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Taking My Fitness Tracker for a Walk

giphyToday during a lunch hour hot yoga class, as I was tentatively balanced with my limbs pivoting in all directions, sweat dripping from every inch of skin, my Fitbit buzzed.  Catching my breath and trying to get into the next pose without missing a beat, I pawed at the little black screen… “Take me for a walk” it said.

“Take you for a fucking walk?” Are you serious? I’ve been sweating my saggy old baggy off here for almost an hour and you want to go for a flipping walk?!

My hamstring was singing the song of snapping away from the tight pain in my ass cheek as the teacher was telling the class, “Breathe into the pose. Don’t release it. Breathe and think; ALLOW.  Allow your muscles to release.” I was imagining that whichever stretched muscle was holding my upper leg to my butt cheek, snapping and putting someone’s eye out.

My little tracker has also tracked sex as ‘riding a bike’. I’m sure you can imagine how reliable I’m convinced this damn thing is.

Sure, it gives me a baseline idea of how much I’m moving, and inspires me to move on the days I’m not running around like a mad woman in black pumps trying to save the world of the bereaved and manage a household of men. I’ve lived in my body for almost 45 years. I generally know when I’m tired, thirsty, or feeling sloth-like. I like to think that there are more fascinating things in the world than the actual number of minutes I sleep at night. Besides, I’ve left the tracker off plenty of nights, and it still tracks a fluctuating sleep pattern. I take it all with a grain of salt.

My sweetie on the other hand lives and dies by his Fit-device.  As a matter of fact, last night he was having a panic attack because he had lost contact with his synced weigh scale.  He weighs himself at least once a day, and tracks his weight on a graph like a finely tuned athlete. Don’t tell him, but he is not a finely tuned athlete.

Last week while he was sitting comfortably in his finely tailored suit doing whatever it is he does at the office that keeps me in a pretty princesses lifestyle, his fit-collar buzzed and alerted him: CONGRATULATIONS!!! You’ve lost ten pounds.  For a moment he was stunned. How was his scale at home weighing him while he was at the office???

When he figured it out, I got a text;  I just got a notice on my fit-flipper that I lost ten pounds. Those bleeping-bleepers are on my bleeping scale!

I knew exactly what he was talking about. The cleaning ladies were in, and had decided to step on his scale to weight themselves. I almost died laughing. This would surely send his graph into a mess of inaccurate weights and would surely negatively effect…..nothing.

“Take me for a walk”

 

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How Full is Your Cup & What’s With the Heavy Breathing Guy?

yogaIf you don’t already know, I’ve been captive in my own home, caregiving. As much as I have come to appreciate my mobility, I also miss it. The big kind of mobility. The kind of mobility that finds me doing  completely selfish, self-care. The kind that involves hot yoga every day I’m not working the night shift.

I like to think of self-care as part of what any good social liberal would call boundaries; the things I need to maintain balance and health.  Let there be no mistaking it, these boundaries are for the privileged. Before you go all first-world-problems on my ass, I’ve not always been so privileged. I appreciate it, and in order to live my best life, I will pursue these things. Hot yoga, time to write, and dates that inspire creativity.

A mere week before I unexpectedly had to change course and stay home to caregive, I sustained my own injury, which required physiotherapy (which I haven’t had) in order to heal. Today, with the help of some respite at home, I was able to make it back to a one hour class to get my sweat on.

The first thing that I noticed was the stink. The unique odour of an unwashed yoga towel.   Actually, that’s a lie. The first thing I noticed was annoying heavy breathing guy. If you’ve ever gone to a yoga class, you know exactly who I mean; the one person in the room who is the equivalent of the asshole on the train who sits with his legs spread, crotch on display, taking up the width of three seats.  His clear sinuses infect the room like a swarm of mosquitoes.

He was already in the room when I went in to place my mat on the floor. He was actually in my spot, breathing like, look-at-me-I-was-raised-in-the-sacred-culture-of-yoga-and-I’m-going-to-breathe-in-all-of-the-heat-and oxygen-and-I-want-you-to-hear-my-dominance.  I’m nothing if not flexible, so I moved to my third favourite spot (on the opposite side of the room) and took to my stinky mat. By the way, heavy breather also farts through the entire class.  My third-favourite spot is now my second favourite spot. Sans farts and annoying noise.

I had to baby my injury, but it felt soooo good to get back to something normal. Something that has become a huge part of my self care. Part of what today’s instructor referred to as ‘my cup’. Before we began, she asked us to evaluate how full our cup was. Flat on my back, breathing deeply into my chubby belly, I decided I was at about 75%. And and I was pretty damn happy with that. Not so bad under the circumstances, especially considering that I knew what I needed to add the 26% which would create a convex surface atop  the cup, making it dangerously close to overflowing…

Sweat dripping onto my turquoise  towel, I felt hot, sweaty, healthy, radiant and for the first time in a long, long, time, more like myself.

Today I welcomed the inappropriate presence of  heavy breathing guy, hipster-shirtless-beard guy and the Asian business lady who was oblivious of the silent rule who interrupted my mojo by asking me questions at the beginning of the class while I was clearly getting down to it in Savasana. She also moaned painful ‘Oh God’s’ as she transitioned into each new position. Come to think of it, maybe that middle-aged lady knows a little trick that I don’t know. A little Oh God moaning might do me a world of good…

Regardless of your situation in life, I urge you, as I urge myself, to maintain your boundaries. Ensure you know how to refill your cup, even if you’re going through a stage where it’s not full. Know your boundaries, and skedaddle like hell when you get the chance to give yourself some of that self-love that you need. If you don’t get time, fight the good fight to make the time.

 

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Restorative Yoga: Stick With Pose One

yogaA good sign that your life is out of balance is when you’re caught doing things that your best friend would howl at.

For instance, had my best pal of over 30 years witnessed me with a bolster between my legs, and my head resting on yoga blocks, she most likely would have peed her pants laughing and had tears rolling down her cheeks.

But that’s where I’m at.

Yep. Tonight I opted for a ‘Restorative Yoga’ class as a renewed attempt to practice self-care in the face of sky-high anxiety. You’d think that all 44 years of me packed into spandex and a sports bra would be a deterrent, but no. I may be a ball of anxiety, but I’m a brave ball of anxiety.

So, off I went, anxious (of course) about what this new class might offer.

What it offered was a zillion blankets, blocks, props and sundry other things that my teacher, “Susan” helped to jostle my tense muscles with in order to get me into a completely relaxed position…or so she thought.

The first pose was great. It was the fetal position. Quite apt for the stressed out adults the class adverts appealed to.

After that, I followed Susan’s lead into the next pose. I propped myself up into a sitting position with a pillow under my knees, and then Susan came around and wrapped me in a blankie so it supported my arms. Cocooned in a snuggly ball of relaxed warmth, the grand finale was her gently placing a soft mask over my eyes to block out the already dim and relaxing lighting. Susan, you’re the bomb!

Sweet love of all that’s holy,” I thought to myself. “This class is for me!” The woman across from me began to snore.

And then we changed poses. Yes, this was the front-facing-face-down-in-a-towel-pose-that-makes-you-very-aware-of-your-belly-fat-and-how-inflexible-you-are.  From that position; legs spread, face down on a propped up pillow with arms resting on even more fluff, I regretted my decision to fully participate in the class.

Out of the corner of my eye I glanced some much more experienced restorative-yoga-goers, and those smart bastards stayed in the previous pose, reclined with their eyes covered and sound asleep. After all, as Susan had instructed, “This is your class, and you can do whatever you’re comfortable with.

Hey! Suzy!” I wanted to shout, “Could you come over here and prop me up again with that warm blankie? Oh, and can you turn up that soothing tantric audio excellence while you’re at it?”  

I wanted out of this pose! I wanted to be prone with my knees supported and so relaxed that I was snoring like the lady across from me. I wanted my boobs to be three cup sizes smaller so that they didn’t feel like they were pinching my trachea.

But I did not wiggle or call out for Susan. No, I did not. Mostly because I’ve already been kicked out of one yoga class for giggling, and I didn’t want being kicked out of yoga classes to be my thing.

As always, I gave the class a fair shot. I tried everything and came to the conclusion that my yoga classes would remain locked into something that gets my heart beating, my breathing deep, and my sweat pouring.

Should you ever have the opportunity to experience a restorative yoga class, I highly recommend staying in the very first pose. That would be the resting fetal position.

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The Downward-Dog-In-Heat Down-Low

make time for yourselfI’m going to answer your burning questions about my introduction to hot yoga; yes, I survived.

That in itself is success.

In an attempt to come up with some sort of healthy schedule in light of my new empty nest status, I have signed up for a month of hot yoga, hoping that I love it enough to make it a habit.

Empty-nesting has left a hole in my life where all of  my put-off self care needs to go.

So, I started at my local yoga place. The greeting at the door at Moksha Yoga was not a spiritual-community-greeting.  It was extremely clear that the sinewy, dewy-faced, blonde-haired  twenty something behind the counter was running a business.   After years of meditation practice, temple visits (and spa visits…), I get it.

Although I arrived very early, she was all about the rules. I might suggest that for identified first-time visitors, that business warm up their hellos. I’m pretty outgoing, so it didn’t deter me, but for others who are coming in,  carrying more anxiety and fear, it would certainly make the experience much more attractive.

A few folks that I know helped me choose an outfit that would not be sloppy and inhibit my movements; a sports bra, tank and pair of yoga pants. I took two towels, a water bottle, and rented a mat as I tossed my old one during my recent move. AmazonPrime will save me within 36 hours with a new one.

Hair: the bain of my feminine existence. I clipped my naturally ringlet tight curls up and added a sports band for good measure. After class I looked like I was making a  half-assed attempt at blonde dreadlocks but, whatever.

joy in livingThe class slowly filled in at the last minute, and I eased back into my position on the mat which I hadn’t made time for in at least five years.

It was hot, and I was wise choosing a reduced-heat class. I survived, and felt refreshed at the end of class. Even joyful.

I will be back.

 

 

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Empaths; Diluted Spiritual Practice

pink tulipsWhen I’m sad I buy flowers.

Today I bought a bouquet of pink tulips.

I wasn’t sad for myself, or suffering any great loss. But I have been the strong shoulder on which to lean for a few of my friends lately, and it got me to thinking.

There’s been a lot of talk about ’empaths’ lately. It’s the hip catch-word for empathy, and kind of an annoying one at that. Heaven forbid we feel empathy for one another any more. It’s so fucking depressing and inconvenient after all.

Who needs that?! Aren’t we all supposed to be hap-hap-fucking-happy all of the time? Isn’t it best to dilute our suffering so we can ignore it a little easier and be productive? Maybe a new purse would help? Oooh! And the matching shoes!

Empathy has long been trickling out of our culture like a slow leak in a milk bag. The only thing  that it leaves behind is a disgusting sour mess.

Self-awareness has somehow eclipsed the sacred and ancient practice of being present. Fully present. As in, being as fully aware of your own actions and reactions in relation to the rest of the world.

I was sad today because I woke up to two phone calls from people  who are suffering. I also woke up to a text message from someone rather new in my life. I knew it was thoughtfully composed, and I knew why, and that made me sad too.  The collective ‘we’  complicate things unnecessarily, and all it really does is hurt.

“I’m an empath,” someone recently confided to me at a party. “I see,” I replied. It’s my standard response when someone’s utter oblivion catches me off-guard.

What I really wanted to say was, “We’re all empaths honey”.

We’re all human and we all feel a full spectrum of emotion. Remember that the next time you hold back. Whether you’re trying to play it cool in a romantic relationship, not break boundaries as a friend or colleague, or wondering whether you should defend someone in their absence.

Remember that we all feel deeply, this wild and wonderful bittersweet life.

Empath, schmempath! Enough pop-psychology drivel. Practice being fully present, and I promise, your heart will thank you for it.

 

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The Lazy Buddhist

"You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour." ~ Old Zen Saying~
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
~ Old Zen Saying~

I’m a lazy Buddhist.

Some days I’m more of a lazy Protestant, Hindu, Jew, Taoist, Muslim or Catholic. It just depends on how I’m feeling. I like to go with the spiritual flow, if you know what I mean.

How can I be all of those things? Well, it’s kinda like this;  I really struggle to wear the uniform of any single religion. I’m spiritual, and have found a home in my Buddhist practice. It  brought me to a much deeper understanding of my Protestant roots, and my academic study of religion.

But I’m lazy about it.

Today I put off a full day of meditation because I woke up with the same headache and sniffly nose that I went to bed with last night.

Mind you, I could have taken a seat in the meditation hall full of decongestants with a side of tissues, but it was so very much easier to stay in bed and cuddle with my 1500 count, aubergine-coloured sheets.

Granted the other folks attending today’s retreat are thankful that I didn’t come and clutter up their atmosphere with sniffles, bacteria, and a high level of shifting on my organic buckwheat hull-filled cushion, I could have gone.

Instead, I got up, had a glass of water and went back to bed, where, my body and mind rested for 5 more hours.

As usual, I made my way to my preferred coffee shop, sat back, and read the news. The piece that caught my ever-distracted eye was in the Focus section of the Globe and Mail. Crushed, by Erin Anderssen was a bell back to some thought about my own practice, and how, when I need it the most, I abandon it like a kitten distracted by an ant.

I have been worrying a lot lately. A lot. Worry is something that used to drive me toward my goals and accomplishments. Now it just drives me to bourbon, quick fixes and eventually, back to my breath.

Friendships wax and wane. Everyone has their own problems, and let’s face it, even though you may ask for someone to share their perspective, decisions have to be made with your very own unique concoction of rational thought and intuition. I tend to go heavy on the rational thought, and overboard on the intuition.

In the past, decisions that I’ve made from a place of fear or worry have been quick fixes that offered only temporary satisfaction.

For a week I’ve been stewing over something pretty hard. A simple ten minute session on my cushion mid-week, just before bedtime,  offered some release, and the most solid night of sleep I’ve had in months. I woke up with a new perspective.

So today I missed a great opportunity to share sacred, even holy, space with other people who know the power of practice within the safe space of a sangha. Instead, I chose to rest my own body and mind.

I felt guilty about not going, but then I decided to be at peace with peace. Both at letting myself get some solid rest, and for making a decision that wavered contrary to popular opinion. Just to be sure, I did some math, and realized that both my intuition and rational thought process were right on the money.

This week I had expressed my fears, hopes and thoughts to my friends, soliciting their perspectives and advice. They offered support  when I had come to a conclusion, and confided that with regard to this matter that was on my mind, I had made a poor decision before. I had to agree, and then, after calming my mind, I had to disagree.

This is life. Lived uniquely on our own, despite being surrounded by people; some caring, some sent teachers, and some we will never know.

Am I a lazy Buddhist, or am I just one who, working intensely with human loss each and every day, needed some space?

Breathing room and solitude are often mistaken for sloth. Don’t let anyone else’s ideas fool you.

When in doubt, hit the floor and give yourself ten for  zen. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

 

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Keeping the Fun in Fitness

Stretching never looked that good!
Stretching never looked that good! (Photo credit: deleted.scenes)

Today was the day I made the effort to reconcile with my friend the gym.

It’s been a while. Since I took to outdoor running and paddling, the stale air of indoors hasn’t held the same appeal.

After having a rotator cuff tear in two places, be repaired and torn again, it was with a heavy heart that I made the decision to  abandon ship (my dragon boat team), and get back to the gym.

As much as I will miss being on the water with a great team of women, I know that my shoulder is done. Shot. Finito. Caput.

So, it is with sadness that I leave the river and go back to the gym. Back with gratitude too though, because it’s within walking distance, and I love it.

Combined with my yoga in an oak and stained glass sanctuary, and my running on the trails by the lake, I think it will all balance itself out, and my little, worn out soul will be happy.

Besides the stale air, the gym is also a festering pool of  dodgy material to write about. Writers are always observing. Perhaps we all have a slightly perverse voyeuristic bent, but that’s kinda sexy. Right?

As my torn tendon screamed in pain, I ignored it and focussed instead on some of the general truisms about gym life. I bundled them all up in my teeny, tiny girl brain, and brought them home to share with you;

1) The men who like to have their women covered head to toe in the name of religion, are the first ones to settle into a cardio spot with an excellent sight line to the women’s fitness room. The gym is a haven for sexual hypocrites and perverts.

2) The older you get the less you care about your panties showing above your yoga pants. You just hope you don’t toot or actually shit yourself.

3) Men in spandex all look less than attractive. Unless you’re Channing Tatum or some such masculine delight, wear  something else. Please.

4) Fill-in instructors all have full-timer envy, and make it their mission to push you to that psychological breaking  point where you fantasize about giving them a thong wedgie and a slap.

5) Where there is cinder block, there is sweat and bacteria. I’ve never stretched against a gym wall that wasn’t appallingly moist.

6)  Someone will always hog the piece of cardio equipment you were hoping for. (That’s why I do my running outside.)

7) Gym yoga will always be the cheap, trashy version of the real thing.

8) When you least feel like going, you get the best work-out. Some deep breathing and sweat make you feel alive, and tickle your smile out where everyone can see it.

9) Gym water fountains. Ew. Just ew.

10) Squash courts have always been, and will always be THE very best place to pick up quality men. Trust me on this one ladies.

11) Any class description that includes the word ‘Bootcamp’ makes you want to die, but is totally worth it…in a week or so when you can walk again.

12) Open showers. A good indication that your gym needs a reno.  Shower at home – see number one.

***If you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s because my right arm mercifully fell off.***