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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bold Moves October: one step at a time.

I finally got around to taking that belly dancing class last week, and totally intended on writing about it, but each time I sat down to do so, all of the basic elements were the same - fun. concentration. sweaty.

Last night, as I deleted yet another draft about belly dancing, I came across a video of a guy who was determined to hold his handstand for three seconds.  I think there are two types of yogis in this world - those of which handstands come very naturally, and then the rest of us, like me and this guy, who struggle with it because we have no arm strength, or we freak out once we're up there, or we convince ourselves we can't do it.  Yoga teachers say you'll get there eventually - it is a practice, after all - but its hard to ignore your ego when you've been at this for a few weeks and you're still falling down like a baby trying to walk, except it hurts more because you're getting older.  But one day, like some kind of miracle, you'll do that handstand.  Yoga is crazy like that.

A little over a week ago, on a very bright Sunday morning, I woke up earlier than I wanted to.  Not wanting to get out of bed, I turned on my phone to find a message from my mom with just the words "call me."  Knowing something serious had happened, I called her immediately, expecting all of the worst things when you have an ailing grandparent, a sister in high school, a cat that has used up her 9 lives and then some.  It was none of those things.

Our twenty year old neighbor was in a terrible motorcycle accident.  As of today, he has lost both legs below the knee, after many days of wondering if the second knee would hold.  A guy who was studying to become a state trooper and spent his summers surfing and his winters snowboarding, he is, by all accounts, in good spirits, and determined to do all of the things he did before.  He's being moved to the same rehab that the Boston Marathon bombing victims were patients at, and my neighborhood is rallying and supporting in whatever way they can.

When I think about our friendship, it is a flurry of interesting moments - crazy nor'easters where we'd both be outside shoveling and snowblowing ours and our neighbors' driveways and sidewalks; walking him around the school he'd end up attending, and taking him to my favorite wing spot for dinner after; visiting his family's beach house and me, totally wiping out on the skim board, while he mastered it gracefully.  Its strange to think that so many of those things that seem normal and uneventful will now become events in his life once again.  He'll face many challenges and have a whole new future of firsts - walking, running, surfing - and it will no doubt be a long road, but I have zero doubt that he will succeed.  He just has that kind of attitude.

Looking at this guy, who is determined to hold that handstand, and our neighbor, who is just determined to walk again... its a lesson in patience.  Practice.  Accepting that wanting to overcome this obstacle is half the battle.  Each time that I try to get into my down dog, or my hand stand, and get frustrated, I have to remember that a year from now this will be easier.  A year from now I will be able to do this and will move on to the next challenge.  If these two guys, one a stranger and one not, can overcome a challenge, then so can I.  I just have to take it one step at a time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bold Moves October: just do it.

Back in the spring, I was eager to get out of our hiking rut.  There are so many great places to hike in Los Angeles and surrounding areas, but it can sometimes feel a little daunting to pick a new route, especially if the research you do says "its an easy hike" and afterwards you feel like you just climbed Everest.  (This happens to me more often than I would like.)  Since we live so close to Griffith Park which is filled with trails, we finally settled on a hike I read about that sounded easy.  3ish miles, "rolling hills" and being able to stand at the absolute top of the park with a 360 view of LA.

The first time we did this hike, we admittedly got a little lost as first, and we ended up doing the "easy" part - practically zero inclines, relatively short (maybe about a mile, mile and a half) - and I felt like I was dying.  It didn't help that the path had zero shade and it was 80 degrees.  We realized afterwards that this could not have been the hike we had intended to do (even though I was perfectly happy with it) and vowed to give it another shot.

The next time we tried it, I brought my MapMyFitness app along to log distance/pacing/etc.  It ended up being an almost 4 mile hike that took about an hour and a half, with an elevation of over 600 feet.  When I look at the elevation map that MapMyFitness gave me it looks like a slow incline up and a slow incline down, but let me tell you, it does NOT feel that way.  Its more like steep incline, plateau, steep incline, plateau, like whoever built this path realized that some people will need to take a breather or two.  The day we did the whole thing, it was crazy hot, and my post-hike headache came roaring on even before we made it halfway down.  I felt awful afterwards - nauseated, overheated, and about ready to chalk it up to a loss.  Yes, I did it, but instead of feeling like a conquered the world, I instead felt like I had come down with the flu.  No fun.

C has still been doing this hike pretty often, and I ended up tagging along, only to bow out of the big hike and only doing the shorter, easier one, making sure I did an out and back and paced in a few 1 min runs here and there to make it worth my while.  I hadn't been feeling well all that week and knowing how I felt the last time?  Wasn't interested.  Yet as we left the park, I sort of felt like I hadn't made enough of an effort.

This past weekend, he was up for it again, and I decided that I was going to do the whole she-bang.  I hydrated like crazy the morning of, bought a few Vitamin Waters for post-hike rehydration, and made sure I wore my Red Sox hat this time.  Even though I stopped a few times, C remarked that he felt I stopped WAY less than the last time I did this hike, and kept up a faster pace.  (Unfortunately I forgot to use my MapMyFitness app, so I have zero proof.)  Normally while hiking, I find myself seriously huffing and puffing up the steeper inclines, and taking longer to catch my breath, just to go through the cycle all over again.  This time, however, it felt like my recovery was quicker, my legs burned less, and even better, I had ZERO post-hike headache.  Say what!?

I'm not sure if there is any one thing to point to as my success - I'm finally getting back on the yoga mat tonight after an awful 2 week hiatus, I haven't done that hike in MONTHS, and the only thing different this time was the fact that I was wearing a hat - but whatever it is, I'm glad it happened.  At a time where I was really not feeling a hike, or anything active, I felt like I overcame a huge obstacle, both physically and personally.  And, not to sound cheesy, but after an epic 10 second Patriots touchdown and a Big Papi grand slam yesterday, I'm going into this week feeling a little bit more eager to take on some challenges, and, you know, make some bold moves.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bold Moves October: paying it forward.

Our power went out at 4:30 am this morning.  Ever have that happen in a large apartment building?  If you have, you've probably noticed that the emergency exit signs give off a high pitched, consistent noise that needs to be manually shut off.  When your onsite manager is out of the country and has someone temporarily taking her place, that doesn't happen right away, which means you've probably been awake since 4:30.  Or at least, I have.


In addition to that, I had to get bloodwork done this morning at 9 am, which meant no eating or drinking anything - not that I could have, because the power was still out - but it meant my crankiness was in overload.

When I got to the office, there was only one open parking spot, and I saw it long after I passed it.  I quickly turned around, but by the time I got back to it and put my directional on, another woman had pulled up.  She took one look at me, one look at the spot, and took it.

I immediately became crazy annoyed, shooting dirty looks in her direction, until I realized a spot had opened up three cars away.  Had I taken a deep breath and recognized that she knew this before I did, and therefore knew I'd have a parking spot, all would have been well.  But I didn't.  I fumed and fumed, and then passing her in the walkway, made a not-so-nice remark, which I immediately regretted but was too embarassed to face.  I went to my appointment and spent the entire time feeling so utterly guilty and awful for behaving such a way.  Was she a total stranger and did her opinion matter?  Yes and no.  But when you're trying to put good energy into the world and you're a work in progress, sometimes you slip.

On my way back to my car, I realized she hadn't left yet, so I quickly grabbed a piece of paper, wrote a very quick "I'm sorry, bad day, you were right, hope this covers your parking, have a great day", stuck a few bills inside the folded up paper, and popped it on her windshield.  First step?  Admitting I'm wrong.  Second step?  Trying to rectify... well, sort of.

On my way home, assuming our power wasn't back on (which it wasn't), I got in the crazy long Starbucks drive thru line, desperate for a latte.  When I approached the window to pay, I asked the barista if I could add value to my Starbucks card and then pay for my drink, and he said he'd be happy to add the value, but my drink was already paid for.

Say what?!

Turns out, today Starbucks started their Pay it Forward program, and the woman in front of me bought me my latte.  The barista asked if I'd like to keep it going, and I said absolutely!  (I used to do this religiously while driving to camp every weekend by paying the toll fare for the car behind me, before EZ Pass was invented.)  He mentioned I was the 6th car in a row to do this, and he was interested to see how long that chain could last.  The other barista working with him was totally jazzed to hear another customer had participated, and it was so wonderfully refreshing to see people championing such kind acts, especially in an industry that can sometimes be more demeaning than rewarding.

When I got home, I realized I spent the entire drive beaming, not because of my free latte, but because I bought a total strange breakfast.  When facing a bad day or things that can be annoying, its hard to remember that elation that comes from random acts of kindness.  So today's #BMO?  Paying it forward, and remembering to do it often.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bold Moves October: better late than never!

I have been severely unmotivated lately.  It started with not feeling well, which caused me to miss a few yoga classes, and then it snowballed from there, and its been driving me nuts.  I finally took a step in the right direction last night and made a new recipe (easy one skillet lasagna; its so easy and SO good) and bought art supplies over the weekend, so I am slowly (but very surely!) trying to motivate myself to do anything.

Last night, as I was scrolling through my blog feed and keeping my fingers crossed for a Dodger win, I came across a post regarding Bold Moves October.  I am probably the last person on the planet to be aware of any sort of blog-related movement, but the post in question was about allowing yourself to say no so that you can open up space for more joy, and I was intrigued.  Doing a little digging this morning, I came across the source, and now that I've read a lot of entries, I am totally into it.  I love the idea of challenging oneself - I've always loved a challenge - and facing a fear or an anxiety and really noticing, what is the big deal?  What is the worst that could happen?

Everyone has definitive regrets in their life.  I do my best to not focus on the things I should have done, but rather the things I can control moving forward, but sometimes you get stuck in the downward spiral of "why didn't I study abroad? why didn't I reapply for that position?"  And, even in the face of knowing you may regret NOT doing something, it can sometimes be difficult to find self-motivation to do it in the first place.  This kind of daily challenge is exactly what I needed, when I needed it.  (Again, I say - ask the Universe, and you shall recieve!)

I have made a few choices recently that I'd consider bold moves, but for starters here, I'll mention that I'm planning on going to my first belly dancing class Thursday night.  I've never been to a belly dancing class, and thought about going last week, but totally chickened out.  And for what?  What is the worst that could happen?  I make a fool out of myself? I do that on a regular basis - at least I'll be burning some calories while doing it!

I'll keep track of my progress and am interested to see what comes out of this crazy little experiment.  After all, as the rules say, the first week will be harrowing and the last will be enlightening, and I could use a little enlightenment.