Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why My Family Needs A Vacation

Come morning my family will be on the road en route to our cabin in the woods on the lake summer vacation. The first part of our week will be in a semi-isolated area with no internet and limited cell service.

Knowing we are going to have limited technology, we've still packed:

  1. One laptop
  2. One macbook
  3. Three cell phones
  4. Two iPhones
  5. Three iTouches
  6. One iPad
  7. Two Nintendo DS's
Are we overly optimistic? Or overly technologically dependant?

I have, of course, also packed my yoga mat. I'm looking forward to some very much over do and old fashioned mat time.

See you in a week!

Monday, May 30, 2011

107 Blog Posts, Lessons, Tears - The Journey Has Just Begun

Recently it was brought to my attention that I didn't write a Happy 100 blog post. Well, not only did I not know I was supposed to write a commemorative 100th blog post, but I didn't even realize I had reached 100 already!

So, tonight we have Congratulations 107 Blog Post.

I started this blog almost exactly 9 months ago with the intention to get back to journaling, rekindle my love of writing and a place to talk about and share my yoga. I had friends who wrote blogs that were fun to read so I figured I'd give it a try. I honestly didn't think anyone would read it, and I honestly didn't care. I was writing for myself.

I had no idea then the topics that I would end up writing about, the truths I would share here, or how important this blog would become to me.

I wouldn't have believed there were going to be nights I cried as I typed, but I had to keep typing in order to stop crying.

Yoga - I wrote about poses on the mat, living yoga off the mat, and even a couple posts about the actual yoga mat.

Kids - last summer was my summer spent riding in the back of an ambulance to LeBonheur Children's Hospital where kid #3 would end up in traction, surgery, casts and weekly doctor visits. Just as he was finishing up his summer in a cast, kid #5 fell and we began the process all over again. Looking back over those blogs now I'm reminded how  the rest of the kids came together with concern and compassion. For a moment in time the sibling rivalry and bickering stopped and we as a family were there for each other.

Career - I've been very fortunate to to have had some success in my yoga teaching. I've been to Los Angeles and San Diego to train with some amazing yoga mentors. I even got to spend an an amazing weekend with John Friend  where I can honestly say I met some of the nicest yogi's ever.

Cancer - when this blog began, I had a healthy mom who was happy I was finally getting back to writing. Shortly after I started writing again, she was diagnosed with cancer. Just five months later she was dead. Looking back at the posts I wrote about mom being sick, I see the increasing fear in my writing. My posts about mom began in a "well doesn't this suck" kind of way. They quickly became more serious and more powerful. Some of the hardest posts I've written have turned out to be my most read posts. I've been told my writing has helped other people going through their own difficulties. That's one of the best compliments a writer can receive.

Finding the writer within me - Starting this blog reminded me of and returned me to my first love. I may have forgotten for awhile, but I can't not write any better than I can't not breathe. It's part of who I am. And in a surprise turn of events, my YogaLifeWay blog here has turned into  recurring posts on  Elephant Journal. You can read my Elephant posts by clicking the links on the side listed here -->
under the Elephant logo. (Please click the links! I promise it's more good stuff.) My latest post sort of takes everything I've written about here in the past 9 months and applies the lessons it's all taught me.

I had no idea what was going to happen when I started this blog. I have no idea what is yet to come. I'm pretty sure more tears, more laughs and more lessons. I'm honored that so many are reading my posts here and over at Elephant. The only way I can keep doing this though is to keep my intention the same. I'm writing to me, for me.

Thank you for joining me on my journey.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Whore Snob vs. The Kindle

Evil technology! My resistance
is weakening.
I want a Kindle.

No, I don't.

I'm a book person. Nothing can take the place of opening a new book for the first time, cracking the spine, the smell of a new book, the smell of an old forgotten book, turning the pages, etc. I'm a literary traditionalist and in this area will not give in to technology.

But, I do kinda sorta really want a Kindle.

Tonight was date night with the hubs. Don't get too excited. In my life date night means we drop off one or more kids at their assorted activities, then we go somewhere for a quick dinner where we share an appetizer, spend our last remaining minutes browsing a book store, and then go pick up assorted kids and come home.

Glamorous, huh?

OK, back to the Kindle story.

So we are walking through the bookstore and I decide nothing can replace a book store full of possibilities. It's been a semi-secret long desire of mine to someday see my name on a book jacket. A book jacket, not an e-book. How would I have a book signing for an e-book? Confession - I've actually spent time thinking about this.

My arms are soon overflowing with books I've picked up. Then I start thinking about packing so many books to take with me on our vacation next week. It would be so much easier to just pack the Kindle with pre-loaded books.

And, hey, it's more environmentally friendly to read e-books. I'd be saving trees. That's it, I've decided to put the books down and come home and order my Kindle!

But I just can't make myself push that "order now" button. Yes the extra shipping I'd have to pay to get it here before we leave for vacation is part of it. But, it's just not a book.  That's it, I've decided I'm a book person and will not buy a Kindle.

To take my mind off this nonsense I log on to read my nightly blogs. And what do you know? My South American friend Rachel wrote a post today about how she's in love with her Kindle!

Thanks a lot Rachel's Rantings of Rio! Now I'm back to wanting a Kindle!

This whole thing is making me slightly schizophrenic.

I like being a book whore snob who can turn pages and highlight favorite passages. But I'm tempted by the instant gratification of wi-fi downloads.

What to do? What to do?

All this fretting over how to read books is leaving me very little time for the reading of books. And forget about the actual writing of a new book. Until someone tells me I can have a book signing even for an e-book I'm keeping the literary genius in my head to myself.

That's the story I'm going with anyway.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My MSOD Girls Make the Blog & Make Me Smile

I've been working all year with a group of teenage girls at a local dance school. Giggly, goofy, hormonal, flaky, beautiful, wonderful teenage girls. They are my last class on Monday night - my looonnggg day of work. They are #7 of 7 classes I teach that day. So by the time I see them I am tired and out of energy.

And then they start laughing. Or telling me stories of what happened at school that day. Or asking me about my teen boys (whom they are never allowed to meet). And suddenly I'm not so tired.

I'm Facebook friends with a couple of them and a few of them are YogaLifeWay blog readers. As the year wore on they kept asking "when will you blog about us Miss Jennifer" and "hey maybe I'll make the blog tonight."

Well, lovely girls, tonight is your night!

Our focus this year was on building core strength, preventing injuries and applying muscle control and isolation to their dance moves. Basically, we made their jumps higher, the splits longer and their pirouettes prettier.

As we got closer to the end of the year and they were working harder on perfecting their dances for recital, I lightened up a bit and didn't always require we do pilates hundreds or full vinyasas.

Instead we choreographed a yoga dance. My only rule was the dance had to be all (mostly) yoga poses. What started out as a silly little one night only diversion, turned into weeks of rehearsal and even turned me into a wanna-be choreographer. I couldn't hear our song on the radio without thinking of new yoga poses/dance moves.

By the last night our fun little activity turned into an impromptu show as the parents lined up outside the classroom window to watch. And, yes, I was quite proud when the dance school director called it "a way cool modern dance number."

So, without further adieu, I present to you the girls of MSOD Yoga/Pilates class and their yoga dance.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Full Plate, An Empty Garden & Another Post About Finding Balance

I will not be tending a backyard vegetable garden this year.

Shocking, I know.

I live in the South, my house sits on an acre and a half, and I already have the boxes built from last years failed garden attempt. Really, there's no reason I shouldn't have seeds in the ground already.

Except I don't want to.

The more people asked me if I had my garden in yet, the more I realized I don't enjoy gardening.  The past few years I've planted, and failed at, vegetable gardens. I realize now I was doing it out of a self-imposed sense of obligation.

I don't enjoy fighting the bugs, the heat, the drought, the weeds. Getting dirt under my nails is not therapeutic to me.

To some of you this may seem like no big deal and not worthy of a blog post. To those of you not getting it, let me remind you --- I live in the south.

My garden never looked like this!
A vegetable garden is kind of a law down here.

Between the kids, teaching yoga, writing and building a business my spare time is very limited. More than a few people have told me lately I'm too busy and taking on too much.

They are right. I know that. And I really am making attempts to restructure my life for more balance and less stress.

I mean, really, isn't that what I teach in my yoga classes?

Yoga is about finding the edge between pushing yourself and backing off when the pose is too much. I remind my classes that flowing through multiple rounds of Surya Namaskara (sun salutations) can be fun and invigorating. But sometimes what our body really needs is to stop and rest in balasana (childs pose).

Balance, baby, balance.

I need to be mindful of where my attention is given. I need to be sure that my energy is given to only those things that bring me joy or benefit my family.

Yes I realize that not having a garden puts me at a real disadvantage should the apocalypse hit. But I'm pretty sure it's going to take more than a pantry of canned green beans to fight roving bands of zombies.

And yes, I'm aware the price of food is getting higher each day as oil prices continue to rise.  I'll be more intentional this year in getting to our local farmer's markets to find locally grown produce.

And I won't mind at all that there is a little more open space in the yard this year. More room for the kids and dogs to run!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Learning To Say No - Enjoying The Results

Balance. I talk about it. I study it. I strive for it in my work, my life, with my kids, with my friends. Why is it so hard to find some balance in my life?

I've been working really hard the past few months to build my yoga business to cater to a more daytime clientele and let go of my evening classes and clients.

It's been tough. I don't give up classes or say no to work offers. But I've been fortunate in that as I've gotten busier during the day I've been able to turn over some of my nighttime classes.

And tonight it paid off.

I didn't have to rush to make dinner. I had time to walk the dogs. And this evening I sat outside on my front porch swing and watched the neighborhood kids play basketball in my driveway.

I've had requests to add some evening specialty sessions that I've had second thoughts about saying no, not at this time. And two private clients have asked for evening appointments that I've had to turn down.

It's really hard to say no.

But tonight I'm so glad I did.

I think as moms it's really tough to make sure we are giving 110% to our families, our work, our homes and our selves. It's not surprising that most women I know almost always put themselves last - if even at all.

I still have some uncertainties about turning down good job offers. But I'm pretty confident a few more nights like tonight will help me feel much better about my decision.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yoga on the Soccer Field

Click here to read my latest Elephant Journal post A Yoga Mom Could Kick A Soccer Mom's Asana

An alternate title I was working on was "How I Once Again Made Sure I Didn't Fit In With The Other Moms"

And you see those two cute soccer players in the picture? They are mine! Making their public debut, I present Kid #4 and Kid #5.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Freakin' Yoga: I Love/Hate The Way It Makes Me Feel

This post was meant to be published last night, but due to the Blogger outage was delayed.  

Warning: I’m in a pissy mood.

And when I’m in a mood it’s best for everyone to just leave me alone. Alone. Don’t talk to me, look at me or try to make me feel better.

Every person, every animal and every thing should just leave me alone. 

Yet over there in the corner it sits. Taunting me. Daring me.  It knows if I walk over to the corner of my room, pick it up, and sit on it I’ll feel better.

My yoga mat.

How many times have I been mad/sad/unhappy/frustrated/depressed/hormonal and stepping on the mat has healed me. Taking the time to sit with my emotions, allow them, express them if necessary and then breathe them away will rid my being of this negativity. 

I always feel better when I work my yoga. Always.

But I don’t want to right now. I want to wallow a bit longer. I know it’s not productive. I know its not healthy. I know it’s ridiculous but this is my pissy mood and I will enjoy it as I see fit. 

So leave me alone.

The yoga mat is still there. I swear it knows I’m trying to ignore it.

Damn that yoga mat.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Magical Yoga Nights

Some nights teaching yoga is a job. A job I love, but still a job.

And some nights, teaching yoga is magical. The right words come out of my mouth without me even thinking about them. The vinyasas flow with ease. The energy in the room is electric and everyone can feel it.

Monday's are my crazy long days. By the time I get to my last two classes of the night I'm over tired, over hungry and my muscles are over worked. And yet, the yoga happens.

Tonight as I set up the room for my sixth of seven classes of the day, my class walked in grumpy and frustrated. They threw their mats down, complained about their jobs, and shared worries about the ever increasing flooding in our area.

My original plan was to have some fun with bakasana and baby bakasana, but instead I realized that what we all needed was to slow down and turn inwards. I began with a meditation and ended with a visualization on gratitude.

I really don't know where I pulled it out of, but it was there and through the grace of the divine it came through and it was perfect. We all left class feeling invigorated and inspired.

My last class of the night is teen-age ballerinas. Yep, seven long classes of the day ends with teen girls. No matter how tired or hungry I walk in to the dance studio, I always end up laughing and smiling. We've been working all year on core strength and alignment. It's getting very close to recital time so their minds really aren't on staying focused on a list of poses to work through.

So tonight, I blared the new Adele through the speakers and we choreographed a yoga dance. The whole dance was nothing but yoga asanas linked together in what the dance school owner called "an amazing modern dance choreography."

We had a blast. It was the perfect way to end the night.

I drove home feeling very grateful for the opportunity to have a job doing something I love. Nights like tonight remind me why I teach and keep me motivated to keep teaching.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thank You To My Stand In Moms

Being married to a military guy, I've spent most of my adult life living away from family. I haven't had the luxury of having my mom close by for holidays, babysitting or daily advice.

That's where my stand-in moms come in.

I've been extremely fortunate to have an amazing group of intelligent, strong, loving women step in and be there for me when I needed them.

When I lived in Jacksonville, FL my boss at the newspaper was more than just a boss. She was the first woman to take me under her wing. I'm embarrassed to admit I can't remember her last name anymore, but when my my first child was born,  Sandy was right there outside the hospital nursery crying and hugging me with my own mom. And when my mom had to leave Florida to go back home, Sandy was there to tell me it's OK, sometimes babies just cry and I'm not doing anything wrong.

Never too old for yoga!
My current group of stand in moms is quite literally a group. They are my SilversSneakers class members at my local YMCA. SilverSneakers is a senior health and fitness program. We meet three times a week for yoga and low impact aerobics. They range in age from 50ish all the way up to 84.

Eighty-four years old and still stepping back into Warrior II and bee-bopping around the room to blaring 60's music!

My SilverSneakers class has stuck by me through sick kids, financial issues, work issues, husband issues and this year, they helped me through losing my mom.

As mom was dying of cancer, knowing I needed to get to work each day with a smile on my face and stand in front of this feisty group kept me going. And the days when I didn't have a smile on my face, that was OK with them too. And even on the tough days, I always left class smiling.

This group has been through it all. They've lost parents, children, spouses and friends. They've lived through bad times including wars, floods and financial losses. Yet they keep going and show up to the YMCA every morning.

My SilverSneakers group, and yes I call them MY group, never hesitates to give me advice (wanted or unwanted), encouragement and most of all their love.

All the things I no longer can get from my mom.

I miss my mom, but am eternally grateful for all my stand-in moms.

Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

God Bless the South

God bless the South.

Those aren't usually the words I use when I talk about adjusting to life in the South. But those of us that live here are weary. It's been more than a week of one tornado inducing storm after another. The waves of torrential rain just keep coming.

We need a break.

The Mighty Mississippi is over flowing, causing flooding through the smaller rivers and local roads. Two of my close friends have moved their belongings upstairs and have their kids clothes packed in order to evacuate once the order is given. Another friend took her babies and left to her parents to get out of the way.

My kids have hid in the bathtub so often this week I've lost count of how many times I've given the order to get in and put the blankets over your head.

And we're the lucky ones.

The state of Alabama has been declared a disaster area. My dear friend Jilda, who writes at Transformation Information  has been out of touch for days now. She is safe and her house is still standing. But in the one brief message I got from her she said power is out everywhere and the area around her looks like a war zone. She and her husband are out helping in the search and recovery efforts.

My iPhone Weather Bug says the storms are supposed to continue a few more days. There are constant updates on the flood maps.

The South is on high alert again tonight.