Chubby Yogi?

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Very comfortable. This my morning practice I do when I am getting ready to go to work, that is why I am in my jeans.

 

My mother was joking about when I was little saying, “You were such a little Hellion. You were a difficult child, running and talking 23 hours a day, but it always amazed me when Mr. Rogers was on, you were quiet, enwrapped in the program. I mean not a word was spoken when that man came on the TV.” Mr. Rodgers with his calm, quiet, dulcet voice, pastel sweaters and serene demeanor, was so unusual to me. I grew up in a full, loud and boisterous house. My life was and still is full of noise. I am a loud person, from my booming voice to my full, deep, whole hearted laugh. When words come to my mind I speak them right away. My siblings are pretty similar.

I guess this is why I am totally enamored and fascinated with calm, quiet people. I have always whether consciously or unconsciously sought them out. I can’t handle not knowing what is in their brains and why they don’t feel the need to speak all those locked up thoughts. It’s like knock, knock, knock….what is in there? My Dad used to say, “It’s one thing to be stupid, it is another to open your mouth and let people know you’re stupid.” I guess maybe that is another reason I am lured to quiet people, I believe them to be wise.

I am pretty proud of my downward dog, even though it could be better.

I am pretty proud of my downward dog, even though it could be better.

The biggest reason I think is that yen yang thing. The whole attraction to what you haven’t mastered. My mind is in constant motion, thinking of several things at once. Most of it seems to come out of my fingers on the keyboard (a thing that has saved many relationships,) or out of my mouth. I fidget, squirm, and rarely sit still. My husband used to say to me, “Can’t you just sit and do nothing??!!!” While the invention of the tablet allows me to do that because I can read and watch TV at the same time, and I have also learned that quiet people don’t always have pearls of wisdom hiding in there…I still long for stillness and quiet that eludes me.

If I told you that you would probably refer me to a counselor, yoga, or meditation, right? It says something about me that I have seen counselors, but never in a million years thought about yoga or meditation. Ol’ Doc Baxter says with my fibromyalgia I have to stretch. Google says, “Fibromyalgia is a common syndrome in which a person has long-term, body-wide pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, depression, and anxiety.” My mom and grandma both had it. Growing up I knew; Fibromyalgia equaled pain you can never get rid of. Knowing the pain Mom went through I have already researched this disease before Dr. Baxter told me I had it. I kept “helpfully” sharing what I learned saying Mom try this, and try that. Yeah, I am that kind of friend, the fixer. Mom isn’t much for trying stuff, so now; I am going back on all that literature, and the number one suggestion: yoga and meditation. Oh, okay, so I guess I will try it.

Love a good hip stretch

Love a good hip stretch

I LOVE IT!!!! I normally hate to sweat, but for some reason I don’t really notice when I am doing yoga. My husband and I have been doing about twenty minutes in the morning and the evening. Last night I sweated a lot. With a concentration on breathing, position of your body, and balance: it is such a challenge for me that it quiets my mind. Even small stretches and poses are meant to be done in reverence and thoughtful breathing. I have found it to be so relaxing and calm, and the biggest benefit is I have noticed after just a few weeks practice I have much less pain than before.

Maybe this will lead me to be the quiet, introspective, wise person I have always wanted to be? That may be too much to ask, but at least I am on the road to far less pain.

 

 

 

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The Best Advice is the One You Can Take or Leave

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My glorious and wise “Glamma”

I like reading. Magazines are my guilty pleasure. One of my favorite things to do is to lounge on the couch watching a TV show maybe even a marathon and read magazine after magazine. I read everything: Shape, Self, Eating Well, Cooking Light, Marie Claire, Better Homes and Gardens, and many more. I have a subscription where I get a hundred magazines a month and I sometimes even read Consumer Reports. Better Homes and Gardens will tell you how you can make your back porch look luxurious on little money. Some mags will tell you the best food to eat when you’re on your period.

The last couple months, I’ve been seeing the same article in many magazines. These articles say that you should keep your razor somewhere else other than your bathroom. Now, that makes no sense. Something about how the moisture wears the razor down easy and there’s bacteria in the bathroom. I was very small when I started shaving. I matured super early, my black leg hairs sprouting, around second grade. I have been keeping my razor in the bathtub vicinity since then. I have had no problems. My momma and her momma did the same thing. I know because I used Grandma’s to shave off the paint surrounding the tub.

Picture me lathering up my legs in a full bathtub figuring out I left my razor in the living room. Okay, not the most practical place to keep a razor but if not in the bathroom where would I keep a razor- maybe in the bedroom on the dresser? Either way, I would have to get out of the tub and go find a razor because there’s no way after 30 some years of shaving my legs I’m going to remember it is stored somewhere else. I’m just not going to.
What I am figuring out is that even though many educated scholars and doctors contribute to these magazines not all of their advice is for me. In fact, I find some of it to be pretty ludicrous. Maybe they just don’t shave their legs.

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My sister, the summer beauty

My Grandma, my sister Katie and I were at the lake the year before Katie graduated from college. Katie was telling Grandma every piece of advice she had gotten about what degree and school she should was considering. Grandma very gingerly patted her on the arm and said, “You know you don’t have to do any of that right?” Katie looked at her quizzically, her golden hair glistening in the sun. Grandma smiled patiently and said, “It’s just advice. No one knows what you want but you.” While I was a bit perturbed by Glamma’s wisdom there because I had been trying to talk sister into coming to live with me and go to Boise State, I realized what Grandma was saying was the best thing you could say to a young twenty something. Really, it shocked me so much, the simplicity of the statement, that it really hit home with me. It’s just advice.

Shrugging my shoulders, trying to affect a laissez faire look on my face, I say it again: It’s just advice. How freeing is that? Right now, I can go onto the internet, turn the TV to a certain channel, or open a magazine and get loads of advice. Personally I always want to improve myself: my weight, my reading list, my home, and love looking at recipes. Even though I know all advice is subjective and not always for me, it can still feel like I can’t keep up with all the advice. I still don’t have any art over the couch in my apartment I have lived in for over a year. I can’t cook chard to save my life. I will never get to finish all the books from Oprah’s book club. Don’t tease. They pick out really good books.

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I have been hired as exercise’s PR representative

I am lying face down on the itchy carpet in my apartment wondering if they have replaced it since Clinton was in office. Brad is gasping and grunting trying to move himself into the next position. No this isn’t coitus on the floor. We are going through a series of stretches every morning and evening in order to decrease the muscle pain I have been going through. Right now it is an amalgamation of all the stretching we did in high school and some of the yoga moves I did in first year stage movement. We are stiff and breathing heavy. I have problems when trying to stretch my arms and shoulders. My shoulder s pop and resist. Husband has resistance when doing the bend and hang stretch. It isn’t glamorous or easy for us. We are just trying to get started. The TV is primed for the show we are going to watch after and the only sounds are my breathing heavy and Brads exertion grunts. Not exactly the most restful environment. I think we need to change that.

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What my husband affectionately calls the stretching and farting pallet.

When I was in grade school I had a brilliant second grade teacher, Mrs. Goodness. She was as good as the name implies. Everyday we would start in the morning with singing and dancing. At the time we thought she was the most magical and indulgent teacher. Now I know she was wearing our little bodies out, expending childhood energy in order to calm our minds to better focus.

The most miraculous thing she did was make reading a treat. After song and dance time, with such standard fair as “the ants go marching one by one,” we would hit the work of the day and then reading hour in which we could spread out on pillows or in corners of the room and read whatever we want. The treat was, if you were the most well behaved and the best in the class that day, you got to read in a place of honor. Mrs. Goodness had a platform in the middle of the room that held a large claw foot bathtub with pillows inside. I have never worked so hard to accomplish a goal. I was a spazz. I mean my mom set up the original embargo on soda, necessitated by her sheer exhaustion. It was not easy for me to be calm, quiet, and outwardly studious. I think I only made it into the tub once maybe twice. Certainly, all those other days I envied the people in that tub.

How remarkable to make reading a reward. So many times reading is the thing you do to get pizza or some other prize. Mrs. Goodness made the act of reading alluring. There is no power in the verse like a teacher, right?

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Pretty light…also helps with the aforementioned farting.

I want to do this same thing to exercise in my mind. I want to rebrand it for myself. Why can’t I make exercise indulgent? I don’t know how many times that I have rolled my eyes when some starlet or actress says something about how exercise is a meditation, me time, or energizes them. I have never felt that. Exercise makes me tired, sweaty, and cranky. I feel put out and resentful.

There are people who feel this way about reading, and I always look at them like they are crazy, just like some people reading this are thinking I am crazy. Maybe like Mrs. Goodness did with books, I need to rebrand exercise for myself. Those stretching sessions with lovely husband need some fine tuning to be the energizing, relaxing experience everyone recommends. So I am going to get some blankets to make the ground softer, pillows to relax on in between sessions, and have my husband create a relaxing play list. He is good at that. Maybe I will even go all hippy and burn some relaxing candles in the back ground. (We know from watching Scifi that all true meditation needs candles. How else can you accomplish a successful Kelno’reem? What would Vulcans or even Klingons do without a Pier One?) Maybe the full spa experience will turn my head around to exercise. Maybe I will crave it like a good book, or maybe I will go with the sex on the floor idea.

Kelno'reem

Kelno’reem

 

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Please Excuse Me While I Write a Love Letter to my Husband

 

This is us on our honeymoon.

This is us on our honeymoon.

The past few days have been a respite from the pain I have been going through. I even made a lovely breakfast for my husband this weekend. I swam and spent time with family and friends. I was limber and energetic. This lasted about four days. This morning, when the alarm went off it felt like I had been boxing all night instead of sleeping. My joints were frozen in place, and my muscles were in pain. I was supposed to go swimming but when the alarm went off, I told my Brad, please I think my body needs the hour sleep more than the swimming. (I don’t know if that is true or not) He agreed, but he was awake already so he left me, and then came back in an hour to massage me awake. Yes, you read that right. Lying down next to me in bed, he very tenderly massaged my shoulders, my back, and even my hands that were stiff and unable to move. He patiently listened to my groans and whispered protests, and softly told me he loved me. I finally was loose enough to move myself into the bathtub so that I could soak my muscles in the hot water. As I bathed and my body loosened I said to myself, do better, be better, because I want to get better not just for me but for him.

In my life, I have been surrounded by people who have chronic pain, people I love greatly and I have been at a loss on how to be of comfort, until now. My youth minister when I was in high school said something that has stayed with me all these years, “Love is not a feeling, it is a commitment.” This is so true. I have been trying to learn how to express my empathy and my concern for my loved ones, Brad has taught me how. It isn’t the words. It isn’t even the tone, it is the consistent presence. It is the habitual exchange of care and warmth. Brad wakes me up everyday gently, and he is never impatient because he knows mornings are hard. He understands when I need to spend my break refueling and calming down instead of calling him. He has been so good natured about the eating no carbs when his favorite food is pizza, he got a gym membership with me even though he hates being around other humans (especially the athletic types), he went to said gym in his pajama pants because he didn’t own any athletic ones, he eats Kale, makes sure I remember my medication and vitamins, and rubs my feet when the neuropathy hits them as it so often does. He holds my hand when I am on the floor crying.

So handsome

So handsome

It isn’t just what he does; it is the consistency with which he does it. A man who is usually only patient with computers is infinitely patient with me and my pain. He is a miracle in my life and I hope it never ends. He loves me unconditionally and because of that I feel that I need to step up and be better for him. I need to work through the pain, show him at every opportunity that I am okay and that he is the most amazing wonderful husband in the world. So not only does he comfort me this way, he engages me and inspires me to get better, and handle things better for him.

 

When he laughs, he lights up my heart. It is the truth. I promise.

When he laughs, he lights up my heart. It is the truth. I promise.

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Cooking as Meditation?

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Lately, I think of cooking as a chore. I don’t know what has changed in my perception. What I used to love most was to get up on Sunday mornings and make my husband blueberry whole wheat pancakes, French toast, or my own special blend of omelet. There is something about the breakfast meal that my particular brand of multitasking is meant for; trying to get eggs, bacon, and hash browns all out and hot at once is a challenge that I used to enjoy. Not to mention, the look on my husband’s face -like he was the luckiest man to walk the earth- was worth a million breakfasts.
However, mornings have been kind of cloudy affairs lately. I wake up excruciatingly slow and only truly feel like myself after I have had something to eat. Thanks for that hurdle, Diabetes. So I wake up and sort of dry heave a little until I have something to eat. Even after that I feel out of sorts for about thirty minutes. Brad has been taking over breakfast, mostly because of my nausea. I don’t even cook it on the weekends. No, I am not pregnant.
Brad does the other cooking because he is applying for jobs and working from home. However, I feel like I am not contributing enough. I really do need to get back in the kitchen on the weekends in some form, even if it is just to show husband he is appreciated.
Studies also show that the best way to lose weight is prepare your food at home and control what goes into it. I just haven’t ever enjoyed cooking dinner or lunch in the same way as breakfast. It is sort of slow and boring. The chopping, standing, sweating, and with me the breaking things and burning the fingers.
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However, I just read an article in Yoga Journal called, “The Power of the Pan.” They were interviewing the brilliant Michael Pollan, who is the author of many books relating to food. He said something that really hit home with my new plan to slow down and be mindful.
“I was hasty in the kitchen, hasty chopping onions—mine were always chunky and I didn’t sauté’ them long enough to get them sweet and caramelized. Samin Nosrat, my cooking teacher, who was a serious student of yoga, was always trying to get me to slow down. She said the key to great cooking was patience, practice, and presence. And this was a very hard thing for me to learn. It involved basically paying much greater attention to what I was doing. Learning how to just be there is the hardest thing of all.”
Sing it brother! I am telling you, focusing on only one task is the hardest thing for me to do, but I want to be more mindful. I want to teach my mind to enjoy doing things fully. I want to learn to focus on the task at hand and just enjoy it, and I also want to eat healthy. That makes two birds but with one stone, yeah?
So this weekend I will be cooking a nice dinner for my lovely, long-suffering husband and I hope to knock his socks off.
Pollan enjoys cooking now, so maybe I will too. He says, “Once you do, it’s this beautiful process that absorbs all your senses in a way that checking your email or watching television does not.”
I am going to try this way of cooking and tell you how it goes. If you have experienced this sort of bliss, please share it here on the blog site. I would love to hear about it.

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Envy as Motivation

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See, beautiful and a beautiful Christmas dinner

I have this gorgeous Aunt Nicole that I idolize. She is a lean, curvaceous redhead with spunk and charisma. She is one of those women who you wish you could hate because she does everything perfectly. She is a sharp dresser, maintains a beautiful home, and is so good at cooking that she is a caterer. Her fluency in the kitchen I totally envy. A normal dinner at Nicole’s is like spending time with a confident beautiful chef. She times the meals perfectly and only serves the most fresh and desirable food. She does all this while making sure your glass is full and effortlessly entertaining her guests with jokes and stories. She accomplishes all of this without breaking a sweat. When all is said and done, the kitchen is clean, she kicks her feet up, and still has the same make up on that she started with and not one hair out of place. See what I mean? If she wasn’t so nice, loving, funny and congenial, we would all hate her.

While I am not too shabby at making certain meals people rave about, dining at my house is an experience of a different color. You may be met at the door by my husband or me, or you might just hear a panicked “COME IN!” When you make your way to my kitchen you will see me running around frantically opening and closing the oven, or dumping pasta, and all while trying to get drinks all at once. The entire time I am sweating, breathing heavy, and my hair (that I perfectly curled only an hour before) is pasted to my forehead. I rarely entertain anymore because I just don’t seem to pull it off without being a puddle of a human before I have even laid the dishes on the table.

Red faced, clammy and slightly smelly, I sit down to a meal with my guests and try to catch my breath. Mostly the conversation is held by my guests with only an occasional word from me, and there is no doing the dishes while I talk to other people. That would turn into a wet t-shirt contest.

One morning I managed to pull off a beautiful breakfast for my writing group. I made pancakes and eggs. They were the whole wheat kind, some with blueberries. The coffee and tea flowed. I even managed to fill people’s glasses as soon as they were done, and hopped to it in order to bring my guests warm flapjacks when their plate was empty. I was calm, cool and collected. This meal was so unusual that I remember it seven years later. We joke that I was channeling Aunt Nicole that day. We believe that at some point in the morning she must have fallen asleep because that is when I accidentally spilled hot tea all over myself.

I want to lose this weight so that I can entertain without melting down. I want to be able to cook and entertain while being effortlessly pretty. This cause can only be helped by losing weight and getting in shape. I think exercising is the only way to improve my coordination, agility, and my ability to be cool under pressure. I want to glide into my dining room with beautiful food and laugh and gab with my friends. I want people to say, the way I remark on my aunt, “How does she make it all look so effortless?

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Nicole and I at my wedding, which see catered! It was so delicious

 

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Time flies when you’re discombobulated

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This is me rocking the pig tails at work

My schedule has changed. For the past couple of years I have worked from 11:30 to 8:00 pm. I loved this schedule. It fit my lifestyle perfectly. I had time to sleep in but not enough that I felt disgusted with myself for wasting the day away. I also had time when I got off work to have a relaxing swim in the evening air with my honey, without those pesky little screaming children blocking my laps. I had gotten a good rhythm. I timed my meals every four hours, and then had alarms set for testing my blood sugar. Husband and I had a set a bedtime and a set wake time. Geez, I have become annoyingly boring. I didn’t used to be this so stringently scheduled, but with the sleep apnea and diabetes I have to be if I want to have be a functioning successful human.

So now I work 1:30 to 10:00 and you would think a two hour shift wouldn’t be all out chaotic, but it sure does feel like it. My internal clock is messed up and my meals are a different time and it took me a week to figure out the times I should be eating and should be testing my sugars. Husband and I still haven’t figured out when we are going to bed and when we are getting up. The first week or so, we took advantage of the sleeping in. We stayed in bed until noonish. Then we knew we were messing up because we have to fit in swimming. Well if we want to swim we have to get up at a decent time. So we are figuring that out. The good news is that we got up this morning at 10:00 am. Well, okay the alarm went off at ten, and then we sort of slowly got around. By the time we got to the pool it was about 10:50. The good news is no one was at the pool then either, so my weird schedule is actually working out in one way.

The good part about this change is lunch and dinner time are actually during the work time. So I am eating with my husband for breakfast but for lunch and dinner I am eating really healthy. Brad and I usually binged at night when we binged. So I think this will keep that from happening. No fast food and no cheap fattening meals. Everything has to be made in advance, so husband and I are eating a lot more veggies and preportioned meals for lunch and dinner. It is working out better in the end.

This change has made me realize just how regimented my life is, and how old that makes me feel. I figure a lot of us adults feel we have to be more careful as we get older, if only just to function in everyday life. I used to soak up debauchery in my schedule: eat, drink, and smoke when I wanted. I could be good to myself and instead of saying old say mature, but come on. I am complaining that I can’t eat everyday at four like I used too. This is sort of an old person problem. I long to be free, not such a fuddy duddy. My entire life is regimented; eat at this time, can’t go near cats, no smoking, must sleep this time. However, my free and easy life got me into this mess, so I guess I will just be mature.

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