Grumpiness and Not Following Your Own Advice

I don’t know why.  I don’t know if it’s the season or work or life or my ego or my diet or my exercise regime or my supplements, or my decrease in caffeine, but for some reason I’ve been feeling rather “meh” lately.  I will have days where I feel happy and motivated, but lately I have more days where I feel lost and don’t know where to begin.  I have things that I *think* I want to do, such as read one of the books on my  mammoth book list, practice meditation, go to yoga class, research vacation options, color in an adult coloring book, start the Great American Novel, paint a picture of Lucent, figure out a great material with which to make the BEST YOGA TANKS EVER, plan a retreat at Kripalu, input all my yoga income and expenses, move to Boulder, start a yoga book/video club, etc.  However, when I have a free hour or two, instead I find myself sitting on the couch in my pajamas and watching Seinfeld or Community.

I don’t understand why it is so difficult to do the things that I think I want to do!  Maybe I am just getting overwhelmed with options – too many things to do in too little time means I just resign myself to doing nothing.  Or maybe work is stressing me out, and so in my downtime, I elect to just vegetate.  Or maybe I’m just lazy and scared and don’t want to attempt to create anything because it means I cannot fail.

What is really odd is that this period of despondency is punctuated with periods of lucidity.  For a few days, I was waking up at 4:30 AM, drinking some warm lemon water, and then meditating with this  for 20 minutes.  I was starting to notice that I was becoming more aware of the present moment, which was very interesting, and I liked it.  But then I would be attacked by another bad mood where I really didn’t want to go into work. I hated everyone and just wanted to lay in bed and watch Gilmore Girls all day.  Why can’t I sustain the good stuff?

I also have been eating gluten with almost abandon.  I don’t know what it is. I know it’s not good for me, and that it makes me emotional and weird, but I keep eating it.  I just feel a little off kilter. Maybe it’s just the change in seasons. Maybe it’s a stressful fall with lots of changes.  Maybe it’s just a natural ebb in the waves of life.  I feel as if I know what I need to do to make myself feel better, I just need to figure out how to make myself do it!!

On a positive note, I leveraged my emotional wobbliness into a really good yoga class!  Since I’ve been feeling moody lately, I did a little research and found a Yoga to Balance Your Mood sequence in one of my YTT books. I used it during my Gentle Hatha class on Saturday, and everyone loved it.  I heard at least 1 audible sigh of relaxation at the end of the class. I wove in some of my own stuff too. I began the class with a seated meditation and asked the students to note how they felt in the meditation.  Then I told them that we would do another meditation at the end of the class and asked them to compare the two. I told them that the whole purpose of yoga is to calm the body enough that it can sit quietly in meditation, so I wanted to test out that theory.  Everyone said that their meditation was easier at the end, and they felt more focused.  I just absolutely love it when people are happy, relaxed, and excited when they leave my class.

So now I need to take some of my own medicine and do the sequence.  I just have a really hard time finding a good quite, solitary place to practice at home. I guess it means we need to buy a new house. Maybe that would make me happy. ;)

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And the light gets brighter and bigger

I had what I would consider an adventure Thursday night.  One of my fellow YTTers (yoga teacher trainees) messaged me and asked if I could cover her 6PM Pre-Teen Yoga class.  Well, if you don’t know me, then you do not know precisely how far out of my comfort zone this request fell. I was never a kid who liked babysitting or who liked playing with younger kids. I babysat exactly 3 times that I can remember, and it was always for my cousins who really didn’t need a sitter anyway.  I had dolls, and I loved playing with them – dressing them up and taking them on marvelous adventurous through mazes (aka our front yard).  But I never loved real babies.  Even now, I can appreciate some of their cuteness from a distance, but I have no desire to get up close and personal unless I think it will offend someone if I don’t.

BUT I figured that maybe, just maybe, I could handle pre-teens. I kind of remember being in 5th and 6th grade.  I remember having a monstrous crush on Corey Schatz.  I remember our teacher handing out Woofies. I remember playing Boys Chase Girls at recess.  I remember smack-talking my mom and having her chase me around the outside of the house a few times.  I outlasted her, but when I finally came back inside, all my dolls were gone – hidden away until I behaved.  I remember how a harsh word from a teacher would devastate me and make me quiet for days.  I remember how noisy everyone was at lunch-time and how upset that would make the teachers.  Perhaps I could connect to these girls.

So, while I really wanted to say, “No, I’m super sorry, but I’m busy tonight,” instead I told my friend, “Sure.  What is your class usually like?”  Oh boy.  Her answer made me even more trepidatious than I already was!  Evidently class consists of partner work, some yoga dance, some student-led sun salutations, and all sorts of fun-ness.  Well, I’m used to teaching stressed out adults with sore backs and necks.  I wasn’t sure ANYTHING in my toolbox would translate over, but I figured, how bad can it be.

Don’t tell my boss, but I spent a few pockets of time that afternoon at work, jotting down notes for a class.  During YTT, Abby showed us some partner poses and some Thai massage moves. I figured the girls would think that was fun, so I wrote those down.  Then I tried to think of other fun postures that would challenge girls  whose bones are the consistency of rubber – wheel, bow, etc.

Armed with my list, I walked into Indigo.  I only had 4 girls show up (thank God it was an even number!!), but I knew I was in trouble when the first girl paid me for the class, and I could tell she had more sass and confidence than I EVER will.

When the clock rolled around t0 6, I corralled all the girls, and we tromped, skipped, and flipped into the center of the room, where they proceeded to tell me what to do for the next hour.  It was both horrifying and hilarious. I now have a VASTLY greater appreciation for what teachers do every day.  I was exhausted after an hour of trying to figure out how much authority I had and when I should use it.

The girls were great – they ran the gamut from super boisterous and energetic to shy and reserved (which WAS something I could actually identify with), to somewhere in the middle. One of the girls, I swear, was a 40-year-old in a 5th grader’s body.  During the Thai massage work, she was sighing as if she just got done with a 12 hour shift writing briefs for the Supreme Court justices.  It was awesome.

So, while I can’t say I really *enjoyed* the experience, I am very glad to have done it once. Each time I get out of my comfort zone and do something that I’ve never done before, I see my worldview brighten and my circle of understanding broaden.  My empathy for others’ increases, and my appreciation of the fact that we are all good at different things deepens. If everyone was like me, no one would be teaching these girls yoga, and they obviously LOVE it.  That would be very sad.

I was also pleased to observe a different attitude within myself.  For years, when I have not done something well, I typically felt as if it was because I had no aptitude for it and no chance of getting better.  I don’t know if it’s yoga or 4 years of reading about happiness research, but this time was different.  Afterwards I reflected on my experience and saw mistakes I had made and things I could do better, but it was with an understanding that this was my first time dealing with kids since I WAS a kid.  It was a learning experience – one I could use to improve my skills for next time.  I was so happy with myself for not seeing myself as a failure at this task.  I think I’m growing. Or something.

All that being said, I don’t know if I WOULD volunteer to teach that class again. I pretty much used up all my material on Thursday.  But if I got coerced into doing it for some reason, I’m confident that I would do a better job.

This whole experience just solidified my belief that I need to start trying more things out of my comfort zone.  Another one of my fellow YTTers gave me that advice over the weekend when we were discussing finding our purpose/passion.  It’s sage advice, and even if I try something new and fail miserably, now I am confident that I will learn A LOT from the experience.  I will get a more clear view of humanity and how things work and a better appreciation of the shades of gray that fuzz the rigid definitions of Right and Wrong and Good and Bad.

What challenges have you faced that helped you realize what you are capable of? What “failures” have taught you valuable lessons?

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On Figuring out What you Want

Last night was my first night NOT teaching yoga on a Monday night since 7/1.  When I was fresh out of yoga teacher training, I was super jazzed and driven to teach.  I talked to the owners of the studio where I did YTT, and they agreed to let me teach 2 regular classes – a 75-minute beginner’s level vinyasa class on Monday night and an all-levels 60 minute vinyasa class on Wednesday mornings.

Within a couple of weeks of teaching the class, I noticed that I truly loved my 5:30AM class. I had a good energy, a good connection with my students, and I could get teaching in and done for the day bright and early.  It just felt right.

My Monday night class, however, was a different story.  I was tired from being at work, and I missed being at home.  It made  for a really long day too. I would wake up at 4:30AM, do my normal morning routine, go to work, come home, scarf down supper, head to Moline, teach, and then get home around 8:15PM.  I think I have an invisible power cord, and the only plug-in is my house.  I just NEED to be home quite a bit to feel relaxed and calm.

I noticed this difference in the classes almost immediately, but I powered through for a few months, continuing to teach the class. But it seemed as if life just kept getting busier and a little bit more out of control.  A whole week would go by, and I wouldn’t see Tim in the evenings until Thursday or Friday.  I also stopped exercising outside (running/walking), and I stopped reading and writing as much.  While I had picked up a new thing that I thought I would love, I lost other things that I loved as much if not more.

So I finally took an uncomfortable step and asked the studio if someone else could take over the class or if they could cancel it. I felt super bad doing that because they had gone out on a limb with me, a new teacher, and had set up a brand new class for me.  Abby was very understanding, however, and they decided to just cancel the class since attendance was not great anyway and they need another night for workshops.

Last night was my first night at home.  It was bittersweet, of course, because I cannot ever just be happy or sad about anything. I must feel multiple ways about the same thing!  I was happy because I came home and took a 45-minute walk in the gathering darkness along the bike path.  It is warm here in Iowa for November – about 72, but I could feel winter coming in random icy breezes that blew across my face.  It was so calm and beautiful on the lonely bike path.  Over the past few busy months, I forgot how important to your physical and mental health it is to GET OUTSIDE and MOVE.

After the walk I came home and ate supper with Tim.  He made homemade chicken & rice soup with homemade chicken stock.  It was super tasty.  Then we watched one episode of Seinfeld, and then I did the dishes, and then I laid down in bed to listen to this body scan meditation.  I really love it, but I almost always fall asleep to it, and last night was no exception.

That probably sounds like a pretty boring evening to a lot of people, but honestly that is my idea of a perfect night – exercise, good food, time to tidy up, and then someone to talk me to sleep.

Yet I was still a little melancholy about NOT teaching. I felt bad not living up to my commitment.  Also one of my students in my biweekly Saturday morning class told me she was sad to see the Monday night class go because she really enjoys my classes, and that one fit with her schedule.  I am sorry to disappoint my students too!

But I made the right call, I know.  I have to take time to take care of myself. I very very easily get overwhelmed, even when it is with positive stuff that I love to do.  We’ll see how this simplified schedule goes and then take it from there. I think what I really need to do is get my boss to let me work 32 hours/week so that I have more time for all my interests and hobbies and learning. :)

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Kefir Fail

Pride goeth before a fall.  I wrote a nice, long post about how amazing my kefir was and then guess what I did.  Well, I was trying to do a double ferment on a batch of kefir, so I had 1 quart jar full of the first ferment and 1 quart jar full of the second ferment.  When I got up in the morning, one of the jars had completely separated into curds and whey and the other one was just slightly separated.  I stirred both jars to recombine the milk, but the kefir in one of the jars seemed really thin.  I’ve noticed that when I put the grains in the fridge (so I can take a break from fermenting), the first batch that comes from those refrigerated grains does not have the normal thick consistency, and the kefir is not very tangy.

So I decided to toss what I thought was the second ferment. As I poured it into our very unsanitary kitchen sink, my heart sank when I saw I just dumped out the first ferment – grains and all.  My beautiful kefir grains were just laying there in the bottom of the sink.

I kind of view the kefir grains as living beings, so I always try to treat them gently and kindly.  Not only was I upset that I just ended my ability to make kefir, but I felt really sad that I just killed the grains.  What did they ever do to me except make delicious, healthy kefir???

To salvage what I could, I scooped the grains out of the sink and added them to our compost bin.  At least our compost will get a healthy dose of probiotics.  The worms will probably love it.

I ordered another batch of grains from Amazon, and they should arrive today.  I will be more careful with this set!  $6.99 down the drain – literally.  Boo!!!

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Adventures in Kefir

If you read any articles or blogs about the paleo or primal lifestyle, you no doubt have read about the benefits of fermented foods.  They are the bees knees for the gut and therefore for the brain.  In an effort to get more of these beneficial probiotics into my system, over the past year I have experimented with jun, water kefir and milk kefir.

I received a jun scoby from a YTT friend of mine.  It looked very alien – an amorphous, white blob with floating tendrils.  I made some green tea, added some honey, and the blob went to work. It produced a lightly sweet, mostly tangy, slightly fizzy concoction.  The flavor of it was good, especially initially. However, the scoby grew faster than the size of my container.  Pretty soon the scoby was fermenting the jun so quickly that by the time I got around to drinking it, it was VERY tart and tasted more like apple cider vinegar than green tea with honey.

However, I kept drinking it, convinced by everything that I’ve read that I was doing my body good.  Then I started to notice that I was getting rough, dry patches on my upper lips.  At first I thought it was just dry skin, but then I noticed it was EXACTLY in the place where a glass meets my lips. I tossed my ancient Sigg bottle, assuming that the lining had failed and was aggravating my lips.  Nothing changed.  I bought some Abreva, thinking maybe I was getting cold sores.  Nothing changed.  Finally I stopped drinking the jun.  Problem solved!

In my unscientific experiment of n = 1, here is what I think happened.  The jun was SO vinegary that it was burning my lips!  I can only imagine what it was doing to my stomach. I ended up giving my monster jun scoby away and moved on to something more familiar  – water kefir.

A couple of years ago, I had experimented with water kefir grains from Cultures for Health.  I guess I should back up.  To make water kefir, you take filtered water, add sugar, add water kefir grains, and a day or two later, you have a fermented water beverage.  You can then add some juice to that fermentation (after you filter out the grains) to make an even fizzier second fermentation.

My first experiment with water kefir was frustrating and did not consistently produce tasty water kefir.  However, after my jun experience, I decided to try again.  This time I bought grains from Amazon, a reseller for

These grains were amazing!  In the beginning I followed the instructions on poseymom’s website and added A LOT of black strap molasses to the water. The grains loved the minerals and doubled in size with every batch. However, even though the grains were healthy, neither Tim nor I were huge fans of the molasses flavor in the kefir.  So I cut down the molasses to about 1/2.  The grains still did well, but the taste was much more mild.  I started to produce super fizzy, very delicious water kefir.

After several months of creating water kefir, I ran out of my Brer Rabbit Blackstrap Molasses and could not find any bottles anywhere, so I bought a different brand.  I *think* that is what caused my issue, but I’m not sure. The grains started to fall apart and change color.  They were not fermenting like they used to. I didn’t like the smell, so I tossed them, intending to buy a fresh batch.

However, I soon noticed that within a few days of not drinking water kefir, I lost about 3 stubborn pounds.  Despite eating the same way I have for the past 3.5 years, I had put on a few pounds. I had attributed it to getting older and maybe allowing more non-paleo cheats.  But once that weight came off, my second very unscientific conclusion is that the water kefir must have still had quite a bit of sugar/carbs in it, and that’s what was pushing my weight up.  I did some research on the internet, and it sounds as if water kefir can drive up yeast in the body.  So not all people react well to it.  Some women even reported getting more yeast infections when they drank water kefir.

So I decided to move on to milk kefir.  I had also tried making that several years ago with powdered grains from Greatest Grains.  It did not turn out AT ALL.  So I went back to, since I had such good results from her grains.

When I got the little pouch (6.99 from Amazon), I was a little disappointed in the tiny amount of grains in the package.  But I followed the instructions on the website and added them to about 2 cups of cheap milk.  After 12 hours, I poured the milk out and put the grains in a fresh batch.  I did this maybe one or 2 more times before putting the grains in some whole fat organic milk. I set the jar on a seeding mat to speed up the fermentation process.

Every 12 hours now I have a batch of tangy, slightly fizzy, thick milk kefir.  It is super delicious and filling.  Our only complaint is, is it so thick that you waste a lot of product on the inside of the jar and glass.

The process is incredibly easy.  Every 12 hours, I get out a clean glass jar and add 2 cups of whole milk. I then get the fermented milk off the seeding mat and give it a good stir with a plastic chop stick (you can’t use metal with milk kefir).  The kefir needs to be stirred because it starts to separate into curds and whey when it ferments.

Then I get out a plastic strainer and strain the milk kefir into a clean, empty jar.  The kefir is quite thick, so I use the chop stick to stir the milk in the strainer, being careful to not break up the kefir grains.  I then dump the grains into the fresh milk.  I have a pretty small strainer, so I have to repeat this process 3 or 4 times to process all the kefir.

I then use a rubber band to attach a coffee filter to the top of the jar with the new milk and grains in it, and set it on the seeding mat.  I give the kefir in the other jar a good stir, cap it with a plastic lid, and put it in the fridge.

We’ve been drinking the kefir for 2 or 3 weeks now, and so far I have not noticed any weight, skin, or stomach issues.  Tim and I both really love the taste and consistency.  We will see how long these grains last before I end up accidentally killing them.  Oh!  And one more thing I should mention.  If you need to go out-of-town, or if you are just producing more kefir than you can handle, you can put the grains in milk in the fridge, and the grains will basically hibernate.  When you return home, give the milk a stir, set the jar on the seeding mat, and 12 hours later you will be back in business.

I may get adventurous and make a little video showing the process because I know that would have been helpful to me.

Hope you have a fabulous Monday!! If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. :)

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On Death of Dogs and Friends

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. I legitimately have a good excuse this time, however.  It’s literally been an insane month.  On 9/8 we had to put our pet chihuahua, Lucent, to sleep.  He was 18 years old, so he had a good, long life.  But that doesn’t make it any easier to let him go.  It was the Thursday or Friday before Labor Day weekend that we noticed that he wasn’t feeling good. He threw up some eggs I gave him, and then after that he basically stopped eating.  We couldn’t get him to even eat bacon, which was one of his favorite things EVER (next to Tim).  His back legs started collapsing, so Tim had to hold up his back end so he could use the bathroom.

But Lucent has had rough spells before, and after a few days, he would start to pull through.  But this was different.  He just kept getting weaker and weaker.  He slept with us Sunday night, and each time that I rolled over, I felt him to make sure he was still breathing.  On Monday we cuddled him all day and made a cozy nest for him on Monday night in our living room.  We covered his bed with my childhood blanket that he loved, and surrounded his bed with pee pads just in case.

We woke up Tuesday morning, and he was still with us, but we knew that meant we had to make a decision. I emailed my coworkers and told them that I was staying home that day.   I spent the morning crying with Lucent laying on my chest. Tim’s work is super short-staffed, so he did his short morning shift, and then we took Lucent to the vet.

They told us what we already knew.  Lucent was ready to move on.  It was time.

I’ve lost all my grandparents and some close friends, but I have never been as sad as I was that day, in that room.  I was surprised because I thought I was ready. I thought I was ready to move on. Lucent and I had had a long, long relationship. I thought I had come to terms with him moving on to puppy heaven.  But I hadn’t.  He was a third of our family for 18+ years, and it was a lot harder to let go than I thought.

And it was even harder for Tim. He and Lucent were soul mates – almost literally attached for the past several years.  Lucent was just happiest tucked into Tim’s arm, or on Tim’s lap, or under Tim’s shirt.  They were inseparable.  Seeing Tim in so much pain was almost as hard as losing Lucent.

We had several good, long years with Lucent, and I am very grateful for them.  As with any death though, after it happens, you are riddled with guilt. I wish I would have pet him more, held him more, been more patient with him being under my feet EVERY time I was cooking, gave him more bacon, let him HAVE my child hood blanket (I stole it back a few times).  I wish I would have done so much more to make his final months and years super happy and pleasant and loving.  I know he had a really good life and was a very happy, content puppy until the very end, but I still wish I would have done more and been less selfish.  I was looking forward to being dog-free and to the freedom and flexibility that would offer, but it ended up being a bitter reward in the end.

If you know anyone who has lost a pet, please don’t underestimate the pain that person is experiencing. I know I ALWAYS have up until this point. Now I understand.  Every card and call and hug means so much at a time like that.

So that happened.  And then 3 days after that a friend & coworker attempted suicide. And then a week after that, he attempted again and succeeded.  I didn’t cry for him like I did for Lucent. I think I was/am still a little numb and spent.  We went to his funeral today, and now I am tired and feel like shopping. I think my brain is craving the endorphin rush from buying things.

So that’s been my month. I am SO craving getting back to normality.  We are also starting another primal challenge, and I’m looking forward to getting my nutrition/exercise/sleep back in line.  Because of the craziness we haven’t been eating or drinking right, and my anxiety is starting to pop back up again. I need a re-set.

Hope your month has been happier than mine, and here is to fresh starts and happier times!


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On Trying New Things

It’s been an absolutely bonkers-good weekend.  I’m going to tell you all about it, so I hope you want to hear it. :)

It started off by taking Friday off and going to a WATERPARK!! Yes, I am 38 years old, and yes, I arranged for a group of adults to go to a waterpark with absolutely no children. It was just grown adults, enjoying the sun, the slides, and the joyful vibes.  It was super, duper fun. It reminded me so much of going to our local waterpark, Wacky Waters, when we were younger.  The park was even playing music from the 90s.

Saturday started off well as well with beautiful, fall-ish weather. We took advantage of the weather and did a quick 16 mile bike ride in the morning. On Friday morning, I had taken my Luna sandals out for a quick jog/sprint session, and I think the sprints totally increased my aerobic capacity!  We did the 16 mile ride very fast, and I even got Queen of the Mountain on Main Street Hill, which means I’m the fastest girl up that hill.  And I HATE hills!  But I power boosted right up that one.  ALL HAIL QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAIN.

Saturday afternoon Mom and I did our first joint venture – Relax, Renew, and Brew.  It was hosted by an awesome micro-brewery in Rock Island, IL, Radicle Effect Brewerks.  They reserved their whole back room for us and even brought in snacks and offered us drink specials.

I opened the class with a 3o minute mostly-seated yoga sequence.  I did a bunch of reading on asanas that enhance creativity. I found that the sacral chakra is the root of creativity, so postures that work your center are supposed to raise the vibration of that chakra.  I started with a creativity intention-setting mediation and then moved into some postures.  We did some seated torso rotations, seated pigeon, and then moved to standing postures where we did some wrist therapy (to loosen up our wrists for the subsequent painting extravaganza).  Once standing we also did some hip circles (which looked as if we were hula hooping with invisible hula hoops), and then we did a visualization where we place our hands right below our belly button and envision bright orange light emanating from our hands.

Once the yoga was finished we moved right into the painting portion of the class, taught by Mom. She taught people how to paint circular designs on rocks, using a series of circles or dots. Maybe it was Mom’s excellent teaching, or maybe it was my excellent yoga-ing, but everyone’s rocks turned out really beautiful and individualistic. Not one stone looked like another, but they were all beautiful.

It was so much fun working with my mom and hanging out with friends and loved ones, creating some artwork and having good conversation.

And today was just a good.  A friend of mine introduced me to a friend of hers who is also a yoga teacher.  This friend, Emilene, practices a version of yoga called Adamantine. With this type of yoga, you practice a series of 20 postures with a specific breath count.  The sequence is meant to be done first thing in the morning Monday – Saturday.  Emilene was kind enough to introduce me to the sequence and to share her book with me. I’m super jazzed to try it.  I don’t have time to drive to Moline for yoga every day, so I really need to practice at home. However, when I have to consciously focus on what asana to do next, it makes the practice much less meditative for me.  So I really like the idea of doing the same thing every day and just perfecting each pose daily.  I’m excited to learn more about it.

After meeting with Emilene, Tim and I took advantage of yet another gorgeous day and went disc golfing. We had SUCH a great time.  Despite the blusteriness of the day, we both played well.  It was super nice to be outside, walking on the grass, enjoying the late-summer sunshine.

And let me just give a shout out to my Luna sandals.  They make me so happy!  I love feeling the grass between my toes, and they make running so much more enjoyable. I run on the grass next to the bike path. I enjoy feeling the unevenness of the Earth beneath my feet.  They are great just for walks and casual wearing too. My feet are getting tan, and they really enjoy being able to breathe more. They told me so.

We tied up the day with an excellent home-cooked meal of sweet fire pork chops, baked kale chips (coated with parmesan and nutritional yeast), and grilled red size B potatoes.  And now we are sitting out in the back yard – me wrapped in the blanket my mom made me 30+ years ago, writing a blog post, and Tim reading the Mistborn Triology and cuddling with Lucent. Life is good.

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Cities, Sandals, and Self Confidence

Wow. That’s a lot of topics to cover in a blog post, especially since all of us have no attention span anymore due to the being constantly overstimulated. I will try to just hit the highlights. I really need to start writing more so that I don’t need to cover a novel’s worth of updates in each post.

1.  Cities.  We just returned from a 5-day epic journey to NYC.  We drove the Fusion out on Wednesday and returned on Sunday.  We brought along our Supremely Ancient Chihuahua, Lucent. It definitely made the trip more cumbersome, but it had its upsides too.  Because L has to pee about every 75 minutes, we were forced to take frequent breaks. This is bad for making good time, but good for blood flow.  Getting out of the car and stretching legs is definitely a healthier way to travel for 17 hours.

Also, having L in the car made me more appreciative of the times where L ISN’T in the car.  Despite weighing about 7 lbs, he could rival a 150 lb beast in the stench department. He is one smelly monster.  We could tell whenever he woke up from a nap because the whole car would be pervaded by the rankness of his maw.  When he was younger, we would get his teeth cleaned regularly which really helped the smell. He is so frail now though that he wouldn’t survive the procedure.  Whew.  So smelly.

NYC was just as I remembered – lots of gum-pocked sidewalks, inconsiderate drivers, and garbage skittering everywhere, mixed with delicious food, friendly locals, and gorgeous beaches and hiking trails.  NY is a mixed bag.

We had a great time though since we got to see our family, meet the friends of our family, and spend some time outside on the beach and in the hills above the Hudson.  But, man oh man, were Tim and I ever so happy to roll back into green Iowa again.  Our house seems so cozy and luxurious now!

2. Sandals. I finally bought a pair of barefoot running sandals – Lunas.  I’ve been reading lately that flip flops are really bad for your calves and low back (you need a strap around the heel to prevent shortening of the achilles tendon), so I wanted to find some sandals for the summer that I could also run in. I have barefoot Merrels that I love, but my feet, even without wearing socks, still get super hot in them.  I heard of these sandals via Born to Run and also a trail running group I belong to on FB.

I got them 2 days before our trip, so I broke them in in the City.  Despite walking and/or biking for several miles each day of our trip, they held up REALLY well.  My feet did not get any more sore than they do in regular shoes, and they stayed a lot more comfortable temp-wise.

Today I added the optional ankle strap and took them out for a 3 mile run on the grass next to the Duck Creek Bike Path.  I LOVED them.  It’s so pleasant to feel the grass slipping between your cool toes as you run over the Earth.  My only struggle is that my feet make a really loud slapping sound on the concrete. I think I need to work on my barefoot running form.  I think I need to run more on the balls of my feet instead of slapping down from the heel.

3.  Self-Confidence.  I’ve been teaching yoga now twice/week for about 4 weeks.  As I’ve mentioned, I always really enjoy my Wednesday 5:30AM class.  I just feel more comfortable and relaxed than I do on Monday nights. Plus, the class is 15 minutes shorter, so I have fewer asanas to conjure up.

I think a huge part of it is that my Wednesday morning class is more interactive.  We chat more, and the students smile at me more.  I’ve found that if I don’t get a lot of positive feedback from the people in my class, I feel as if I’ve taught a boring class.  I feel that way even knowing that often times people enjoy the class – they are just focused on getting packed up and back home as soon as possible.

I’m hoping that with more practice, I will gain confidence in my ability to teach a good class. I want to always enjoy the class without needing everyone to say, “Great class!” when they leave.

I also am concerned about my ability to keep my classes fresh because there are only so many postures that I can do (and therefore that I feel comfortable teaching).  My  current playbook is pretty skimpy right now.  I bought one of Sadie Nardini’s teaching programs, and I need to make the time to start watching that so that I can continue to bring something fresh and interesting to each class.

Oddly, I also feel my confidence zapped when I attend a class taught by one of my fellow YTTers.  They are SUCH good teachers!! I am so impressed with them and feel as if there is no way my class can be that good.  Why can’t I just be appreciative of their talents without feeling as if it diminishes mine??  I obviously have some work to do on my ego!

And there you go.  That’s my update.  I hope you are having a fabulous summer – getting outside, riding your bike, taking some runs, spending time with friends and family, traveling to new places, eating delicious food.  Take care, and thank you for reading!!

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One week down…

I taught my first evening class on Monday. It was an hour and 15 minute long all-levels vinyasa class. I borrowed (aka stole) a sequence from our Yoga Sequencing book. It was chock full of sun salutations, so I figured it was a good basic sequence that would cover all the bases.

I had 5 people show up, which is not too shabby for a brand new class and for a summer evening.  To be honest, I felt as if I struggled a bit at first getting into a flow.  About 1/2 way through, though, I started to loosen up and go off-script, and then I really started to enjoy myself. It seemed as if the class started to enjoy it more too. I think that’s a good lesson – the less tied to a written plan you are and the more extemporaneous you are, the better the class will be.  You can be more nimble and responsive when you’re not tied to your notes.

I used the same sequence for my 5:30AM class yesterday.  I had to tweak it a bit, of course, because this was just a 60 minute class. Plus I only had 2 people there which allowed me to do some experimenting.  I read this article a few weeks ago, and I was very intrigued by the balloon exercise. To me it seemed to really illustrate how to keep your core engaged during exhales AND inhales.  Since we had such a small class, I was able to try it out. I’m not sure the students thought it was super enlightening, but I think they thought it was fun to do something different. :)  We did a lot of that kind of stuff – just trying out different ways to get into asanas to see what works and doesn’t work for the particular body and day. It was fun and interactive.  At least I thought it was fun!  And they both said they will be back, so they must have enjoyed it a bit too.

That is SUCH a good feeling when people leave your class with smiles on their faces.  SUCH a good feeling.

I taught another lunch-time yoga class at work today too.  We started with some gentle breathing and then moved on to stretches and twists and a couple of standing postures.  We ended with a Gratitude Meditation, where you focus on someone that is indispensable to your joy and happiness. You steep your body in those positive emotions for the 5-7 minutes in savasana (which since this was a corporate class, involved sitting in a chair with your hands in your lap and your eyes shut).  During savasans, I gave everyone a very brief shoulder massage. I put orange essential oil on my hands (a tip from one of my Teachers!) and placed my hands by their face first.  As we ended the class, I shared this article with everyone.  I encouraged them to take 2 minutes every day to write down 3 very specific things for which they are grateful.  The reasoning is that doing this for 21 days will help rewire the brain to look for the positive instead of the negative in life.

The attendees (7 of them) really seemed to enjoy the class. I think 1 or 2 of them may end up trying out my class at Indigo.  Again, I felt so happy after the class.  It was so nice to be able to improve someone’s day.

So it’s been a good week of teaching so far.  Again, I’m afraid of blowing my wad too early. What if I run out of ideas??  What if I can’t think of anything new, different, or interesting to say in class??  But I just need to chill the f@ck out and have faith that fate or God or the universe will help me discover interesting tidbits each week to keep my classes fresh.

What do you like in your yoga classes?  What keeps you coming back?  If you’re a teacher, how do you keep your classes fresh and interesting?


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Teaching for Realsies

Well, I did it.  I finally worked up the courage to talk to the owners of Indigo about letting me teach.  We settled on a Monday night class at 6:30PM and a Wednesday morning class at 5:30AM.  Yes, I typed that correctly, 5:30AM.  I want to teach at that time because that is the time that I want someone to teach me!  The only 5:30AM classes at Indigo are at the hot studio, and I’m still a little suspicious and distrustful of my ability to maintain 100% consciousness at the hot studio. So I wanted to give other early risers like me the option of non-hot yoga before work.

I’ve only taught one class so far.  I had 3 students – a very intimidating audience made up of my husband, my YTT friend Angela, and my friend from work, Beth.  The class went well overall.  I started it off with some seated meditation and some gentle twists.  I wanted to give people a chance to wake up a bit before doing anything too vigorous.  The rest of the class was made up of the usual suspects – sun salutations, wide legged folds, lunges, back bends, etc.  I didn’t really have a “theme” for this class; I just tried to find asanas that are good for waking up the body.  But I found that I missed having a story to tell about the class. It adds a nice bit of cohesiveness and direction.

Initially I am planning on doing a little experimentation to see what works – both for people who come and for myself.  Right now I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the possibilities and options – should I focus on a certain body part?  a certain “type” (soulful yoga)?  breath work?  athletic?  calming?  I know it’s important to build your “brand,” so that people who come to your class know what they are getting themselves into.  But I’m afraid that if I settle into my “thing” too soon, I will end up doing the same kind of class over and over again.  Maybe my thing can be experimental yoga – people can come to my classes to learn a little something new each week.  That would encourage me to keep reading and learning about yoga too.

We will see how it goes.  My sequence for next week was stolen directly out of our Yoga Sequencing book.  But I figured that’s legit because the writer was putting it out there as an example.  I figured I would try teaching someone else’s sequence and compare that to how the students and I feel when I teach one I develop completely myself.

The class I taught on Wednesday morning was an Hlo original.  The people who came (who are all friends and loved-ones, mind you), said it was good.    I felt a little choked at first – the words just didn’t want to flow out of me.  Was I nervous even though I had such a kind audience??  It had been a couple of weeks since I had taught, and I’m hoping that was the cause of my nervousness.  Hopefully teaching every 3 days or so will help me improve exponentially.

If you are a yoga teacher, please give me some advice on how you come up with class ideas and how you end up finding the voice and style that works for you!

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