Primal Reboot – Week 1

I am doing another Primal Challenge with a few friends.  Summer, counter-intuitively, always means weight gain for me.  Why?  Because even though we are outside more and get more exercise in, we are also biking to the brewery or to lunches consisting of famous Iowa tenderloins and hand-cut fries.  Even a 2-hour bike ride stands no chance against a couple of drinks and nachos.

We started the Challenge on Monday.  My main goals for the challenge are:  1) No alcohol for 21 days, 2) Meditate for at least 10 mins daily, and 3) Walk outside for at least 30 mins daily.  You may think  that these are not exactly “stretch” goals for someone who is pretty healthy.  But, trust me, they are!  Between working full-time, teaching yoga part-time, prepping for the classes, sleeping, eating, continuing my movement education, etc., my days get really full.  I have not been doing a good job of prioritizing the behaviors that I preach in my yoga classes.  Also, I’ve fallen into the habit of having 1-2 drinks each night.  So that is what I’m mainly tackling this go-around.

I have been doing really well so far!  No drinks for 7 days means my stomach is flatter (less bloated), and my sleep quality has VASTLY improved.  While I do not drink copious of alcohol and rarely ever get drunk, I know that alcohol really affects hormone levels (it’s pro-estrogenic), thus negatively affecting your risk of breast cancer.  It also saps my evening productivity something fierce!  I listened to a podcast with James Swanwick, and his experience going alcohol-free really made me question the innocuousness of my habit.  For some additional information on the effects of alcohol, check out this post written by James.

Prioritizing walking and meditation has also made me re-vamp my morning routine.  While I would love to read articles online for an hour each morning while drinking my coffee, instead, I drink one coffee, hop in the shower, go for a walk, and then meditate, and then eat breakfast and then go to work.  If I don’t take care of these two goals in the morning, the day escapes me.

Walking in the morning as the sun comes up is a beautiful way to start the day.  I love hearing the wind in the trees and watching the light slowly illuminate the neighborhood.  It’s also a good test of my proprioceptive skills, and I have to be cautious of ancient sidewalks dipping and rising unexpectedly.

And meditation.  Wow.  Lately I have been feeling more calm, less reactive, and more joyful.  Is it the meditation?  Is it because work is not really stressful right now? Is it because I am teaching more (which I love)?  Is it because I am sleeping better?  That’s the problem with changing multiple behaviors at the same time. I don’t have a control group. 🙂  I think it’s the meditation though – it trains me to take that second breath before reacting which gives me time to observe my instinctual response and reflect on whether it’s really necessary.  What story am I telling myself that is causing me to get fired up?  Is there another reasonable story that will help me maintain my equanimity?  Oh, I still get fired up, but at least now I am more aware of it, and it’s a *slightly* more conscious reaction.

There you have it, Primal Reboot Week 1.  If you are interested in learning more about the Primal Challenge, check out this link, or hit me up in the comments with questions.

Hope you have a fabulous Sunday and can get out and enjoy the crisp sunshine and crackling leaves.

Take care,

-Hlo

Meditation – Hlo Style

I’ve been dabbling in meditation off and on for the past four years or so.  Over that time frame I have discovered and rediscovered some things that I really love and that seem to work for me.  I think that all of us humans are different, though, so the style of meditation that really floats my boat may do nothing for you. But here is what I’ve found works for the best for me.  Try some of these out, and let me know what you think in the comments!

The simplest form of meditation is focusing on your breath – breathe in/belly rise, breathe out/belly fall.  This is a very relaxing form of meditation, but when it’s self-directed (e.g. Heather is telling Heather to breathe in and breathe out), Heather gets distracted and starts thinking about brushing her teeth or which Moleskin she is going to buy next or how dirty the floor is.

And that is why I am a big fan of led meditations.  And fortunately with the advent of computers and smart phones and apps, there is a plethora of options to choose from.  Here are some links to my current meditation tool-set.

  1.  Dharma Ocean 10 Points Meditation.  This somatic (body-based) meditation focuses your mind on different parts of the body.  It helps keep my attention focused, while at the same time allowing me to consciously relax tension that I am unconsciously holding.
  2. Yoga Nidra.  I LOVE yoga nidra.  This is the thing that sparked my interest in yoga 5-6 years ago.  With this style of meditation, the mind’s awareness is drawn methodically through different areas of the body in an almost hypnotic fashion.  I love to listen to this type of meditation before I go to sleep.  Here is a link to a couple of different yoga nidras:
    1. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/a-short-yoga-nidra
    2. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/a-long-yoga-nidra
    3. Google “Yoga Nidra,” and I bet almost anyone you find will be delightful.
  3. Insight Timer.   This is an amazing free app that has a TON of different meditations.  You can search for a specific type (yoga nidra, loving-kindness, etc.), or you can scroll through and look for ones that sound interesting.  It has meditations of several different lengths, so if you only have 5 minutes, scroll for 10 seconds, sit or lay down, and meditate for 5 minutes.  There are a lot of led meditations by British people, and that accent just really does it for me. 😉  The app also gives you the ability to connect with others meditating in your area, which forms a nice, non-intrusive meditation community.
  4. Design of the Body podcast.  For ~30 mins, Dr. Donna Embree  walks you through a meditation where you breathe up from the earth, drawing energy through all your chakras, balancing then and tuning in to your body’s “dashboard.”  This meditation is a little bit “woo-woo,” but when I do it (usually while taking a walk), I feel more centered and grounded. If you listen to this one, try to have an open mind and let go of judgement, and I think you will enjoy it.
  5. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
    1. Body Scan – 32 minute version.
    2. Body Scan – 20 minutes version.
  6. 8 Minute Meditation Guide.  This is the first book I bought on meditation.  If you do not want to go the “led” route, this book will teach you several different forms of mediation which you are encouraged to practice for just 8 minutes a day for a week.  My personal favorites are loving-kindness and body scan, but I got value from all of them.

Obviously I really love body-based meditations.  🙂

Hopefully you found this information helpful. If you get on Insight Timer, look me up, so we can support each other in our meditation practice.

Take care, and have a fabulous Labor Day!  Thanks for reading!

Summer in Iowa

How do you know it’s summer in Iowa?  Well, I just spent 30 minutes cutting up kale, zucchini, summer squash, potatoes, onions, and watermelon.  Tim is grilling the potatoes and onions (check me out on Instagram for picture proof), and the rest of the menagerie is going into the fridge for eatin’ later on.  We joined a CSA this summer, and several batches of wilted greens and shriveled squash has taught me that if I don’t cut up the veggies IMMEDIATELY, they are a lost cause.

It’s amazing that I am actually accomplishing anything today.  We returned home from Fort Collins, Co last night around 8:30PM, so today is our recup day. Does everyone need a recup day after vacation, or is that just me?  Regardless, I did some Heather self-care today to prepare myself for my strenuous one-day work week tomorrow.  Self-care for me looks like rolling out my abdominals with the Corgeous ball, taking an epsom salt bath, and listening to the Design of the Body podcast whilst walking along Duck Creek.  Oh, and shopping online. 🙂  We didn’t get to do much shopping in Ft Collins, so I made up for it once I got home.

If you are like me, you are always interested in what other people are buying, so I will fill you in on the details.  For the past several months I have been looking for a wristlet that will fit the essentials – cards, ID, phone, chapstick, pen, and keys.  My sister-in-law introduced to me to Haiku. I really like their designs and their philosophy, so I ordered the Stride wristlet. I will let you know what I think once I receive it and put it through its paces. I know you are on pins and needles.

I’m going to another Yoga Tune Up® class next week – Breath and Bliss, taught by Jill Miller.  We are supposed to bring our own yoga mats, but I don’t want to travel with my full size Manduka (although I totally love it), so I bought the travel version. It’s so light and thin that you can fold it up!  Hopefully it works well.

I also bought 3 different versions of wire-free bras. I love underwires, but some experts say they can cause a variety of issues, so I am widening my horizons and checking out some wire-free bras from Wacoal.  You can find a TON of wire-free options at Kohl’s and Target, but I tried on TEN different ones today, and they all gave me wide, pointy boobs.  Boo to wide, pointy boobs.  Wacoal bras are pricey, but they last forever, and they give a great shape.  Hopefully that hold true for their non-underwire versions.

That is my day back.  Riveting, isn’t it!?

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. 😉

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. 🙂

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!!!

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 poseymom.com.

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 poseymom.com, 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. 🙂

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!

 

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!!

The sickness of busyness

Ugh – boy do I have it.  Life lately has been rather insane.  Mostly it’s insane with good stuff – yoga teacher training, the yoga festival, meeting friends for supper, visiting the parents, doing yoga observation hours, exercising, reading, making water kefir, cooking, working on the garden, planting flowers. These are all things I love to do, but Jesus Christ, it all takes so much time!

And there is so much more that I WANT to do. So many more books to read, things to paint or draw, blankets and coozies to crochet, walks to take, podcasts to listen to, friends to keep in touch with, writing to do.  But I just don’t have time.  I really need to just quit my job.  That’s the only way to get my life back in balance again. 🙂  But, unfortunately, I don’t think that can happen any time soon.  There are too many classes I want to take, too many yoga clothes I want to buy, and too much eating out that I want to do.  Hopefully yoga will help me reign in all these wants, and I will eventually find that I have just enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that I need to do to make me happy.

ANYWAY, had another great day at YTT today.  We learned how to teach a stress management class that you can do in a corporate setting.  This is something that I am very interested in, since it’s the world I live in every day. I’m surrounded by people who are even more busy and more stressed out than I am, and I would love to get them a little relief.  These people SOOOOO need yoga. Well, everyone needs yoga, but these people that I care about and work with daily would be so much happier with some yoga in their lives.  I’m going to ask HR if I can do some free 30 minute lunch hour sessions. It will help me get my practice hours, and it will also help me gauge the level of interest at the bank for these kinds of things in the future.

The rest of the day was spent learning about how to use the wall to teach people correct alignment in asanas, learning about adjustments for certain postures, and in doing some practice teaching.  Oh, and in getting free strawberry plants, sugar cookies cut out in asana shapes, and handmade chapstick.  Awesome. This is the kind of people we have in our YTT group.

But now I am severely beat.  Severely. I ran this morning for 3 miles, which I used to do with regularity and almost without effect. However, I don’t run as much as I used to due to the aforementioned disease of business.  So when I do run, crap, am I ever beat afterwards!

Anyway, I hope you are having an excellent weekend!  Tell me, if the company you worked for offered free lunch-time yoga classes, would you go?  And if so, what would you want to learn/do??