Surya

Today we honored the sun, even as it insisted on hiding behind a thick blanket of soggy, grey clouds. Yep, it’s gone again after three blissful days of warmth and light and dryness; this morning was dark and wet and the cold just clings onto you, heavy and sad. Still, the sun must be up there, somewhere, otherwise we couldn’t even see the clouds at all, so that’s something!

I’m excited for spring lately. I used to kind of roll my eyes at the thought of spring springing because in Florida that just means it becomes unbearably hot all at once and everything is sweaty and blinding for the next nine months, but here in Georgia, if I remember correctly, we had a few months of pleasant weather that straddled the warm/cold line and actually qualified as spring. I’m looking forward to a little less rain and a little more sun, leaves on trees instead of piled up in wet, decomposing heaps, and the opportunity to sit outside and just feel the earth.

For now, though, sun salutations will do. And, in fact, they might be necessary–it might be easier to appreciate the sun when it’s gone than when it’s here.

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Flow and Core

When I said I’d had the worst day of the year way back on the third, well, I was right, but somehow I’ve experienced it again already…so far. Yesterday was awful. The sickness I’ve been fighting off since early November (that Husband has suffered with for the past two months) came at me full force. I’ll spare you the details, but it was a day of me laying on the couch in my leopard-print-iest of pajamas, taking cough medicine, and lazily watching makeup tutorials on YouTube. Beauty gurus just have some of the most soothing voices.

So that meant today I had to make up for yesterday. I started the morning with Flow, and it felt great. It was a slightly more active session, but that was welcome. We had another lovely day today, so I took a long walk in the afternoon, and another with Husband in the evening, and I just finished up Core under the soft glow of my salt lamp.

A day that starts and ends with yoga is a pretty good day, I have to say, even if it comes on the heels of sickness, though my throat is raw again, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to medicate to sleep, which is right on the horizon for me. But more interesting than that, a friend posted something on Facebook that hit me like a sack of Harry Potter and Order Of The Phoenix…s. I hope, if she ever sees this, she doesn’t mind me quoting her, it was just she said something so utterly true to my thought process lately:

I’m torn between wanting to be reproachful and wanting to feel hurt, and wanting to move on and be kind without looking back on the past.

I’ll spare you the details, though they are interesting and blog worthy, I’m just not up for that tonight. The gist is: when you own a feeling, it’s hard to let it go, and is letting it go really the right move to make? I’ve wanted for a while to write a blog on “forgiveness” and how it’s such a fucked up concept, how it’s really only for other people, but I don’t want to muddy those thoughts with the addictiveness of anger, and I know I’m all too often at anger’s mercy.

While I worked on flowing and connecting parts of myself this morning and ended my day focusing on my core, my I am chakra, I realized just how far away I actually am from knowing who I am. Maybe that’s okay, and maybe the truth is knowing that I’ll never know. Maybe the most important thing is just being willing to look inward and shine a light into the darkest places. Maybe it’s most important to not worry about yourself, and just focus on what your words and actions will do to everyone else. I guess it just matters what your end goal is.

Feel

I’m not saying I definitively can feel everyone else doing these practices at the same time as me, but I am saying my brain certainly thinks it can.

Today’s practice was perfect for early morning (even though I did it in, like, late morning). Husband and I had matcha lattes after sleeping in, and the caffeine gave me the kinda buzz that makes one do this dance around the living room, so I chased Rutherford for a few minutes, then got on the mat.

I practice in front of an open window, and the tree pose at the end of the session afforded me a pleasant view of the first sunny day in what feels like three months here in Atlanta. So Husband and I found a local place to take a hike and actually went out and did it, and it was glorious. Muddy, chilly, a little dangerous, but glorious.

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I’m sure we’ll return to rain and cold and grey come Monday that will last through to March, but at least for today it was nice to feel the sun on my face and the mud under my shoes.

Observe

Sometimes Bart tolerates Rutherford. Yeah, his ears are back, but they’re not flattened in that “when-I-get-into-a-fight-with-this-beast-I-don’t-want-them-torn-off” sorta way, but more like an “ugh-this-guy-again” southward jaunt. Sometimes he doesn’t hiss and he just deals. And sometimes he even lets him lay next to him. Today wasn’t one of those days.

Today when I sat on the mat and closed my eyes to settle in, I heard the familiar tippy-taps that only Bart’s 25 pounds of bulk can illicit from my wooden floors, and I invited him to come sit beside me. He got some scritchy scratches, which I’m sure Adriene would heartily approve of, while I tried to find my breath, but then he let out an ungodly hiss not once but twice in the direction of the doorway.

I looked over to see Rutherford innocently frozen on the threshold, eyes big, paw poised to cross over into the room. All this kitten has ever wanted, it seems, is twofold: to be accepted, and to be feared. Unfortunately these two things are in wild opposition to one another. No, Rutherford, I’m sorry, but you can’t expect Bart—and certainly not Di–to cuddle up with you for a sunlit snuggle on the chaise after you dive-bomb them from the dining room table and proceed to chase and frisk them throughout the entirety of the house twice over. It’s just not gonna happen.

It’s sad because he just wants to play, but Bart and Di are 8 year olds which is like, according to Purina’s UK site which I want to trust because UK, but I know I can’t trust because Purina, 48 human years. A 48 year old should still be playful, frankly, but it’s much more likely that they’ve had enough of your shit before your shit’s even begun.

It also doesn’t help that Husband and I both play with Rutherford this way. We play hide-and-seek, we chase each other, he frisks us by pawing up our legs and running away, and we jump out from behind walls, tap his butt, and run in the other direction. He just wants Bart and Di to join in, but they do not want that.

Ooooor…and I cannot stress enough how much I am squinting and dragging out that “ooooor”…Rutherford wants to be the HBIC of this house, and that ploy for cuddles is really just an attempt at constantly displacing the others from their comfiest spots and ensuring they have a healthy amount of fear of him. I don’t know what’s going on in his mind, and the reality is that I probably don’t want to.

So Bart left with a ragey hiss, and Rutherford proceeded to come into the room and attack every limb I moved. Claws and yoga pants are not a great combination.

Foundation

Today was, as I texted my mother, the worst day of the year…so far. I fell asleep last night with a little ache in my noggin and woke up with an almost blinding pain rattling around my brain. Husband brought me two naproxen (which I’ve been avoiding in lieu of acetaminophen, but this was bad, my dudes), and I forced myself back to sleep (or “back asleep” as I typically say but have been advised is WRONG by Husband). Upon waking again later my head felt even worse, but we had an appointment with a roofer today to fix a hole (fuck off, nature!), and I needed to get up and do something.

So something I did, as in I cleaned the whole house. My plan was to get up, do yoga first thing, go for a short walk, then do a quick clean of everything including laundry and dishes and then break my fast before my noontime appointment, but I knew I wouldn’t make it through yoga or a walk feeling like my brain was fighting to be on the other side of my skull, so instead I meandered through the house at the pace of a centenarian, moving things back to their rightful places, loading laundry, washing dishes, folding laundry, scooping cat poop, and generally making the house feel livable.

The headache didn’t ease up, even after laying in darkness for a bit, and not even after some Costco pizza! (I feel betrayed, is pizza not supposed to heal all wounds??) So when we got back from the store, I decided, it’s now or never, I gotta get on the mat, it’s only day two for crying out loud, and I’m not going to let my own head stop me!

I don’t remember when my head stopped hurting, but by the time I was in shavasana, I forgot I’d even had a headache to begin with. I’m fairly certain it was Adriene’s sweet, sweet voice, so the list of cure-alls (cure-mosts?) is as follows:

  • Costco food court pizza
  • Adriene Mischler telling you to kiss your sweet knee

I also had a bit of a breakthrough with my story today (even with the headache), and resolved a number of issues I was having all at once. This came on the heels of cleaning up and getting moving, and I think that’s my foundation: getting back to what is proven to work for me which is basically walking around the house, keeping my hands busy with tasks, and talking to myself about imaginary people and scenarios. It’s hard to get back on track after the holidays when your schedule is non existent and all of November and December feel like that, but we’re back now, we’re good, and it’s time to go.

Discern

Image of Adriene Mischler reaching upward with text reading "I'm In! Dedicate A 30 Day Yoga Journey"

January is yoga month, has been for three years running now. Adriene Mischler’s 30 day yoga series on YouTube this year is called Dedicate and that’s exactly what I need to do to so many things. As blogging is one of those things, I think I’ll write up quick posts everyday based around the daily word. Today’s is “Discern.”

The idea is to recognize why you’re here, doing this, and probably to make you think about why you’re here at all and what motivates you. I got on the mat this morning with an intense desire to reestablish a daily practice and working out in general. I get distracted very easily when my habits are broken, even by one day, and I find it really hard to start up again (as evidenced even here, on these pages), so a re-dedication to a daily practice is exactly what I need. I’ve also started following the Couch to 5k program. There isn’t a 5k I’m interested in running, and there may never be, but I am interested in getting outside and being active regularly, to get my stamina up, and to get some good cardio in for my heart. I want to live a quality life for a long time, and I know exercise is the key to that.

With yoga always comes emotional and mental peace for me, and I’d like to get back to that as well. I’ve let in a number of toxic thoughts in the last six months, and I want to clean those out and fill the space up with positivity or at least more useful musings.

The physical yoga today was very basic (which is a word I do NOT associate with negativity, so you go love your pumpkin spice and fuzzy shoes all you want, girl!) The practice was 50 minutes, but the movements were slow and limited in scope. I can see it as a great practice for both beginners and seasoned yogis because it reminds you to be aware of all parts of your body and teaches you patience. Since I’m in the middle of those, I really tried to blank out my mind, close my eyes, and follow her words as intuitively as possible. No, I didn’t sweat (in fact, I shivered because I had a fan on), but I did get a little shaky in my core when I really focused on engaging all of my muscles. If you do it correctly, yoga is an amazing workout, but you absolutely must engage your whole self, including your mind, to get there.

My favorite moment when I’m following any yoga practice is when I just seem to intuitively know where we’re going next, and I get into the next pose a second before the vocal cues happen. I’m not rushing, but my body is just moving that direction already. Of course, it’s largely probably because the poses naturally flow into one another, and when you sync up your breath and your body you just kind of keep going, but I get a nice wave of belonging and purpose in those moments. There are also moments when I blindly start doing something that’s really way off too, so sometimes my spirit’s a little out of sync with the vibe of the video, but that probably makes those instinctive moments even more magical. I had one of those today, and it just brightened up my whole morning.

So I guess that’s why I’m here, to get a little brightness.

Yoga for 2018

I’ll be starting off 2018 taking a new yoga journey with Adriene Mishler of Yoga with Adriene, and wanted to invite everyone along. I started 2017 with the Yoga Revolution, and I’ve talked before about how that literally changed my life. Now I practice yoga nearly every day using the Down Dog app or just a personal home practice, but Adriene will always be my number one yogi bae.

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She has an amazing way of making you feel like you’re already doing it and like you’re guaranteed to succeed. You literally can’t do it wrong when you’re following along with her. If you ever thought yoga was too hard or you’d never be able to get in that pose, give her videos a try. She’s great at offering modifications and getting you to trust your body. I can’t say enough good things about her and really about yoga in general.

No matter what day you start, it doesn’t matter, just jump on the wagon whenever. If you’re new to yoga or if you’ve been practicing for years, I’m certain there will be something here for you.

The videos start January 2 and will be posted on her YouTube channel, and if you sign up, you’ll get a daily email of inspiration. If nothing else, even if you’re not into yoga and don’t plan to be, starting a daily practice of anything that’s actually dedicated to you and your wellbeing is, I think, a great way to start out a new year. If you’re looking for something really easy to start out with today, consider starting here:

If you join up, let me know how it goes. You can do this!

Namaste.

Blogmas: Looking Ahead

The year is coming to an end, so it’s probably time to reflect on what happened and think about how I want to handle the future, I guess. People make resolutions this time of year, but I don’t think that’s for me. What I want is too inconsistent to promise myself a set of things, but I can come up with a few vagueries to commit to.

  1. Expand my yoga practice – I really want to do a handstand, you guys. Also successfully hold crow for more than a second and get up into wheel. Maybe I’ll even go to a class? Who knows, but Adriene is doing a new 30 day challenge to start off 2018, and I couldn’t be more pumped!
  2. Write more – This blog and NaNo have helped me reach some personal goals in 2017, so for 2018 I plan to expand on that. I have a trilogy I need to finish, Vacancy to post, and the desire to write something completely new. I’ve been working on the same handful of projects for years now, and while there is merit in that, things get stale. My writing and my personality have evolved, and it can be difficult to work on a project that a version of me from 5 years ago was excited about and invested in, but the problem is, I don’t bring things to fruition fast enough. Hopefully in 2018 I can start and finish one whole thing. Wouldn’t that be something?
  3. Improve my nutrition – Now that I have my weight under control, I want to focus on macros. Giving up meat has made it really easy to fill up on carbs and miss out on protein, and somehow I don’t get enough fat everyday (I think a low cal diet kind of naturally does that to you). I’d like to expand the foods I eat to get more sources of these things and get back to cooking regularly.
  4. Learn something new – I told you these would be vague. I have no idea what I want this to be, but I know I need to keep my brain alive. Sometimes I have a really tough time thinking of certain words, to the point that I feel like I have early onset alzheimer’s. That shit needs to stop! I’m hoping I can turn the brain bus around with some exercise in the form of a new hobby. But then there’s the whole thing of finding time.
  5. Be more at peace with myself and others – There will always be things that I don’t fucking understand, and I’ll always be bitching about them, but once I bitch about them, I need to learn to more quickly let them go. Maybe that will happen through meditation or journaling or some other fluffy, hippie, bullshit hobby, but the end result needs to be a more zen me. Blogmas is actually my first step in that, if you think about it. An older version of me would write “Things I Don’t Fucking Understand: Christmas,” but this version of me is more likely to write “I Guess I Fucking Get It: Christmas.” Maybe that’s a new series?

So that’s five things, and five is a good number of things for a list, right?

Okay, also, starting this week I’m going to ramp-up the Christmas-ness of Blogmas. If you’ve stuck with me this far, you’ve earned it! I’m going to find some generic Blogmas ideas and I’m going to pull that shit off!

Blogmas: Yogaversary

I planned to talk about bras today, but I don’t think I’m well enough equipped to do that just yet. I also keep falling asleep. So instead, yoga.

It’s been about a year since I started doing yoga regularly. I dabbled a bit with it on and off in 2016, but I practiced almost every day in December except for the week of Christmas when I was on vacation and didn’t actually end up relaxing at all (go figure). Then in January of this year, I did the Yoga with Adriene 31 Day Revolution. I was using Adriene‘s videos in the previous month, and the timing was perfect: I’d learned enough to not get discouraged and to keep myself going, but was still new enough to feel challenged by the videos and excited by the concept.

That January changed my life. That is so cheesy, but fuck if it isn’t true. I didn’t miss a single day, and I really started planning my whole day around when I was going to get my yoga in. I learned a lot of things, including you need to make time for yourself, and you need to find and practice things in life that you really love, but mostly, I learned (or realized) that I only get one body, and by taking care of it–really doing what is right for it–led to a brand new kind of happiness.

In January, I was halfway through my weight loss. I could definitely see results, but still had a long way to go. I was committed, but wanted to step up my game, and yoga filled that gap. I’ve practiced on average 5-6 days a week since then, and now I do 20 minutes in the morning every weekday, and usually one longer session on the weekend.

Usually I am not good at picking new things up. I love to try new stuff, but I rarely stick to changes, except yoga. It made me flexible, strong, and mindful. It also helped me to appreciate silence. Now I can’t imagine my life without it.

Oh! And! Spartak update: We ate it. It was fine.