Packing.

PackingIt’s been exactly two months since I committed to walking a segment of the Camino de Santiago. It’s been exactly two months since I’ve journaled “My pilgrimage begins NOW”.

Right about that time I met Gretchen, The WingWoman. (Any time spent with her is very worthwhile.  I’ve sent so many friends since then and all have been amazed!) Her perceptions and insights left me in such a state of joy. The information was packaged in such a way I just wanted to go skipping into the future. And with that mindset, “things” just seem to be falling into place. Who arrives at my door, what I say in response to their needs, where I encounter fascination, when exchange occurs, and how the “dance” is done…there has been a shift.

And the change has been in “mindset”. My preparation for the Walk, my Pilgrimage, my study of The Way has made me look at the road in another language (while I’m at it, neither my hiking mate nor I speak a lick of Spanish. Unless “Donde esta el bano” will get us cross country.) The word heresy derives from “having a choice”. And gnosis is “knowledge”. Somehow someone somewhere gave those both of a negative spin. Somehow being informed enough to have choices became blasphemous. And the knowledge changed from an attempt to have a direct experience with God The Divine into something mystical. And negative.

By the way, gnosis is a feminine noun in Greek. I like that. Perhaps others did not.

I depart in five days. So I’m packing. I’m packing the energy to walk eighty miles (the start of Del Norte). It’s the road less traveled. And early on we have to choose between the high road and the low road. No kidding. I’m packing:

  • an open mind
  • the ability to see the Way for what it is
  • a guide book to lead the way if, when we can’t discern
  • the spirit of Mary Magdalene
  • pockets full of prayers and intentions for loved ones
  • the knowledge that when we call upon holy spirit, it is there.

I’m also armed with much bland beige hiking attire for day and pretty skirts for evening. At the end of the day the trip is devoted to gastronomic delights and good wine.

I’ll be here as the wi-fi and time permits if you care to join!

 

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Happy Place

I came home from work early. Not as in “earlier than I was supposed to” or “earlier than usual”. Just…early.

I was plunked down in a lawn chair by the pool by 3:15pm.

Not bad. Not as in “not bad for a Monday” or “not bad for January. Just…not bad.

I soaked my feet and legs in the cold pool. I lounged and listened and thought and watched. And smiled.

Because when you’re in your happy place it’s not about “happier than before”, nor is it “not quite as happy as it could be ‘if’ only…”

Just happy. And that’s good any time. And now.

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Day to Night

This is my favorite part of the day. It’s historically been my fave while either lying in a field or in a boat…the afternoon sky with one turn of the head, complete darkness with the opposite turn. Today, as in so many of my days, I get this from my balcony. Lucky girl! Some days I’m too busy to look, but today my timing was perfect.

Water, meet Sky.

Moon, meet Sun.

Yin, meet Yang.

Time to take rest.

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ice plunge(Shutterstock)

Two years ago I ushered in the new year on a snowy mountainside, practicing healing breathwork meditation, walking across hot coals. Last year I sat on a boulder by the ocean, breathing calmly, and contemplating putting my feet in. This year, on a chilly Florida Saturday, I worked the breath again, and submerged myself in ice water.

The “secret” to getting this done was the breathwork. When practicing with my teacher, David Elliot, there is a kindness and gentleness to the work, with ultimate goal of healing through (self) love. I find that my fellow practitioners can be as excited and animated as the next guy, but they all lovingly go into leading the work and regardless to how difficult the practice gets for me, there is a level of peacefulness and joy in the journey.

This year I attended a breathworking session in the Wim Hof Method (WHF). Lead by former professional athlete, entrepreneur, and gifted motivator, Pavel Stuchlik, the hours long session stimulated my senses in a completely different fashion.

When I say I’ve “studied breathwork”, I mean it as the most elementary student. I’ve read the science and the research studies of all of the well known styles of modern breathwork as well as traditional yogic pranayama. And I’ve practiced all of them at some point; to say I am a master or even well practiced would be ridiculous as I’ve only been investigating for a decade. But I do know this..practicing pranayama is life altering because it is state of consciousness altering.

Altered states of consciousness, sometimes called non-ordinary states, include various mental states in which the mind can be aware but is not in its usual wakeful condition, such as during hypnosis, meditation, hallucination, trance, and the dream stage. Altered states can occur anywhere from yoga class to the birth of a child. They allow us to see our lives and ourselves with a broader lens and from different angles of perception than the ordinary mind. (The free dictionary by FARLEX)

Back to the ice immersion…I initially got myself there by remembering my sit in a therapeutic cold bath with a well known Navy SEAL. It’s another story with the take-away of “Ma’am, cold is cold to everyone. It’s just cold.”

As I stood outside on this brisk windy day, however, I was immediately transported to a bike crash I had in 2009. As I laid out on the “cold” and shaded February concrete awaiting an ambulance for an hour, I knew that shivering was not going to help stabilize my spine. So I quickly slowed my breathing and stopped my shivering. Because the state of my neck required it. I watched a dislocated wrist relocate and a photo shows me smiling as I knew all would be just fine. And now, standing by the ice pool, I just took a deep breath, slowed my breathing, and stopped shivering. I got in the pool and submerged to my chin, laid my head back, and calmly sat, Even as the person next to me tensed.

For me, the session was not magic…like the fire walk, if thousands of people who thought they COULD’NT do it have succeeded…but it was a lovely reminder:

  • That cold is just cold.
  • That I can get an attitude adjustment whenever I want one.
  • That I am capable of changing not only my mental state but also my physical state.
  • That in this physical body of mine, energy and spirit also meet; those experiences continue to be at my beck and call.
  • That anything I chose can be “non-ordinary” and “altered”; I have the ability to change my view of my life with a quick lens adjustment.

This year’s balance project will, indeed, have more pranayama practice.

And if you’re in the Tampa Bay area, I lead a couple of classes at Bella Prana Yoga & Meditation. Tuesdays at 9:15am it’s Yin and Pranayama; Thursdays at 12:15pm its Healing Breathwork Meditation. I’ve got some pop-up small group sessions coming soon as well as private sessions.

Happy (Re)New(ed) Me!

 

 

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My Red Dress

In the mid-1990’s I had the privilege of working with a fabulous older woman who had lived a life, a life much different than I could imagine for myself. Viola had lived in Hollywood, through the early days of MGM, with ties to both. In her late 80’s when I met her, she was refined. Cultured. Dignified. Witty. Funny. And willing to share her life.

One day she strolled her Manhattan neighborhood when she spotted on the same sidewalk another woman. She thought, “What is that old woman doing in that red dress; inappropriate for her age”. As she noticed the look of disdain on her own face as she reflected in a storefront window, she realized she was the one in the red dress. Horrified, she turned on her heels and went home. She mulled it over. She wrote about it. And several years post she told me.

I put on my own red dress a couple of days ago. I did not run the streets of NYC in my dress, but I did make it all the way to the gym and found myself in a small room with a 20-something fitness trainer.

My red dress came in the form of belly fat. I was having my body composition measured.

Now, I look at my belly pretty regularly. I try not to roll my eyes and say “Good Gawd, Woman, How Do You Even Go Out In Public?!”, but I see it when I do yoga, notice it wanting to form it a muffin top, hide it under smock-like clothing. And admit that it’s getting bigger than I like it to be.

But when this…girl…came in with the ultra-sound to measure it, I looked at it with professional eyes, not the eyes of the woman who wanted a glass of wine with her cheese. I looked down, looked away, looked down again and couldn’t believe it belonged to me. Like Viola, I wondered just when I had gotten “old”. Where have the years gone? When did I become so un-savvy to the ways of the world and my health? And when young miss measured the adipose over my pelvis, the view and thought was much the same.

I came home and had that glass of wine. And a piece of cheese. Or five pieces. And got back on track.

Getting back in balance can be easy at times. At others it can take a commitment of serious proportions. This is about as serious as I’ve had to get in a long time. For the health of it.

My body fat level is too high; I’ve just moved into the “obese” category. Now let me also say that the average American woman has about the same body fat level as I, maybe a little more. But the average American is fat and out of shape and unhealthy and I don’t desire to be her. Anymore.

Interestingly enough, this is the first time in my life that I’ve been told to lose significant weight. (Total disclosure…a good fighting weight, my “game weight”, you know…is about 155 lbs. I weight 165 now.) According to the norms they use, I need to weigh no more than 149 pound. Interesting. Devastating. So much change.

So first I’m committing to losing 7 pounds and putting on 3-5 pounds of muscles. That makes a significant change in my body fat percentage.

And maybe I won’t but a new red dress, although Viola was wearing one at 80 years of age. Or maybe I will.

body fat

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New year, new me. Or maybe old me.

I’m back. Or trying to get back. Or at least back at it.

The last couple of years have brought…the stuff of life. I could bore one with the details and feelings and relationships and work and deaths, but it really is just the stuff of life. It has brought a plethora of writing, but not in the form of a blog (want an educational program? Done.) So here I sit trying to gather myself for another year.

I am personally a great fan of New Year’s Resolutions. People tell you to throw them in the garbage; I dig mine out regularly and look at them. Some are task related, while others are more “journey” based. This year I need to get back on the physical track. So as much as I’d like to say I need the new me, I really am looking for a bit of my former self.

I spent about six months of 2017 with some serious back pain. As is the case for me, it’s more of a “use” and “movement” issue than anything something medical. I’m bending over a table too much, not working a given muscle enough…glutes and psoas, psoas and glutes. I hiked in Greece and Joshua Tree and Maine…and felt good. And then I came home and began feeling lousy again (I’m sure there is a message in there; deciphering it is always on the list). Thankfully, the bulk of it all seemed to disappear overnight late in the year. And I’m committed to keeping it that way.

So here is a little snapshot of how my resolutions will play out in January:

  • Balance. I am focusing on several issues at once. I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket, awaiting fullness before I proceed.
  • Meditation. At least 10 mins daily this month. And any kind of meditation will be OK. Breathwork. Silence. Mantra-based. I know what I’ve liked best in the past, but I’m OK with shaking it up this month.
  • Miles on foot. Last year two comrades and I entered the 2017 in 2017 challenge; logging miles and getting our collective arses through that many miles. We’ll do it again, each trying to do better for ourselves. And this month it means I will cover at least one mile a day of deliberate exercise miles. Stairs, hiking, treadmill, walking…anything goes.
  • Yin. Which is a pretty broad term and one with which I have much latitude. This month I am committed to elongating my posterior kinetic chain. That may translate to “stretching my hamstrings”, but there are a few side elements in there for me which would just be too…scientifically boring…to go into right now.
  • Food. I’m just thinking about it. Thinking about what I need to change. Or maybe nothing. But I’m thinking.
  • Pre-measures. I’m having a few numbers run…like how much body fat I have and where it is on my body and how much muscle mass I’ve lost and oh-my-gawd-this-is-going-to-be-horrifying. I’m doing that tomorrow because I refuse to put it off any longer.
  • Muscle. I need some more. I put on clothes that should be too tight at this weight. And they fit. Which just tells me how much muscle I’ve lost.

Continue reading

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Can we handle this now? High school stud

Can we handle this now? High school students? Adults? #JFKchalleng #tryit http://ow.ly/KI1Zc

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Go, Chicken fat, GO! #JFKchallenge Try i

Go, Chicken fat, GO! #JFKchallenge Try it… http://ow.ly/KI1Oe

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Work/Life Balance

I’ve had some good years of work and, like a lot of people, my income was horribly hit by the recession in 2008.  When one’s income goes way down, the cash spent on people like me is no longer existent.  I had a couple of very, very lean years.  Although I knew I WOULD make it through that period, I often pondered HOW.  I dug my heels in, got creative, and made it through.  The last few years has been spent with that same work ethic, knowing a couple of things.  For one, those economic down turns can happen in the blink of an eye.  Am I trained enough, versatile enough, and sturdy enough to weather a storm.  Secondly, I still need to work my retirement plan back into shape.

I’ve recently joined an linked arms with a network marketing company.  Great science is easy to work with.  It’s ground floor, and I’m thrilled to be part of it.  At an educational session the other day, someone got up and said “Do you really want to go back to your (sorry) job on Monday morning?”

Hmm.  I do.  I do want to go back to my job each Monday morning because I HAVE my dream job.  As a one-woman-show I have created the occupation that I desired, a hybrid of skills that keeps my day to day existence interesting.

That was a big eye opener for me.  So many people get involved because they hate their day-to-day life, they dislike their mundane and meaningless job, they despise their environment.  As for me…I dig what I do.

Work/Life BalanceBut I see the beauty of doing something differently.  Doing something differently.  Peace of mind comes in many forms.  Peace of mind comes from…even recognizing that fact.  Now I desire to back away from my dream job, even for just a couple of days a week, just to get the bank balance back to where it should be.

Juggling work and life, keeping the balls in the air WHILE walking the tightrope of life…it’s my next sport.

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POV

Yeah, it’s been a while, and I’ve got much to say.

About The Decemberist:  I kept my wits about me, I was happy, I ate well, I exercised; I felt good about the season.  I did not lose weight.  It was a good month.

And then January came.  I had planned well, checking in with an Ayurvedic practitioner on the second of the month.  My plan for the new year was further honed and was ready for the start of something beautiful.

And then a woman I know chose to end her life.  Of course, my initial response was set from my own vantage point…how does somebody make it through the holidays and then decide to kill themselves?  But just because I happen to be rejuvenated by the start of a new year does not mean everyone else is.  She took her life on the eve of MY new beginning; she saw it quite differently.

I did not wonder what I could have done to save her, as even her inner circle did not recognize her needs.  As I looked around a church packed funeral, my questions were not for friends who might be going through the same sadness, but for those of us who think we’ll never see the world from that horrible place.

What made her get on the plank and walk to the end?  I knew her as someone who had a lovely group of friends.  She was quite active in our church, covering large congregational tasks as well as being involved in more than one small group.  For if she didn’t have it all together, she was involving herself in all the “tasks” that could be recommended.  From my vantage point, at least.

And if someone (seemingly) doing “all the right things” could be pushed to the edge, what the heck is keeping me in the boat?  And what’s the switch that changes all that?

So my New Year’s plots and plans seemed a little less important.  What is important is that I change my point of view.  Why would I want to “fix” the self I see when I could just as easily start seeing myself differently?  I mean, like a lot of woman, I can be quite fickle.  I’ve been known to change my mind without much warning.  So an attitude adjustment was in order.

Ten days after her death I gathered with friends to debrief and close the season.  We all wrote notes, put them in a big jar, set them ablaze, and sent them up to our fallen sister.  We addressed her struggles, our struggles.  We talked about her limitations, our own limitations.  And we vowed to do better by each other, and for each other.

And that starts at home.  I’ve found a coach and picked up a new sport.  My Friday work day will be cut a little short so my week can end with a private yoga session.  Although I enjoy being a leader in my Wesley group, I have joined another spiritual group as a participant.  There are a few “loose ends” in my world; they seem to tidying themselves.  Funny how that happens when you look at the big picture from a new perspective.

It’s a new year with a new view.

My eyes, and I chose to see differently.

My eyes, and I choose to see differently.

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