Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tale of the Scale: More on Miracles and Mysteries

What are you doing right this moment? (well, duh.. you are reading my blog!) Are you reading this because it's what you do during your lunch break? Or early evening? Because it popped up on your RSS feed as new so you clicked through?

Is it a habit?

One of the small experiments I'm playing with is examining all the habits that shape my day. Do they serve a worthwhile purpose? Advance me in some way? Or do they serve to keep me stuck, treading water, not changing or growing? Habits make us lazy. They do not require our attention, they do not require thought, they do not require change. In many of these ways, habits are not good. (well, putting my keys in the same place is a good habit.. but many habits aren't good).

This examining of habits is the mystery of change that I'm working on now.

At the same time, I'm working with an acupuncturist. Had my first visit Monday. In talking with Denise, she believes that a wide range of my problems can be attributed to anxiety and stress. It's blocked energy from my liver, leading to that pesky fat not burning off. It's blocked body in my back leading to less than complete healing after my surgery last year. It's left my hands and feet like icicles. And, oh yeah... the ability to make a simple decision? Not so simple.

So I was gently stuck with needles front and back. Denise says many people feel a pulsing or warmth or energy where the needles are placed. I felt not a thing. Could not have identified where a single spot was after they were placed.

I did start to cry half way through the first part of the treatment. Quietly.
I did feel all warm through my torso during the second part of the treatment. That warmth lasted several hours.
I have not had cold hands or feet since I left there.

I'm taking this all as signs. If I don't get the pulsing energy, but I and calmer and more balanced I don't care.

As one part of shakin' up my routine, I'm taking off for 4 days along the Monterey bay. Will spend hours walking the beach (camera in hand), time writing even though I'm offline, time being with friends. Time doing something different.

Have a good weekend yourself, filled with your own miracles and mysteries..

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rules for Being a Hero

As I mentioned, I'm reading Brian Luke Seaward's book Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart. I so love this book that I ordered a copy for myself. There is a passage on almost every page that I want to send to someone or highlight and remember for myself. I even took the book to the gym with me to read while doing cardio. (this is something I've never done before! And I must do more of it.)

The early part of the book, Seaward is talking about Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth; how every life is a Hero's Journey. If we examine our life in this context, it gives us power to know how to proceed. After speaking at an eighth grade assembly, Seaward was handed a list rules by one of the students. They were originally called the Rules for Being Human, but the student suggested they could just as easily be called:

The Rules for Being a Hero

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.

2. You wil learn lessons. You are enrolled in the a full-time informal school called life. Each dayof this school, you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error and experimentation. The failed experiments are as much a part of the process as are the experiments that ultimately work.

4. A lesson is repeated until it's learned. A lesson will present itself to you in various forms until you have learned. When you have mastered the lesson, then you can go on to the next lesson.

5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

6. "There" is no better place than "Here." When your "There" has become "Here" you will simply obtain another "There" that will again look better than "Here."

7. Others are simply a mirror of yourself. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and the resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

9. Your answers lie inside of you. The answers to all of life's questions lie inside of you. All you need do is look, listen, and trust.

10. You will forget all this.

Cherie Carter-Scott
How did I forget this??

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Feed Four Things

I was pointed to this interview with Danny Myers, a NYC restaurateur. While much of the interview was interesting, this line struck me as applicable to many of us:

I need to do four things... feed my brain, heart, body and spirit.. it doesn't matter whether you are home or at work, as long as you spend the time feeding those needs... if empty in one place I be a poor leader...doesn't matter where you are as long as you keep in shape along those four dimensions.
I know that I am starving myself in a couple of these areas. (Ok.. heart, spirit and maybe brain!!). I can feel the tank scraping along on empty. How can fill these tanks up? It's obvious to any regular readers that my body is fed (and cared for). And I'm doing an OK job of feeding my brain (between following unexpected links that bring to posts like the one above, to challenging puzzles and expanding my breadth of reading).

How to feed my heart and spirit? I've thought about this for a couple hours today and I honestly don't have an answer. So I'll turn to you. How do you go about feeding your heart? Feeding your spirit?

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fear Clouds The Mind...

Hang in here with me. I've set the kitchen timer at 15 minutes and whatever I've done when it goes off.. that will be my muddle for the today.

Because I'm muddling through a thought. I'm not sure exactly where it's going.

I'm reading Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart by Brian Luke Seaward. In one of the early pages he says:

Change is often associated with stess, because with change comes uncertainity, and uncertainty breeds fear. Fear clouds the mind and robs the heart of its highest potential.

Just before reading this, I was thinking about parts of my gym workout. How every time I go to do bench presses with free weights, I'm a little scared. I always waffle about should I stick with a lighter weight or go with the one that challenges me? When my arms begin to buckle and quit (ie. I hit muscle failure), I don't push on through one more key repetition; I stop out of fear.

Yet I can't pinpoint what it is I'm afraid of. I know it's not that I will somehow drop the weight on my head; it's not that I will injure myself; it's not about look the fool on the freeweight floor (plenty of "muscle heads" do that all the time and are oblivious to it).

It's simply that I don't trust myself.

Trust myself to make me do that last hard repetition. Trust myself to push through that challenging wall. Trust myself to do it all alone. Trust myself.

Yes, when I'm working with Guido, he can spot that exact second. His "I'm right here..." with a hand to support the failing arm gets me to the end of the exercise. I transfer some of my trust from myself to him.

Which allows me to get the work done; which teaches me what my potential is. Which steal me of some of the trust in myself.

I have to remember how that trust feels and keep it for myself next time. Accept the help, god yes! But accept it as a lesson in learning to trust myself.

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tale of the Scale: Shakin' My Life Up

I am a creature of habit.

Sometimes I think it's my Germanic heritage (except that I'm only 50% Germanic); other times I think it's a lazy survival instinct. Or living with dogs (we all know how they love their routine). Hmm.. how many reasons can I find for living every day on autopilot?

I get out of bed at the same time every day. I spend an hour on the computer, then move through my morning routine. I eat about the same things for most meals, and about the same calories each day. I sit the same times, move the same times. I live in habit. I get very uncomfortable when this routine is disrupted. Mentally, I'm thrown off balance.

Now Guido has suggested that this off-balance living might be just what I need.

Frustrated with the slowness with which I'm melting off these last few percentages of fat, Guido has been talking to friends and colleagues trying to squeeze every drop of inspiration out to get something to change for me. The guy holds the highest expectations for me; he sees me working hard and things not changing. He's taking this plateau personally.

I suspect part of the problem is he is more invested in this than I am. I am satisfied with my weight at the moment and, though I would truly like to be a bit leaner, I just don't have the strong emotional investment to work really hard at it. I've told him this. I know I need to lose belly fat (and boob fat, please) which IS important to me for long-term health reasons. So I'm willing to go along with Guido's plans. I remember he has my best self in mind and I've learned to respect my better angels when they hope for my success.

So what is our latest plan to make a change? Shake up my routine. Eat more, eat less, eat at different times. Exercise earlier or later/ longer and shorter. Stand when I usually sit. Look at each step of the day in it's routine and see how I can change it.

It's like waking my body up from it's winters nap and reminding it that Life Happens and It Can't Get Comfortable With the Same Old-Same Old.

It will make my brain grow, my head ache and maybe make me more creative (well, that's a personal goal for me). It will put my body, soul and spirit in new places. It's all starting Sunday.

Come Shake It Up With Me!

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Five Things To Do When Negative Self-Talk Haunts Your Day

Woke up this morning with a cloud of negative self-talk settled down over my psyche. I wonder what I was dreaming about?

Rather than pulling the covers over my head and wallowing in a bed of self-loathing, I tapped into the actions that help overcome this pervasive sense of self-doubt. Some days I need them all to get a grasp back in the light. Other days, just a breathe of something positive will push me there.

1. Get Moving. The rhythm of physical activity works like moving meditation to center my spirit. Today is a gym day.. I'll aim to get 40 minutes on a cardio machine before my training session. One and half hours+ of physical activity will get cleaning oxygen flowing through my body and brain.

2. Accomplish Something. I'm writing a specific "To Do" list for today with a variety of tasks on it. The simple act of getting something concrete done erases negative thoughts.

3. Meditate. Sit with myself and try to learn what is behind this feeling today. Is it as simple as a poor night's sleep? A deeper concern? A risk I have to take that scares me? I need to meet the creator of this negative feeling face to face and get some answers.

4. Give Myself a Break. We all need rest days. Days when we stew. Stewing breaks down tough connections, blends different flavors, makes things easier to consume and digest. It might be that the work I need to accomplish just needs a little some time to stew.

5. Break things down. I'm guilty of "perfectionism" and I didn't know it until recently. If I large task before me (and I have several), often I will not move at all on them until I believe I can complete the task by myself and perfectly. Ask for help? Cheating. Start and see where it goes? Demonstrates a lack of planning and fore-thought.

What steps do you take when you feel that negative self-talk overcoming you?

Edit: I'm adding a Sixth Thing, because it's important and often overlooked. It's about 2 hours later.

6. Eat and Drink Healthy. Do not let the negative demons trick you into eating a bag of donuts, drinking a bottle of wine, ordering a fast food lunch and "what the heck" super-sizing it. That is only an invitation for MORE self-abuse later. Instead, look for gentle real foods that will support your body instead of taxing it more. Fresh fruits and veggies, some grilled fish, green tea. You know what you should eat. On a day like today, more than ever, DO IT.

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tale of the Scale: Work and Rest


Working out is equally about work and rest.

The work part seems fairly clear: head to the gym, sweat, push, balance, step, squeeze, hold, breathe. Work.

For the work part to be really successful, however, the body needs time to heal. That's called rest. I'm having a challenge with rest.

I get that rest = do not head to the gym. But there is so much to do in life that can challenge the concept of rest.

For example last Thursday. I had had a chest/legs workout Guido on Wednesday that was definitely challenging. (He was shocked when he grabbed the 12# weights for our bench press exercises and I admitted that I'd worked my way up to 20# all the time. I came to regret that admission.. but that's not this tale...), so Thursday was technically a rest day.

The weather outside was dry, sunny, pleasant. There was yard work to get done, specifically rotating out my compost bins. Now imagine a 50 gallon plastic barrel-shaped item filled with moist rotted leaved and fully rotted food. Or check out this blogpost that describes parts of the process.

I had rolled the Tumbler over to the perennial flower bed, tipped it over, and held on as wet rotted goodness inside started to pour out. I was bracing with my legs and using my arms to keep the composter from falling down the sloping part of the garden bed.

I felt every muscle I'd worked the day before and a few that I hadn't worked.

And I wondered how this fit into the idea of a rest day.

I continued to contemplate this dilemma.. how do get the work done that I need to do AND get my body the rest it needs between workouts... as I shoveled slightly rotted food and shredded paper from our "temporary holding bin" composter into the Tumbler. Again, feeling all those muscles being asked to work on a rest day.

I don't have an answer to this yet; but, I noticed I fell asleep about an hour or so earlier on both Wednesday and Thursday evening. Maybe my body has found the answer all on its own.


I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Waterfall At Indian Canyon

Waterfall At Indian Canyon
Originally uploaded by darinhercules
A couple weeks ago, I visited my friend Del down near Palm Springs for the weekend. She took me hiking through marvelous desert parks with hidden streams and waterfalls, hills, an oasis and much magic. We ate well, talked myself hoarse, and generally had a great time.

This photo is edited from a photo I took while down there.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tale of the Scale: 2/2/08

Another week, with less weight!

No, not less weight on me, I'm still stable. We've discovered a rather dramatic muscle weakness/imbalance between my right/left leg that we're working on. And until I can use more weight with my left leg, I'm doing one legged exercises with very light weights.

This imbalance (and the subsequent pain/ muscle tightness)goes pretty far to explain my back pain, leg pain on the left side. Getting this addressed will be a major step forward for me. We didn't discover this problem earlier in our sessions because my core was so unstable and weak overall that we never tried one sided strength exercises on my legs before. We've done them for several months with my shoulders.. and the results have been dramatic. Here's hoping for the same results in a different body part.

I've also been told to change up my workout for a while:

1. only come into the gym 3 days a week. Getting lots of time to rest and heal and not over train my body. I'm not sure I agree with this and will see if I can get a full body workout plus balance and flexibility work this schedule. I know it is not wise to ignore the advise of one's trainer, but I grew to really cherish my 4 days in the gym.

That, and I don't pay for hot water for the showers there!

2. Oddly. Do the same cardio machine for 2 weeks, then change to a different one for two weeks, then change to another. Always getting two weeks on one item. I've been changing up every time I'm in there: one day hill routine on treadmill, next time speed and endurance on the elliptical, next time intervals on the crosstrack. Shoot. The lines for the cardio machines had better start getting shorter soon (the January resolution crowd is packing those machines even at 11 am!) or I will be touch and go about getting a machine of my choosing.

3. Go to less weight and work much slower, concentrating on perfect form and often challenging the whole body. Like slow food and slow craft, this is a change to slow movement. I found the workout as challenging as higher weights and faster movement, so we'll see what the results are on my body: less post-exercise soreness? less strain on soft tissue (tendons and ligaments)? more overall stability?

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Zodiac-whacky, the February edition

I'm continuing to mourn that Laurie at Crazy Aunt Purl has stopped her funny horroscopes. While she is still funny enough to make to cry, those darned horoscopes were the reason I started reading her to begin with. And she, like me, is a crabby-crab.

I have two other astrologers who send me their wisdom now. The first is Phyllis Firak-Mitz who Laurie used for a while as her surrogate. Not bad as an astrologer, but not nearly as funny.

I was struck this month with the quote she used to introduce Cancer:

Cancers recognize the potential inherent in situations...they “sense” opportunities that might be quite subtle or hidden. Cancer’s sensitivity gives them an alliance with women. It gives them the edge in female-related businesses.” P.110
She went to tell me:

RELATIONSHIPS are where the action is for you all through 2008, this February included. Lucky Jupiter and Magnetic Venus are working on your behalf to draw fascinating and life-changing people into your sphere. You can move into new circles now, Cancer, ones that expose you to a bigger, more impressive world than you’re used to. These planets can also take your current relationships to the next level.

If you want to get engaged, married, or simply connect with an outstanding business partner this could be your year! That said, this could also be the year that you finally have the gumption to dump a relationship that just doesn’t work, even if it means bringing legal proceedings. Whatever your destiny holds, shifts in partnerships are part of it.

Now Phyllis is nice and all, but KT, the astrologer at BlogHer doesn't do a monthly prediction. She gives a look at the year and a daily. Let's see if there is anything key in the year for February:
Regarding money matters, three separate eclipses in February and August will affect your finances. Don't worry! This doesn't mean you'll lose all your cash and valuables, but it does indicate that your concern for these resources will peak at these times. Given your emotional nature, these months could be quite a roller coaster ride. Make it a point not to act in a panic. Wait until you're calm and your usual shrewd perspective returns.
Great! The market is on a roller-coaster ride.. no wonder I'm concerned about my finances. I will not panic and sell off all my stocks...

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.