Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ready for Week 5

Two weeks left.
I'm doing great and really enjoying it.
This week I'll only get in 3 studio classes because I have to go to St. Thomas, VI for a meeting. After single digit temperatures here and lots of snow, I'm ready for some sunshine and beach time. I'm just trying to figure out how to get my yoga mat into my carry-on bag so that I don't have to check luggage. Where there's a will there's a way. If I can pack for 10 days in Italy in a carry-on bag, 4 days in St. Thomas should be a breeze. I'll do yoga classes on Monday, Tuesday, and Sunday. I'll also do my lifestyle session on Sunday, and get in two practices while I'm in (on?) St. Thomas. And then next week is the final week! But I'm going to do my best to continue to get in 3-4 yoga classes each week. I am much more relaxed and flexible in body, mind, and spirit since I've been doing this.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Madonna sang "Like a Prayer" for the Hope for Haiti Now album.
So I was wrong on that one.
She was backed up with a gospel choir, which was cool.
I don't know how the choosing of the songs went down cause I wasn't part of that conference call.
If so, I might have suggested to her that she not sing one of her own songs since nobody else was, although now that I'm thinking about it, I'm wrong again on account of Beyonce sang "Halo."
Maybe it was more or less the one name people who sang their own songs.
Cause when you get to be known by just one name, you pretty much get to do whatever the hell you want to.
But Bono was part of a trio.
I'm just saying.
Rihanna, too.
It really doesn't matter. What matters is that they donated their talents to raise money for a country and the people of that country who need all the help they can get.
They can sing whatever they want to! Just sing!

Half way through week 4

Yoga is definitely helping me.
More flexibility in body, mind, and spirit.
I just had a short retreat with four beautiful clergy women. Two of them are yogis--one is a long term yogi and another is just starting out. We went to yoga together as part of the retreat and this was a Good Thing.
I like the feeling of community when I know other people who are in the class. It's kind of like "we're all in this together" (and my High School Musical obsessed daughters would appreciate this.) It just makes a difference.
And I'm all about making a difference.
Next week I head to St. Thomas, VI for a meeting. I imagine that we will be doing a lot of talking about Haiti. If the talk doesn't lead to concrete action, it will just be words. I will definitely do my part to call us to accountability.

Hope for Haiti Now

I downloaded this album from Itunes.
I love it.
I love it because the artists didn't do their own songs.
Some songs are sad, but all of them have some hope and encouragement in them.
Wyclef Jean rocks the world.
Everyone needs to do what they can and entertainers entertain. Musicians make music. When they do it for the benefit of others, the world is a sweeter place.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Men in flowy pants

Men in flowy pants make me nervous.
Which is ridiculous.
But, Lord have mercy, I was raised in the deep south. Men didn't wear flowy pants, at least outside of the privacy of their own homes.
I went to yoga yesterday.
There was a couple visiting the class that were obviously experienced yogis. The man had on flowy pants. Very flowy fabric cut all the way up the sides. (He had on grey athletic shorts under, thanks be go God.) When he went into triangle pose, it made a very pretty picture. Which I'm sure he was aware of.
He seemed to like attention and worked to draw it to himself. At the beginning "ommms," he Oommmd longer and louder than anyone. Like substantially and somewhat, in my opinion, obnoxiously. And he grunted and moaned in every pose.
On the one hand, it distracted me from my own pain which was good.
On the other hand, I didn't concentrate as hard on my own breathing, at least for some of the practice, and didn't have the mental discipline to just tune him out. So I will need to work on this.
Home practice tonight after my afternoon workout. I'm going to see if my hubby will help me with my yoga dvd and help adjust my poses since there are no mirrors in the yoga studio and I have no idea how aligned I am or how I'm looking, which is really a good thing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Week 3, day 2

The good news is that yesterday I heard one of the instructors say that week 2 of the 40 days program was the most difficult. I certainly hope so. I started week 3 yesterday. About 10 minutes into the yoga class I was thinking "God, get me out of here." Then I decided to let go of that thought and just concentrate on my breathing. I told myself that if I wanted to, I could leave the class. Or just take child's pose. Or I could focus on my breathing and see how my body responded to the instructor's voice.
It worked. I just breathed and let my body flow into the poses. I got out of the negative space. I quit thinking about the huge white board downstairs. I finished the class. And went home to enjoy a great evening with my family.
I'm going to my next class in 15 minutes. Every day is a new day.
I just have to breathe.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Week 2 completed!

So, I'm about 33% revolved.
Although not so much because I had a rough week and a tough time staying calm in the face of this crazy storm, i.e., Haiti.
I was thinking about other big events that have become part of the world psyche just by one or two words: 9/11, Katrina, Indonesia, Haiti.
You remember where you where when the reality of what had happened began to hit you. Or maybe you don't--maybe you just remember kind of before and after...
I love that technology can connect people and responses have been so vast. Push some buttons on your cell and bam, you just donated $10. Click on a website and your donating is done. There, I've done my part!
And yes, I have done A part. I've at least done something. And as I tell my congregation ad nauseum, nobody has to do everything, but everybody needs to do something.
This one is huge. We had infrastructures in place when our tragedies happened (okay, well, it took a while in New Orleans and there is still lots to be done.) Haiti--not so much. You know things are bad then the former dictator is volunteering to come back and take control. I'm hoping other options emerge.
Like maybe some real honest albeit difficult assessment of how to do rebuild a country. And maybe we get a team of international folks that can trust each other and work with the Haitian people to work together, to bring the best of what we all have to the table using the generosity of the world coming together.
I don't know if it can be done.
In the meantime, we pray. Don't get caught up in the negative reporting of bad behavior of people under incredible stress. Hurt people hurt people. That's just how it is. But the faster the help arrives, the sooner the healing can begin.
I'm ready for a new week.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Uniting good will in the universe

Is this possible?
Some of the yoga instructors talk about this right before we unite our energy in the room by inhaling together and then, on an exhale, saying (singing? chanting?) Ommmmmm.
I don't know if we unite good will or not. But I know that, if it's possible, then we need to try today to unite good will towards Haiti.
I'm the diocesan coordinator for Episcopal Relief and Development. The diocese of Haiti is part of our Province (Province 2.) Province 2 is made up of the dioceses of New York (Dio Long Island, Dio NY, Dio Albany, Dio Central NY, Dio Rochester, Dio Western NY,) New Jersey (Newark and NJ) the convocation of churches in Europe, The diocese of the US Virgin Islands, and Haiti. Right now, ER&D has established a fund specifically for Haiti relief. ( Because we already have an Episcopal presence there, we just need to find out how we can best support them whether it's with actual supplies or just money.
My birthday girl daughter asked if, instead of spending money on gift bag favors for her friends at her birthday party, we could give the money to Haiti. I was really proud of her. And of course the answer is a resounding "YES!" Tonight we will write up notes that she will give to her friends explaining her decision.
I believe that Ommmms are important because they are intentional. It is a form of prayer. Specific prayers (the kind I'm more familiar with--with words) help me discern what my part is and how I can help. After Hurricane Katrina, I felt so helpless. I feel that way now. I put that feeling to work then and was able to raise $2500 which was put to good use buying supplies for a displaced family.
So now I also pray for discernment. And I pray for grace and generosity for anyone who can help our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One Day at a Time

I looked at the big board in the Breathe Yoga studio that has everybody's name on it who is doing the 40 Days program and then a big grid where they check off when we complete a daily requirement.
My goodness, that's a lot of boxes to get checked off.
I'm 20% done--8 days, 8 check marks.
But I realized that I can't spend that much time looking at it or I get freaked out and somewhat overwhelmed.
Gotta get back to the mindful breathing. Relaxing. Anchoring in the present. All the stuff that yoga is about. (And, basically, some pretty key Christian teaching--do not worry about tomorrow--let today's problems be sufficient for today...)
This week I will focus on making the most of my present moment. Tomorrow is my older daughter's birthday. Can't believe she is already 11. And she is worrying about her party that will take place Friday night. I'm telling her to enjoy the "right now" and trust that everything will go as it should Friday night.
(But I still gotta order cake and pizza.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Yoga and Nutrition

At least 2 or 3 of the Lifestyle sessions will focus on nutrition. Next week we actually meet in the kitchen at Breathe (yoga studio.) I can't say I learned a bunch of new information today, with the exception that I didn't realize how important Omega 3's are--I got a bottle of the capsules so we'll see if I notice any differences after a couple of weeks of taking them. Cyndi (instructor) is the owner of the studio and has 20 yrs experience working with people with "disordered eating." She says that the problem for most people is that our bad habits get our metabolism out of whack. Instead of fueling the internal fires all day with small healthy meals, we tend to skip breakfast, eat quick (fast-unhealthy) food for lunch, and then by 5 or 6 p.m. we're starving and want to eat anything we can get our hands on. It's like putting a big wet log onto a fire and it slows down everything.
I've started drinking breakfast smoothies and have found that I do feel better. I use probiotic plain yogurt, a frozen banana, frozen strawberries, some protein powder, a little granola (for texture) and skim milk. Bam. Good and good for me. I also try to keep almonds and cashews on hand that I either eat raw or toast myself so that they don't have the salt/extra oil. I love veggies but getting my wonderful husband to incorporate them into the meals he prepares is a struggle. For him, he could live off of of grilled meat and rice a roni. Bless his heart. I love making big old salads with some type of protein on it for dinner. Or soup and salad. Last week, I made a delicious Martha Stewart recipe that used soba noodles, shitake mushrooms, garlic, ginger, scallions, chicken stock, lime juice and soy sauce. The entire family loved it. I also made taco salads one night with steamed broccoli, red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, ground turkey, black beans, just a few chips, some guacamole, and light sour cream. Yay! Keeping the foods interesting and nutritional is a challenge but I'm up to it.
So, a week dedicated to healthy eating. Viva la Revolution.

And on the 7th Day...

No rest for the weary. Today I'll do my Lifestyle Session and thus end week 1 of my 40 Days to Personal Revolution.
Next week will be more of the same. I hope it will feel more routine. I'll go to yoga on Monday-Tuesday-Thursday evening-and Friday. I'll do my at-home practice on Wednesday and Saturday, and life-style session on Sunday.
This is a big commitment. When I think "Wow. 5 more weeks of this" there is an undercurrent of "ugh."
Hopefully the lifestyle session will provide some inspiration. I'll let you know. Until then, peace Gentle Readers. Stay warm. Just to let you know, it's been below zero here temperature wise. Perhaps that is affecting my motivation because the only thing I really want to do is snuggle up in bed with a good book or movie. Sigh.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 4 of Personal Revolution

Okay, so I'm supposed to do 2 home yoga practices each week in addition to 4 studio practices. I was skeptical about if the home yoga practice would work for me. But, since I'm committed, I tried it.
Holy smokes, gentle reader! It was cool!
I had gotten a Baron Baptiste dvd with a 52 minute practice on it and was watching it on my laptop in my office after office hours yesterday. I found myself comparing my body to the women on the video and I didn't feel so great. And then I left the dvd in my office and got home and was ready to do my home practice and, well, oops.
Because the internet is so amazing, I went onto ITunes and was able to download some podcasts of Baptiste Power Vinyasa yoga, including some shorter practices and meditations. I just finished my first one and I am relaxed and inspired.
First, just hearing the woman's voice and instructions (Kinndli is her name) helped me to focus on myself and not another person. I already was familiar with almost every pose she asked me to do. I was able to relax, not worry about anyone else but myself, and really think about my breathing and posture. It was challenging but in a way that makes me look forward to doing it again.
But the best part was the savanyasa at the end. Kinndli talked about equanimity and being calm in the face of the storm. She said each transition to another yoga pose brings us to our edge and we can choose to face it with fear and worry or trust and calm. She said "The winds of grace are always ready to carry you, you just have to raise your sails."
Thank you, God, for lots of opportunities to learn.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

5% Revolved

Completed Day 2 of personal revolution. I'm 5% of the way finished. Not sure what I mean by that but I figure every day completed is a milestone. Tomorrow I will not go to an in-studio class. I'll do the dvd at home in the afternoon. Then I'll take a restorative yoga class Thursday night and the essential oils class on Friday afternoon. A home practice on Saturday followed by a lifestyle session on Sunday and, voila, week one completed!
In a couple of hours, I get to go to traffic court.
I know it's against the law to drive while talking on a cell phone.
I broke the law.
But the nice policeman who issued my ticket encouraged me to plead "Not Guilty" since I don't have any other tickets on my license right now. I'll still have to pay the fine but it won't go on my record.
I felt torn about that. I was guilty.
My hubby thinks I should wear my priest's collar to court.
I'm not representing the priesthood or performing any liturgical function in court so I will not be wearing my collar. To do so would, in my opinion, be an abuse of the privilege.
I plan to come home at least $100 down.
I'll let you know. And I'm not talking on my cell while driving. At least not very often. Baby steps.

One down, 39 to go

My personal revolution began yesterday.
Even typing that feels somewhat ridiculous.
On account of every day can be a revolution (or at least bring revelations...)
I had gone to yoga on Saturday and Sunday and I went yesterday and will go again today. I don't think I've done yoga 4 days in a row before.
I have set some goals for this 40 day program. I want to see how a yoga practice can provide metaphors for life. I like the idea of breathing through stress, whether its physical or emotional or spiritual or whatever. In yoga, my body feels distress when I try to push it farther than it is able to go. A little stress can make me stronger. Too much stress can cause injury. My job is to find that sweet spot between the two that leads to growth and strength. If I don't push myself at all, I won't see any changes and my practice will become routine.
Okay. Enough revolution for a Tuesday.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Revolution, not transformation

Revolution: a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving.

Turns out I was wrong about the 40 days thing. It's 40 Days to Personal Revolution, not transformation.
Drastic and far-reaching. Impressive!
I went back to yoga today. We had a snowstorm in the tundra where I live and the music director was out of town and the substitute couldn't make it because the roads were too bad. So a capella singing and a shorter service which enabled me to make it to an early yoga class.
Before the class, the instructor was doing a final announcement about the 40 days program and I learned that the title was REVOLUTION. She asked if anyone in the class had already completed the 40 days program in the past. One young woman got up who did the class last year and said that her goal was to tone up and lose a few inches. Then she said that she knew it sounded cliche, but more change took place on the inside. She said she ended the program with a great sense of accomplishment and self-confidence and that it truly had changed her life.
So, dear readers, it starts tomorrow at 4. I'll let you know how it goes and how drastic and far reaching the changes are in my ways of thinking and behaving. I may be a bit skeptical. No big surprise there. But I'm also hopeful.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

40 Days to personal transformation

Happy New Year!
I haven't blogged for 3 months. Haven't wanted to. Lots of travel (California and Palau,) daughter with swine flu (Dad had to deal with most of this since I was in California when it struck,) yoga, and holidays. Most enjoyable Thanksgiving with family. Feels amazing to look around my table and see those who I love so much. Left for Palau 2 days after Thanksgiving. My favorite place on earth.
So, on Monday I begin a program at my yoga studio called "40 Days to Personal Transformation." I have to attend one group session a week, 4 in studio yoga classes, and do 2 yoga classes at home on the days I don't go to the studio. I'm not sure what I want to get out of this other than enjoying self-imposed discipline. For me, that's always both challenging and rewarding since I'm my own worst enemy. It will mean rearranging some schedules and staying at the office a bit later on some days and leaving earlier on others. What I love about yoga is the intentionality. And forcing myself to be present in the moment and to stretch myself, both mentally and physically, because you only hold each pose for a handful of breaths. It's tough. Sometimes I think I hate it. But I felt the same way about running. And at the end of the class, when I come into Savanyasa, I'm a happy and relaxed little camper.
I got the little reds mats for Christmas and they will start a tween yoga class next Sunday afternoon. Beautiful stepdaughter Rachel goes to yoga with me when she's in town which is always a bonus. We'll be going in about an hour.
So I hope to blog about the next 40 days as an added discipline. We'll see how it goes.
A new decade.
Life is good.