Meditation Monday #47 – Will and Laughter

It’s Monday again! Did you have a great weekend? I did! We had our annual chili cookout on Saturday night. I squeezed in 46 Sun Salutations and a shower right before people started arriving. It was a wonderful night in which I learned a little something about making chili with dried beans…..don’t cook them with acidic ingredients until they’re soft….or else they’re never going to get soft! If you want my chili recipe you can go way back to here to find it.

But, enough about chili and parties and Sun Salutations for today….today I want to talk about Tapas some more.

Tapas is the will both to look at what we have lost and to see what we can reclaim. (p.106) Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates

So, I’m finally on the Day 79 reading because I have realized that I only have time, right now, for meditation once a week. This is part of my scheduling for my habits and my posting for the blog, so I am keeping things simple. I have looked at what worked in the past and what didn’t and I’m figuring out how to move forward in a more even mannered way.

While I’m constantly trying to move forward and plan ahead….I still need to acknowledge my past and all of the elements that have shaped me to this point. I still need to live in the present. That quote made me feel like a lot of the things on the blog have come together into one. My schedule, my need to meditate, my need to be active, my need to read and recenter myself, my need to write and get it out, and my need to be inspired.

My Word of the Day today is LAUGH. Why? Because laughing has healing powers. I plan to teach Laugh Yoga to the kids I have been teaching on Monday afternoons. They need some serious aspects of yoga, but they also need fun. Laughter is part of life and childhood and freedom! It’s happiness and sadness and anger and success and defeat all in one. The activity I’m most looking forward to doing with them today is to laugh a conversation with all of the emotions.

You should try it with a friend…..laugh the words you’d use to greet someone and laugh the words you’d talk with them about. Imagine that you’re nervous and excited and angry and happy and sad and hopeful and free and burdened. Explore your laugh as fake and genuine. Allow someone to make you laugh today. Laugh at someone or something, but not in a malicious way. Laugh as if no one is watching. And laugh to begin anew…

There were so many things that this quote from the reading made me think of….I could have written for days on this topic and in so many directions. The reading actually starts with a quote from Gloria Steinham about how the karma of her life circumstances have shaped where she is today. This immediately brought me to thoughts of the #MeToo movement that is in all discussions at the moment.

I don’t care to share my own stories of times I’ve felt like I was less because of my situation in life. Instead I choose to use my tapas to move on….to reclaim the life I have yet to live…to choose not to let external forces define me. I acknowledge the journey, I support those of you who have taken a similar path, I laugh to the future because it’s going to be a good one!

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Fave Reads Friday #11 – Better Than Before

This is by no means my last post on the subject of habits. I have found this topic of Gretchen Rubin’s much easier to embrace than the idea of a Happiness Project…..it probably has to do a lot with my personality.

She ends this book with a story of how her youngest daughter wrote a sequel to a novel that Rubin enjoys. She titled it Every Day Life in Utopia (also the last chapter title in Rubin’s book). This is my ideal as well. I want to live the life I want to live and to be happier and more efficient in it.

The last section of Better Than Before talks about Clarity, Identity, and Other People and brought up a lot of great questions for me. Like, Is a habit important because everyone else thinks it is or because I think it is? This was a hard one for me because, as a Fitness Professional, there’s a lot of things that I promote for others to do. Where does this information come from? The heads of my industry. But, I also tell people all of the time that they need to find what works for them….find clarity.

Also on the topic of clarity, can I choose to do something that’s right for me, but also meets the needs of others? Super hard for me to do because I’m an Obliger and this means that I always want to do what’s best for others before I worry about doing what’s best for me. It ties into identity in that I identify as a giver, a mother, a planner, an organizer, etc, etc, etc.

Rubin writes about finding clarity on both the habit (good or bad) and the problem with committing to it. What value does it serve? Values are a big part of identity as well. Three quotes from this section that solidify that sentiment:

Our habits reflect our identity. p. 242

We can build our habits only on the foundation of our own nature. p.257

No simple, universal solutions exist. p. 258

Values are a big thing for me…..I feel like fundamental values of who you are don’t change much over time, but the way that you express them may. For instance, I’ve always been a feminist….my whole life! I remember hating the word “chicks” because women are not little, yellow, fluffy birds. It rubbed me the wrong way for so long when I was a teenager. I wore a Rosie the Riveter t-shirt with pride. I thought that those were the definitions of being a feminist.

Today I take a different approach. I still feel that women are equal to men, but my view on how to create equality is different. From a yoga perspective I try to find inclusivity for all instead of “fighting” for women. I work hard at what I do, support efforts of change, and teach my children that no one group is inferior because they are that group. My value hasn’t changed, my habits have.

Phrasing is also a topic on clarity that Rubin writes about. Fit is a Feminist Issue wrote recently about the phrase “Let me see what you can do”. I have been looking for an opportunity to use that in my classes, but haven’t incorporated it yet. In defining the problem with commitment to a habit, the value of the habit, and the habit itself she considers the words chosen. In personal training we tell people to consider not just what is being said, but also how it is being said (body language, tone, and the care put into the words chosen). In trying to adopt or adapt a habit phrasing can make or break you just as not being specific can sink a SMART goal.

This all leads to more questions of identity….

…..make sure that my life reflects my values. p. 256

My eternal question (and one I will continue to revisit as a part of my yoga practice of Svadhyaya) is WHO AM I? How are others affecting me and my habits? How am I and my habits affecting others? This is a big one when it comes to my children. They are developing their identity based on the world around them just as I did mine. I remember my one uncle always referring to my family as “The Loud Family” and that has definitely carried over into my life today. But, how else do I define myself and how do those definitions affect my habits?

Going forward (and trying to keep with some of the habits I’m working on) I plan to blog on Thursdays about habits and how they’re working for me or working against me. I would greatly encourage you to pick up this book from the library or bookstore and give it a read. I would love (as an Obliger) for you to comment here or on any of the other HABITS posts and join me in this discussion of habit formation.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday for Meditation Monday!

Getting Started

It’s Monday! I say that with enthusiasm and vigor and overall happiness today. I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before and it’s making a huge impact on the way that I approach things. This is something she calls the Lightning Bolt effect….when something just happens out of the blue because of something you read/watched/heard/saw or even just because you make a decision that you don’t normally make. It’s kind of like when I watched What the Health?….it wasn’t anything I didn’t already know, but it prompted me to change….right then (more on that progress later.

In the section I read over the weekend Rubin describes strategies for when to begin a new habit….much like New Year’s Resolutions. The time to act is now. How often should you do it? Regularly enough for it to stick. And a third factor (for me especially) is to find someway to be accountable/track/monitor your progress.

Some people have the approach to new habits called the Clean Slate approach. They wait for a significant event/day to get started like the beginning of the month, their birthday, or the start of the new year. I have tried all of those approaches and fall into what she describes as a “tomorrow” effect. It’s easy to say I will start tomorrow and then…..I don’t. I put it off or I make excuses or I give myself free passes to change what I had committed to. For me, the time is now. I did this with buying my new planner (which I cannot wait to use….whole other post). Instead of my usual wavering and procrastinating, I did it when I found one I liked. I didn’t worry about finding a better one; I bought it and now I have it and I don’t regret my decision.

I needed to use the Do It Now approach this weekend also. In my NETA PT workshop at Wingate University I was talking to the students about the goal of doing 108 sun salutations. When I left the workshop that day and started reading Better Than Before I thought to myself:

When can I start doing them?

The answer was NOW. So I got up and I did 10 sun salutations. They were hard to do because I was wearing shoes, in my hotel room, very stiff from standing all day, and had no mat to grip my hands. But I did them. Then I wrote them on my calendar for next Saturday. After further consideration (on Sunday) I decided to take the step to make the habit more regular. What would happen if I wrote sun salutations on every day of my calendar? I ended up choosing almost every day (because there were days where there were no lines left to write anything) and it made me feel satisfied.

The danger to this approach is that it’s what Rubin refers to as a Blast Start. Blast starts are great for some people, but at the end of their self-imposed “streak” they sometimes are giving themselves permission to quit what they’ve decided to do. This leads to a lapse effect. It’s always harder to come back to something the second time around. Why? I don’t know the exact answer, but I think it has something to do with the novelty of the experience being worn off. I feel like this has happened to me a little with running at the moment. I put on my calendar for this next weekend to pick my new race. That always perks me back up!

And that’s the third and most important component for me…..accountability. I’m not great at being accountable to myself. I think that’s the habit I want to change the most. My follow through. So, here’s what I’m doing to be more accountable about things:

  1. Writing it down in the planner
  2. Checking it off and doing each thing NOW instead of looking for “The Best Time” to do it
  3. Tracking all of my exercise in MapMyRun (even Sun Salutations)
  4. Telling you and everyone I can about what I’m going to do (I find it hard to disappoint others even if they’re not invested)
  5. Being ME

The last one means that I’m only committing to do the things that I know will make me happy. My word for today is SMILE and each time I look in my planner and read it, it makes me smile. It’s a reinforcement of how I want to be and who I truly am.

How do you go about starting a new project or habit?

Which strategies are most successful for you?

What is your longest streak on something?

Collecting Words

I will have a proper post for you tomorrow about the strategies I’m working on in my new “Habit Project”. Today, though, I am putting out a call for words. Part of my new project is writing an inspiring word on my calendar for each day. Today’s word is

Because I need to be reminded that now is the time to do anything I want. I have words written on every day for October, but this is something that I want to keep going through the end of 2017. So,

What’s your word?

Needing to Get Better – Blog Changes

So, for those of you who follow the blog you may have noticed that I’m posting a little less and a little less each week. Well, that part of the blog is going to be changing because I need to post a few things here to keep me going in the direction that I want to. But posting more is not the only change. The content is taking a little detour as well. Why? Because I need to get better again. I have found myself in a not so unfamiliar place of “blah”. It might be depression (although I still really want to do the things I love like writing on the blog and running and being with friends). It might be stress (I have a tendency to take on more than I should). It might be just that season (Fall often causes reflection in my soul….especially because that’s when my birthday happens). It may be something completely different and undefined.

Whatever it is, I’ve decided to do a series of posts in which I journal a book. This is something I do on my own and then usually try to condense everything that I learn and experience into one or two posts. This time, I need more. I’ve been trying to read Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before, but every time I start I put the book down at the same spot…..because I want to journal…..but I fail to journal. I have three weeks left on my library loan and I plan to sit down as often as I can and journal my experience with this book.

It’s a lot like how my semesters used to go with teaching yoga. Each week I’d come in and teach a new topic to them, but a refresher for myself. It invigorated me and taught me something new about who I was that week. I have been trying to work with the Gates’ book, but I am not as connected to it as I once was. I need something different and I need to explore these questions with you. Many of my readers are my former students and I love to speak to and with you….in commune of the yoga spirit….to share growth and ideas. I hope that these next few weeks will be that breath of fresh air that I’ve been missing.

So, come back tomorrow for some questions, some thought, some insight….

WOW is Coming Back

It’s Wednesday of this week already and the rain is keeping me down. We’re watching our friend’s dog, hosting a meal train for a friend who had a baby, and preschool starts this week. On top of all of that I traveled last weekend to Asheville for a NETA Yoga Foundations workshop with a wonderful group of women and I’m all out of whack on my training. Oh, and did I mention that my dryer is currently out of commission?

One thing that has also been lacking on the blog lately (and I know I skipped Meditation Monday this week) is WORKOUT WEDNESDAY! It’s been a hot minute since I posted a video or information on a yoga pose (since April!) and part of the reason has been SUMMER and job transition and life.

This week in particular is bad because of everything I listed above, plus my training partner is out of town and it’s hard for me to stay motivated to workout in the rain when I don’t have anyone to run with…..I’m an Obliger. But, the drive is still there, deep inside of me, wanting to come out. And because I’m switching jobs and won’t be teaching yoga on the regular, Workout Wednesday posts are going to help me maintain my rhythm in that practice. Starting next week I will be posting a small series of poses each week and eventually building up to a longer class. It’s going to be sort of the same way that I was teaching Yoga I and Yoga II at CFCC.

Next Wednesday we’ll be starting at the beginning….Awakening Poses. If you’ve done them before, it’ll be review and a great way to wake up for the day. If you’ve never done them before, come check them out! I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Other things to look for from the blog include the return of Guest Yoga Stories on Thursdays (starting tomorrow), continued Meditation Monday (back on Monday), more Fave Reads Friday (working on my Gretchen), and the random thoughts I have popping in from time to time. So, take a deep breath, keep calm, and OM!

I Need More Gretchen! – The Call to Self-Care

So, a few of weeks ago I read/listened to a pair of posts/podcasts by Gretchen Rubin:

A Little Happier: More Advice about How to Be Successful–Check Every Box.

A Little Happier: Don’t Check Every Box.

I know that just looking at the title of each of those seems like a major contradiction, but Gretchen Rubin has these “Secrets of Adulthood” that she lives by and one of those is

The opposite of a profound truth is also true.

Her two podcasts are about being successful and applying for a job, but I took the idea to heart in regards to self-care. It draws back to the topic I was writing about last week in my course review of the Inclusivity Training I did where Chelsea reminded us over and over again to

Drink as you pour.

If I am to take care of myself I need to check all of the boxes and make myself into the person I want to be; this will help me to be happy and is the only thing I truly have control over. I need to meet my own expectations. I need to push myself to be the best that I can. I need to think positively about myself and my own capabilities.

But, I also don’t need to check all of the boxes for anyone else, or even, sometimes myself. Sometimes it’s okay to spend the entire day in my pajamas lounging on the couch and watching tv with my kids. Sometimes it’s okay to eat pancakes from the fridge in the middle of the day. Sometimes it’s okay to say no to a workout.

The key is balance. I’m in the middle of a big project in my life and some of that means checking the boxes off to meet a goal I have. This would include

  • Getting in my 4 runs each week
  • Trying to be active each day
  • Avoiding eating as many animal products as possible
  • Choosing to eat less processed food
  • Making time to breathe and to meditate
  • Reading more
  • Writing more
  • Spending more time playing with my children
  • Taking care of myself when I need it

This is all part of My Best Body Happiness Project that was inspired by reading Rubin’s first book. I think that something inside of me has been trying to get back to this idea of balance lately. I will be writing on Thursday about where I am in my project and Friday will be a book review from the last book I read.

Currently though, Gretchen Rubin is helping me again as the next book on my reading list was Better than Before, her book about habits that introduces the Four Tendencies (I’m an Obliger). There will be a lot more self-care going on, a lot more meditation/reflection, and I’m sure that I’ll learn a lot more about myself and my habits as I go through this new book.

Have you read Better than Before?

What do you do for self-care?

What boxes do you not check?

Finding a Rhythm – Obliging Myself

I’m sitting at the Charlotte airport again. I had a lovely and brief weekend in New Jersey at the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA teaching the NETA PT Workshop. It was one of the best groups I’ve had in awhile, so I’m glad that I got to share that time with them.

The trip was a little precarious in that I got in late on Friday night and had to navigate Newark and the surrounding highways in the dark. Let me just tell you…..I’m not used to New England drivers and being just over a month out from my accident it was an added challenge! I even felt my left arm going numb at times and worried I was having a heart attack. Some good Ujjaii breathing helped me calm down, but it didn’t help that I had chosen the Toyota Yaris from Hertz that had no cruise control. Yikes!

The weekend was a success in that I tried to spend a little time thinking about why I’m away from the blog so much at this time. I thought about my training routine lately (or lack there of) and my general situation in life. I came up with a few things that I’ve been meaning to write about while seeing beautiful deer grazing in someone’s yard this morning. It almost made me consider moving to New Jersey….but don’t jump for joy yet Tina!

So, I’m an OBLIGER. This is something I discovered in my research on Gretchen Rubin’s work and Happiness Projects. What does it mean exactly? It means, something that I’ve kind of known all along, that it’s much easier for me to commit to something if the outcome is for someone else.

In what ways am I an obliger? With my kids, especially. If something is necessary for one of them, it’s going to get done at my own sacrifice. For work I’m pretty good at making sure the work is done (maybe not always in the time frame I’d planned, but always before the deadline).

In which areas of my life do I not oblige? Ugh, I’m probably not the best obliger in my relationships…..

I read this interesting article on NBCNews.com the other day about why it’s so much harder to be married in 2017 than it was before. One thing that I hit on was the whole “getting married later” and “finding it easier to be single”. I was married once before and while I liked being married both then and now, find it harder this time around. I didn’t spend long being “single” (about a year), but the independence that came at that time in my life was refreshing in a way I didn’t know it could be. There are still times in which I wish I could have things only MY way (not a very Yogi Attitude).

In my friendships I’m probably a decent obliger and currently more so with one friend than others. I am training with a friend for an 8k in September. My 2017 birthday present to myself. And that’s probably where I’m the worst obliger….in my own yoga practice and fitness (especially right now).

I can get up at 530am twice a week to go and teach yoga to others. I can make my body do 4 or more classes per day. I can run 6 miles with a friend. I can’t seem to find the rhythm that keeps me going on my own.

You may say, with all that other activity, why would it matter? It does. It matters a lot to a fitness professional. I understand, after many failures in life, how hard it is for people to create behavior change. I understand the struggle to “stay healthy”, to “get in shape”, to “be fit”. I understand the ups and downs of this journey more than a lot of other fitness professionals. I feel like Obligers are not often found in the fitness realm. My colleagues tend to be highly driven toward working out for themselves and, while I’ve had those moments in my life, I’m finding it easier to commit to others and their needs right now than my own.

One thing that used to help me was my schedule. My planner set the rhythm of my life….10 lines for each day dedicated to what I wanted/needed to do. I put in exercise as a priority, play dates with friends, intentions to catch up with people, dates, household obligations, and work commitments. However, I haven’t used my planner since the beginning of May and it shows in many areas of my life. I am surprised by how many ways the accident has impacted my life. So, today, on my flight from Newark I busted out the planner and started writing in it. I made a list for this week of all that I’d like to accomplish, but didn’t put exercise on it. Why? Doesn’t that seem counter productive to my goals and my Happiness Project? Yes, but it’s also more productive for me to find my way back to exercising on my own organically.

I have this big fitness goal that I’d like to achieve this summer….108 Sun Salutations. I was inspired by Tracy at Fit is a Feminist Issue awhile back, but haven’t found the way to commit to it yet. I even tried to wrangle my friend I’m running with into it. But I don’t think she was exactly game. I’m going to keep running with her twice a week and see what happens. I finish teaching for the summer on June 29th and then it will be all on me. Fingers crossed that I pick up again before then!

Have you been over to the quiz yet to find your tendency?

Have you been to New Jersey before?

What is your summer fitness goal?

What keeps you in your rhythm?

Breaking Down

I’m getting ready to leave on a trip this weekend, but before my Happiness Project post FINALLY goes up tomorrow, I wanted to write a short post about why I haven’t been writing posts. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my car accident. That was the start of my break down…..

Since May 2nd I’ve had a hard time running on my own, exercising other than running on my own, meditating, working, and in general….living. Last weekend I was supposed to attend the Roots of Love Yoga Festival and got in my car to drive up there only to have to turn back around. While stopped at a stop light a large truck came to a screeching stop behind me and almost rear-ended me. When I rear-ended the other car the girl in the passenger seat had said that she had rear-ended someone 5 days earlier. Since that time I have been waiting for my “pay back”.

I came home and cried.

I am set to go out this weekend for work and my family is coming with me to help me make the drive. Driving for me is still a challenge, but I never expected the accident to effect my life in so many ways. I find myself less focused right now and more tentative. I broke down during a run with my friend the other day…..actually twice now. I am usually the one pushing her and I found myself being the one falling back and needing breaks.

I don’t know if it’s emotional or physical, but I do know that I am 11 days past when I was supposed to update my Happiness Project and I am not feeling stronger in any way due to these lapses. I do know that this is nothing new for me and will be something that I address in the course of this project. I’m just ready to feel normal again and I have some strategies in place for that.nOne thing in particular (and I have a full post coming on that) is to play into my tendency of being an Obliger.

For now……it’s just one day at a time, one foot in front of the other, and breathe!

Q1 Performance Report 2017

The other day in my inbox I received this from MapMyRun

It was both saddening and motivating. See, it’s not totally reflective of all the “activity” I’ve done so far this year. I no longer track my yoga teaching or practice, my HIIT workouts, my Pilates, nor anything I do outside of walking and running here. However, it was motivating because it meant that I hadn’t totally quit walking and running this year.

In the past few years I have struggled to hit the mythical 500 miles/year mark. This year may be no exception, but I’m still trying. I use MapMyRun because it’s free and I can mark my own routes pretty easily. There’s an app for the phone, but I don’t use it because I don’t have a lot of data. I am not a brand ambassador nor paid for my reviews of the site and the one thing I wish they’d eliminate is the calorie counter. But, I am a loyal user and I love being able to track my mileage, write how I felt about each session, see my pacing change on routes over time, and also to track the mileage on my shoes.

This year I am running with a friend 2x/week. We are planning on doing an 8k in September as my birthday present to myself this year. I am guaranteed to run at least twice a week with someone and lately it’s been about 4 miles of jog/walk as she builds up her endurance and speed. I enjoy this because it also means that I will be doing the mileage. Today is my lone run day and I am gearing up for a nice, stretch my legs run, at my own pace. I’m curious to see how my 2nd quarter performance will be now that we’ve started running together.

Do you like to run together or alone?

How do you track?

What do you track?

Would 54 miles in the first three months be a disappointment or motivating for you?