Monthly Archives: March 2012

That Little Voice

The voice inside your head that never wants to pipe down, even for just a moment.

Some days that voice gets the better of me.  In my life that voice usually picks at me most while teaching a yoga class.  It creeps in very ominously and tells me I shouldn’t be teaching because I suck at it.  Even if people offer praise I end up appreciating the comments briefly, but then disregarding them.  This is pretty insulting to the people that are offering heartfelt praise.

I am fortunate in the fact that I have a partner to share my ups and downs with and he is always reassuring me that the little voice is wrong.  He tells me I’m great at what I do, and I argue that he never comes to my classes so he wouldn’t know.  That clever voice also tells me that people like my class, because they don’t yet know what a good teacher is.  Ouch!

Everyone can believe in you, but until you believe in yourself, no compliments will ever truly be accepted.  At the end of the day did you give it your best?  Do you know that regardless of the mistakes you’ve made that you are enough?

What I’m finding helps is opening up.  If I tell someone out loud what I’m struggling with they offer words of comfort that sometimes break through the cracks of my negative thoughts and then later that day or the next day someone will come up and offer me a random compliment about what I was feeling crappy about.

The universe is always there with arms wide open to catch us when we fall and gently lift us back up.  Open up to all that it has to offer.  In yoga back bends can be intimidating, but when you relax into it and open to your full potential, which can be terrifying, your body opens up and welcomes it.  We are carrying a lot of past hurts and worries for the future, but right here and now we are on the right path.  Regardless of what those, sometimes demonic, voices are telling you, you are incredible!

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Forget the Bike for a Moment

I did not ride my bike yesterday and just made the decision not to ride it today for many reasons, but I’m not talking about that today.

Today I am talking about caring for yourself.

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The first thing that gets thrown out the window for most people is taking time to actually care for yourself.  We are taught to give selflessly, this is important too, but if you are broken how can you heal the world?

Our whole lives we are taught to conform.  The entire public school system really pushes this down your throat.  Then school ends and you are lost.  You don’t have quite so many people to compare yourself to and to imitate.  After college, or if you are lucky before college, you discovered that your differences are what make you beautiful and amazing.  We are all a part of the same snow storm but every snowflake is completely unique.

Stop and really contemplate what I am saying here.  Today, at this very moment, you are perfect right now.  Can you accept yourself right now?  Think of your messy hair, your faults and bad habits, the things you have done in the past and haven’t been able to do.  Are you okay with who you are at this very second?  Life is a constant battle of accepting yourself every step of the way.   I’m not perfect at this.  I judge myself constantly and am constantly striving, but what it comes down to is this:  Do I deserve to be loved regardless of what I have done today and in the past?  The answer is always a resounding YES!  Everyone deserves love, regardless of what terrible things they have done in their past.  If you have done some horrid things you might finder it harder to love yourself, but you deserve love regardless.  (An amazing song embracing this concept is: What Love Really Means, by JJ Heller.  Check it out.)

For many of us giving love is much easier than receiving it.  Or letting another love you seems easier than loving  yourself.  A mother or father knows this lesson better than anyone else.  A parents love knows no bounds, they would give their life for their child in an instant.  What if we loved everyone this way?  More important than loving everyone this way though is at this moment is loving yourself this way.  If you are killing yourself, whether it be from alcohol, drugs, food, etc., do you love yourself enough to give it up?

If you struggle with the concept of loving yourself.  Take a “you” day.  Pamper yourself in whatever way you like.  If you love getting a massage from a loved one, give yourself a massage.  If you loved it when your mother played with your hair, play with your own hair in the most caring way you can.  I  understand it’s not the same, but the moment you truly treat  yourself as though you are your own lover, is the moment you truly get it.  Realizing that you don’t need someone else to give you the love you deserve is one of the biggest steps you can take. 

When it comes to relationships if someone doesn’t see you for the God or Goddess that you are.  Ditch them!  You are far too important to waste your precious time striving for someone elses affection.  If you find yourself stuck in that rut of trying to be good enough for someone else, then stop and listen for a moment, this is your true self trying to communicate with you.  Your true self says “Love me” it wants you to turn this striving inwards.  If you buy a loved one gifts or spoil them in some way, turn it around and do it for yourself for a change.

You are a divine being regardless of whether you recognize it or not.  Love conquers all!

Weekend Adventure

I ended my weekend with nine hours of sleep!  I had a splitting migraine that induced my lengthy sleep.

Saturday I didn’t have to get on my bike until around 1:00 p.m. and by that time it was definitely warm and windy out.  The wind was so powerful that I really had to push myself to get to my destination, which was only about a three to four mile ride.  Since I have been biking my appetite has been erratic.  I typically have no hunger, regardless of not having eaten, except about once a day I all of a sudden feel famished.  I have had to keep on myself to eat.  So, I eventually had a chance to go get some lunch just after 3:00 p.m.  I had a downhill route and so I was of the belief that my ride would be pretty much a quick coast and then a short pedal to my eventual full belly of food.  The wind was so strong that coasting downhill didn’t work so well.  I was almost at a complete stand still down a fairly steep decline.  I am not a fan of windy days as it is, but when I am on my bike, my animosity towards the wind is doubled.  I enjoy an occasional breeze, but wind that deafens my ears temporarily and literally blows me over, I can do without.

After eating I had a few more miles to go to end at my sister’s house, where I would be staying for the night.  Since my sister had the baby, she is in the hospital for a few days and asked me to look after my nephew and niece for a night.  I was covered in sweat by the time I got there, which is the usual case these days, but I’m getting used to it.  So, why not stay out in the fresh air?  We spent nearly the rest of the daylight hours outside playing games and walking around the neighborhood.  We got to enjoy some ice cream on our way home.  I was ready to go to sleep by 9:00, but stayed up to play some games.  I had such a good time and am glad that I got the chance to hang out with them.  My lack of a car didn’t seem to bother them a bit, even though I was worried that wouldn’t be the case.

A night spent on the couch, and on to another day.  I had an extra mile to go from my sister’s house and felt as though I didn’t have enough time to get to the yoga studio to teach my class.  My ride went unexpectedly fast and I was thankfully there with time to spare.  Class went great and two hours after I was scheduled for a meeting at the studio, so I decided to stick around the neighborhood.  Due to the strong winds, I decided to just walk during my break and wasn’t sure how to spend my time.  I walked a few miles and realized I should eat, even though I was lacking an appetite.  I grabbed some bananas and a juice from a nearby grocery store and had them for lunch.  I found a place to just sit and rest on top of some rocks enclosed by wire alongside the bike trail.  Sitting in the sun, I was blessed enough to watch a male and female duck swimming along in the ditch.  After they passed, I decided to read a bit and sort of laid down on the rocks, using my backpack as a recliner, and soon started to feel worn out.  My eyelids started getting heavy and I couldn’t seem to stay awake.  I kept trying to rouse myself, because my meeting was to take place in less than 30 minutes.  So another 15 minutes or so soaking up the sun and struggling for consciousness, then back to the studio.  I felt so drained of energy on my way back, but arriving I encountered a teacher that was just putting off such incredible energy and positivity that I felt renewed, plus she gave me some chocolate.  I never turn down chocolate.

The meeting went well, but lasted two hours, and the last half of it I kept getting waves of a headache, which felt like my forehead was splitting in half.  The headache kept coming in waves, leaving for a moment and then coming on fully.  I managed to make it through and was back on my bike to finally head back home.

All afternoon/evening my head was splitting and I suspected it had to do with my having not ate much all day.  So, I had a granola bar and a shower and decided to veg out on the couch.  My better half, invited my sister and a few friends over so I tried to be chipper, but really just need some solitude.  I ate my dinner, which was too much after a day of practically fasting, and then a full-blown migraine took over.  So I crept off to my room to sit in the darkness and quiet.  I am all about letting things naturally work themselves out, but I was in such discomfort that I broke down and took some headache medicine.  I soon fell asleep, around 8:00, and didn’t wake until 11:00, just briefly.  My migraine headache was gone so I just went back to sleep, since I had to get up at 5:00 a.m. Monday.

The weekend had brought on so many varying moods.  I am thankful that it’s over and on to a great week.  I found that my lesson of the weekend was about balance.  I often am drained from being around other people and need time to rest and recuperate.  My body took over and made me take the rest I needed.  I sometimes forget how intelligently our bodies are designed and how often we are trying to override this intelligence.  I preach it to my students constantly.  Practice what you preach.  If life is thrown out of balance, we need only to get out of the way and let it readjust.

Swami Sivananda on a bike. How inspiring!

Assimilating a  lesson from Swami Sivananda: Adapt, Adjust, Accommodate.

Not for the Faint

This blog is all about menstruation.  If you cannot stomach this subject then just be forewarned that you should probably move along.  I am seriously going into some great detail, so read at your own risk.  Also, this blog is not aimed at just women, men feel free to brave through this.  Today’s blog is about menstruation, because I am a woman and I menstruate.  Deal with it.  heehee

I believe in listening to my body and today of all days is a day of rest, so again I drove my car today.  If I listened fully to my body, I would have stayed in bed sleeping, writing, and reading all morning, maybe even giving myself a massage or some gentle yoga, but sadly my job does not give out “Menstruation Days” just sick days.

I don’t have the best memory, so I don’t remember the very first day I started menstruating.  I do remember that I was a tomboy and was not excited about becoming a woman or even about being a girl.  At a young age it was my understanding that being a girl meant being weak and not able to do all of the things the boys did.  I was always striving to prove myself as “one of the boys.”  I loved helping my dad with farm work and playing sports and anything “tough.”  I hated the color pink and dresses.  It’s sad that this was my perception of what it meant to be a girl, but somewhere down the line this is what I had learned.  I do not look down on the women or girls that embraced these things, eventually I would too.

For so long, people wouldn’t talk about their “periods.”  I do not like this slang for menstruation, because what does period connote?  Period can mean a subdivision in time.  I’m okay with that.  It can also mean the end of a sentence.  This definition of period is where I struggle with calling my monthly cycle a “period.”  What is this the end of?  I do use the term though, because I think it’s the most used and easiest for referencing here.

For years, about ten to be specific, I hated my period.  It was a time of pain and fatigue even a time of anxiety.  Concealing that tampon on the way to the bathroom, like it was something to be ashamed of.  How could it be pleasant?  The week before, you become premenstrual and have the full swing of emotions, irritability, sadness, lots of empathy leaving you crying during commercials.  Then typically the first day it starts with uncomfortable, if not painful, cramping and then the blood.  If you are like me it also means that your body wants to evacuate everything.  I start getting those lovely hot flashes, sweating, and running to the bathroom to unleash all I’ve got.  (If this bothers you, you’ve probably already stopped reading.  If you continue to read, then you are awesome!)  Then you have to deal with shoving a dry wad of cotton in your vagina, if you use tampons.  If you don’t use tampons, perhaps you are walking around with a partial diaper in your underwear, which sounds pleasant right? Ha!  Or if you knew these weren’t for you, maybe you went with the more ecological path using a Diva Cup, cloth pads, or a a sea sponge.  I have used all of these methods, except the sea sponge.  I would love to hear how that works out.  Anyways, I will be coming back to the Diva Cup and my love for it in a bit.  Tampons!  Yuck!  If you don’t bleed enough to saturate that thing, you get to tug and yank until that thing decides to give and make its way back out.  Can we say ouch?  The day I gave up tampons was the day I started to love my period.  Yes they are related.  Pads well, much like babies but probably even more so, women do not like to walk around in their bloody mess.  It’s just doesn’t leave you with a very fresh feeling, plus the diaper noises and nice bulky crotch and sometimes backside are a nice bonus prize.  It looks as though we have a severe case of hemorrhoids! Sexy!

My attitude changed when I read the book “Cunt”  (A link to the amazing author: http://www.ingalagringa.com/)  This book challenged so many of my ingrained ideas about menstruation.  I realized that I had nothing to be ashamed of and could actually embrace the amazing abilities of my vagina.  I am not ready for kids and I celebrate every time my body says, “Hey you’re not pregnant.”  High five vagina!  Actually, maybe not, that may hurt a bit. 😉  Sadly, this was the first time that I ever heard of the amazing invention called a Diva Cup.  If you don’t know what this is, check it out now!  The idea of using one grossed me out a bit at first and until about a year of using one, I realized I was putting it in awkwardly and it didn’t feel great to get in.  After finding an amazing friend who also advocated for diva cups, I learned the best way to get that sucker in there and let me just say, I love my diva cup!  If you’ve made it this far, try to stomach some more details.  I love dumping out a cup of my blood and seeing it in its crimson glory and the way it all likes to clump together and slide down the toilet.  It’s artwork from my vagina.  I have to put in possibly an offensive way, but I have a freakin’ self-cleaning oven down there!  It knows to clear out all the bad stuff that might have accumulated throughout the month.  An oven that can also push out a human life, so I don’t mean to trivialize the absolutely awesome power of a vagina.  Which brings me to my next point.

Most men are fearful of periods.  They cannot grasp the concept or what it would be like at all.  If a man started bleeding from his penis, he would most definitely faint and think he was dying.  Can you imagine?  It makes me smile a little.  Women are incredibly powerful and because of this fact we have been taught to not talk about this part of ourselves.  We have the strength to birth a human being out into this world from the tiniest, daintiest little opening.  The mere thought terrifies even me.  Our most recent history has shown that we are oppressed and I honestly believe that it is out of fear of our power.  Without women the world would be a harsh, barren place.  Prepare for a touchy subject!  This is why we are raped.  Some beings want to try to break and tear apart our power, but we rise up and move on after horrendous things are done to us.  Women will never give up and somehow overcome these atrocities.  I will stop on this subject here.  I hope you can bring yourself to continue, it gets better.

My love of periods has brought me to talk to many women about them and even to create a super hero based on it.  Meet Ms. Menstruation:

Myself dressed as Ms. Menstruation. One of the most powerful super heroes, and least talked about.

By the way, you can’t tell from this picture, but I have tampons hanging from my earlobes with a little red marker on the tips.

Society taught us to hide our monthly act for so long, but things have begun to look up. One of my favorite scenes from a movie is in “Dirty Love.” Jenny McCarthy starts her period and has to run to the grocery store and just starts bleeding profusely all of the aisles and rips open a bag of giant pads and tries to sop it up.  Then she even slips and falls in it.  If you haven’t seen this get on that now!  Another is from the movie, “No Strings Attached,” which actually sounds like a good name for this blog.  Ashton Kutcher makes a period mixed tape for the beautiful, Natalie Portman with songs like “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis, and U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday”  I have yet to make my own period playlist, but soon it will be done.  People can not only talk about menstruation now, but they can put it in movies and see the sometimes hilarious aspects of it.  (Click here for my favorite period quote: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDaTWUu_ytY)

Anyways, I could write about menstruation for days, especially about the history of it, but I must end this at some point.  Today is my day of rest and my day to love my incredible self-healing body.

One last little exciting note.  My sister just delivered a baby boy today!  Just for a moment stop and really be in awe of the power or women and their vaginas.  It sometimes brings me to tears.  Happy Bleeding Ladies!

Flat Tire Day

I decided that I was not riding today due to my flat tire situation.  I also decided to nix my usual activities and sleep in instead of going to yoga and volunteering at the homeless shelter, because I was definitely in need of some extra rest.  So I slept in until about 8:00 a.m. and then decided I better get up and start figuring out how to change my tire.  I decided that I would just let myself off the hook for the day and take my car to go get the tools for the tire.  So, I watched an internet video and crawled back into my beloved little Toyota.

It’s funny how a short time of not driving really makes the experience more enjoyable.  I really have some attachment issues when it comes to my car. If something happened to it I would definitely be upset.

I decided that becuase I didn’t have to be to work until noon that I would also get in my first frisbee golf game of the year in with my nephew.  So, I drove to pick him up and we ran my bicycle related errands.

A hundred dollars later and with a new bike helmet and bike pump, we were off to the frisbee golf park.  I am not great at the game, but I love to go out and play nonetheless.  This was only my nephews second time playing and he ended up beating me by two points.  Aggravating?  I’d say so.  I swear he doesn’t even put any effort forth.  The weather was much like yesterday morning, except a bit colder.  So, I especially liked trekking through the dewy grass soaking up the moisture in the air.  Because I cannot seem to ever play a game of frisbee golf without throwing my disc in the creek just one time, I of course lobbed it down there.  Secretly, getting my disc out of the creek is my favorite part.  I love the change to climb in the muddy ditch and hang from an overlying tree branch to fish it out.  I was successful in getting it out without actually falling in the water, so we finished our game and off to work I went.

The best part of my day was changing my bike tire.  Honestly.  I love getting dirty and my hands were completely covered in grease and dirt.  I successfully changed my own bike tire and it may seem like a small feat to some people, but for me it made me feeling capable.  If you need help changing a tire, here’s where I went:  http://www.monkeysee.com/play/807-bike-care-how-to-change-a-bike-tire-tube

Hump Day

Half way through the work week!  Wednesday was absolutely the best day riding my bike thus far.  I had made up my mind to not check my watch constantly while riding and to try to take more of a leisurely ride to work.

I stepped outside and the weather was incredible.  It was warm enough that I didn’t have to wear a sweatshirt and the humidity level was high.  Everything had a bit of a hazy fog about it and I love fog!  I believe that everything looks greener and healthier in a fog, plus it has such a mystery about it.  I’m a dork.  I know this and now you do too.

I couldn’t stop looking at the moon on my ride.  It’s been so bright lately.  I try to look at the moon and stars every night when I get home.  I  believe that doing so gives me a bit of perspective of what a miracle we all are and how truly small I am.  An incredible number of beings have looked up and lived by the same light of the moon and seen the same stars.  It’s an overwhelmingly beautiful truth.  Which brings me to my movie scene:

I think that part of the difference in my ride was that I had my earphones in for the first time since riding.  I believe in safety first, so I do only have one earphone in so I can still hear traffic.

Speaking of safety.  I desperately need to buy a good bike helmet and an air pump.  My tire keeps going flat and I was talking to a student about two friends of hers that had bad bike accidents.  This conversation brought to my attention how reckless it is to not have a helmet on.  Laziness is really what has kept me from getting a helmet.  I could care less about what people think about how I look with it on.  I digress.  I was telling myself that music would sort of close me off from the whole experience of being out biking, but I am needing the motivation that only music or a good friend by your side can give you to keep pushing on.  I even had time to swing through my favorite coffee shop to pick up a muffin.

I got to the office and could open my window to let the sun shine in and listen to the birds.  Life is beautiful!

Finally a day of me not being Debbie Downer on a bike.

My bike ride to the gym went great and I had time to sit outside soaking up the sun and to read a new book before class.

My ride home took an unpleasant turn though.  A few miles in it was going great and then I started to hear a weird noise with only about a half mile left to go.  When I tried to glance down to figure out what was making the noise, my handlebars slammed into a bush and almost threw me off my bike, but I did manage to stay on.  I had a completely flat front tire, so I had to walk my bike the rest of the way, which wasn’t a big deal because I was so close.  I checked the tire out when I got home and it looks as though a heavy duty earring punctured my tire.  I have never changed a bike tire before so I decided I would have to figure it out tomorrow, because it had been a long day and was time for rest and sleep.

Day ?, I’ve lost count

The weather was amazing today, the sun shining and about 50 degrees when I left for class this morning.  Incredible!  I still am struggling physically and mentally with my rides though.  A two mile bike ride doesn’t bother me, but when I have to bike five miles I’m trying to keep myself from complaining.

Biking downtown was great and I had an awesome student for my class, so it was a wonderful start to my day.

So far this experience has been a struggle of ego.  Being a yoga teacher I am not new to concept of ego.  Ego not being how highly you hold yourself up, well to an extent.  Ego being the driving force behind what you perceive.  If I perceive myself as weak and frail then I will act accordingly.  The universe will always send a lesson your way to help you notice your ego and help break it down a bit.  Getting on my bike has been one of those lessons for sure.  I like to think that I am very fit and that I can physically keep up with the best of them, but when I get on that uncomfortable vinyl seat yet again, the opposite seems to be true.  I struggle up every slight incline and I sometimes find it hard to summon the strength to get back on my bike.  I feel like a clumsy fool half of the time that I am riding and if I don’t feel that way, soon something will happen to again to take me down a peg.

Our ego wants what it wants when it wants it.  I had this silly thought that after just a few days of biking that it would be so easy.  My body would rise to the challenge and power me through every ride like it nothing more than a stroll in the park.  Wrong.  I struggle every single time I get on my bike.  Whether it’s the hills, the wind, or the tree branches overtaking the sidewalks.  I constantly talk to my yoga students about how the body will push through if the mind wants it to. i.e. Waking up when you clearly need more rest, working out when your muscles are aching.  Riding my bike is just the same, thank goodness I have yoga to counter balance it with though.  I can bike my buns off and get to a class and just breath and let my body tell me what’s best for a bit, instead of my ego driven mind.  A quote by Osho:

Osho – When you are absolutely pure the ego disappears

Osho on Heart and Purity

Osho – The heart is always pure; there is no way to make it impure. And the head is always impure; there is no way to make it pure.

And these are the alternative ways to live: one either can live in the head or one can live in the heart. If you live in the head you may be successful in life, you may become very rich, powerful socially, politically, you may become very respectable, world-famous. But deep down you will be all tears and nothing else because you will see the futility of all that you have attained; you have wasted such a precious life for rubbish. Death takes everything away.

This is the criterion: anything that can be taken away by death is not worth bothering about much. Anything that cannot be taken away by death — that is something to create, to discover. One can sacrifice everything for it, it is worth sacrificing for.

The heart cannot give you any outward success but it can give you a deep inner peace, a great joy, a blissfulness, a blessedness, a benediction, and it can slowly slowly lead you towards the other shore, towards god.

When you are absolutely pure the ego disappears. You are, and yet you are not. In one sense you are not, not as you have always been; in another sense you are and for the first time you are. But you are no more an ego, confined in the body-mind complex.

You are infinite.
You are as vast as god.
You are one with god.
Only the door of the heart can become the door of god’s temple.
Move from the head to the heart.

Source – Osho Book “Fingers Pointing to the Moon”

All in all, my biking went good and I ended up putting 12 miles, give or take, on my bike today.  Plus, I ended my day sitting outside on my porch with my sister having a drink and then fell asleep reading “A Wrinkle in Time.”  A great day!