Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Taking it for Granted

I cannot be the only one...who has come to realize that I take the easy, smooth, and uneventful days of family life for granted. I don't take the time to appreciate the flow of good moods and our ability to laugh out loud regularly...I don't see how lucky we are until I am staring down the barrel of a full fledged hurricane of an ultra bad day.

My little family of three was having a bad day. 

It should not have been as shocking to us when the storm of a bad day made landfall. There were a multitude of factors out on the horizon (back to school quickly approaching, returning home from a weekend away, and a little something the doctor liked to refer to as: pink eye), but regardless of the signs, when the bad day hit, it hit us hard and left all three of us in a bearish state.

I am talking about one of those bad days that leaves you wondering how you will ever get past it, the words that are hurtful can never be unsaid and the punishments that were doled out are going to have to be followed (yup, even that "no video games for a month" one...the begging will eventually stop, right?).

After the hubby left to cool off, the boy was in his room attempting to gain control of himself, and I was sitting in my chair by the window, I started to reflect on the glory that was yesterday. Yesterday, a day of easy going, submarine sandwich eating, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 watching bliss.  How I allowed the serenity of yesterday to go unnoticed and unappreciated...what I fool I was.

I decided I was going to take the slings and arrows of the bad day and rather than try to forget them I was going to use them as a reminder of how GREAT a normal day around the old homestead really is. So while my little family of three was still hurting from the drastic measures and sore words of the that abysmal day, I was already looking forward to the gratitude I would feel for the next good old boring day to come.

PS: We did make it through to the other side of that bad day and listening to the begging for video game time was pretty rough (lesson learned on my part: really think about punishments before giving them...really, really think).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What's Up With My Shoulders?

I cannot be the only one...who has heard, "relax your shoulders," so many times during a yoga class that you have felt the need to check that it's not on a loop alongside the soothing chanting and wind chimes soundtrack, but rather it is in fact the instructor repeating it over and over.

While looking through my knees to the wall behind me, in downward facing dog, attempting to walk my feet closer to my hands and finally get those heels to touch down on the mat, the yoga instructor comes by and gently reminds me, "release your shoulders".  I make an adjustment.

I am standing feet wide on the mat, arms extended out reaching for the front and the back of the studio in my best rendition of Warrior II, trying to keep my chest lifted and my legs strong, when the teacher nudges the class, "drop those shoulders".  I make an adjustment.

Here's one now: The Shoulder
All of these benevolent reminders about the position of my shoulders started me to wonder, what in hell is up with my shoulders?

I began to notice that it wasn't just during yoga that my shoulders felt the need to reach up to the sky, it was happening all the time. I would be driving in my car, listening to satellite radio, enjoying the air conditioning, when I notice my shoulders are squeezing together making my neck tight. Watching t.v. with my husband, maybe even possibly holding a chilled glass of chardonnay, and here they were, shoulders fighting gravity reaching for my earlobes. And, most painfully, towards the mid-point of my morning jog, I could feel that cramp across my collar bone as my shoulders ascended to the clouds.

Early in the year I had a pesky bout of shoulder pain.  In fact, I had received a giant cortisone shot (which didn't work) and an MRI (which showed zero damage to my shoulder), both of which left the doctor puzzled, finally diagnosing me with a shoulder impingement (unprovoked, I hadn't suffered an injury). Although now, after the numerous reminders from my yoga instructor to loosen up my shoulders, I started to suspect that my impingement could be from the subconscious storing of stress in my shoulders- causing their tensing up ALL DAY EVERYDAY.

When I first started practicing yoga my shoulders would be sore, not impingement sore, but sore all the same (along with sore arms, legs, name it). But now that my practice of yoga has taken on a regular schedule, I have noticed these rascally shoulders of mine are not climbing the ladder of stress towards my ears as much and the pain has almost completely subsided.

As a matter of fact, thanks to my practice of yoga, I can recognize much easier when my shoulders begin their tour of tensing, and I can hear my yoga instructor's calm reminder to relax my shoulders, and I make an adjustment.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Comfort Zone...What Comfort Zone?

I cannot be the only one...who has realized that as a parent you find yourself outside the confines of your comfort zone quite often. Often enough that being in situations that you find yourself learning something new or experiencing new feelings has ironically become part of your comfort zone.

While riding in the back seat of my friend's car the other day, on our way to play a spirited round of laser tag (I'll explain more later), my friend's husband said, "We don't step outside our comfort zone enough as adults". I thought about that statement for a moment, this is an idea you hear pronounced quite a bit as an adult, but I had to disagree, at least for myself (I also lumped in my friend who was sitting in the passenger seat).

My friend and I have been pretty active at trying new things as of late.  I am talking about the friend that I joined the gym with and we have been attending a multitude of group fitness classes that we are not generally subscribers of.  I'm talking Mat Pilates, Vinyasa Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Ballet Boot Camp, and Zumba just to name a few (trust me, my muscles have definitely been feeling outside their comfort zone).

Also, on a girls night out recently, we sipped a wine or three and decided we weren't ending our Mama's evening out on the town without joining in with the young crowd to offer our voices to the Karaoke that was happening.  Everyone in that bar sang Karaoke, everyone including the bartender between pouring drinks, I was not going to let us leave that place as the two old broads that didn't join in (I am not sure people thought we were necessarily "old broads" but when I put it that way to my friend she was ready for that microphone, comfort zone or not).
Laser Tag Photo credit: Ultrazone Laser Tag

And what about the fact that were in the car heading to a laser tag place? My friend was hosting an adults only laser tag party, where we were going to run around a black light lit maze-like room, wearing kind-of stinky vest that sported flashing lights on them, using laser guns with goofy names like "inferno" and "boomer", and destroy the other teams bases all while trying to not get shot with lasers, this was a prime example of us stepping out of our comfort zone.

Later that evening, I was thinking about our conversation in the car, and I started wondering why I have become rather comfortable stepping outside my comfort zone.  I think that as a Mama you can't help but see the world through your children's eyes, their fears that can seem so silly, their apprehension about new things that are truly only new for a moment, their lack of confidence over situations that if they just could muster a bit of bravery they would soar right through, and you start to realize that the same is true for most new situations as an adult.

I don't worry about looking like I don't know what I am doing in the midst of a new situation because I how can I help it, I don't know what I am doing.  I am not afraid of asking questions if I don't understand something because that's how you learn and I trust that I am not being judged by anyone but myself, so if I treat myself kindly most likely others will too. All those thoughts make my comfort zone more like guidelines rather than areas of discomfort.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Going with the Vinyasa Flow

I cannot be the only one...who knows how hard it is as a Mama to try something new.  The reasons I find expanding into new realms are boundless; no time, not in the budget, fear of failing, etc.. The list could go on and on, but that feeling that I could be doing more, or be more for myself, also goes on and on. Recently I had the opportunity to purchase a one month membership to one of our communities more pricey gyms at an extreme discount and I thought, "This will be fun, my friend and I could drop the kids off at the kids club and we could work out or take a class or two." Little did I know that that "class or two" I was envisioning would become a personal challenge in trying new things.

I workout, I have a routine, I have a schedule and I stick to it. For years I have woken up before the sun crest our roof top and tied on my Brooks running shoes to hit the pavement for a jog, followed by sit ups and push ups to round it all off.  I have never been one for workout classes, instead believing I was some kind of reveler in my solo fitness institution.  But this newly purchased gym membership included over a hundred group classes a week and I was feeling ready to dive into those classes and see what I was missing.

The very first class we took was Vinyasa Flow, described as dynamic yoga with continuous dance-like movements. As my friend and I stood outside the darkened studio we joked about how we hoped this class wasn't too difficult because we weren't really looking for an intense workout. What I did find in the yoga studio was a place of personal challenge, a reason to breathe deeply, and time to be self involved sans guilt (a rarity for any Mama).

Moments after entering the yoga studio I was quickly out of my comfort zone, taking to the mat and laying in Savasana (corpse pose), arms away from the body with your palms up and legs hip width apart is not the normal way I begin a workout.  Although, as many of you may know, that quiet moment of relaxation evolved quickly into my arms and legs shaking as they attempted to hold balance in a pose my body was not used to. I started to sweat, I had to make adjustments to where my feet or hands were on the mat often, and I had to check in with the instructor just to make sure I wasn't the only one still standing in warrior two. It was a busy hour for me on that bamboo wood floor breathing lavender scented air.

An hour later, as we emerged out of the studio, I commented to my friend from the side of my mouth, "That class sort of kicked my butt," and we agreed that it was an intense workout.

That Vinyasa Flow class ended up giving me more than what I had expected, not just in the physical sense because it was more than that, I connected with something within myself and I have been back to the mat more than just a few times since that afternoon that I thought I would try something new.