This was the week. My Hay House calendar for Tuesday said “Today is the beginning of a positive turning point for me.” I decided to take that seriously and get up and go out into the world of my former life. I went for a 2 mile walk and felt pretty accomplished, a little out of shape, but happier. I considered it a meditation walk, contemplating the houses, trees, birds, dogs out for their morning walks and listening to the sounds in the neighborhood and in my head.
Wednesday I decided to take the big step and return to yoga. I haven’t been since early March, unable to face the introspection and solitude on my yoga mat, but my body craved the stretch, the familiar asanas and the quiet reward of the savasana at the end of class. I walked into the studio and was asked if I had cancelled my membership. No, I’ve just been gone for a while. I’ve had some stuff going on. I have seen the payment going out of my account each month. No problem. Walking into the room I run into a teacher I know who is a member of my community. She knows everything and gives me a hug and encouragement, “It will be good, just what you need, really.” I hope so.
Laying out my mat, I assemble the familiar props, foam blocks, blankets and a strap; I lay down, breathing in the calm. The teacher is smiling and positive, speaking slowly and demonstrating every new posture and walking around the room helping to make small adjustments. The bamboo floor is smooth and lovely, the blue walls are tranquil and the view out the windows is of children playing on a leafy climbing structure. I breathe, arms circling up and folding forward, then fingertips to shins stretching out and folding down again. Stepping back into plank, the most difficult for me, I breathe into the rigidity of the pose and then down, chaturanga dandasana, pushing slightly up to a low cobra and elevating into downward facing dog. Stepping forward on my mat, arms circling, reaching up, I look up at my hands and then bring them to my heart center. There is nowhere else to look, except in my heart.
Today I went to yoga, the second day back was not as dramatic, no questions, just smiles and hellos by name. I settled in and welcomed the calm, the warmth of the room and the returning familiarity of sun salutations. Today we work on balance. Triangle pose and preparation for half-moon, standing on one leg, lifting the other straight out and up using the foam block for support. I need practice on balancing, my leg wobbles and I am glad for the support of the block but it still doesn’t guarantee an easy balance. It still takes work, repositioning and focusing on the breathing through it all.
It was a good idea to meet up with my friend and her dog to walk the lake today. The weather was perfect, crisp, slightly warm from the weak winter sun and the winds hadn’t picked up yet. We walked briskly, catching up and keeping up with her dog Pink. Ellen and I have been friends since we were 13 and that’s saying a lot. A lot of time and water under the bridge. We have been in and out of contact and manage to stay connected somehow. We chat and observe the people, old immigrants, young children still on winter break, men fishing or playing with remote-controlled boats on the lake. We pass the different areas; the playground, the bridge crossing the tumbling water, the bird-filled trees that sound like an aviary as we pass underneath and the benches inhabited by people reading, talking, resting and daydreaming. We see children frolicking as they run from the large geese and tease the smaller birds with crumbs. We hear people speaking many languages. What is that? Russian, Spanish, Italian? There is a melding pot of people all out for a day in January, starting the New Year with a stroll, a walk hand-in-hand, in workout gear, new sneakers, old walking shoes and jackets, with arms pumping and quick breaths, with hands holding canes to steady plump bodies breathing slowly. For this hour, we walk in this moment in time. Old friends sharing, enjoying the beauty that exists within a busy city.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
I heard this quote during my wonderful Weight Watcher’s Meeting with Michelle Jacob last Saturday, and though I have heard it before, this time it sunk in. I have been thinking about positive ways to move on, move forward and what I want to change for the New Year. This is often a time of reflection, my usual pastime, which is accentuated during this time of year because so many others are putting energy in the same place. I am creating a list of changes and here is the beginning of my list:
1. Write more: I am happiest when I do this and actually have begun to crave writing time, which must mean it is really something I need to do for my soul.
2. Practice Yoga (more often): This is another happy place for me and one that has great physical and emotional benefits. Turning off my incredibly active “monkey mind” for an hour a day….
3. Letting go: This is a general category that includes stuff, emotions, weight, and habits.
4. Look for more natural ways to heal: A concerted effort to investigate better health through more natural solutions like Save Our Bones, meditation, and a better, plant-based diet.
5. Create what I want: which includes manifesting, doing, writing and discovering what is important to me.
The past is a magnet, pulling at us to look back, go back and revisit old stories, but really, once we have learned the lesson, and gone through the emotions, what good does it do to revisit? The quote about the past is gone, the future is unknown and today is a gift (present) is a bit overdone, but the message is clear. For one who thrives on control, I am coming to the conclusion that I can only control myself. My mission for this new year is to offer the gift of change to myself and see what happens.
― Maria Robinson
Last weekend I walked 26 miles through the lovely town of Santa Barbara with 2500 women and men, only 2 of whom I knew. We walked as part of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, raising a minimum of $1800 each, most walkers raised more, to help in the fight against this horrible disease. I walked for the first time last year with my friend who is a survivor and the entire event was so motivating that I signed up again for this year.
I walk for a few reasons: breast cancer has touched many women I know, I want to improve my health and walking is a great way to do that, the event itself is a very uplifting experience and I love the feeling of being part of something bigger than myself.
At the finish line!
My experience with breast cancer began when I was a little girl and my favorite aunt, my mother’s sister, was stricken with the disease. She suffered from a horrible, long illness and passed away when I was 10. I had grown up with her in my life and my two cousins are like brothers to me. My mother was devastated by the loss of her sister-who was her closest confidant and supporter. I felt the emptiness with anger and sadness. Through the years, my friends have also received the diagnosis, but fortunately most have survived. I am walking for more prevention, a cure and the eradication of this disease.
I am walking to improve my health, build strength and stamina to improve my own chances of a long and healthy life. I want to be there for my daughters future, to share time with my husband and to continue on my adventure in life. I want to be strong, healthy and take challenges like the Avon Walk as opportunities to push myself to a higher limit.
I walk in honor and in memory of those touched by breast cancer.
I enjoy the camaraderie of the Avon Walk from the participants to the event coordinators, volunteers and crew. Women and men of all different shapes and sizes, ages, races and social classes walk together in a big cloud of pink through cities around the country to bring awareness and make a positive statement: We are walking for a cause that we are determined to win.
A very motivated group of 2500, ready to start the first day of a two-day walk!
Our lives are filled with egocentric thoughts, activities and experiences. Participating in the Avon Walk is a chance to put myself on the back burner and to do something for others. I am not the star, the biggest fundraiser or the fastest walker. I am one of many, and that feeling of being a part of something bigger than myself, is humbling. Raising money for this cause, walking for two days with 2500 selfless participants and survivors through a city that comes out to support us, fills me with love, positive energy and determination to continue.
- Walking with Lezlie, my friend of 25 years, and her daughter Courtney, who I have known since she was 2. Three days before the walk, Courtney’s best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. The day before the walk she had a double mastectomy. She is 27 years old. It can happen to anyone at anytime.
I have already signed up for next years walk and I am in training again.
Houses were decorated to welcome us to neighborhoods throughout Santa Barbara.
The real me.
The day starts out gloomy and gray but I get up early, committed to the 5k I’ve signed up to walk in today. My feet are hiding in my sneakers, nestled in my extra-cushioned peds, my exercise clothes hugging my newly thinner body. I am motivated and slightly excited as I meet up with my group to begin our walk and more than pleasantly surprised by the ease of the walk after my weeks at the gym. We finish the walk and I head home, thinking to myself that my shoes felt a bit flat and confirming the need to get a new pair of sneakers for next week’s 10k.
Through all of this, my toes ache for summer’s warmth and flip-flops. I give in to temptation and the desire to feel a warm foot bath, foot massage and splash of color. After my pedicure, my toes smile up at me with their extravagant flowers. Sure enough, the sun peaks out from the clouds and when I exit the salon, it is actually warm. I figure it is a little early for painted toes, but I kind of like the idea of the little secret in my shoes. As the school year winds down slowly, and the work piles up, I can imagine the purple toes with flowers and the warm months ahead when I can slip on my flip-flops and head to the beach.
Tonight was the Spring celebration at my gym: Equinox. It was a great party with all the festivities, a DJ playing pulsing music, wine and appetizers, special classes offered and tours of the club. Even with all that to offer, as I sat at home, syncing my phone after a reset to fix my corrupted software, I debated leaving the comfort of the couch to venture out. I decided to go for it and I am so glad I did.
I arrived at the gym, stowed my bag in a locker and strolled over to the main studio for Zumba, which I have been dying to take, only to find out that the class started a half hour earlier that I had thought. I hesitated, but spotted a woman I knew and she waved me in. It was a blast! I was dancing for the half hour and got a great workout, but it ended too soon. I had come to the party and wasn’t ready to call it quits yet so I headed up to my favorite yoga class, Candlelight Flow. Wine was being served outside the spa, so I took a glass with me into class at the encouragement of Holli, my yoga instructor. What a wonderful class we had in the dimly lit room with Holli’s amazing music and encouragement.
Days begin early for me lately, since I started a 5:45 a.m. workout regime and then head off to the world of kindergarten-a workout in itself, but I’ve realized that being a teacher is like being a mother, and I have to take care of myself if I am going to be able to take care of others. Here’s to self-care, cheers!
Diet: figurative: a regular occupation or series of activities in which one participates : a healthy diet of classical music.
It is the beginning of the new year and my life is on a diet that represents my aspirations for positive change, moving forward, visualizations of goals and dreams and a healthy outlook on life. This is very ambitious, I know, to tackle an assortment of life habits at one time, but I like to look at it as a life makeover and by doing so, I am developing regular activities.
The first part of my life diet is an actual diet to increase my health. This involves eating differently and developing habits that will become part of my lifestyle. I have help from Jenny Craig and am enjoying the structured manner the program uses. I like having someone tell me what to eat, provide the food and encourage me by telling me how wonderful I am progressing. I like not thinking about the food I am going to eat, not cooking and not having to make too many choices. I like the results!
Jenny Craig encourages a food, mind, body approach to weight loss and there is a lot of encouragement to have a regular physical exercise plan. That is another part of my diet: developing the habit to exercise daily and make it a regular part of my day. I have started by walking each day for one hour and increased the yoga (good for the mind) classes I am taking.
The third part of my diet is a positive self direction. I am willing to seriously consider the possibility that Thoughts Become Things and am actively practicing visualizing my personal goals. I am opening my self up to happiness by creating my own Happiness Project (www.thehappinessproject.com) and taking the time to read the writing of others on a similar quest.
The fourth part of my diet is to develop financial intelligence. I am determined to understand investing, budgets and how to simplify my life. I am dedicated to this path and am happy for the expertise of others who have started exploring before me. I have found the following people/websites useful:
So, you may ask, what is the motivation for this diet? Well this quote was delivered to my email box and I felt inspired:
“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be place in front of you. If you don’t have that kind of feeling for what it is you are doing, you’ll stop at the first giant hurdle.”
~George Lucas, Film Director and Producer
It makes you think.