Modeling

Well, it’s Thursday and I still haven’t finished How We Live Our Yoga, but I did start to find some anecdotes that spoke to me. Maybe the back portion of the book is meant to be the best so that if you actually stick with it it will be worth the time?

There was one passage by Judith Hanson Lasater in which she talks about how her yoga changes over the years and about being a “Swami Mommy” As my youngest is starting Kindergarten on Monday and I move into the next phase of my own life, I realize why my kids need me to do my yoga just as much as I need it. They need me to be patient and ever evolving along with them. My life is changing and so is theirs. They also need a mom who is flexible both mentally, emotionally, and physically. I need to grow and change and listen and able to keep up. Continue reading “Modeling”

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How We Live Our Yoga

So, I’m reading this book called How We Live Our Yoga which is edited by Valerie Jeremijenko. I picked it up a few weeks ago because it’s been on my reading list at the library for some time now. But, honestly it’s not been that enjoyable. The stories are supposed to be about teacher and practioners’ journey into yoga, but they haven’t been inspiring to me. I haven’t learned anything. So, I didn’t bother saving this book for a Fave Reads Friday post. I’m tempted to give it up altogether, but I’ve only got 70 pages left. So, I will finish it out.

Today was my first yoga class in awhile. I’m back at CFCC and sooooo entirely thrilled about it! I had a few bumps in the road today because I haven’t been there in a year and I forgot to do a few things in prep for the semester. There was the usual cleaning up of the storage closet (aka moving Brazilian Ju Jitsu Club’s stuff out of my way), setting up mats (forgot the cleaning wipes and am missing mats and and blocks), and the awkward quiet as students filter in to my insanely warm room (either I sweat a lot more now or it’s just that I forgot to put in the work order for the temp to be low). But I got through two classes and I had a few smiles by the time everyone left. Continue reading “How We Live Our Yoga”

Fave Reads Friday #13 – Defining Yourself

I’m reading a lot this summer. I find it easier to encourage the kids to complete their summer reading if I’m also doing my own. One book that I needed to read this summer was Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. If you’ve read my blog over the last few years you’ve probably heard all about many of her books by now (just click her tag at the bottom of this post), but reading Happier at Home was like a refresher from The Happiness Project.

The big take-away for me in this summer of turmoil is that I need to just be me to be happy. It’s okay that I’m different from a lot of my friends and definitely my family. I have to stop letting the way others label me define how I feel about myself. I need to just go back to doing my thing in order to be my best me. Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #13 – Defining Yourself”

The Importance of Habits for Obligers

I hope that this Thursday HABITS UPDATE will become a regular thing in my life and for the blog. It’s necessary for me to have a regular posting schedule for my writing and for myself. And currently I’m undertaking the project of improving my habits.

Today I’m also linking up with Amanda at Running With Spoons as I have been doing on and off for the last couple of years. She does this great Think Out Loud Thursday round-up that always gives me new things to read. I’ve found a lot of great new blogs to follow through there and I’ve enjoyed having some of her readers stop by and comment from time to time. It gives me fresh eyes as to what people will click on and read.

But HABITS UPDATES are going to be strictly for me. A post that I need to write each week to keep myself accountable to the changes I am trying to make….serious changes in my fitness and scheduling. Habits are important for Obligers because we have this sense of duty in life….to serve. In yoga we talk about our duty in life as our Dharma and as a yogi, a mother, a wife, a teacher, etc….I serve a lot of other people.

Rubin wrote in Better Than Before (and recently on her blog) about Obliger Rebellion…..when those of us who live to serve reach our limit. This HABITS UPDATE will also make me accountable to myself and giving myself time to do what I want to do so that I don’t reach the point of Obliger Rebellion.

So, how am I doing so far?

Well, this week I’ve been pretty good about checking off things on my to-do list. I am using my planner on the regular and committing to doing the things that I put on there. I am committed to putting things on the list that I want to do as well as things I need to do and not prioritizing needs over wants all of the time. Some of my wants are also needs.

I want to run twice a week with T; but I also need to run to keep my body in good health, clear my mind, and socialize with another adult. I want to read and write on the blog. I want to have a clean house. I want to see my kids have fun at  t-ball. These wants all make me happy and happiness is something I really need in my life.

I also thrive on schedules. I am a planner and a finisher. I love to see things ticked off my list. I’m sure my students appreciate this too because it means that I’m taking care of things they need from me and planning classes that have a purpose. I’m sure that my kids appreciate that I don’t miss their events and that I make time for play dates. I’m sure that my husband appreciates that I have scheduled a time to shop and pay bills so that our house is mostly in order and we’re not always ordering out.

Scheduling is a big thing for me to be successful in my habits….it’s the reason that I’ve already ordered my new planner and have birthdates, anniversaries, and school schedules (through spring) in their….waiting to be used. But my new planner presents a few new challenges to me.

First is that there are only 7 spaces (if I squeeze) on each day. Currently I have 10 spaces for each day and often write double items on lines. This is a habit I want to break and hope that my new planner helps me to finally start saying NO to overbooking and over obligating myself.

The second “problem” is that I have to decide if I’m continuing my Word of the Day as a “daily” thing in this planner. There’s a perfect spot for me to write a word for the week, but not enough space for daily inclusion….it would take up one of my 7 lines. So, I have to decide about this habit. I haven’t been doing it for long enough for it to be noticed as absent in the near future, but by the time I hit January I would have had quite the streak of WOD that it might feel empty without it. One way I can trade off on this is to start doing a weekly word in November….things that I will consider as it comes closer (marathoner).

The thing I’m happiest about at this point with the habits is that I haven’t chosen drastic changes that set myself up for failure. I feel confident in keeping this going and I am looking forward to updating you again next week!

How does scheduling affect your ability to keep a habit?

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!

Time, Values, and Habits – The Big Questions

This is my last post for the week on the subject of Rubin’s book Better Than Before. I’m still in the section on Self-Knowledge which is a big theme for me always. I’m a big believer in knowing yourself and the yoga Niyama of Svadhyaya.

At the end of the chapter Rubin talks about the big questions that don’t always seem big until you ask them. She breaks down questions into three categories:

  1. How you spend your time
  2. What you value
  3. Current habits

Some of these questions are easy for me to answer; like would I like to spend more time with friends or by myself? With friends. Would I be happy to see my children have the life I’ve had? No. If the people around me could change one of my habits, what would they choose? My controlling nature.

It’s hard sometimes to own up to the truth as in that last statement. I am totally type A and I’m a first born. I find that those are often my excuses for liking to be in control and from time to time I’ve wanted to change that about myself. However, I’ve come to realize that it’s part of who I am and that there are times when I need to be take charge and stand my ground.

Other questions were harder to answer; like do I like racing from one activity to another, or do I prefer unhurried transitions? Here I’m stuck and do not know myself. I think I like unhurried transitions. I like to take as much time as I need to explore a place or an event. But, at the same time, I like to have a lot going on. I’m not much for traditional “down time”. I don’t particularly like days of doing nothing and hours of watching tv or laying around. When I do spend a lot of time sitting and reading I feel productive because I’m usually learning something along the way.

What’s most satisfying to me: saving time or money or effort? Well, I’m always interested in saving money, but I feel like doing things right also saves time and effort. Sometimes researching the best and cheapest option will save time and effort in the long run. Also under that same category was: do I like to listen to experts, or do I prefer to figure things out for myself? Another hard one because I believe people are “experts” for a reason. I wish more of my friends and family would listen to me about living a healthy lifestyle and exercise because I have been an “expert” in this field for some time now. I’ve been a certified fitness professional for 13 years and had my master’s degree in the field for over 6 years. I work in the field and I live most of what I teach and know. But, I’m also a kinesthetic learner myself, so there are somethings that I need to try and figure out for myself. I’m also keenly aware of the fact that there is no “one size fits all” for anything in life other than Be Nice to Others.

And, if I could magically, effortlessly change one habit in my life, what would it be? Oh man, where do I start? I can imagine changing whole scenarios and situations and feelings and thoughts, but not one habit. I guess, as far as habits go, I wish I were more organized. My desk is constantly clutter and I have a lot of unfinished projects (despite being a finisher) that are of the crafty and memorabilia nature. I wish I could find a way to relax and give myself more time. I wish that I didn’t always feel the need to be on the go. And I wish I could work faster so that more time would appear to me.

My favorite question she asked throughout this all was:

What daily or weekly activity did I do for fun when I was ten years old?

Read, write, run.

I have always been an avid reader. I used to carry a notebook around and write in it. I used to run as did most of my family. And now, I still read, write and run. It’s telling of who I am. It’s an answer to the question: Of my existing habits, which would I like to see my children adopt?

With this in mind, I’m going to read over the weekend. I’ll be back writing on Monday. I plan to run again this weekend and all next week as regularly planned. I look forward to your responses to these same questions!

Meditation Monday #44 – How to Meditate: The 5 Koshas (Anandamaya)

We are at the deepest or most subtle layer of your Koshas as we enter our final post on this topic (for now). The Anandamaya layer is often called the blissful layer or sheath; however, the bliss doesn’t necessarily mean a feeling of happiness, but rather a feeling of wholeness. This is sometimes referred to as the spiritual self or the true self…..almost like your secret identity that no one else can see unless you let them.

I wonder……how many of you live in your Anandamaya layer? Can you truly be your complete self? Your true self? Without reservation?

I know that I have moments when this is true for me. Pacheco asks the following questions:

  • How am I the hero of my own journey?
  • How am I following my bliss?

I think that at this point in my life, with my work, my kids, my training, and this blog I am as much the hero of my own journey as I have ever been. Am I perfect? Not by a long shot. There is so much more I wish I could do with my life; I plan to do with my life; I long to do with my life. There is a standard I have not yet reached. But, I am more aware of what each of that means at this point and am at a point of great understanding that the power to achieve or fail at this is within me and my ability to connect with others. I am following my bliss….I may not have caught up to it yet, but I’m still following along.

Pacheco also asks:

  • What is one act of spiritual generosity (small or large) that I can do for someone else?

In a world in which we are always looking for what will make us happy, we often forget to be of service to others. This is why I love to teach. I feel like I am sharing something that makes me feel so whole, so complete, so blissful with others while also giving a gift to myself. I hope that by reading this post you will consider what would make you truly whole in life and then start pursuing it. That by doing that you will consider the great gifts that you have to serve others. That by serving others you show them a way to make themselves be the hero of their own journey. And, that through all of this we create a world in which it’s no longer scary to live in the Anandamaya layer.

Over to you…..

Fave Reads Friday #10.2 – Meritocracy and other Made Up Words

Have you ever heard that word Meritocracy? Did you know that it’s not a real word? More of the many bits of information that I learned while reading The Big Test by Nicholas Lemann.

The word meritocracy was created by Michael Young in his 1958 work titled The Rise of Meritocracy. His work was meant as a satirical piece to pick apart  a system in which children, from a young age, are chosen for their role in society (think something like Giver or Divergent) and that a chosen few are meant to rule based on MERIT; which in this case is determined by intelligence. The word meritocracy is a combination of two unrelated root words, merit a Latin word and cracy (kratos) a Greek word. It is roughly translated to mean that through your worth your are given power.

The idea behind a meritocratic society is that through standardized testing we could best choose who would be successful at what skill and then guide our citizens toward that lot in life so as to be the most productive society in existence. This is what Lemann writes about in The Big Test. However, the main idea gets twisted over time and the use of these standardize tests also gets twisted.

Think about this……when I was in Kindergarten I was given an IQ test which pushed me into the talented and gifted program at my elementary school. The reliability and validity of such tests are often highly debated, but essentially I was chosen. I was bored in traditional school, but never really taught that being able to learn quickly and test well is not the same thing as having true merit. I was involved in talented and gifted programs through 8th grade, breezing through on good test scores. Upon reaching high school I was put on the advanced track for science, math, and language arts. I attempted the advanced track for social science (history) and language, but ended up dropping out of each. When I was in 7th grade I began taking the SAT and ACT exams as part of a program that offered summer camps to students identified as talented and gifted. I scored so well that I went to a camp and studied exercise physiology and biomechanics one summer and genetics in the summer between 8th and 9th grades.

My high school emphasized involvement and I was on sports teams, involved in debate, the lit mag, the yearbook, cultural awareness groups, volunteering at my elementary school and church, and holding part time jobs. I did all that I could on a limited budget and without true guidance as to what any of it meant.

Upon graduating high school, with alright grades and high test scores, I received zero scholarship offers and, because my family was not well off, I attended a state school and proceeded to do fair. I didn’t know how to study and lacked the discipline to perform homework to the fullest. Why? Because I’d always tested well which had been enough to get by in all schooling up until college. I spent time testing out this and that and avoided things that were too challenging or required too much work on my part as far as classes went. I was going to be a lifeguard instructor at one point, but decided that I didn’t have the time. I had a million part time jobs and didn’t stick with any of them very long. I got married and moved around.

In the last couple of years of my undergraduate programs I started to perform better in school and finished with a fairly decent GPA. I eventually became certified as a Personal Trainer and, after moving around a bit more, decided to take a stab at graduate school. (Mostly because a graduate degree “guaranteed” a better job) I studied for about a week and took the GRE; doing well enough to get into graduate school. This attempt at school was much of the same as college…..fair. But, fair is not good enough for graduate school.

I left graduate school for awhile at the end of my marriage and then attempted an MBA. I didn’t want to have to take the GMAT, so I dropped that as well. I eventually ended up at another graduate school where I flourished academically and where my interest in a lot of different things started to grow. I have always though of my journey to where I am today as more linear than it was. I had always considered myself a good student. But, after reading Lemann’s book and considering the true meritocracy I started to really question my own journey.

Last week Evangeline commented about about the idea of two different students applying to college:

This is fascinating. After taking the SAT and a few state mandated standardized tests, the whole system has piqued my interest. The idea of a number playing such a significant role in my future seems a little scary. I know colleges say they look at applicants holistically, but in real life, if person A has a perfect SAT score and person B has an average score, we know who’s getting accepted. I’ll definitely be adding this to my reading list. Thanks for sharing!

Which of these two students has merit? Who should we give the power to? How would you decide?

These are all questions that have been going through my head regarding myself, my children, and the world around us since reading Lemann’s book. How should we decide who goes to college? What is college for? Who should be running our country? What is merit?

Lemann ends his book with many of the same questions and I’m not sure I have the answers. All I know is that being selected at age 5 or 6 did nothing to make me the type of societal member that was going to contribute highly to significant causes….life has done more of that to me than anything…..yoga has done even more. Being identified as having the ability to learn and learn quickly didn’t help me to be successful because there was no guidance in the process. I wrote this post two and a half years ago about education:

TOLT: Book Reviews and The Great Education Debate

in which I talk about a book by Amanda Ripley and the future education of my own children. My children are now starting school (both of them) and we’re not in a traditional school. There is testing to help the teachers understand how the students are progressing, but the schools they go to also focus on grace and courtesy and a universal understanding of respect for yourself, your community, and your environment. These are the types of merits I think we should be basing our decisions on:

  • How kind are you?
  • How much have you done for the good of others?
  • Are you a litter bug?
  • Can you think bigger than yourself?

Maybe if we considered some of these questions before voting our government would look different at all levels. Maybe if we considered some of these questions for ourselves our lives and communities would look different…..

What is meritorious to you?

TOLT – 1 Week Until Preschool!

Today is Thursday and I’m not having to get up and go to work for the first time in many weeks. But it also means that it’s the last Thursday, for awhile at least, that I could have slept in…..because next week my baby starts preschool! And, in the words of Peg Plus Cat, I AM TOTALLY FREAKING OUT!

Thank you, in advance, to Amanda for a place to vent my worries.

THINGS I AM WORRIED ABOUT WITH PRESCHOOL 1 WEEK AWAY

  1. The Goodbye – When my first son went to school two years ago, he walked right in and I had to call him back to say good-bye to the little guy and me. This time around it will be the big one and I dropping off the little one on the first day. I’m not quite sure how this will go. Part of me wants him to be hesitant and still need me. Part of me wants him to be brave like his brother and waltz right in like he knows the place.
  2. What to do with Kid #1 – So, on the first day of preschool my oldest son will still be 12 days away from starting school for the year. So, it’s kind of new territory for us. There was just the two of us before the little guy came along, but since then I can’t think of another time in which it’s been just the two of us (unless you count volunteering at his school). So, what will we do with our time together? I HAVE NO CLUE! We have had lots of little moments together, but never 3 whole hours of us time in the last 4 years. I’m thinking I might take him to show him my new work as it’s right across the street. We might go out to breakfast. We might just go crazy….who knows?!
  3. More Friends – Okay, so this really shouldn’t be a worry, but I’ve already found that this summer was harder than any other before to make sure we had at least one play date with each of our friends. Why? Because now we have the friends we made prior to school, the friends from preschool that we’ve held on to, and now kindergarten friends. That doesn’t even account for the friends we’re about to make this year for both kids! I already know one of the families in the preschool class and we like them and have mutual friends, but there’s a reason we throw a large party a few times a year….we don’t have enough time for all of the friends!
  4. No Nanny – Yep, she left us and graduated and moved home and got married and is a grown-up with a full-time job now. The last two years have been a breeze because of our nanny and I can tell you it was the best experience we’ve ever had in childcare. So great, in fact, that I can’t seem to find anyone who lives up to her! And now we’re going to try and do it all on our own without her or anyone else. Already I’m dreading it. What will happen when one of the kids gets sick? Who will be there to help out in emergencies? What about when I need someone to set out something to defrost during the day? Who will eat all of the leftovers?! Really, our nanny was like a part of our family and we miss her dearly!
  5. The End – There will be no more kids at home after this. Granted preschool is only 2 half days per week, but this is the end of being a full-time stay at home mom. I have worked most of the time that I have been home with my kids, but I no longer have kids that are home full-time after next Thursday. It went too fast…..

Meditation Monday #37 – How to Meditate: The 5 Kleshas

Ugh! What a weekend! I arrived home….to my house….around 4am and got the minimum 3 hours of sleep before my day started as usual. This is one trip that I’m not all that excited to write about. Instead I’ve decided to leave it in the past and move right back into Meditation Monday!

How is meditation going for you these days? Mine is a little strained. I started thinking about how hard meditation can be for some people. For some it’s the sitting still, for others the quiet, for yet others the being alone with their thoughts that gets them. If you read back to the first four posts on How to Meditate you learn a lot about how easy it can be to start small. But, what happens when we’ve been working at it for awhile and we can’t seem to find the answers we’re seeking?

In the last few segments of this series we’ve talked about the Four Aims of Life, but there’s something that can get in the way of understanding and living your path and that is a Klesha. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #37 – How to Meditate: The 5 Kleshas”