted to tell her not to be afraid to wash her mat. Or her hair. Although it appears she runs a flat iron through it before class. She wears $300 worth of lululemon to class and won't wash her mat. Or at least buy a darker colored one so the class doesn't have to look at her dirty one.

I decided during class that I don't actually have to go on Saturday mornings if I don't want to. I can find the teacher on Thursday nights at another studio. I won't be as sleepy and I think it will be less crowded.

Intuitive yogaing. Like intuitive eating. An experiment for the week.

Do you eat when you aren't hungry? Do you do yoga when you don't want to? Do you wash your mat at least once a week?