Category Archives: expectations of self

Defrost for freedom

Standard

images

 

[Written a few months ago, but certainly still relevant…]

Let It Go; A phrase as misunderstood and as misused as Be In the Moment.

Its December 26th, we can now say that Christmas has passed (unless you have gatherings continuing for the next week) and the calendar woefully reminds us that yet another year is over. Gone. Kaput. Though am not much for resolutions – let’ s be honest, they are just one more way we get in our own way – it seems like the notion of ‘Let It Go’ might be something to think about.

Recently I found myself talking to a friend who struggles with anxiety, encouraging her to let it go. Yes, its hard to do, but it is such an important step in our mental and emotional health as human beings — and in particular, as women. Just the whole hormonal rollercoaster of adolescence alone seems to make us hold on to things people have said or done ‘to us’.

Its simple concept, that can seem impossible – it can take an hour/day/month/years to achieve. And even then, every once in awhile whatever it was that you let go tries to sneak back into your consciousness. Almost as if ‘it’ is challenging your mental toughness, your ability to stand strong.

My strategy is to continue to take a step back from those situations that make me want to react negatively, or are hurtful, and ask ‘what about this situation is within my control?’. The answer is always the same – the only things I can control are my actions & words. Therefore, the best i can do is to check myself ‘what am I responsible for in this situation?’ ‘what words/actions did I choose?’ ‘ Is there a way to correct my actions/words/role in this situation?’.

The beauty of this plan is that (I believe) it can apply to many areas of life. Struggling with past relationships/situations? “What about _______ is within my control?” If its in the past — none of it is currently within your control, is it? You can acknowledge the memory, talk about it if needed, but at the end of it all you cannot go back and change your actions or role.

“What about my childhood was within my control?”

(In my opinion) Well, as children we are generally not in control – we trust the adults around us to make appropriate decisions for us. And sometimes the adults don’t always make (what we feel) are the right choices – they are human after all. Do you control the choices your parents made when raising you? Most likely the choices made had less to do with how your parents felt about you – and more to do with how they were raised (what they know) and what was going on in their own lives at the time.

Gettin’ Sweaty & Breathin’ Heavy 2013 (3)

Standard

UnknownOne of the reasons for starting this running habit, as listed in the first GSBH2013 post, was to change my commitment karma.    Without going into the gory details, lately there has been much analyzing of past relationships — which at some point always leans towards finger being pointed away from myself, aaaaaand then right back towards myself again.    At some point it seemed like this process of finger-pointing was a reason to feel like a bad person, a selfish person – but now am beginning to consider that perhaps this is human nature.  It’s hard to look at yourself and own your actions!

It seems trite to say that ‘running is a metaphor for life’, but it works for this runner.   The first 10K race is coming up (yipes…) and what I am certain of is that if I get my butt out the door for a run every other day the 10K will be doable.   Will it still be a physical challenge?  Yes.  But  the tools to be able to push through and do my personal best will be there at the ready.    Doing the exact same run every time will result in more of a physical and mental challenge on race day.   Striving for a longer distance every week will, with any luck, better prepare me mentally — and  my 45yr old body will have a better chance at stepping up to the challenge (keeping my fingers crossed that my body does not implode on race day….LOL).

In other words, the amount of commitment and energy put into training will be reflected likewise in the end result – both mentally and physically.   Apply that to relationships – the amount of commitment and energy put into relationships (of all kinds) will be reflected likewise in the other persons commitment and willingness to step up.

It must also be said that as we age we realize that our bodies are not always able to step up to our level of commitment.   Teaching dance and learning about sport has taught me that sometimes our physical ability doesn’t always match our level of commitment.  When that happens we need to take a step back and evaluate, is there another way to accomplish this goal with this body?   Or do I need to let it go and move  new direction?

Sometimes you can put energy and commitment into a relationship – and no matter what you do it isn’t reflected back likewise.   Those are the moments when you need to take a step back and reevaluate – not just your actions and/or the other persons actions, but consider if it is realistic to pursue this particular relationship.  Letting go is the hardest part – but sometimes its necessary for one’s own well-being and survival in this crazy world.

Actions truly do speak louder than words – and letting go is an action that speaks volumes about one’s commitment to self-worth.

images

Quotes from John Stanton’s Facebook page (founder of The Running Room):

“Commitment… being loyal to your goal and accountable to yourself.”

“To define who you are and what you mean to yourself …go for a run.”

Am running to a huge playlist that surprises me at every step and interval.  LOVE when this song kicks in.

Gettin’ Sweaty & Breathin’ Heavy 2013 (2)

Standard

155680_566834896670105_1464338912_nThere seems to be something to this whole running business.  Over the past month I have managed to run 3x a week (every other day) and have progressed from 4.3 K to almost 7K.

And the scary thing is  — running feels good.  In my first post I mentioned the reasons why I am doing this running challenge and I have to say that I feel like it is actually helping.

Maybe its a control thing.

Though I cannot control the process of grief  –  I can control whether or not I drag myself out the door for a run.    I can also attempt to change how I am feeling into something positive through running (hello endorphin kick!).

Though I cannot control the actions of others – I can control my actions and how I choose to let go of the resentment.  When I run it feels like all of these emotions are my fuel – turning them into positive energy to be burned off and rinsed away.

We have all thought it and said it before, Life can be hard.   Somedays it is all we can do to put one foot in front of the other.  Running seems to be a good way to put this into physical practice on a regular basis – and what I know for sure is that anything you practice regularly becomes habit.  And this is a habit that can make the difference between giving up and  persevering through any situation.

Recommendations:

Good shoes do not have to be expensive – but do have a physiotherapist have a look at them to make sure that the fit and support is good.  This goes a long way in preventing injuries over time.

Ladies buy  yourself a skort.  Love it!

Buy a running hat –  Mine isn’t fancy but its a source of inspiration and keeps me thinking forward while covering my sweaty, dirty hair.

Runkeeper App – LOVE  THIS APP!   Keeping track of distance, pace, time, even heart rate (if you have a monitor) can be very motivating.  It also will email you when you achieve a new goal.

Races – A friend and I have signed up for the two races this fall.   Right now these keep me motivated to get moving because I really don’t want to be crawling over the finish line whether I am in last place or not!

Gettin’ Sweaty & Breathin’ Heavy 2013

Standard

When this blog began I had signed up for my first one month hot yoga challenge. The experience of yoga on a regular basis in addition to the experience of the hot room proved to be a physical challenge and provided some inspiration for this blog as well.  In the end it also fostered some unnecessary injuries and issues with heat stroke — so I do continue to do yoga but in a slightly different setting.

What I feel like after I've completed a run.

What I feel like post-run.

MY 2013 CHALLENGE IS…..drumroll please….  

Running 2 (yes 2) 10k races (September and October).

Holy.

Crap.

Some have asked, “What/who are you running from?”

That answer is more complex than I initially thought.

I am running from heart disease and diabetes (both were my mom’s arch nemeses).

I am committing to run to change my commitment karma, if you will.  Out with the one-sided relationships with people who cannot commit to the basic concepts of a relationship: Communication, Friendship and Honesty.   Bring on the healthy commitment karma!

I am running to get through the grief.  Running in the hope of somehow recreating my mother’s strength and perseverance, and honouring her spirit.

And  I am running to flush out the disappointment and frustrations of past relationships for good, and forever.  Maybe I can somehow cultivate compassion through running.

Finally, and equally as important as the rest, I am running because the post-run high is pretty freakin’ fabulous.

Mom lived with Diabetes for 20+ years and persevered through those last 2 years of life with a multitude of issues  and challenges (as a result of long-term diabetes), so therefore there is no reason why I couldn’t  move my butt 3-4 times a week. And by all means I can get out there on race day and give it my best.  And for what its worth – mom had diabetes, heart disease and cancer (x2) and my dad has had cancer (x1)- the odds are stacked against me and I need to keep movin’!

There are no illusions of grandeur, as there is virtually no chance of my placing in the top ten of any age group – I just want to get out there and do my best.  With any luck I will not be the last person to straggle across the finish line.

Have I ever run anything in my life? Not since about grade 5. Though I was a decent runner at that time — it was more than a few decades ago.

I want to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to.   To show everyone (and myself) who is afraid of being 45, divorced, with no children, that it is going to be ok.  In fact, its pretty damn liberating at the best of times!  That at 45 yrs of age one doesn’t need to give in to what society deems as  OLD, and that to feel young one doesn’t need to pretend they are in their 20’s either. Doing new things challenges us to do and think differently, we interact with different groups of people, and in this case, we do a bit of good as well.

There.

It’s official.

I’ve made this commitment ‘public’.

Oi. Vay.

No barriers, no limits.

Standard

The world of dance encompasses a vast range of ages, abilities, dance forms/disciplines, classes, repertoire, and commitment.  I believe that this is the beauty of dance – that it does and can encompass vast spectrum of forms.     Most recently my teaching experience has come to incorporate more variations on ability than I had ever dreamed possible.   Once a week there is a group of adults that gathers in a large studio and together we explore dance and movement through various sequences of movement. Each piece of music used is a crescendo from the previous, each movement becomes slightly more complex with each change of exercise.  Posture, breath, strength, flexibility, sequences of movement, qualities of movement, and tandem movement, are developed alongside an ever-increasing giggle amongst the students.   This group of adult students provides proof that with a positive outlook, laughter, perseverance, and sheer resilience anything can be achieved.

Cerebral Palsy (which generally classifies a broad range of limitations related to neurological function – unfortunately a bit of a catch-all term)

Stroke

Muscular Dystrophy

Down Syndrome

Parkinson’s

Visual Impairment

Wheelchair bound

High muscle tone

Low muscle tone

Developmental delay

Each one of  the students in the class lives with one or more of these conditions ranging from low to high function.  Some are wheelchair bound permanently, some only for specific activities, some use walkers and those who are able to walk often have limitations which affect their ability to command their stride.  Some are non verbal yet have excellent comprehension, and some are behind developmentally ( young at heart!).   At first glance each one has every reason to complain about their situation, to soak it in, and let it consume them, and yet they do not.   There is an acceptance and an acknowledgement of what is and an understanding of possibility  [and everything is possible].    There is no negativity, no egos,  the occasional frustration sneaks in but is quickly eased with the supportive laughter of the group and their ability to lighten the mood.  Nothing but a willingness to try their best and an increasing openness to push themselves a little further than they did the last week.  When they are having a bad day [physically] they simply work through it as best they can.

When we began the program my goal was to provide an atmosphere where the students could explore dance without barriers, without limits.  Having limited knowledge of individual circumstances I had no idea what to expect, and so I worked to approach my teaching without the usual barriers and expectations as well, working to ‘go with the flow’ and explore the abilities of each person.  At first when I attempted to guide them through an exercise which required them to explore drawing lines in the space I was met with a look that said ‘she wants us to do what?’.     Two years later we are exploring ways to challenge our balance, how to control our limbs in focused, controlled motion, connecting to other dancers in the room, and creating shape and lines with our bodies in new ways.  Accompanying their movements is Debussy, Yo-Yo Ma, the Beatles, Jamiroquai, Edgar Meyer,  Bobby McFerrin, and so many more.

Regardless of the stress of the day the hour spent with these students is full of laughter and the exploration of what CAN be accomplished within the different abilities of each individual.   They are inspiring!

We assume that prerequisites of dance are artistry, technique, and a specific ‘ideal’ physique.   This group of individuals has shown me that ultimately dance [and art] requires only one thing of us – to be present.   To simply be present in the moment, in our bodies, in the class, and in the music.   HOW we move our bodies does not matter – what matters is having the courage to be present, to take a risk,  and to trust ourselves and our bodies to push beyond perceived barriers or limits [societal, traditional, or imagined].

To be continued…

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

Standard

One of the best children’s books ever –

Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.   Love. Love. Love.

Though Max’s imaginative wild rumpus occurs on his very own island with wild creatures conjured up by his wonderful imagination, this rumpus will be somewhat smaller, yet no less extraordinary.

It is the end of another year and before facing 2011, another birthday, the final term of school, and going back to work, it is time to take  a moment to reflect.    This little blog began last July as an exploration of thoughts and ideas through the process and practice of writing.  Always one to try to see the lesson in all things I’ve explored memories, personal adventures in yoga, deeper lessons learned through yoga, and shared lessons learned from my wonderful students.

So far….Loving the Blog.

The bonus from all of this (if I may toot my own horn)?  An early Christmas present arrived in my inbox just before the holidays, an offer to co-author a few articles with a friend (and author).  How freakin’ cool is that?!?

[insert my version of Snoopy’s happy dance here]

In the meantime, the New Year is swiftly approaching and I have been struggling to create a post that is just right for the occasion (hrmph, some writer….).   Personally I gave up on the whole idea of resolutions long ago – my inability to accomplish resolutions just made me feel like a complete flop.   Moving towards a more authentic approach, ‘non-resolutions’ are now the way to go in my book.   [Non-Resolutions because they are not goals to be achieved (eg. lose 10 pounds, pay off debt, etc.), but ways to direct thoughts or behaviours].

Months ago I stumbled upon a post reminding us of things we should know about ourselves.  The list is brief, just 10 points.  And the list is complete.   The list is my ideal set of ‘Non-Resolutions’.    Click the following text to go to that particular post:  10 Things I Wish You Knew About Yourself.

Moving into 2011, let’s take the lead from Max and his wild friends…have the courage to not only move forward but to create the life we imagine for ourselves, believing in ourselves and each other, keeping family and home close to our hearts.

Wishing you the happiest of New Years, YOU are amazing!

Now ‘Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!’.

Tigger vs. Eeyore….is it really a competition?

Standard

From left to right: Owl, Christopher Robin, Kanga and Roo, Tigger, and Piglet.A recent post in the blogosphere compared Tigger (always happy) and Eeyore ( always miserable) tendencies, questioning whether we are either one or the other, or both.   My question is this – why do we need to choose?  Is there some unwritten rule that states the we must choose which we are going to be, and stick to it.  No in between’s allowed!

If you want to be happy, be.  (L. Tolstoy)

Is it really that simple Mr. Tolstoy?  Really?  Seriously?

Perhaps it is.   Lately I’ve noticed more and more that there seems to be a never ending chase toward happiness (particularly in the blogosphere) – finding happiness – learning to be happy – letting go to be happy.  Are we really that wrapped up that we cannot feel happy?  Is it really that elusive?

Here is the dealio on my theory of happiness, as it stands at this point in my life.  In order to BE happy we must allow ourselves to feel our Eeyore moments to whatever extent we need to feel them – so that we can then appreciate those happy, maybe even bouncy  [and don’ t forget flouncy!] Tigger moments even more.   Part of ‘finding our happiness’ is the process of learning how to deal with our Eeyore-ness, move through it (at whatever pace we need to move), to reach the other side (which you will) and realize that our friend Tigger was right there all along.  We just needed time to visit our friend Eeyore for a bit.

Acceptance is a part of the picture as well.   For the most part Eeyore accepts that he is who he is, just as Owl, Christopher Robin, Roo and Kanga, Tigger, Pooh, Piglet and Rabbit seem to.  They also accept that their lives are what they are and that it is up to only each one of them as individuals to make changes in their lives – for better or worse.   With acceptance comes  responsibility.

The glitch in the thinking that throws the whole thing off, is the illusion that things, jobs, money, or a particular person, is the ‘one thing’ that will bring you happiness.  If our happiness relies on one external thing, then perhaps it would be more beneficial to look inward and see what is in us which bring us happiness.   We have heard this before, yet it still seems to be a trend among some generations.

At the same time it is probably a good idea to consider whether or not we get some kind of reward or recognition for being unhappy, constantly seeking happiness.   Sounds a bit odd though, reveling in our Eeyore-ness in an unconscious effort to stir up (the attention of) others in the seven acre wood to come to our aid.   Nevertheless, it happens.   Wouldn’t it be nice to get together to just enjoy the company of each other without the baggage?

In the hundred acre wood, Pooh and his friends all have their own personalities, perspectives on life, individual fears, challenges and expectations.   Are they truly unhappy because they are not Tigger- like all of the time?  (or more importantly, is Tigger always that happy?)  Or are they just BE-ing with whatever it is they are feeling and BE- ing their authentic selves, allowing  themselves to acknowledge the happy, joyful moments and appreciate them more completely.  With their whole BE-ing.

Do you try to be happy all the time, 24/7?    Do you feel guilty when you are in a Eeyore kind of mood?  Or do you allow yourself the freedom to move through and feel both?

Who knew that our adorable childhood friends could inspire us later in life?   Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, and Tigger too-hoo-hoo-hoo!

[Thank you Gretchen Rubin @ The Happiness Project for inspiring this post !]

[Image found on google images.]