Monday, January 31, 2011

endings and beginnings

here we are at the culmination of the 30 day challenge.  And at the beginning of a new year of blogging adventures.  and as life would have it, today also brings another ending and beginning.  My job.  Today I was informed that there is a "re-org" happening and that my position is being changed.  What that translates to is that my position is having its pay cut considerably and that the hours will also be shortened, but I will be doing the exact same far as I can tell.   Me being me, I handled it professionally and also said my peace.  And decided that I wouldn't stay and work there...tomorrow is my last day.  I tend to look at any change, even unexpected and seemingly unwelcome change, as an opportunity.  You never know, there could always be something better just around the corner.  That is my assumption, now to be open enough to let that opportunity in.

So, today is filled with change.  And now to get ready to go into my yoga class, where everything is always the same.  It's just me that shows up differently every day.  It will be a nice constant today, a place to ground and let go of my thinking mind.  And afterwards it will be great to go to dinner with Amy, process the happenings of my day and get all excited about this new year to come!

I'll leave you with my Readers Write submission to The Sun one last goal that i finished up before this first year ends.  Crap.  it wont download onto this computer.
I'll post it later, I gotta run to class!
Don't want to miss day 30!!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Greetings from Portland!

I made it to the Bikram Portland studio on Alberta for a 7:30am class with Brandy.
Thank you Brandy for reminding me that: "If you can, you must."

Congratulations to my yoga compadre Melissa for 28 days!

As Always, Amy

Day 27

(A belated post due to lack of Internet service)

Today (January 28th) is day 27 of the 30 day yoga challenge. I am new to Bikram yoga, prior to this 30 day challenge I had two classes at the Sweatbox. The first class was with Gary and I spent the majority of the time believing that the lights he kept turning on and up were heat lamps. I really thought that in my mind and heart. Melissa let me know later that the heat actually came from a heat blower and not the lights. I felt like food under a heat lamp.

I wanted to leave so badly, and thought the session would never end. I had not had nearly enough water that my body required (which I've since learned is close to a gallon). I also came smeared in lotion which melted all over my limbs which was gross and funny - and if you've ever done hot yoga with lotion on you know what I'm talking about.

Then came the holidays which were just fantastically filled with elastic waistlines and my favorite billowy  Ikat-print knit shirt.

And now here we are 27 days later with so many changes. This weekend I am heading to Portland. I've already scouted out the Portland Bikram-certified studio that I will practice at. I've called in advance to ensure their classes are happening, and I've printed out my registration form. Days 28 and 29 will be spent at a different studio, which should be interesting. I will make sure to file a report. Bikram Yoga is akin to the Latin-style Mass, Pre-Vatican II--not matter where you go it's always in the same script and follows the same form.

PDX here I come!

As always,

Friday, January 28, 2011

good student/bad student

i went from doing every pose, keeping good form...well, as best as I can at this point in my practice and feeling strong and aligned with my new mantra..."I am a good student."  I fell asleep that night with that sentence swirling in my head, ever empty moment between what i had to do the next day and thoughts about what I might have on my new list for the the mortar between my busy thoughts was "I am a good student."  Something about that statement is so satisfying to me, so simple, so comforting.  All you have to do is follow instructions well and it is true.

i woke up the next day and my body ached.  I was exhausted.  I didn't do every pose, not even close.  and what's worse, I didn't care.  I didn't care if i was a good student.  what?  it's true, i just laid there in pure bliss to be resting in a hot room melting into the floor.  The only annoyance was the teacher's voice coaching the other students to go deeper, push harder into each pose.  it seemed so loud and intrusive.  i was certainly not following instructions...not well, not at all.

That night, I came home and i went straight to bed.  still achy.  still bitter.  but happy to feel my body on my bed.  during the night, my body released sweat like I was still on my mat in the 105 degree yoga studio.  I awoke in the middle of the night with my whole shirt drenched, my blankets wet from contact with me.  I was too tired to care.  I didn't get up and change, I just drifted off back to my damp sleep.  In the morning I felt achy again and so slow.  I thought maybe I was getting sick.  Could I make it to yoga?  I walked home from my kid's school where I spent the morning volunteering, which got my mind off of myself and gave me the glimpse of hope that I could get through the day.  I was so sad too...on the verge of tears, constantly and for no reason.  I went to yoga at noon, just because of the 30 day challenge, not because I wanted to.  I was prepared to greet myself however I showed up that day...good student or bad.  I was too tired and too sad to care.

It was one of the hottest classes I have had in a while.  When the poses came where we had to stand on the red carpet, the carpet was hot beneath the soles of my feet.  When I laid my body down into savasana to rest, my mat and towel were hot to the touch.  I did rest more than usual that day, but you know what?  so did some of my teachers that were practicing that day.  what a comfort.  we all need to rest sometimes...maybe there are no bad students.  (ok, I still have a hard time with that, cause sometimes people talk during class and that just is NOT cool.)  You just never know where people are, or where you may be mentally and physically every day you step onto your yoga mat.

I chatted with one of my teachers after class that day and he asked me how many days I had left of the challenge.  I shared my experience with feeling like I was getting sick and sweating in my sleep and he said it was because my metabolism was increasing and that I should eat a lot of food.  super!  I LOVE food.  If you have been reading for a while, you may remember my revelation about being the person that loves food the most on earth.  yeah.  I ate a ton of food last night.  I don't know if a burger and fries were what he had in mind...but they were soooo good.  I love the burgers and fries at Smith.

so, being the good student that i am, i heeded my sage teacher's advice.  I ate the whole god-damn thing.  and you know what?  I feel so much better today.  My body is still a little sore.  but I went to class this morning (day 27!!!) and it was just a regular ole class.  not good, not bad.

where do these labels we give to ourselves, to our practice, to our relationships, to our jobs...where do they get us?  Do we really need things to fit into labels; good and bad.  Will meditation help to lessen the burden of these small words.  Is it possible to raise my children in a climate that doesn't reinforce the culture of good and bad that I feel I was raised in?  what life experiences push us into longing to be the good student, or giving up and reveling in the bad student role?  How do we get to be truly just as we are.

with curiosity,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"i am a good student"

So, as I was going through yoga class yesterday (day 24!) i thought i was doing better with letting go of the mental chatter.  i wasn't dwelling on the poses i would not do during the rest of class, in fact, when those thoughts would come up...i really could easily say to myself, "be right here, breathe.  Right here."  and it would work.  and let me tell you class has been amazing since i had that little realization while blogging the other night...i have done every posture every day since then.  and it hasn't been a struggle.  amazing.  ok, so back to class last night.  i was feeling all accomplished about being right there, and breathing and not planning...and then it hit me, there was another layer of mental chatter.  Once i peeled away the complaining and planning mind, another voice emerged.  This one was more steady, more focused, more seductive in it's efforts to persuade me it was OK to give into it.  To listen unendingly, and distract me from the "moment."  This voice repeated one simple sentence.  Probably one I have been repeating since I was 4 years old in Montessori.

"I am a good student."

After class I shared this with Amy, and was also seduced by the hours of analysis this one sentence could bring me.  It is a processing goldmine.  (Processing is a term we use to describe the hours spent in the morning at work discussing all of the emotional and mental baggage we have picked up since we last worked together.)  I got about 2 minutes into the processing and decided to let it be.  Maybe it is a bad thing, maybe I am a teacher pleaser.  Or maybe it is a good thing, maybe I simply like to be good at what i do.  why would being a good student be bad?  why do I assume all of my voices are bad and I have to get "rid" of them.  (and on a side note...really?  I am sharing with god-knows-who that I have "voices"?  But we all do.  right?)

Pema Chodron
Then I come back to Pema Chodron, my sweet reading salvation.
In a chapter on Loving Kindness, she says "Loving kindness - maitri- toward ourselves doesn't mean getting rid of anything.  maitri means that we can still be crazy after all these years.  We can still be angry after all these years.  We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness.  The point is not to try and change ourselves.  Meditation isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better.  It is about befriending who we are already.
One of the main discoveries of meditation is seeing how we continually run away from the present moment, how we avoid being here just as we are."

Perhaps my reminder of what a good student I am is a way I am trying to run away from being uncomfortable in class, a way I am trying to make myself feel better.  and that's OK, just make friends with my mind, and let that thought go.  give it no more weight than i do the thought, "I have to go to the bathroom."  imagine it is a bubble and be gentle with it, lightly let it blow away with my out-breath.


( update on the meditation front, i have been doing about 5 minutes a day.  My goal is to up that for the last week of the month.  so, starting least 10 minutes a day.  and that is aside from the 90 minute "moving meditation" of Bikram yoga.

one more update.  the one month I feel like I totally flaked on was writing month, and so I am going to finish up a goal I set during that month, which was to write a submission for the "Readers Write" section of the Sun magazine.  This week I will send in my piece on, get this, paying attention.  Perfect for meditation/yoga month!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Daily Matins

Dear blog, this month has moved quickly. Days have been full. The moon was full. And yes I fell behind in posting. I promise not to again! To bring you up to speed on my past 11 days of yoga here's a list of high-points, low-points, and points that fell in between:
  1. One class, after the heater was fixed, Laura said she didn't want to hear any complaints that the room was too warm because it had been cold all day. It was very hot; skin-hot; sunburn-hot. No one complained.
  2. One class sounded like a happy hour before the teacher walked in. Some guy was eating gumdrops from a sandwich baggy and people were laughing and talking in full voice.
  3. One class was packed with students. I was delirious at the end and forgot that a girl was six inches from my feet. I grabbed my mat and whipped it back really hard (to pick it up) thereby whipping a student in the face.
  4. One class I excused myself to the bathroom during the floor routine (it was very hard to cool down and then warm up again).
  5. One class I worked harder then I ever thought I could.The next class seemed easier. (Did the day before pay off?)
  6. One class I started to remember the sequence of the poses.
  7. One class a girl moved her towel perpendicular to her mat for triangle pose and the teacher said: "no, no, no we're going to build your leg strength."
  8. One class Gary showed me how to grasp my toes correct during the sit-up.
  9. One class I fell out of standing bow pose about every two seconds and started laughing to myself.
  10. One class I had an Eeyore mentality and gave up on myself.
  11. One class I had a great attitude but spent most the time in savasana because my intestines hurt too bad. (That was last class).
Not once during the past 11 days have I thought about not going. In fact, the exact opposite has happened. The daily intentional practice has given something to my life that is hard to put into words at this point. I can just say I'm so thankful to Melissa and Jaime for introducing me to Bikram Yoga through their dedicated practice. Each day has brought a new set of circumstances to discover - just as each day brings us no matter what.

So, today is day 22, and if I could bring anything with me during the next 9 days of class it would be nothing. Or, more aptly put: a willingness to completely let go of all the precious little things I've collected over the past 21 days.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Savasana Forever!

The other day in yoga class, our teacher Gary said, "Savasana forever." ironically,  it was during one of the shorter 20 second savasanas between the postures in the floor series.  at the time, i remember thinking...."yes, please, right now....give us a savasana forever.    please.  now."  Which is odd...usually i am more dying for a taste of corpse pose during the standing series, the first part of class.  

So, really what this brings up for me is the sometimes subtle, but mostly glaring mind games i play during yoga class.  and to be honest, all day long before class...and after.  I think around day 8, when i was feeling strong and capable, I was powering through class with gusto and confidence.  Everything about class energized me and each pose I did gave me more energy to go into the next pose.  But mostly when I do in class and before class is have this mental chatter with myself, my silent schizophrenic nature truly comes out during yoga.  Some days I spend the hours before class reassuring my apprehensions about my physical abilities by reiterating in my head how I can just lay in...yes, savasana forever, or at least during the whole class if I wanted.  (So far, I have never done this...but I do feel soothed by the option. Which reminds me of the quote I posted from Pema Chodron the other day)  Then when I get to class, I fidget on my towel and mat until the teacher comes in, too afraid to actually lie in savasana before class, lest I fall asleep and snore and sleep through pranayama breathing.  Then when class starts, I fidget more than ever, trying to get my flipping feet straight on my towel.  i never achieve this simple status, straight feet, all through class.  Once we hit the 6th pose, Balancing Stick, Tuladandasana, my mind chatter softens and I am using every ounce of my energy to simply be in the poses and breathe slowly, in and out through my nose.  And then...that sweet, yet taunting, savasana.  I love it.  But along with it comes that mind chatter again, loud and clear.  I remind myself of what poses I can sit out of in the rest of the series.  And so it continues through the remainder of class.  Even on the days when I do every posture, I still toy with the idea of when and where I will take it easy...busily planning the last 30 minutes of class.

Needless to say, this is not the ideal way to be through a Bikram Yoga class.  And neither is it advised to push yourself to do all the poses because you spot some really skinny mom from your kid's school right behind you and you think you have something to prove.  yea, I know your youngest kid is under one and you are in better shape than most teenagers, but this chunky mama is totally kicking your ass at yoga. so there!  um, yea...NOT ADVISED.

what I am advising myself to do today at class, day 20, is to work more on making this truly a moving meditation and less of a mental mind fuck.  Cause really...that is not getting me anywhere.  and maybe therein lies the question...where i am so busy trying to get to anyway?  Today I will use as much effort during savasana as I do during triangle pose...using my tools from meditating with Pema...reminding myself that I am thinking and bringing myself back to my breath.  Keeping it simple.  If I can master my mind in 105 degrees, slippery with sweat, my muscles trembling...then imagine what I can bring to my life off the yoga mat.


The 2 breathing exercises and 26 postures of Bikram Yoga.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Just a small note today to honor Dr. Martin Luther King who in 1967 wrote a letter nominaing his friend Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Chicago: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr./ (L) with Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk from Vietnam at their news conference here late 5/31/1966. (UPI Photo)


Friday, January 14, 2011

feeling good?


Just got back from day 13 of the 30 day challenge.  and i know i am passing judgement here, and setting my expectation on having a "good" experience, but man, today's class was great!  the past two days have been hellish.  i don't know if it was me, or the heat, or my lack of hydration...but something un-nameable was getting the best of me and i was totally struggling through class once again.  in fact, when i showed up today, i was quite nervous...i almost layed down during pranayama breathing, the very first thing we do in class.  my mind was darting everywhere, my feet were fidgeting in the crooked way i hold them together, and my eyes couldn't even see the straight line down the ceiling as i exhaled and looked back...because my mind had taken me far, far away into my fears.  i wasn't in the room.
and yet my body was doing the breathing, my lungs were filling and emptying, and somehow that called my mind back from another land, back into the room, back onto my mat.  half moon pose.  Ardha Chandrasana.  always breathing, slowly, in and out through the nose.  Pada-hastasana.  i went further into this pose than ever before.  and on i went, through every pose...with determination and strength.  sure it was still a challenge to do the poses, but i could breathe and do them, to the best of my ability.

so, day 13 was a good class.  and i especially loved when Meghan, our teacher this morning, shared how being in this heat and in an uncomfortable pose, using your mind strength to bear through it, to breathe through matter how uncomfortable it is...this is one of the gifts we take out into the world.  we take this ability into our everyday lives and we can go through the inevitable uncomfortable situations that life brings, we can stay there and breathe and not run away.  and she shared how this leads to a more joyful life, in her experience.  totally.  and wouldn't you know, as soon as we got home (Jamie went with me today) we had a chance to work through an uncomfortable situation. it was over the fact that we disagreed on who got to use the car.  a simple spat, but one that had the potential to escalate...jamie invited me to stay with it and not run away.  and after a moment of thought, i stayed with it, and we worked it out.  now that is mind strength, cause i totally wanted to run.  avoid.  i actually had already opened the door to just walk away and go to Amy's upstairs.  but i didn't.  thank you, yoga.


Yesterday I listened to disc 2 of the Pema Chodron CD How to Meditate, a Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind.  i was totally distracted, not to mention exhausted from the torturous yoga right before.  i felt guilty for not cleaning the house, for taking time for myself to go to yoga and then to sit a meditate for an hour.  i heard my phone buzz and it took every ounce of energy i had, not much, to not run and check it.  i was sure it was a dire situation that needed my immediate attention.  yet, i sat.  i have to say, i enjoy reading Pema more than listening and meditating with her.  probably because i can avoid my mind when i read...i get it all filled up with these great ideas and concepts that i don't have to sit and practice.  i get to keep reading, and feeling really great.  my mind is like, oh, yeah...totally Pema, i hear ya.  wow, you're awesome.  i get to not be in my mind.  so, today, even though i do have a ton of shit to do.  it's cooking by the way, one of my favorite things to do, so don't feel bad for me :)  i will take at least 15 minutes and sit.  no matter if i hear "mama mama mama mama MAMA MAMA!" or if i hear the phone buzz.  i can do it.

and I'll leave you with this from Pema's book, The Wisdom of No Escape.  (cause like i said, it feels so good to read, and I challenge you to take this concept into your life just once today.)

"There are two common forms of human neurosis.  One is getting caught up in worry and fear and hope, in wanting and not wanting, and things.  We continually try to get away from the pain by seeking pleasure (samsara), and in doing so, we just keep going around and around.  I'm hot so I open all the windows, and then I'm cold so I out on a sweater.  Then the sweater is itchy so I put some cream on my arms, and then that's sticky so I take a bath.  Then I am cold, so I close the windows, and on and on.

The other neurosis - which is just as common- is to get caught by peace and quiet, or liberation, or freedom.  This is what we all doing a subtle way.  If we have an experience of clarity or bliss, we want to keep it going.  That's what a lot of addiction is about, wanting to feel good forever, but it usually ends up not working out.  Sometimes that's expressed by arranging your life in such a way that it's very quiet, very smooth, very simplified; you become so attached to it that you just want to keep it like that.  You resist and resent any kind of change or noisy situation, messing everything up."

Sounds kinda like my desire for a "good" yoga class.
it is what it is.  keep breathing.
Just as I am.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 10, So What.

Yesterday marked day 10 of my 30-day Bikram yoga challenge. The room swelled with heat. It felt hot like it had never been hotter before, and I knew this practice would push me deeper into each pose. I felt vital—uncompromised. I scored a position in the back, a new perspective from my usual spot (second row East side of the room). Compassion filled my my heart and pumped through my blood. When class began I filled my lungs past 6 seconds. Their capacity was the largest in Seattle. I inhaled every bit of oxygen in the room. My mind expanded into its own universe. Everything melted away, my elbows extended to the sky. The ceiling disappeared. They stretched so high into the atmosphere they weren’t elbows anymore. They were Everests. I exhaled and hung my head all the way back until I could see my own dry heels—mere foothills of my true height. I deeply exhaled exaggerating my mouth and pushing in my stomach to release the stale air burrowed in my chest. I was me. I wasn’t me. The neutral expression on my face slowly revealed the upturned corners of my mouth into a faint smile of joy!

At least that’s how I imagined it until some yogini-girl readjusted her mat, completely blocking my view.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Exploring Humanity

I was reading in one of Pema's books today at work, well, on my lunch break...the title is The Wisdom of No Escape.  (great title, don't ya think?)  Anyway, some lines that stood out to me were "While we are sitting in meditation, we are simply exploring humanity and all of creation in the form of ourselves.  We can become extremely wise and sensitive to all of humanity and the whole universe simply by knowing ourselves, just as we are."

Just as we are.  
Just as we are. 

I repeat that line because that is one of the hardest things for me to do.  whether i am sitting in meditation, on my floor, in my messy apartment...wishing it were neat and i had nicer furniture and maybe a new carpet or better yet, hardwood floors.  or whether i am trying to meditate before yoga class and, as i sit cross-legged i see my bulging belly roll over my tight yoga shorts.  or even if i just nailed standing bow pulling pose like i never have before.  being down or up, judging myself or celebrating myself...these are distractions along the path to knowing myself.  i am not my messy apartment, i am not my big belly, i am not standing bow pulling pose.  i am simply Melissa...sitting, standing, living, breathing.  and you know, i guess i am all of those things i mentioned.  It's just that they don't matter quite as much as i make them out to in my busy, judging mind.

This just as we are thing is going to take some practice.  Which is something this 30 day challenge is totally teaching me about.  today was day 10, one-third of the way there.  I keep thinking in terms of, only two more of that...only two more 10 days, i got that.  But what i have found along the way so far, is this...when you practice something everyday, or at least when i practice Bikram yoga everyday, it gets better and better.  by day 8 i was feeling so strong.  Class was not the struggle it was every time i went on my sporadic "holiday" months.  Yoga class was fun!  I even did a double on day 8, my first.  i just couldn't think of anything else i wanted to do that day but go to yoga.  So, I did.  (thanks to my family, BTW, for being so supportive of this 30 day challenge!)

And then day 9 came, and i didn't have a strong class.  i got all hooked on being strong and capable, and feeling puffed up like i was all that...and then day 9 came.  i could barely do the spine strengthening series, and those are usually my "good" poses.  Just as I am.  I had to lay there in savasana at the end and be ok with how i showed up that mind raced with excuses and rationalizations.  "i did a double the day before."  "i must be tired, i mean, i am a mother of three and i work and i am doing a 30 day challenge, come on."  but it doesn't matter, none of that.  It was just the way i showed up that day, no need for excuses.  just breathing.  being.

and today came day 10.  it wasn't good or bad.  it wasn't even hot.  (I actually wondered in class if i could even count it toward my 30 days...but damn it, i got up for a 6:15am class, it is going to count even if i had to do it in the snow!)  but i was OK with it.    You know, Pema is right...all these emotions i have been feeling are emotions every human experiences.  I am exploring humanity.

Just as I am. 
Just as we are.

Now to get these kids to bed so I can continue my exploration....

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ring the damn gong

Day 9 dude and I finally figured out how not to pull the stars and fairy-dust out of my tender shoulder. It's all in the hips. When I dip, you dip, we dip. I am now looking forward to the daily session at the little torture box on Capitol Hill, but it's been tough not living my usual rockstar lifestyle lately. Doing laundry and drinking a half gallon of water every night is seriously taking its toll. Tomorrow is day 10, which represents one-third of the 30-day yoga challenge. I raise my glass of wine water to that. Oh and guy-who-I-wacked-with-my arm-as-I-was-struggling-to-put my-sweatshirt-back-on, sorry about that.

Honest Shot Meditation: 
Now to the real assignment of this month, Meditation. I spent some time with "How to Meditate" by Pema early this morning before work and had the hardest time sitting still. Because all I really wanted to do was drink a decent Côtes du Rhône, smear some goat cheese on a tomato, wrap that action in a basil leaf, and kick up my feet to enjoy the party in my mouth. But no. I squirmed all over the floor trying to listen to some nun-chick tell me how to sit in a "correct posture" and think about all the things I "brought with me" and to "be present" with all of that. Then she said it's now time to start meditating. I said, damn girl I thought that was the meditation. And yes I was craving goat cheese and wine in the morning. RING THE GONG ALREADY, PEMA.


Friday, January 7, 2011

do it...

Day 6 was epic.  can't say why...just felt like i was in that yoga studio forever.  i don't mean for that to sound like a bad thing.  i feel like i could have stayed there all day.  i seriously love the feeling of doing something i don't think i can do.  like in class, when it comes to triangle pose, trikanasana...i totally struggle through the first set, most of it telling myself i can just lay down for the next set.  and then after we rest, taking deep slow breaths, as soon as my teacher says "second set"...i am right there.  determined to make it.  and so far, in the 6 days since being back, i have done both sets every time.  This is major for me, because triangle is by far my "worst" pose.  my hips are not that flexible yet, and bending down to one side in a lunge and getting my thigh to be parallel to the floor just feels impossible at this point.  but i know that this is the way to get there, to do the pose.  do the pose.  do the paperwork.  do the god damn organizing of the closet yet again.  do the flipping dishes for the 10th time today.  perhaps Nike was onto something with their "just do it" slogan.  what i have found is that, as long as i am not pushing myself to the brink of death in my endeavors, i feel so great when i do do what it is i set out to do.  (i said do-do)  hehe

so, on the meditation husband is unemployed.  and what i mean by telling you that is to say that we sat together yesterday and meditated.  it was lovely...except for the part where he giggled over hearing Pema say something, but for the life of me i can't remember what that thing was.

well, my dear blog partner just stopped by before she goes to her day 6.  so, i am gonna go, since i am a bit distracted.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

staying on track....

Amazingly enough, I have been keeping on track this month so far.  and i mostly say that in reference to the meditation.  the yoga, as challenging as it can be, i have done before.  well, not 30 days in a row, but close.  the meditation on the other hand, i couldn't even do five minutes a day for a week when a friend of mine suggested we make a pact to do so.  But this week, i have made time to listen to my Pema CD, How to Meditate.

it is lovely to hear her voice and imagine i am in this meditation class with her.  her voice is more real, more human, less Buddhist nun than i imagined.  not that Buddhist nuns aren't human, i just imagine them as so far away from all the hustle and bustle that their voice softens to angelic proportions.  she sounded like the lady next door that maybe more from Boston thirty years ago.  So, i have done that a couple nights and i have meditated when i wake in the morning a couple times.  I stay extra long in savasana after class enjoying the quiet of my mind, my body melting into the floor.  i do find at home i am very distracted when i meditate.  i hear the kids, or i anticipate them barging in...or they actually to and just stand there repeating..."mama, mama....mama, mama...what are you doing?  mama, mama?"  i guess i am cultivating a strong mind....calm in the midst of family chaos.  but then, that is what i need, ultimately.  

and the 30 challenge.  today is day 5.  I plan on going to the AM class since i work in the evening.  Last night's class was super hot in the beginning, but it didn't bother me as much as a really hot class has in the past.  i think going everyday builds stamina, endurance, strength.  well, duh? right.  but man, it did seem to bother others, at least that was my story of what was going on.  one guy actually rolled up his mat and left. Never saw that before.  more people than ever went to the bathroom during class.  one woman even asked the teacher why it was so much hotter than usual, was that just her style?!  i couldn't believe it.  

sleep has been coming very, very early for me every night this week.  and i have been going with that, loving it.  and along with that have come many dreams.  a lot of them are about not making it to yoga, and missing a day.  i went to the 6:15am class the other day and i kept waking up, checking the time, because in my dream, i missed the class and it was the last one of the day and i was devastated that on day 3 my dedication was thwarted.  i just really want to follow through.  and on a side note, i also had a dream about my teeth falling out, this dream has not visited me in quite some time, but it used to often.  and it always feels awful, scary and very real.  and it followed suit this time, as my teeth fell out, one by one, i became increasingly upset.  until i realized, i had new teeth growing in underneath the lost ones.  this had never happened before, and i upon waking i took it as a good omen.  any dream interpreters out there have a clue?  then again, i trust my intuition...good omen indeed.

so, this morning, i blogged instead of meditating.  but after the kids go to school, and after yoga, and before work...I will listen to more of my class with Pema, and drift into my mind.  right on track.  (where does that saying even come from? )


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I am. It is. We are.

Hello blogosphere. Yeah, yeah, yeah I'm the new girl. So here goes:

Several years ago on a hike, in a wood, near a river I chatted with a friend who asked: "where'd your joie de vivre go, Baranski?" But my joy had not disappeared. I was hiking in a damn wood near a damn river, does that sound despairing to you?

To be fair, my joy had shriveled, exhausted from a poor diet and lack of growing friendships. Many of my friends escaped Seattle in succession, and the "communities" I had been near no longer appealed to me. I was a fucking hater. I was honest about that and decided to move on in my own way. But everything needs to be fed to survive, and as a part of my own fattening I introduced this blog to my diet. So, thank you Dina and Melissa for sharing your journey over the past year and accepting my arrival. Your words have nourished me and I look forward to eating my own.


Melissa welcomed me to kick-off January with a meditation practice, as outlined in her and Dina's original 12 month plan. So I have. (More on this biznahz in a few). I have also decided to tag-along on a 30-day challenge of Bikram yoga mostly because Melissa said she was “Extreme” so I feel compelled to prove that I am “Hardcore”.

Today was day 3. And I'm surprised to be looking forward to day 4. I am more familiar with the Anusara practice developed by John Friend, and, the two branches seem so very far apart. With Anusara I was only going once a week (although I could have gone more), the sequences of the poses varied, and I was rarely (if ever) told to lock my joints. I tried Bikram Hot Yoga at the behest of the Baumgarts prior to the holidays (epic). My first experience was intense (dehydrated) but I went again and immediately aimed for completing a 10-day trial (super cheap). But a cold wrentched my plans. I'm back now, committed for 30 days and drinking more water than ever. I paid for 60 days so in the interest of amortization I might see how long I can last. I'm just going with it. Holding my arms over my head and pencil-diving in.

As far as this mediation biznahz goes I can say that being raised in the Catholic and Lutheran churches I've spent a better chunk of my life practicing prayer (alone and in community) versus meditation. But, I'm willing to give mediation an honest shot. To start, I've chosen a breathing method by Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn. I'm light-hearted about approaching this stuff (if that’s what cracking yourself up means) and am doing what I can like finding space for meditation on my bus rides to work, yoga or elsewhere. Pema Chodron, a Western Tibetan Buddhist nun, said something about meditation helping us "poke holes" in our thoughts, and I could kind of feel that happening...with a subatomic needlepoint...but mostly I've been wandering back and forth in thoughts from what I would write on this blog to my many, many judgments.

In short, here we are. Me, you, the blog (and all these stuttering parentheticals). Now to Day 4.  - Amy

Monday, January 3, 2011

New year...New beginnings

As the new moon moves into capricorn, we are also embarking on a new year.  and actually there is a solar eclipse somewhere out there, i just cannot see it.  but hopefully we are all feeling the energy of sinking our feet, one at a time, securely into each foothold of our new adventures.  Capricorn brings with it thoughts of commitment, resources, and keeping a strong foundation while still keeping your eyes on the prize and going slowly toward your goal.  and a new moon bring with it new beginnings, although with new beginnings there is always inherently something coming to an end.  seems fitting that Dina announces her departure here today, and i wish her the best in whatever new adventure she is beginning at this time.  especially being a mom...cause i know that is some hard work right there :)  Dina, I have had a great time here on this blog and i thank you deeply for the time we shared that brought this blog about, for it has truly changed my life in so many ways.  xoxo

and also...the new beginnings.   my friend and neighbor, Amy.  Amy Baranski.  she has been following this blog and chatting with me quite a bit about it along the way.  and long story short, i have invited her to be my new partner in crime.  SO, amy is joining me on this meditation month, and the 30 day yoga challenge. GO AMY!  i think you'll like Amy, well...cause i do.  seriously though, she is witty and creative, has a great sense of humor...and we live in the same apartment building.  you should be hearing from her shortly...

and as for me, well, i am three days into meditation month and so far have made time for 5 minutes a day of meditation.  my intention, if i don't fall asleep putting Tallulah to bed, is to start listening to the Pema Chodron CD's i bought.  it is really hard to meditate.  especially when you are seated on the floor in a hotel room and your family is watching the cartoon network and this commercial comes on...

i mean, people, really...i could just hear this in the background and imagine what they were showing.  that and the fact that i love infommercials.  seriously, i cannot believe they show this on the cartoon network.  i hear SNL has done a parody of this, and wow, i am gonna look that up next.  moral of the story, maybe best to find a quiet place to meditate.   away from commercials of women jacking off some weird sex weight.

and onto more boring new...i am on day two of the 30 day bikram yoga challenge.  i go through every emotion in the book as i make my way through the 26 postures (2 sets of each!) and 2 breathing exercises.  but mostly i feel strong.  when i was going sporadically i felt defeated, a lot, in class.  i guess i love a challenge, because i am coming in with a different mindset.  

so, speaking of dina's passion for motherhood i mentioned in the beginning...Tallulah is begging me to take her to brush her teeth.  every since she watched the Ghostbusters, i have to walk her everywhere.  maybe don't let you 5 yr old watch ghostbusters.  k? k.  

gotta run...
xoxo melissa

TIme to say Goodbye...

So folks I think it is time for me to say goodbye to this fun blog.  I have positive and negative emotions about my experience here but I guess somethings just can not be planned.  When I think back to the first few months I had such steam in my step to conquer all of our new items each was fun, hard, promising, challenging, great and well towards the end life kinda got in the way.  I would have never have thought I would move to Europe and deal with all that relocation has to challenge us with.  Since the move I just have lost my steam, been preoccupied with settling my girls and the rest of us into this strange environment that the months just got lost in the shuffle...I just did not seem to be able to make them a priority.  So I guess the big question is did I find a passion....the answer is I think I always have had the same one...I gave up months to just be with my girls and be the best mom to them.  This is my that I had lost in my time in Seattle..I was just to occupied with work and well busy life gotta in the way...everything was a struggle to organize and I just got caught up in it all...since I have been here life is so different...I am so lucky and I have time just to be a mom and I love that is my passion...kinda sad but true.  I did find things I enjoy like writing and scrapbooking and these I will for sure continue.  I think for many reasons 2011 will be a great year!  I will enjoy to continue reading along and see what the next year brings to Melissa.  So I have loved every minute but I think it is time to say Goodbye!