GentleSoul Arts

Living a Creative Life


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Lessons from the Mat

We’re approaching the end of the month and the last few days of Dedicate – Yoga with Adriene.   I’ve experienced some good days and more challenging days on the mat, but on “Drop” I couldn’t finish the video.

I have retrocalcaneal bone spurs that have caused bursitis.  A large one my right heel and a smaller one developing on my left.  Then 1 ½ years ago I broke my right foot. 6 weeks in a walking boot cast cause my left knee to get a bit weird.  And I have a bit of arthritis. I’ve never felt my age as much as I do with my ankles and knee.

Drop had a lot of standing and balancing positions.  I can do them for a bit, but one-legged downward dog, with my weight on my right foot wasn’t not going to happen no matter how much I peddled through my heel.

I stopped the video, frustrated with myself for being in pain, and cried on my yoga mat.  

The theme of the day was Drop something that doesn’t serve you.  I wasn’t dropping anything but holding on to it as my identity. The girl with the bone spurs, the girl who walks with a limp until I stretch out or my body no longer registers the sensation of pain.

I skipped the next day “Power” because I decided I needed to embrace self-care and give my ankles a rest day.   I returned this morning with “Dedicate”, luckily no downward dogs or balancing poses. I feel back on track again.  I guess I wasn’t technically off track, just pulled into a depot for a few days for repairs.

I don’t expect this to be the only lesson I learn on the mat.  Just the first of many.

 

Namaste.


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My First Diet

 

I went on my first official diet when I was around 13 years old.  Until this time, I wasn’t worried about what I ate or how I looked.   But my mom had other ideas. “Boys don’t chase after the chubby girls.” she told me and I was signed up for Weight Watchers.   

If I am remembering correctly, they didn’t normally take children my age.  I believe 16 years old was the youngest they would accept but my mom was a lifetime member. An exception was made.

I don’t remember much about the meetings.  A group of ladies in a shop in the City of Moore Shopping Center back in the early 80s.  I remember the large sliding weight scale like that was in the doctor’s office. I remember the books what how much and what to eat.  Cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, canned unsweetened peaches. The typical diner “diet plate”.  I remember hating it.

I didn’t really want to lose weight but I had learned to eat to avoid facing a situation that, as a preteen, frightened and confused me.   I had experienced sexual abuse, and was told that I had misunderstood the situation. “That’s probably not what was meant…” my mom told me.  I had been mistaken. That’s not REALLY want had happened.   

Stuffing my feelings with food along with being prepubescent girl, did cause me to get a little thick in the middle.  I started riding my bike regularly and I grew about 6” over the next few years so my body redistributed the weight to my hips and bust.   By the time I graduated high school, I was a healthy weight.   

That was a long time ago and I still eat my feelings.  I’ve learned to recognize when I am eating out of boredom, frustration or celebration.   I’m looking for other ways to express myself and not keep emotions and feelings stuffed down because no one wants to hear them.  Or they tell me my experience was wrong.

I can’t control how other people respond (or react) to me, but I can determine how I will handle experiences.  With food, with words, with yoga or meditation.

I choose self-care and love.

 

Namaste.


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Dedicate – Halfway

We’re just past the halfway point in Dedicate, a month-long Yoga With Adriene yoga practice.

It’s hard to believe I’ve stuck with this for over 2 weeks straight.  I’m still working on the best timing for me to meet the mat.   Mornings are better than evenings.  I don’t like getting up at 5:00 am so I’m going to work on switching up my normal morning routine.  Instead of taking care of the dogs, coffee and toast while browsing online and doing my DuoLingo language lesson, I’ll try taking care of the dogs, yoga, coffee while getting ready for work.  I’ll see if there will be time for DuoLingo before getting ready for work or I can do those after work or on my lunch break on my phone.

I’ve noticed I’m less sore in my ankles and knee but more sore in my arms and shoulder.  I think about my posture as I’m standing in line at the store, and how I’m moving as I walk through a store.   My flexibility is slowing getter better, but it will be months still before I’m as flexible as I was when belly dancing.

I feel more patient, content and less rushed through out my day.   I’m less anxious about things, I think.   Guess I’ll see how that is when I’m faced with something that causes me anxiety.

I’m looking forward to finding more of her videos and sessions to work on once January is over.   She has so many on YouTube, it’s just a matter of where do I want to begin!

Namaste.


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Hungry Vs Habit

The other day my mother-in-law was in town running errands, so in the evening after I came home from work we all went out for dinner.

I was fairly hungry at dinner and ate way more than I should have. I’ve been working on mindfully eating so I was aware of my indulgence and embraced it.

The next morning when I woke up, I was not hungry but started my normal routine of making coffee and toast.    Luckily my brain was awake enough to realize what was happening.

Brain: Why are you making toast? You’re so NOT hungry!  Why don’t you wait until you’re actually hungry to eat

Me: Well, I just usually make toast when I wake up.  It’s a habit.

Brain: But you’re NOT hungry right now.

Me: You’re right.  I’ll take some peanut butter crackers to work and I’ll eat them when I am hungry.   And I’ll take my left overs from dinner for lunch.

Yes, there were leftovers even after eating an enormous amounts of food.  American portion sizes are ridiculous.

Anyway… I caught myself in an eating pattern out of habit rather than out of hunger.   It’s a small victory although I did mindfully mindless eat a whole small (4″) chocolate cream pie while watching Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Today I have a geocaching group meet up at one of my favorite restaurants.  I’m not hungry right now and I don’t expect to be hungry at the restaurant.    Being aware right now is a huge accomplishment.

Doing daily yoga has helped with being aware and connected in the moment but I’ll save that for another post.

Namaste.


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Use it or Lose It

Use it or lose it…

I’m not referring to the paint tubes I still want to go through and ditch the duds.   I’m talking my body.

I signed up for Dedicate, 30 day yoga journey with Adriene. Today is day 4 (Jan 1st was a Welcome Day).  The yoga sessions are gentle, and mindful.  There’s opportunity for modifications.  It’s all very self-centered, meaning I’m constantly checking my awareness of my body and how does this feel, can I move deeper or is this my limit for today.

After Day 1 I was kinda sore but not bad.  This morning, the bottoms of my heels hurt as I was laying in bed.  My butt was cramping as I was driving home from my cousin’s birthday get together last night.   My body is screaming  “What The Actual F*&K!!”

I think about how my mom was at my age, and how different we are.  I can sit on the floor and play with the corgis, no problem.  I lay on the floor with them when they’re in a chill mood sometimes.   My mom never sat on the floor. “I couldn’t get back up”   She had back problems, degenerative disk disorder, so I know there was pain.  But she never moved for the sake of moving.   On the weekends she’d “go shopping” (browsing) at thrift stores or Walmart.  That was the extent of her exercise.  No daily walking, particularly after she retired. She couldn’t do it.   Her mindset was “I can’t”.   I see myself falling into it at times, but I’m able to recognize it and think “is this me or my mom speaking through me?”

I wonder if Mom had started a practice of walking around the block, or at least up and down the street for 30 minutes regularly if she may still be around.

I’m going to start moving more and keep moving.  I may be sore, but it won’t stop me.


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The Inevitable

Two weeks ago my mom passed away.  I thought I was ready.

I had visited her in the hospital for 3 days prior, seeing her mostly unconscious, bruised from IVs and the respirator on her face (she had very thin skin from sun damage as a child and would bruise easily just brushing up against something).

She had degenerative disk disorder and arthritis in her hip which made sitting for any length of time uncomfortable, even when she was younger.   In the hospital, she would try to toss and turn, but was so weak she could barely move.  We would shift her around as her breathing shallowed indicating she was in pain.  She’d settle down and breath deeply for a while, until that position became uncomfortable.

She had congestive heart failure, had a heart attack 17 years ago or so, continued to smoke afterwards.  She had COPD and breathing problems over the last few years, and kept smoking.  I think cleaning out her dresser & purses, we found 5 packs of ‘stashed’ cigarettes.  She told the doctors she only smoked 2 cigarettes a day.  It was closer to a pack a day.

She also lost her eyesight to macular degeneration. She had told me it’s hereditary but I can’t recall anyone else in the family with it.   I honestly think it had more to do with sitting in a 900 square foot house, windows and doors shut, with a haze of cigarette smoke lingering in the air.

In the hospital she was in pain, annoyed with the respirator and during one days when she seemed more conscious (although I still doubt she knew who was who) wanted to go home.  I wanted her to recover and go home, but I think part of me knew it was the end. I thought I was ready.

Part of my anger in the grief cycle is why didn’t she take better care of herself.  Why continue to smoke after such drastic health events. I never saw her exercise for the sake of exercise.   I really don’t understand it.

I know everyone dies, and no one lives forever but Mom could have lived another 15 years easily.  Well, maybe not easily if she had no desire to change her lifestyle, quit smoking, move more, eat healthier.  I’m not sure how many fresh fruits & veggies she ate.

As I am approaching 50 years old, I’m making a serious commitment to moving more, eating less sugar, and more fruits & veggies.   I’m not going to live forever but when I’m 72 yrs old, I’ll be able to get out and continue to geocache, hike and be social.

As much as I love my mom, I’m not ready to become like her as I get older.

 

 

 


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Broken again (sort of)

I’m actually healing but last week my left knee was very painful.  It was hard to transition from sitting to standing/walking, but once I moved it would feel better.   After work one day I went to the store to pick up healthy joint supplements and pain relieving cream, and as I was walking out to my car, my knee popped, and I couldn’t put weight on my leg.  I was stuck at the edge of the cross walk, and a car was trying to turn into the handicap space.  I waved at him to park and he waved at me to walk across.  But I couldn’t move, shuffling baby steps that were excruciatingly painful.  I think I yelled “JUST PARK!” at the guy, which he did.  Getting out of his car, he tells me he’s had problems with his feet too.  I explained it wasn’t my feet, my knee popped and now I couldn’t walk.  He wished me a nice evening and went on into the store.

I managed to put weight on my sore knee leg if I tippy-toed, and I managed to get to the car.  Which is a manual transition.  I need my left leg to shift.  To fully engage the clutch, I have to straighten my leg…  luckily the store is only 2 miles from my house but that was the most painful 2 miles I’ve ever driven.

I get home, call my oldest son to come outside and get the shopping bags, bring me the crutches from when I had broken my foot, and take me to the after hours clinic.  After a 2-3 hour wait, I go back to see the PA.  She pokes at my knee,  it doesn’t appear to be any bone issues. I haven’t fallen (apart from tripping over Vision and breaking my foot in July), nothing hit my knee…   She explains a x-ray wouldn’t show what’s wrong with the ligaments and tendons, so there was no point in doing one since the bones were fine.  I’m prescribed some anti-inflammatories and pain meds and told to follow-up with my primary care physician.

Next day, call to get into see my PCP (same clinic after hours, just a different side of the building).  Again, pokes at my knee, bones are fine, probably the ligaments or tendons.  She can’t put an order in for an MRI until I have an X-ray.  Which I was told only 12 hours earlier would be pointless .  I get the x-rays and of course, nothing wrong with the bones. A touch of arthritis and a bone spur but other than that, everything is fine.  I’m told I’ll be called for an MRI within 72 hours – since it was Thursday, it wouldn’t be until the first of the next week.

Well, I’m not getting an MRI.  I don’t feel like paying whatever it will cost me, since I have a high deductible on my medical insurance and they only cover ‘well visits’ 100%.   I’ve been icing my knee, taking the anti-inflammatories and if it starts getting sore, usually with a turn or pivot, I try to stay off of it for a bit.    Plus, if I opt for the MRI and they tell me it’s a strain or sprain and to RICE it (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) then I’ve thrown away money.

I think part of the problem with my knee is having walked awkwardly while my broken foot was healing.   I’m more mindful of how I walk, and sit.  And I need to walk more.  I’ve sat around too much lately and I can feel the difference.