Tuesday, October 27, 2015

That time the speech therapist made me cry

As I am trying to lower my shoulders and relax my neck and breathe from my diaphragm for the speech therapist, a ghostly stricture crushes my trachea. "Oh, that was weird!" I immediately said (while probably not using the proper breath support) and tears filled my eyes.

"What is it? What's going on?" she asked. I tried to explain the whole thyroid cancer thing, which she already knew about. It's not like it hurt, it just threw me back in the middle of that whole medical drama, which I thought I had transcended.

But no. A high school Facebook friend is having similar problems and had posted pictures of her fresh incision recently. That may have been on my mind. I've been kind of annoyed with her dramatic postings, wanted to simultaneously reassure her and smack her down. It's not even a real cancer! They should call it something else. Really, get a grip.

As usual, the one I want to smack down and reassure is myself.

Why do you have to be such a Puritan hardass? Why does everything need to perfect? Why don't you just chill? Why don't you speak up? (Because I'm in speech therapy because I lost half my vocal volume, you inner jerk!)

And the reassurance? Ugh.

I will try to reassure myself, too. But I am not sure that works. I have notebook after notebook of morning pages at this point, and I'm going to estimate it's 50% rumination, 30% self-reassurance, 20% lists. Yeah, I guess I haven't hit 110% on self-reassurance yet. Try harder.

I will declare this a victory in realizing that I'm not "over" it yet, and that I need to be kinder. To myself, for not being kinder. To my poor ex-classmate, for having provoked none of this. To my speech therapist, who had to deal with a crazy body memory of what it feels like to have your neck sliced open, no matter how expertly.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Yoga Challenge, because I am THRIFTY, and my ham strings are tight.

The dance class schedule kind of slows down for me in the summer. Luckily, a local yoga studio offers a new student discount (unlimited drop-in classes for 2 weeks for $20!!!!!!!!!). If I go twice, I've already gotten my money's worth. So yes, I accept this challenge. I shall om and namaste until the cat / cows come home, or two weeks is up, whichever comes first.

And I've already gone four times! Last Saturday was a lovely traditional yoga class, with some great hip stretches, and a wonderful shavasana. As a belly dance student, I get some super-tight hips. There are probably mechanical things that I am doing wrong (throwing out instead of down, or pelvis positions), so I always appreciate a good Pigeon Pose. I was amused by the glitter stuck to my mat from a prior dance class or costume, and the hilarious "facial" expression on the electrical outlets (like below). I would have taken my own picture, but it seems very wrong to bring a camera into the studio to me. (Potential Yoga Faux Pas #1)

Monday, Lindsey and I went to the "introduction" to yoga class, where the instructor uses a different style from time to time. And oh yes, there are SO many different styles. A quick Google (or heck, any medium-sized yoga studio's class list) will tell you that. Apparently they had just trained in bowspring posture, or Sridaiva. From my dance training, it seemed like a very awkward and not particularly healthful posture. Pelvis tipped back. Knees bent, almost all the time. Shoulders pulled back, chest open, stomach "long". Lots of scraping your foot back, to twang your own hamstrings. Which honestly, every massage therapist (yes, BOTH of them) has told me I have very tight ones. Why would I want to make them tighter? This is why I DO yoga, to do something that doesn't tighten my hamstrings and hip flexors. But we were game. We did the little jumps, held our hands in a crazy claw position, tried to kneel over a block for "relaxation". I can't say that I'm a fan, but I tried it.

And there, I believe I committed Yoga Faux Pas #2, wearing a t-shirt with distracting word graphics on it. Sorry, fellow yogis. I like WIDR-FM. A yoga-fan friend says she's never heard that was a problem, but I know I wouldn't appreciate trying to decipher a classmate's t-shirt, so I will try to avoid doing it again.

Two days after Sridaiva class, my thighs were still screaming. So I plotted my day around a Yin Yoga class, to take it slow, hold some poses, relax, you know. I had made yoga a priority. I was feeling pretty proud of myself, and I checked in to class. I should have sensed something then, from the desk attendant's expression, or the fact that the door to the studio was closed. But I was in fact 15 minutes late, something I could have avoided if I had listened to the little voice at home telling me to look at the schedule one more time. I unrolled my mat as quietly as I could, as they were already clearing the chakras by chanting, and I jumped in right at the throat (oh, HAMMMMM - how you crack me up...). Once I got over my own embarrassment and rushing feeling, I loved it. I loved holding the poses longer, I loved the chanting, and the sighs, and the comfort. Not too shocking - you know I love the woo woo already. And now I can let go of my annoyance with anyone who shows up late, because it has already been me. Yoga Faux Pas #3 has been committed, and accepted.

Yesterday I went to another "community class". I don't think it was a "heated flow" (aka, "hot yoga"), but that was certainly the most I've ever sweated in a yoga class. At first I wondered if it was from the excesses of the night before - maybe my little body wanted to get all of the Oberon out of my system. But despite the fact it is not productive to compare your pose to anyone else's, I was reassured to see others drip as well. I gave the instructor at the end my sweaty sweaty feedback. He said he would take that as a compliment.

I'm also trying to go through a little 5 pose flow every morning at home, to wake myself up and break the habit of phone scrolling in bed. Child's pose, to cat/cow, downward dog, hip fold, triangle.

The overall intent is to get me to Tribal Revolution without completely stiffening up. I also really love the language of yoga. the attempt to connect the mind and body through impossible instructions. Breathe into your lower back. But that's impossible! And yet, I can feel the difference.

So here we go. I love a good challenge!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Morning Pages ate my Blog

As with any "_________ ate my ________" excuse, this is probably not exactly true. But daily writing exercises do make daily blogging slightly less compelling. Add procrastination, perfectionism, and denial to the mix, and there go three months.

Lookit! It's gone. So, we start again. Morning pages, you are for warming up the pen. Rambling. Venting. Blog, you are for concise and logical public thoughts. 

I'm the one at the party, talking to no-one. 

But aren't all thoughts public these days, through all the social media platforms? I find myself trying to hide opinions more than not. I'd written a draft about the appalling public shaming that . daily. Today's news was about Jerry Seinfeld saying that college campus are too "P.C." for comedy these days, and he avoids them. Instead of considering whether this was a valid point, and the majority of the comments under the article either mocked him for not being edgy enough to have to worry about such things, or basically called him a has-been loser anyway who cares whatever. 

I still want to think about, well, is that a bad thing? Can you still be funny without being mean to someone? We know Jerry doesn't want to offend nice people ("Not that there's anything wrong with it!"), but he still wants to tell his version of the truth. Is that lame? Cruel? No longer modern? 

I'm sure a minority of those comments asked the questions, floated some theories about self-loathing being funnier now, punch-down comedy manifestos, etc. But it's so exhausting to dig through the black-and-white thinkers and the just listening-to-themselves-talk-narcissists to find the deeper thoughts. 

I guess I'm tired of thinking, too. Can't cough up 5 paragraphs once a week. Who am I to complain? No more complaining. Instead, I'm recommitting to the blog. Once a week. My vanilla thoughts, for you to consider. Namaste, bitches. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What have YOU been up to for the last year?

Because I love to improve things, I have no shame for my love of self-help books, programs, contests, challenges, therapists, and wristbands. Why NOT make it better?

I've tried a lot of approaches over the last 12 months, but I think the best program is one that is being offered for free, starting next week.

Your life could be the cat's meow!

Anna Kunnecke's Queen Sweep program is meant to give women (really, it's mostly women, and the word "Queen" might not be to enticing for men) a handle on the little household things that can suck you dry. There's a "broom" (geddit, for sweeping?) each week, a conference call with coaching, a forum for participants to discuss ideas and breakthroughs. Anna is a Martha Beck coach, which if you know your coaching, is a pretty big deal. And she's adorable as well. I really identify with her blog, and remember feeling last year when I first started reading it that we had a lot in common (overly sensitive, prone to using ALL CAPS, love peonies, etc.).

I know this program has a lot of research invested in it, plus time, and real support. She knows this as well, and the Master Class costs commensurately for the experience. Although I am somehow the lucky duck that won the master class and a year-long society for free, there's a certain amount of accountability that comes with paying for improvement. I don't usually mess around with that amount of money, I can actually recommend that you might want to. (And let me remind you that the intro course is FREE!)

Changes I have experienced: I rewrote my life story with myself as the hero (literally. Twice. I just finished the 3rd iteration.)  I am actually paying my bills in an organized fashion, which hasn't happened since I got married (21 years ago!) because it was too scary and I didn't want to look. I have a little compass (holistic to-do list) that I write weekly and I get so much more done, and it's based on a 5-year plan. I remember to be kind with myself and plan joy during the week. And I don't know if I just got lucky, but the group of women involved are smart and creative and hilarious and supportive.

So, yes, if you also find Anna's blog hilarious and insightful, I think you might enjoy this program too. Don't think it's just a series of reading assignments though. You really have to think about things, and maybe write a little, share with the other Queens and keep a space clear to let the new ideas in.

The 6 week course is FREE, and starts soon. Sign up! 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

History repeats itself.

Well, either I am losing my mind or facing reality. I've decided to try running again.

This may be a bad idea because:

  • Injuries occurred last time
  • I am not particularly talented at running
  • My reasons are impure and vain (appearance and the opinions of near-total strangers).

But it's a good idea because:

  • There's something about running.
  • I could sign up for the Color Run, which sounds more fun than the ol' local 5k. I could even train for a 10k. I could train for a 0.1k, it matters not.
  • I can implement my own running plan this time
  • When I was running regularly, I was healthy and calm. I want to go back there. 

I've already done 3 run/walk Saturdays in the snow. And you know, it wasn't as bad as I remember. I think this is partially because I've turned off the (internalized, perfectionistic, personal) pressure so much (my only current expectation is to try to run / walk two miles or so, and there's no event that I'm getting ready for.) I'm using my own running plan (must have music, a word to focus on, no long distances or groups of runners) as outlined in my February 2012 post (yes, that was 3 years ago).

I sound like I am talking myself into it. But I've already started. And I can stop any time (another "rule" to my rule-free plan), for any reason, including injury, weather, boredom, heat wave, or hot man alert.

Would you like to join me?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Aw. Awe. Awesome.

So, for a woman who does performance improvement for a living, reads self-help books for fun, and writes about self-improvement because she can't NOT do it, New Year's is IT. It's the time. The best time.

(To be truthful, I have also set Valentine's Resolutions, Easter Intentions, Memorial Day Meanings, et cetera, because I can find a way to start over whatever time of year it happens to be. But this is New Year's...)

So we're obviously a few days in. As you saw in my last post, resolutions can be frustrating because if you don't achieve that exact outcome, it's easy to feel like you've failed, even if other valuable lessons were learned on the journey. This was my conclusion after reading 1 billion articles and snippets about other wayfinders picking their Word of the Year. I did the same last year, and I think it was helpful to focus.

So after advice from Martha Beck, Anna Kunnecke, Danielle LaPorte and somehow I found Christine Kane as well, the advice was to focus on an adjective, on what you wanted to be as opposed to do, and a whole tool.

I'd had a discussion with a friend about a month ago about how annoying it was to read misuse of the word "awe". Honestly, I don't know if this is a grammar rule, or just our own issues with phonetics, but I'd always thought that "aw" was the noise you made when there was an adorable kitten present, and "awe" was a sense of wonder. Therefore, it's not wrong to write "Awe!" under a picture of a cute baby, but it's not exactly correct either.

(Sidebar: My cat is named Mr. Awesome partially because I was rambling aloud to a co-worker about this cat I'd seen on Petfinder named Sam and I was going to adopt him and it was going to be awesome because "Aw, Sam!". On my 3rd attempt to adopt this cat, it actually worked. So his name is Mr. Sam Awesome.)

Cat, on some hats. It's Mr. Sam Awesome!

So, I'd picked those words because they were sounds that encompassed what I wanted to be this year. I wanted to be empathetic and compassionate as well as restore a sense of wonder in the world. and as even the Foodist, Daria Pinto Rose says, I wanted life to be awesome.

But then I had my crisis of faith. What if it wasn't the right word? Also, isn't it breaking the rules to have 2 words? Even if one of them is more of a sound?

Enter BFF Lindsey. We don't always exchange Christmas presents but for whatever reason, this year we'd both found the perfect thing for each other. Of course, we don't always exchange them right on Christmas. So she brought it for me to the New Year's Party we were both attending. And it cemented my choice for Word of the Year, because it's this coffee mug:

So, here's the ritual: drink my coffee in the Captain Awesome mug. At the end of the day, assess what was Aw / Awe / Awesome during the day (I'm considering doing an Awesome journal for a while. Maybe the month of March, which is not always evident in awesomeness.) And stand back in awe...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

How do we get to 2015 from here?

Ah, the New Year. That wonderful, new time, when it's okay to wear sparkles in public, and everyone feels like they can start over again. I've borrowed some rituals over the years, and I think I've finally got a system I like. See what you think.

Some earrings to guide me through the path.

Chris Guillebeau does a nice write-up on his method over on the Art of Non-Conformity blog, and I suppose I've based quite a bit of my process on his.(Heck, the synopsis on Princess Farhana's blog is pretty good too!) But I feel resistant to the goal setting, for some reason. Especially this year. I feel like I did so well, but when I look back to what my 2014 habits were supposed to be, I didn't really follow through as fully as I would have hoped. For example, I do see an improvement in communication with the "bosses", but it wasn't necessarily from saying hello. And I did some decluttering, but it wasn't day by day. It was a program, through Anna Kunnecke's Queen Sweep, and from reading the Marie Kondo book. I did write a lot more, but I have less blog posts to show for it (but man, do I have a lot of morning pages to review....)

So that's what went well, and it seems very emblematic for my life (make bold declaration, start project, through millions of adjustments you get through it, then finally look around and realize you're in a completely different place than you declared you would be). That's always the "resolutions don't work" argument, when you can't show direct results. But there was improvement! It may just be time to accept that you can't tell where the path will end or how it will twist when you start down it.

What could have gone better? There's been a lot of foot dragging at work, and some of it was my fault. This must stop. I need to work on limits for information gathering when I start a project. And I could also pick up the pace. I wish I was a little more confident. And it's probably time to shore up the education.

I do see how setting hard goals could work for some people. But it doesn't work for me. I am a chicken-shit goofy-ass late bloomer who is easily spooked and have to take tiny steps to move forward at all.

So the universe (or perhaps, Mail Chimp) threw this Martha Beck blog post in my hands this morning, and this is exactly it. The goal is not the goal! The journey is the goal. And the feelings behind the goal are your destination.

So how do we get from Awe / Aw to confidently ending foot dragging and endless information gathering?

Well, I guess that's how we write the next post.