Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thirty Day Challenge: Good Things Are Happening!

I'm keeping up with my five minute habits, as part of my Thirty Day Challenge. You should join me--I'm four days in and already, good things are happening.

For one thing, I gave up caffeine again.  I'd been tapering off and then went cold turkey on Saturday. Instead of the ten day SufferFest I had the last time, I really only felt "off" for two days, and then by Monday, I felt FANTASTIC.  Which reminded me why I want to live in alignment with myself in the first place --because it feels really true and right and good. Because I am patient and loving and kind.  There's this...expansiveness of goodness that happens when I'm not feeling rotten as a result of doing things that don't serve me.

I think it's interesting that the things I struggle with the most (especially meditation) are the ones I want the most.

Anyway, I have a big post in the works--actually, I have, like, SEVENTEEN posts in the works --but wanted to pop in for a quick update.  I hope you are feeling fantastic, too, and these little five minute challenges are helping you find your own alignment.

Namaste,
Barb

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Thirty Day Challenge: Day One

I'm on a challenge to get back to living my truth, five minutes at a time, for 30 days.  Join me!

My cleanse didn't quite work out as I had planned.  Because I hated it.  Well, okay, I hated the first juice of the day.  I don't really like savory juices --and this was all greens and some lemon.  I added the juice of two pears to get it down.  But then I had to take Jane to get a hair cut in the afternoon and afterward she was starving, so we went out to eat.  I decided that spending time with Jane was more important than finishing a juice cleanse. It's getting very hard to get any time with her these days. Will be doing the juice attempt again tomorrow, but will probably concoct my own juices!

As for the five minute Challenge:
  • For the next 30 days, I'm going to do my own yoga practice every day.  I did a 45 minute Power Yoga practice.  I was feeling sort of weak (maybe because it was my first day completely off of caffeine) so I just did it until I was ready to stop.
  • For the next 30 days, I'm going to find at least five minutes per day to sit in stillness, reconnecting with my breath and working on my meditation. Did this after yoga.  It was amazingly hard to sit still, even for five minutes.
  • For the next 30 days, I'm going to play my guitar for at least five minutes every day. I made it a little longer than five minutes, but not much.  Still, it's more than I did yesterday!
  • I'm going to write for at least five minutes every day for the next 30 days. Am doing this now! It is surprisingly hard to write right now. I've been a writer since I could hold a pencil, but I guess it's like  any skill.  You have to use it or you lose it. Or maybe something else is going on here, I don't know. Will think about this a bit more.
  • I'm going to spend at least five minutes in spiritual study, every day for 30 days. I've been doing this on and off all day. That's been the best thing about today, actually.
So, today was also my first day off of caffeine again.  I tapered off of it until I was down to just 4oz. of coffee and then today was Quitsville.  Tapering was a much better solution that just going cold-turkey like I did last time.  I had a little headache but not THE HEADACHE OF DEATH. And instead of spending three days hating everyone on this planet, I only needed to do about three HOURS in that stage.  Then I lost the will to live briefly, and now I feel pretty normal.  Not like I need to scratch my skin from the inside, like last time.

So, all in all, progress was made!  It's never pretty, you know, to start wrenching yourself out of the ruts and back into alignment.  I was thinking a lot today about how it's a lot like planting a garden. It's a lot of freaking hard work to till up the soil and augment it with good growing material and then sprig tiny seeds into it.  But at some point, the seeds grow and they fulfill your vision of what you knew they could be.  More about that tomorrow.

Tell me how your first day went.  Or if this was just a planning day, tell me how that went.  or if you're just cheering the rest of us on this time around, do that.

love,
Barb

Friday, April 11, 2014

Thirty Day Challenge, Five Minutes At A Time

I've been really struggling.

REALLY struggling.  Like, yelling-at-people-in-traffic struggling. Disconnected-with-myself struggling. NOT-WANTING-TO-PRACTICE-YOGA struggling. I don't feel well --I've been eating things that don't agree with me (vegan things, but too much chocolate is too much chocolate, even if it's vegan.) I've been finding myself irritated by people--sort of in general.

That's not me when I am living my truth.

I think I allowed the world to set my agenda there for a while. There were a lot of stressful things that happened all together and I let it derail me. I lost my Yoga practice--the big Y yoga practice --in trying to serve as many people as I could, helping them find their own yoga practices.  I lost my breathing, I lost my mindfulness, I lost my meditative nature. I gained some weight and was amazed at how my old thought patterns and self-destructive voice just came roaring back. I lost myself.

I think that's what happens when I'm not living in true alignment with my values.
 
Well, okay, I don't want to overstate. Let's just say I backslid. I lost some ground. Nothing is gone forever, and the beauty of Yoga is that it meets us where we are, exactly at that moment.

Anyway, I was wallowing around in a bit of despair for while and then, I started, very slowly, gearing up to take myself back.

I got out my Life of a Yogi teacher training manual and reread it.

I'm almost off caffeine again.

I'm mostly off of refined sugar.

And today?  Well, today, I was ready to take action.

I talked to a Life Coach, Christy Diane Farr,  and am going to begin sessions with her. She's wonderful.  I've never done one-on-one coaching with her, but her energy is amazing and very healing for me.  She's very direct, she understands exactly who I am, and she calls me on anything that's out of kilter with that. You'd like her.

I bought the ingredients for a one-day juice cleanse. (It's new to me, so if I like it, I'll extend for a three day cleanse.)

And here's what I'm resolving:

  • For the next 30 days, I'm going to do my own yoga practice every day.  In addition to my teaching, I'm going to do at least five minutes of my own practice every day. I hope this will end up being a full Power Yoga practice every day, but my resolution is just to go to my mat and rediscover my love for my own practice.
  • For the next 30 days, I'm going to find at least five minutes per day to sit in stillness, reconnecting with my breath and working on my meditation.
  • For the next 30 days, I'm going to play my guitar for at least five minutes every day.
  • I'm going to write for at least five minutes every day for the next 30 days.
  • I'm going to spend at least five minutes in spiritual study, every day for 30 days.


So, if I do the bare minimum, that's only 25 minutes out of every day. Dudes, 25 minutes! I spend more time than that making lunches for my kids!

I'm inviting you to join me.

Here's what you do: You don't have to do MY list--you probably have a list of your own of things you know need your attention --things that fulfill you and bring you into alignment with your values. Things that center you. Maybe it's knitting or quilting or reading or cooking... find what you love to do that you're neglecting. And then throw in one or two things that you do that further your goals, but that you don't exactly LOVE.  Like, I really want to play the guitar.  Right now, I'm just very terrible at it.  But I am enough of a musician that I KNOW I'm terrible and it kind of hurts me to hear myself practice. I'm bringing my self-discipline to bear here, knowing that if I persevere, I'll be further down the road after 30 days.  And then throw something in that feeds your hungry soul --something spiritual. It doesn't have to be religious--it can be wherever you find something bigger than yourself: walks in nature, putting your hands in dirt, walking by the ocean.

I'm going to chronicle my progress--good and bad-- right here on this blog. You can, too.

Want in? It's only 30 days; what have you got to lose?

Friday, January 31, 2014

And the Universe Weighs In

There are a lot of stressful things happening around me right now. Nothing I can say too much about --they are private stories and not mine to share. But they affect me nonetheless; some of them deeply.  I am trying to be a lighthouse in the midst of all of these storms. Steadfast and constant and a little beacon of positive energy.

It's hard. I am not always successful.

Yesterday, I went to do my yoga practice and realized, as I stepped on the mat, that I was just awash in anxiety. I said the Mantra for Purification about five times before I felt steady enough to begin. And then, as I began to move, my mind settled into acceptance that most of the things I am worried about are completely out of my control. They will resolve, or not, exactly according to some plan that I know nothing about. I just have to stay the course: walking my walk and breathing through the hard places.

Right about that time, I noticed something on the floor in front of me. It was a strand of my hair, curled in the shape of a heart.

Oh, Universe, you're GOOOODDD.
It's kind of hard to see.  You have to be looking for it. :)

(Please keep my people and me in your thoughts. This world is not for sissies.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why I'm Not A Food Blogger

Well, okay, being a teetotaling, vegan, mostly wheat-free, largely raw food foodie is PART of the reason.

But the biggest reason I am not a food blogger is because I cook exactly like I think.  Nothing is according to recipe, nothing is duplicatable, and when I'm successful, there are never any pictures.

Take today, for example.  I made the best soup. SO good.

And I don't think I can tell you how I did it.

It went something like this.

"I'm going to make that fantastic Chipotle Sweet Potato soup I made before."

"I'll just sauté this chopped white onion in some olive oil while I try to find the recipe."

"No, that's not it.  That's not it. That's not it. Okay, well, I can improvise."

"Except these are butternut squash chunks.  And I should really use them before they go bad.  Well, you know, butternut squash makes a FINE soup, and I still get to eat that color.  Win/win."

"Let me just add a dollop of garlic to the onion, stir that around some. Add the butternut squash, stir that around some. Add some veggie broth. Let that simmer..."

"Uh oh. Where did my chipotle peppers in adobo sauce go? Not in the fridge, not in the freezer, not in the back freezer... No can in the pantry. Still not in the freezers.  No, really, NOT IN THE FREEZER."

"Dang."

"Well, I have this can of diced tomatoes with green chiles.  I'll just add that for some heat.  I mean, how bad could that turn out?  There's a lot of squash and only this little can... okay, I'll do that."

"Everything is simmering along nicely. In fact, I think the squash is getting soft. I'll use the stick blender now--gosh, I LOVE this thing."

"That looks pretty good, actually. I'll add some almond milk to make it creamy... oops, the kind in the refrigerator is vanilla.  But I have an emergency carton in the pantry, so I'll use that."

"Only *I* could pour almond milk into soup and get it in my hair."

"That looks good, but maybe a little watery from all that liquid?  I know!  I know! I'll add some cashew butter.  Look at me thickening up my vegan soup like a vegan pro. Starting to be able to speak the vegan food language. Maybe."

"Tasting...wow.  That's good.  Needs a little more blending.  WOW! That's REALLY good. Needs...um...a little white pepper."

"Okay, that's done and it's really good.  I should share it with people, except I'm not sure what the recipe is now that my Chipotle Sweet Potato soup turned into Butternut Squash, Tomato, and Green Chiles soup."

"I'll just post a picture on Facebook."


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On the Cusp of Great Things


I love New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Even though my celebration has changed dramatically over the years (this year, I am spending this evening either carting my older daughter and her rock band to a gig, or staying home and wringing my hands while Coop does the carting), I love the ceremony attached to wrapping up the old and beginning the new. I love doing silly symbolic things to commemorate the ending of this hard year-- it was a hard year --and the passage into the next one: full of hope and promise and memories yet to be made.

I don't make resolutions any more, but I try to set my intentions for the year. This year, I am doing a juice cleanse over New Year's Eve and New Year's Day to symbolize my intention to continue to eat healthier and (even) more raw foods. To be mindful of how I treat my body, and to celebrate all it can do, rather than its limitations.

I'm thinking about doing a yoga practice for the hour spanning both years. Because I know with full certainty that whatever 2014 holds of me, it will hold a LOT of yoga.  Hopefully a deepening of my practice of all of the eight limbs of yoga, as well as a large dose of the asana (physical) practice.

And I'm writing this blog post, because I hope that 2014 will signal my return to writing --real writing.  I want to write my story, in hopes that it might help someone else stuck in the inexpressible misery of chronic pain.

I guess that's it: Health/Nourishment, Yoga, Writing.

And love. May I have the opportunity and strength to sow it wherever I travel.

Happy New Year.

love,
Barb

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pain and Gratitude

Today was such a good day.

It's World Kindness Day, for one thing. So I had a fantastic new play list for yoga this morning.

THEN, I got to spend an hour with a new student who came to me after having surgery a few years ago. She lives with chronic pain, although not as bad as before the surgery. She came just to see if there was anything for her in yoga.

I think you can imagine my answer.

We spent some time rolling around the floor of my studio, checking out the ways her body moves now and the limitations --some immoveable because of new hardware in her body and some that I think will disappear over time as her body gains strength and opens up. I'm designing a yoga practice just for her, based on Dharma Yoga. I got so excited, I forgot to offer her tea afterward! My head was already full of potential sequences.

And there it was, see: An answer to a question I'd been asking for a long time.

I always wonder why I had to endure those years of pain. How was anyone served by that? The indignity of it --why was that necessary?

But today, what I realized is that I had to endure those years so I could really get inside of that pain. So I could really feel what it feels like to inhabit a body that feels completely foreign. So that I could loathe myself, and then learn to love myself. So that I will never, ever forget what that felt like.

I remember how angry I was, how really deeply enraged I was at this betrayal by my body. I punished myself. I withheld things I loved from myself. Over time, though (and it took a lot of time,) something in my perspective shifted and I began to see how valiantly my body was trying to cope with this pain. And I began to nourish it in a different way, like I would a sick child.

When I stopped fighting myself and grieving over all the things I couldn't do, when I started to celebrate the things I COULD do and to feel grateful for those, it made space inside of me for joy to bloom again.

Which always makes me wonder if I had been able to release my emotional pain sooner, would my physical pain have dissipated sooner, too?

Anyway, because I had that experience with truly dreadful chronic pain, I am uniquely qualified to help others who come to me in the midst of their own pain.

Before every class I teach, I pray that I might be a channel through which healing and health comes for those who come to me. I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the thought that I might help someone in the same way I was helped.

So, I had this huge, enormous, heart-filling joy today.

AND...then I won a cool t-shirt from Yoga Inspiration, who had posted a question asking how yoga had changed its readers' lives.  I wrote, "After three years of excruciating chronic pain, I took my first yoga class. It triggered my healing and now, three years later, I'm a RYT and have opened a small studio. Yoga has been a miracle for me and I'm pretty sure when you get a miracle, you're supposed to share it!"

I'm pretty sure when you get a miracle, you're supposed to share it.