Simply put, t’was a lovely day for a wedding!
Oh boy, what a weekend! I’m so filled with love and gratitude and excitement that I’m not even sure where to begin! But, on the flip side, I am completely exhausted from all the festivities of the last few days, so I’ll try to sum this up and make it quick.
This weekend one of my dear friends married his partner in a beautiful civic union celebration. There was love and fun all over the place!
Friday after work the grooms invited some of their friends for a casual bike ride around City Park in Denver. There was a whole group of us bikers (sorry Denver drivers, we were hogging the road and not obeying bike etiquette- a usual “no no” for me, but we were all giddy from the excitement of the upcoming wedding, so whatevs)
After a casual ride around the park, we went to the Denver Bicycle Cafe. I’ve been meaning to check this place out for a long time now, and it was awesome. They serve coffee and beer while servicing any bike needs you may have. Check, please!
They don’t serve food other than some chips and salsa, but you’re allowed to bring in food, so the grooms ordered pizza for everyone and we noshed and gulped for several hours on their outside picnic tables. Apparently they have quite the beer list as well, at least that’s what my husband told me. I’m not a beer drinker, but luckily, the Denver Bicycle Cafe had a little something in mind for me as well- they serve a red and white house Colorado wine on tap. Yes, please.
Overall, the evening was a perfect way to celebrate the upcoming wedding.
Saturday morning I had my obligatory monthly appointment with my hairstylist, hit up a yoga class and then prepped for the wedding fun.
The wedding- well, it was technically a “civil union” because Colorado still hasn’t legalized gay marriage (don’t get me started)- but I’m calling it a wedding dammit!- was held at a beautiful civic building conveniently located just a few minutes away from our house.
It was the perfect evening for a beautiful union of two beautiful souls. There was amazing wines, yummy food and a fabulous play list. I did A LOT of dancing. And this morning, I was reminded that I am not 21 anymore and cannot move my body (nor, apparently, dance in heels) the same way I could a few years ago. I felt like I had done Crossfit or something. Perhaps it was all the thrusting during “Milkshake”?
In any regard, I felt so blessed that I have these two friends in my life, and that they were able to celebrate their love in front of their families and loved ones. I wish them a lifetime of happiness and companionship!
So, there’s not much happening in YTT lately. Tonight we’re doing a workshop on more inversions- specifically handstands- can’t wait! So due to the lack of adventure, I thought I’d share a few things I’m loving today.
New Old Boots!
I have the kind of mother who has super cool, super hip and stylish friends. When one of them bought a pair of Frye boots that ended up being uncomfortable, she simply handed them off to my mom and told them to send them to Colorado. When I got home yesterday, I had a package in the mail- and let’s just say, the Easter Bunny came early with these bad boys. So this morning, I’m rocking a new, old pair of Frye ankle boots. (Which is odd, because I never wear ankle boots- I have some kind of weird mental rule that because I’m 5’2, I can’t wear ankle boots without them looking ridiculous on me). But these are recycled, so they’re cool.
Last Sunday, the husband and I met some friends at the super cool, super hip Denver vegetarian restaurant City O City. I don’t usually go here because the parking can be a bitch in that area, but I’m glad I braved it. This was our second time at this restaurant and it keeps getting better. It’s healthy-living-friendly, featuring vegan, vegetarian, organic and gluten-free items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And they also have a full liquor license. Which is usually
a requirement a bonus in my book. I ordered the savory, gluten-free vegetarian waffle. (I’ve been doing some research on eliminating gluten from my diet based on some physical and emotional junk happening with me, so I’m working towards ditching it from my diet and noticing how I feel- more to come on that later probaby)
Well, this waffle was so insanely delicious, with nutrient-rich roasted butternut squash, carrots and tomatoes, that I wolfed it down without even thinking to take a picture. But it was blog worthy, and apparently other people think so as well, because there are multiple google images for the City O City Savory Waffle. It’s the Cool Kid In Town.
People, grab your forks and knives and run quickly. Trust me- it NEEDS to be in your belly. (Vegans can ditch the cheese and sub in a vegan fondue!)
The final thing I’m digging this week is all the love and support that is pouring out from Facebook regarding the Supreme Court challenge to the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. While I don’t intend for this blog to ever touch on politics, I can say that it absolutely BLOWS MY MIND that it is 2013 and we are STILL DISCUSSING THIS ISSUE. What??????? Really????? It breaks my heart to see my homosexual friends and loved ones that have to FIGHT for acknowlegement of their love and commitment. Seriously people. Love is love. We need more of it in this world.
Tonight something glorious happened.
I felt like a normal, married woman. (ie: not crazed yoga maniac)
I had a dinner out with my husband. A real, old fashioned, dinner date with Tim.
We haven’t gone out since I’ve been in YTT. 6 weeks without a dinner date is rough- especially for us- this is not our usual. We love to explore new restaurants and Denver is always brimming with fabulous cuisine.
But for the past month and a half, I’m either hobbling home at 9:00 pm, exhausted and wolfing down some hummus and celery before I hit the hay- or I’m hobbling home at 9:00 pm….. Oh wait, we already ran that scenario.
Needless to say, we barely have time to discuss all things non-yoga-related. And frankly, this week, I’ve been a bit YYT-d out. We’re about halfway through the training. 8 more weeks to go (7 if you don’t include this coming weekend, which I don’t- but I’ll get to that)
So tonight I had a rare opportunity. Following my vinyasa class, I could
A: Go home, make the gluten-free, vegan kale-stuffed portabello mushrooms I had already prepped, do some discharge summaries from work that I’m behind on, review our taxes and do all the annoying, boring household married-life tasks that really need to be done. And, after all, what would a serious yogi do? I should go home, do all of the above, and then burn some incense, bust out a few restorative poses and om-myself to sleep.
B: Blow it all off, call my husband and tell him to meet me at one of our favorite restaurants.
Option B won.
And I have to applaud myself- excellent choice. I felt like a human again. We ordered some wine. I balanced out a
few bites of Tim’s cheese appetizer with gluten-free bread and a ginormous salad. Hey, A for Effort. We talked about everything- serious and non-serious.
When I got home, I felt refreshed. I have been a bit crabby this week and a bit tired of YTT. Every other yoga teacher I’ve talked to about this point in training usually responds with a sigh, “Oh yeah, the half-way mark…. It’s a doozy”
So in the next few days, I plan on blogging about this point in training. I may even share some deep, dark secrets about myself and why I got interested in yoga in the first place….Nah, just kidding, I don’t have any deep dark secrets (
that my college roommates already don’t know about).
But I do think that if I’m going to be honest and transparent about my journey with YTT, I’ll need to address the crabbiness that is This Week in Yoga Teacher Training.
So stay tuned.
And choose Option B. It’s where more fun and adventure reside.
Uh, I forgot about my blog.
Like, literally, this week, I forgot I had a blog.
It was the kind of week when work was completely overwhelming (on a side note, the way insurance companies manage mental illness in our country is beyond infuriating, but that’s another vent for another day)
This week, when I wasn’t fighting insurance companies on behalf of my patients, I was YTT-ing. We wrapped up Week 5 with more lectures on meditation and alignment. While meditation is not my strong suit, I find the alignment piece of YTT fascinating- that alignment is SO important in order to move the flow of energy through our body in the most therapeutic way.
(I also continued to be in awe of all the people in my training who are meditating on a daily basis. Good for them. I, on the other hand, have shit to do. Yogateachertraineefail.)
This week, my husband also was out of town, which meant I was a single mom to Gus- and transporting him daily to doggie daycare in between yoga teacher training, yoga classes, some social obligations and work- and was another reminder of why I don’t have kids. All you parents, and especially moms, have my respect. I can barely manage my dog. I even forgot to pack Gus his lunch yesterday for daycare- how terrible is that? Doggieparentingfail!
So that was my week. And on my way home from work yesterday, I called my mom to bitch about it all. That work can suck at times, and that I’m a YTT and doggie parent fail. But in typical Mom fashion, she did what she always does- reassured me that I was a capable human being and to be kind to myself- and that I was taking on a 50+ hours/week career plus YTT- and then she said “oh, and you started a blog- you are doing a lot!”
I hit my brakes ironically at a stop sign.
Oh, crap, I thought, I have a blog. I have to update that thing.
So where do I pick up?
Well, I will extol the importance of random acts of kindness. Yesterday one of my BFFs and colleauges left this bouquet of daffodils on my windshield.
How awesome is she and what did I do to deserve her? Friends like her always seem to know when you need a little something to make you smile at the end of the day.
Also, I will mention that today kicks off Week 6 of YTT. I am UUUBBBBERRR excited about our training today- twists, twists, twists.
The only things I love more than inversions (and we know how much I love inversions) are twists. Twists are one of the reasons I fell in love with yoga 11 years ago- twists make me feel AMAZING and are so therapeutic.
Twists help calm the central nervous system and more importantly, help compress and detoxify the internal organs.
And let’s face it, if you are a wine lover like me, you need all the detoxing help you can get. Twists literally wring you out like a sponge. Yummy!
I also find it fitting that we’ll be focusing on twists after my yoga teacher pointed out that we just morphed into a Chinese New Year a few weeks ago. 2013 is the Year of the Water Snake. While it’s hard for me to even type “snake” because I have an Indian Jones-like phobia of those things, it’s important to note that according to the Chinese zodiac, they aren’t menacing.
In fact, snakes go through the grueling process of shedding their skin. They reinvent themselves and transform. And it takes time, patience and sitting with turmoil at times. So we can learn a lot from them. Maybe this year, the Year of the Snake, is time for you to reinvent yourself. What are you wanting or needing to shed? And are you willing to twist and turn and experience the turmoil that is occasionally required to transform?
So that’s where I pick back up- daffodils and twists- visions of spring, yes?. Not a bad way to kick off the weekend.
Despite the fact that Denver is waking up to a spring snowstorm.
Have a lovely weekend!
Something amazing happened to me yesterday.
Someone hugged me. Twice.
I know, I know. I give and receive hugs ALL THE TIME. I am a touchy-feely person- probably to a fault. I’m not afraid to embrace a random stranger with a bear hug. Not a day goes by for me that doesn’t involve a hug. After all, hugs are the greatest- probably only trumped by chocolate, kale or a good laugh right? (for more reasons why we need hugs in our life, check out this article http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5756/10-Reasons-Why-We-Need-at-Least-8-Hugs-a-Day.html)
But yesterday I received the kind of hugs that you can feel for hours after. It had been a tough day at work. I was drained emotionally and physically, even before I crawled in to three hours of YTT. I probably looked checked out. I isolated in a corner on my mat hoping no one would notice me.
Hug # 1: Someone noticed me. One of my fellow yogis quietly sauntered over, touched my arm gently and gave me a hug while stating “you look like you’re having a hard day.” I don’t know this fellow trainee very well. But the fact that SHE NOTICED and came over to give me that message filled my heart with love and gratitude. She embodied the very notion that (I believe) one of our main goals in life is to let people know that YOU SEE THEM and that THEY MATTER.
Hug # 2: After training, my yoga teacher came over and simply embraced me (clearly I’m not a master at hiding my emotions- I must have walked into that studio with energy that screamed: “CAUTION: DISASTER AHEAD”)
She embraced me with such ferocity and authenticity that it was overwhelming. I could literally feel her attempting to transport healing energy and love into my body. I could energetically feel her attempts to fill me with peace in my heart space. It was intense.
But it got me thinking- while I’m a hugger, how often am I truly MINDFUL about my hugs? How often do I really set an intention to fill my hug recipient with love and peace? Because when you really stop and make your hug mindful and with pure intention, it can transcend darkness.
So I urge you to go forth and hug with intention. The next time you give someone a hug, really think about what you want them to FEEL, and the gifts you want to share with them- love, peace, freedom, or the message “I see you, you matter.”
Tonight’s post was going to be a confession of sorts. About how much I suck as a yoga teacher trainee. About how frustrated I felt with myself this weekend as YTT Week 3 started. Yeah, I know, even with all these “count your blessings” posts, I couldn’t help but feel pretty down on myself today.
It was a rough weekend for me, YTT-specifically. Saturday’s training kicked off Week 3 of 14. We spent the first three hours discussing and learning about the Yoga Sutras.
Basically, the Yoga Sutras are the Bible of Yoga. We are reading the foundational teachings, learnings, intentions, etc of our yoga practice. The sutras seek to describe why we practice yoga, the aim of yoga, and how we go about utilizing yoga as a way to eliminate or decrease mental suffering and increase joy.
This part of the day was FASCINATING. I was drinking it in. It reminded me of first year philosophy or sociology classes I took in college. It was a thought-provoking, intense educational experience.
The second part of the day did not go so well. We were discussing and practicing yoga nidra. Yoga nidra- basically- is a guided meditation (this is very much the Cliff Notes version). The aim of yoga nidra is to disengage the thought patterns that don’t serve us (Who has those? Everyone raise their hands!)
Basically you lay down, think of an intention for something you want to change in your life or visualize happening, and literally are guided through a hypnagogic state (ie: deep relaxation of which you are literally between worlds)….. Sounds great, right?
Well, unless you are me. I wanted Yoga Nidra to work for me. I had my intention all set. I had my props, I was, for all intents and purposes, ready for relaxation. I was ready to do this thing.
But I couldn’t. My teacher’s deep voice resonated in the room as we all began our yoga nidra practice. I tried to listen to his cues. But I became MORE anxious, not less. My mind was racing. 8 million thoughts were coming up. Then, I heard our teacher ask us to envision floating gently to the bottom of the ocean.
“What???” my conscious brain thought. “The bottom of the ocean? Who wants to be there???. Not me. I want to live, people! My life is pretty damn good!”
So my anxiety rose. I couldn’t breathe (frankly, who can at the bottom of the ocean?) And any state of relaxation dissipated. Of course, then came the snoring.
You know what I’m talking about. Whether it’s in final shavasnana, yoga nidra or meditation, someone starts snoring. Maybe if I was “better” at yoga, this wouldn’t serve as a distraction. But as soon as I start to hear the snoring, my mind tells me the following story:
“Do you hear that person snoring? They are soooooo über relaxed. How great would it be to be that person? Wait- what if you’re actually the person snoring and don’t even know it? Oh and by the way, did you add kale and pineapple to your grocery list? Because if you didn’t, you’ll forget and want it on Thursday and not have it in the fridge and will have to check the store hours for Whole Foods…. And then you may not have time to go to Whole Foods, but God forbid you have to get non-organic kale, because you know how many pesticides they use on conventional greens…and then you’ll die of cancer….”
(We in the mental health world call this GAD- or generalized anxiety disorder. In the yoga world, we just call this “the mind”.)
So yeah, this was my experience with yoga nidra. I didn’t relax, I got more anxious, and all I could think about was this person in the middle of the room snoring in bliss.
I packed up my mat and belongings quickly and bolted out of there ASAP. That night, I didn’t sleep. I just thought about what a failure at relaxing I was.
My problem was perpetuated this morning, when our meditation teacher (before launching in to a three hour lecture on pranayama, or breath work) asked us how our daily meditation practice was going. Gulp. Another fail. My meditation practice is non- existant unless you count the daily yoga classes I’m going to. But everyone else seemed to have these amazing “come to Jesus” moments through their own meditation practices. I slunk into my mat with embarassment.
The only thing I felt I had going for me was my physical asana practice. I have been going daily to yoga classes. But I haven’t been meditating daily. I haven’t switched my wine for Pellegrino- yet. I’ve had some fish tacos and haven’t been 100 percent vegetarian. I can’t even freakin’ relax during a guided relaxation exercise. I have been skimming my required readings as an afterthought before I go to bed.
I came home after my obligatory stop at Whole Foods to get previously mentioned kale, and decided to take advantage of the 60 degree weather by taking Gus for a long hike, during which I thought about what a YTT failure I was, and how I’d make my blog post about (sorry peeps- pity party on Vitadventure)
Then I was hit in the face with a load of bricks this evening. And by load of bricks, I mean wise friends. After a late afternoon yoga class, I met two of my favorite colleagues for a
glass of wine some sparkling water and work-ER, life- related venting. When I described what I’ve been up to lately, and then happened to mention what a YTT failure I was, my wise friends responded with the following observation.
“You can’t give 110 percent all the time. It’s not humanly possible. You give all day long at your job. You give everything to your patients. Something has to give. You’re only human”
I have a marriage, I have a dog. I have amazing friends and family. I have a full time career. I have patients that mean the world to me, whose physical and emotional health I’m very invested in. I give 100 percent in a lot of realms.
I started thinking. I would NEVER tell one of my own patients or future yogi students is that they suck because they aren’t doing everything 100 percent. So why am I doing that to myself?
Frankly, the quest for perfection is one of the most dangerous ideals in our culture. Sometimes we don’t have the time or energy to give 110 percent to every single thing in our life.
Sometimes we have to pick what area of our life gets the most energy at any given time…. whether it be our career, our family, our marriage, our pets, our bodies….and sometimes you have to skimp. Sometimes taking your dog for a walk in the park is more important than reading Chapters 3 & 4 in the Yoga Sutras.
And most of the time, laughing with dear, beloved friends (thank you Kristy and Justin) is more important than perfectionism. I could have spent my evening completing my requirements for YTT and work and been “perfect.” But if being perfect means neglecting my friends, I’m happy to do this – this life- imperfectly.