Tag Archives: yoga

Day 61 – And my summer is done

24 Aug

wpid-20140713_085103.jpgSixty-one days is a long time to not be working. I don’t say vacation because my job is such that I get paid for the work I do ten months a year and that pay gets spread over twelve months. When I’m not working in the summer, I’m actually not paid for that time, but it sure feels like vacation and I love it. I consider it one of the many perks of my job. To anyone who begrudges me that summer ‘vacation’, you too could have been a teacher. I don’t apologize one bit for enjoying every bit of that time. Tomorrow I officially go back to work for the 2014-15 school year.

When I started my daily blogging on day one, I mused about how blogging every day might affect my enjoyment of the summer. In fact, I was pretty certain that 2011, the last summer I blogged every day, was an excellent summer in part because of the blogging. Now I know that I was wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a bad summer, but I don’t think blogging made it what it was. I usually enjoyed the time spent writing. I’m proud of myself for posting every single day and I’m a bit tired of posting every single day. This summer was good. Nothing bad happened but I wouldn’t call it fantastic, as I did in 2011.

I had big plans to read lots this summer! On day two (no I won’t recap every day) I shared my summer reading list. I read five of the eleven books on my list, well I’m almost finished number five. Of the five, I recommend three booksof them. The first book I read was The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. It was okay,  lagged in the middle and was a long story, long enough to be epic, but fell short. It was far less interesting than its title suggests. Then I read Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. This was a great YA read that I’d recommend to most of my female friends and my students. It deals with poverty, abuse, bullying and young love. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness was my favourite read of the summer. It was the third in her Discovery of Witches trilogy and I almost never read sequels. This was a most excellent exception. If you like fantasy and historical fiction, this trilogy is for you. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion was a light and easy read and it was downright funny. Glenn’s reading it now. I’d recommend this one to anyone who reads; its appeal and target audience is that wide. Right now, I’ve been reading A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby for a few weeks because I had a difficult time getting into it and I had to slug through the second part of it. With about 60 pages left to read I finally want to know how it ends. What drew me to this book was the premise: four strangers meet for the first time on New Year’s Eve on the roof of a tall building with the intention of jumping to their deaths. They don’t jump and the rest of the book is about how they navigate through life and their newfound unlikely and unofficial support group. It’s less interesting than it sounds. I’ll see it through.

I have learned a lot about myself as a writer this summer. While I won’t delve into that too much I’d like to recap my top five posts ICYMI.

  1. Day 14 – Letting Go I wrote about my daughter’s daring summer adventureswpid-img_0301.png
  2. Day 20 – Ten ideas for stories exactly what the title suggests
  3. Day 28 – Namaste was about my path to yoga and what makes it right for me
  4. Day 29 – The end of an era was about the new subdivision being built behind my home
  5. Day 42 – BBQ Meatballs is a family favourite recipe

Each of these have been viewed by over a hundred different readers, so clearly these have proven to be the most interesting posts. Even though each post is dramatically different from the others, they have one thing in common. None of them are about my day, nor are they poetry. Those type of posts got the least traffic. I enjoy writing poetry and will keep doing so. In fact, if you didn’t see my blackout poetry, check it out. I really had fun with it and can’t wait to try it with my students. I always felt like writing about my day was  a bit narcissistic and definitely a cop-out when I wasn’t sure what else to write about, especially when the day wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

Now that my 61 days are over, I plan to continue blogging from time-to-time. Now that the summer is over, I’m looking forward to going back to work. I might as well look forward to it and go in with a positive outlook because it’s going to happen either way. It’ll certainly make it more enjoyable.

And thus, without a wing,
or service of a keel,
Our summer made her light escape,
Into the beautiful.
                       ~ Emily Dickinson

Day 28 – Namaste

22 Jul

I’ve been doing three things regularly this summer: reading, writing and yoga. Because I’ve committed to posting to my blog every day, that always gets done, but the very best days are when I do all three! Unless I have early appointments that disrupt the flow of my day, I follow this routine: rise early, have coffee with Glenn before he leaves for work, yoga, Teachers Write writing and breakfast, then shower. After that, usually about 10:30-11:00, I’m ready for the rest of my day.

swan poseI started doing yoga at the gym three or four years ago. I love the experience of exercise classes. I like working out with an instructor and with others, to music. I started with flow type classes, basically a fast paced mix of yoga, pilates and tai chi. Because this class was only offered a couple of times a week, I branched out and tried other things, including yoga.

I grew up in a conservative christian atmosphere. It’s not that my parents instilled it in me, but sometime during my adolescence I certainly got the idea that yoga was wrong. Good Christians simply did not do yoga. In fact, somehow I learned that doing yoga was opening myself up to evil. I guess, as I’ve matured and learned more about the world around me, I’ve opened myself up to several ‘evils’. I remember the first time I was at a dinner party where several christians were drinking wine I said, obviously loud enough for a few people around me to hear, “It feels wrong to say grace with wine on the table.” They laughed; I was serious. That was a long time ago.

However, when I did my first yoga class, I didn’t think twice about it. Perhaps by that time I had a different idea of what yoga was. I’m still not sure about all of the different kinds and I do know some forms offer different levels of meditation. I do know that it has its roots in Hinduism. Does that really matter? As a western society, christians included, we’ve adopted all kinds of practices from eastern religion and culture.

When I went to the gym for yoga class, there was always this one woman who would get up and leave during the relaxation/meditation part. I never really understood why she did that because it was my favourite part of the class. You spend much of the class bending, stretching and twisting in ways that your body would never do on its own. Some parts of it is really hard work. Some poses are difficult to hold. It’s not exercise for wimps. Finally, at the end of the class, you get to lie on your mat and the instructor leads you through relaxation. “Why do you need someone to lead you through relaxing?” you might ask. You’re lying on your sofa or sitting in your recliner, you’re relaxed. You think you don’t need anyone guiding you through it. But even when you’re relaxing you are using some muscles without even realizing it. Right now, I’m pulling in my lower lip, my feet are crossed, my shoulders are hunched up and I’m holding my neck up and my eyes open. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but when your only task at hand is to relax ALL of your muscles, it’s helpful to be reminded to release them all. Once you’re completely relaxed the next step is to completely clear your mind. That is difficult to do, more difficult than releasing all of your muscles. However, the more practiced I become at it, the more refreshed I feel when it’s over.  This is the dip in the pool on a hot day, the cold glass of water after a run, the warm cup of cocoa after shoveling the driveway. The relaxation/meditation part of yoga is the reward after the hard work part. Why would anyone do all the hard work and skip the reward?

Looking back, I have to wonder if the woman at the gym skipped savasana (term for the relaxation/meditation part of yoga) because of her Christian with a capital ‘C’ beliefs. Before writing this blog post I did a little internet research that explains why christians don’t like yoga. Here are a couple of web articles that I found: The Truth About Yoga and Christian Yoga? It’s a Stretch. They offer an explanation and if you want to find more reasons to support that point of view, you’ll have no trouble finding more like this. With the dogma and discourse from my conservative upbringing engraved in my mind, I understand the argument. I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about yoga. I know that my practice is in its infancy and that I still have a lot to learn and I’m glad there is so much left to learn. I enjoy that process.

Here’s what I know so far from my personal experience. Life is full of both good and evil and there are very few beings or experiences that I’ve encountered that could be defined wholly as one or the other. Yoga marries the physical and spiritual; when you practice yoga you are taking care of your mind, body and soul. The exercises I do are strengthening my body and the meditation gives my active mind the rest that it needs. Spiritually, yoga teaches me that faith is equally about giving (praise) and receiving (listening/quiet). Whether you are christian, hindu, atheist or you identify, or not, with any kind of religion, practicing yoga allows you to care for your whole person. Every day that I make time to practice yoga, I feel better.

Namaste
an ancient Sanskrit blessing

“I honor the place in you where Spirit lives
I honor the place in you which is
of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace,
when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
then we are One.”

** My blog is a space that I use to express myself in writing and the biggest reason I choose to share it with the world via the internet is to keep me accountable for sticking to my writing goals. I typically love for people to comment on my blog posts. If you have something positive to say about what I’ve written, I’d love to hear from you. However,  if you vehemently disagree with me, I’ll ask you to keep it out of my comments section. Spend as much time as I have  (approximately two hours) writing about the subject from your own point of view, on your own little space on the web and send me the link or do what I’m going to do and post it to your own facebook wall.

Day 21 – Attitude of Gratitude

15 Jul

For many reasons, yesterday was a tough day for me. It was the beginning of a stretch of a few weeks with nothing big planned and I think I was mostly restless and a bit grumpy. I long for this time of waking naturally, sitting around with coffee, doing yoga in the morning, not eating breakfast until 10:30, basically doing what I want, when I want. Yesterday, there were a few obstacles in the way of that. I think that is probably what caused me to have a tough day. Looking back, there were several reasons to assess yesterday as a fantastic day. I did yoga early, which is what I prefer, and my massage therapist called me to say she had an opening. I had a wonderful massage, which I missed last week during the power outage. Also, I was really happy with my writing/blogging yesterday. So today, I’m choosing gratitude by changing my attitude. I know, it rhymes… so original.

Five things that I’m grateful for today:

  1. I got my yoga, and first cup of coffee in before 9:00AM. I’ve been doing yoga with online videos at www.doyogawithme.com I like it because I can choose the level, type of yoga, length of class, even instructor. I’m doing beginner classes, but I’m excited to know that there’s lots of room to progress. I’m a summer time exerciser. I’ll exercise amost every day all summer and then quit cold when work begins again in September. If anyone has advice for me on how to maintain a sensible exercise routine, one that I want to do while working full time, I’d be glad to hear your advice.
  2. I went to a new chiropractor and was thrilled to have a fantastic adjustment as it was my first appointment in three years. I saw Jennie Hersey, at Fredericton Family Chiropractic. I used to babysit Jennie, but shhh, don’t tell her I told you. She was sweet and professional. Because she is so tiny, I was worried that she would have a difficult time with the strength needed for my adjustment, but I had nothing to worry about. She is small AND mighty.
  3. I came home to a big hug from my son. This is not rare, but as he gets older I appreciate that it still happens on a regular basis.
  4. I have been sitting outside on my covered front porch, listening to the rain and writing for hours. I’m completing a virtual summer writing camp for teachers. I’ve started this camp in previous years, but this is the first time I’ve really followed through with it and I’m so glad that I am. Maybe later I’ll share some of that with you, maybe. I’m posting everything for that to a different blog… you could probably find it if you really wanted to.
  5. wpid-20140715_140115.jpgMy 86 year-old mother in law is here; she’s vibrant, healthy and great company. Sometimes we’ll cook together. Often, she will putter around the house doing little things that I’d never do. For instance, today she took one of those little fabric shavers to the couch in our family room. At other times, we sit in companionable silence while we both read or she does her sudoku puzzles and I write. I’m glad she can be here with us this summer as she is mourning the death of her best friend just a few weeks ago.

With so much for which to be grateful, I have little reason to be grumpy. However, I’m learning to allow myself to feel a range of emotions without dwelling on the negative for too long. Sharing my gratitude is one way to keep me mindful of all the blessings in my life.

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Day One – This summer has 61 days

25 Jun

In 2011, I challenged myself to blog every day for the entire summer. I did it and surprisingly it left me feeling like I had the best summer possible. I remember, at the end of the summer, Glenn and I were at an outdoor concert at Officer’s Square and one of my colleagues was there and he asked me how my summer was. When I replied, “It was great!”, he was clearly taken aback, I even remember that he commented that he’d never heard that response before; he expected that standard, “Good,” or “Too short!” At first, I didn’t connect blogging every day with having a great summer, but looking back I can see that these two things clearly were dependent on each other. First of all, I spent a considerable amount of my time doing something I love to do–writing! I do love to write, and I so rarely make it a priority because with my job and busy family life it seems selfish to take the kind of time it requires out of my already crammed schedule. So writing daily was a treat for me and meeting my goal of blogging every single day, all summer, was satisfying. Also, I think writing every day kept me cognizant of how I spent my time. Even though I didn’t write about my day each time, I was more purposeful about how I spent my time, making sure that I had interesting experiences to share. At first I thought I had made a terrible mistake, counting down the days, when the end of the countdown meant I had to go back to work. However, as the summer wore on, I realized that feeling like I was achieving my goal and having a record of the best parts of my summer, mixed with my musings and poetry, left me feeling truly accomplished and satisfied. I tell you all this to explain why I’ve decided to do it again. I guess you could say it’s a bit of an experiment. My driving question is this: Is daily blogging directly linked to a having a great summer, or were the two once simply mere coincidences?

Even though a rainy one, today was a fantastic day for the first day of my summer. I slept in until 8:30 when the pounding construction started behind my house. I got up in time to see my guys off to work and then did my yoga in peace, took my coffee and book to the deck to read, all before breakfast. I firmly believe that EVERY day should start this way! Because she had the day off today, Savanna and I had a mother and daughter dfiosay planned. We did a little shopping, then went to see The Fault in our Stars, a movie based on the John Green book that we both read last year. Usually, I’m not thrilled with based on the novel movies. How can two hours do justice to a good book? There are so very few based on the novel movies that I ever think are even as good as the book that I really should stop seeing the movie, but when I love the book there’s no stopping me from seeing the movie too. I’m glad I did! The movie was equally as good as the book, right down to the tear jerking ending. Savanna even sniffled a bit, which almost never happens.

The end of the day brought the season premiere of Big Brother. We started watching this years ago with Glenn’s mother Sadie and now she watches faithfully every summer, so we do too. This summer she’ll be with us for eight weeks, essentially the whole summer starting this Saturday.

So, yoga, coffee on the deck with a good book (more about this and other books tomorrow), a movie with my girl and Big Brother. I’d say I’m off to a great start to a fantastic summer. Tomorrow brings a morning with my boy, lunch with a good friend and hopefully more time spent reading.

Day 15 – Yin Yoga

12 Jul

I’ve recently started doing yoga. I joined Goodlife because there are four gyms in Fredericton, and when you belong to one you can go to all of them. Each one has its own schedule of classes, and classes are what I want. Hence, my reason for joining Goodlife over the other options. I thought I’d start with a few of the less demanding classes and work my way up to the more strenuous ones.

I’m just learning about yoga, and realize there are different yoga practices. I’ve been attending two separate classes, with two different teachers, twice a week each. Monday and Friday it is Yin with Deborah, and Tuesday and Wednesday is a mix of Yin and Hatha with Andrea. The classes are different and equally as challenging in their own ways. It was naive of me to think that yoga was easy going. If you were to look in on a class, you might think, that looks easy. But, trust me, it’s much more difficult than it looks.

Here is a short list of the things I’ve learned since beginning yoga classes:

  • You really ought to wear a tight shirt. A loose, scoop-neck t-shirt and a downward facing dog equals showing everything you’ve got, the good, the bad and the ugly to the guy on the mat in front of you.
  • Sitting cross legged is painful if you haven’t done it in twenty-seven years. Rolling up a mat and sitting on it can help ease the strain on your hips and lessen the pain.
  • It doesn’t matter if you can’t complete the pose or if it doesn’t look like everyone else’s pose. If you’re really missing the mark, the teacher will come out and help you get into the pose or modify it so you’re achieving the same stretch/exercise in a different way.
  • Poses may have cute animal names, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be easy to achieve or hold. The swan pose is my nemesis and I will eventually master it. Well, maybe not master but be able to do it on BOTH sides for a full two minutes.
  • You should feel strain and tension in your muscles. When you shake to hold a pose, that’s good; it means you’re working hard. But, even though it’s meant to be uncomfortable, it shouldn’t hurt. When it causes me real pain, I release the pose.
  • Each class and teacher is different. You can’t expect the exact same thing each time like some other exercise classes. Plus, they encourage you to practice at home.
  • Unlike the preconceived notions that some might have, the meditation part of yoga isn’t hokey, it’s actually relaxing. However, controlling your mind and letting go of your thoughts that creep in while meditating is sometimes more difficult than the physical part of the class.

I still have much to learn, but I’m enjoying the process. It’s always most interesting when the learning curve is steep, and boy is it steep.

Day Two – Challenging Myself

29 Jun

I’m not sure if counting each of my days this summer is such a good idea. It could end up being depressing and distressing as the days left become fewer than the days already spent. If nothing else, it’ll keep me accountable to myself for how I spend my days. I’d hate to waste a single day of vacation!

This morning I got up earlier than yesterday, thinking I’d have a few minutes with my husband before he left for work, but found I was home alone. I had completely forgotten that he was going to the dentist and had to call him to find out where he was. So, I killed almost an hour reading email, checking facebook, my blog stats, etc. over breakfast. Then I got ready to go to the gym. I was going to Yoga for 10:15, but I had to pack to shower at the gym because with only 45 minutes after the class to get to my 12:00 meeting downtown, I didn’t have time to come home.

The Yoga class was interesting, and unlike any other exercise I’ve done. I sweat, eventually, but it wasn’t easy. The instructor would come out into the class to correct our poses (mostly mine) and at one point when I was modifying something I just couldn’t hold she asked, “Is it your knees?” I honestly had no idea what it was. I said, “No, I’m just not strong enough to do it.” I don’t even remember now what ‘it’ was, but she chuckled and said, “No worries,” and moved on. I didn’t need to do a yoga class to let me know that I’m not very flexible, but I must say I didn’t feel embarrassed by what I couldn’t do. I put my all into it, and pushed myself to do everything, even though some of it completely missed the mark. It’s not vigorous exercise, but challenging just the same. I’m going to add this to my list of classes I want to keep doing and challenge myself to continue to improve.

Showering at the gym was something new for me. I never understood why someone would do that unless they absolutely had to, but today I had to and it was easier to deal with than I imagined. I brought my own shower gel, and shampoo but they even provide that stuff. Next time, if there is a next time, I’ll remember my deodorant.

Tonight we’re planning on dinner out with friends; usually we go out on our own, so I’m glad for the company. Tomorrow’s adventures include an early morning trip to the gym, a much needed pedicure and an afternoon working with a couple of colleagues on a Canadian Authors unit for the fall. I know it hasn’t even been a week, and I’m working on the fall already. Hopefully it’ll reduce some of the start-up stress in September.

Day One – My summer has 62 days!

28 Jun

One of the items on my 40 Before 40 list is to spend at least a half hour writing every day this summer. Today is day one. When writing, a half hour goes by so quickly. I may not write a blog post every day, but write I will! It is a long term goal to write a novel, and I will start that this summer, but I certainly won’t finish it. Half an hour is barely enough time to compose a blog entry.

Today was a busy first day of summer vacation. Of course I slept in! But, what defines sleeping in has changed over the years. I slept in until 8:15 and I wish I had gotten up earlier. I was stuffed up and I tossed and turned from 6:00 until I got up. I might as well have gotten up at 7:00. This morning I went to the gym, then took Seldon to the optometrist and shopping for sandals and a watch. This afternoon I had a mammogram and went to the insurance office. Now it’s a little after 3:00 and I’m rewarding myself with a cup of coffee and a little laptop time.

With all of my time in waiting rooms today I started reading Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom. There were two quotes from what I read today that I think are poignant enough to share:

“The most inspirational man I knew only reached his potential by helping a child reach his.” (pg. 39)

“…faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe.” (pg. 44)

I have a long reading list for the summer. They are, in no particular order (after the first two):

  1. Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
  2. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  3. Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka
  4. Ophelia by Lisa Klein
  5. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
  6. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
  7. The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
  8. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
  9. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

If I read them all it’ll be at about the rate of one book a week. My idea of summer fun=as much time as possible spent reading in a deck chair.

Tomorrow’s adventures include trying Yoga for the first time. I’m excited to do that. Any Fredericton Goodlife members want to join me?

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