Thursday, June 27, 2013

Yoga Tipping Point

Back when I lived in Boston I set the rather arbitrary goal for myself of getting "good" at yoga.  Retrospectively, being far more into yoga then I ever was living there I don't quite know what that means.  I know I envisioned myself leaping into headstands and contortions easily-without even mussing my hair-but really, what the heck does "get good" even mean?  In the past year or so I went to yoga to be left alone and stretch out my body that was surrendering to fatigue, arthritis, and give my brain a break from a pretty monotonous stream of "to-do's" and I liked it.  I liked the teachers-even when they attached themselves to my back in a lemur like fashion to push me into a pose that I resisted, I liked the light/bright studio, I liked the quiet, and I liked the idea of being in a "fitness" practice that pretty much had no peak-there would always be a new challenge.    

Of course I say that and it makes it all sound very glowy and happy-there were many classes I dragged myself too and spent the bulk of the class counting down the minutes and feeling annoyed about the sing song wood nymph like voice the instructor was using in an attempt to seem all transcendent and superior.  And don't even get me going over my growing hatred of the heat and mass pile of sweat soaked towels taking over my laundry area.  

One day though I was in a class with a teacher I love/hate.  I love her energy and how she'll segway while forcing us to hold a pose for what feels like an excruciating amount of time on some tidbit of yoga philosophy.  She went into a rather long explanation about chakras while I was holding Warrior 2, describing how the ego (green) is located around our mid back and its where we store things like jealousy/expectations, etc-and if thats something you struggle with you'll have fears and difficulties with backbends.  As she went through the chakras and the poses meant to challenge them or release the negativity I was floored by how issues I didn't have (like supporting myself) and the relationship with the ease I could move into those poses versus my obvious struggles and how they correlated to poses I loathed.  

I approached the instructor after class to tell her enthusiastically how much the dialogue had been in my wheelhouse.  After discussing mind body connection for awhile she suggested I go to teacher training.  I scoffed it off stating I was too new, and she scoffed right back saying my energy and heart were in the right place and that she would be teaching the next round.

I considered it, and thought, "No, too busy with Corporate America."

Then I was lying by the pool and I looked over to see an abandoned book lying next to me-all about chakras.  I glared up at the universe, then spent about 3 hours reading the book cover to cover because I was fascinated.

I thought a bit more about it wondering if the high cost was a money grubbing scam.

While I was doing that internet search I flipped on the television to see an interview with a yoga master on how yoga helped him in his search for spirituality.  

I caught myself complaining about how bored I was and how much I wanted to learn something new that could actually impact other people.

And then I thought, whats the harm?  Worst case is I spend a lot of money to take a 200 hour course and am bored but learn a lot. Best case is I become a teaching guru-even if I wind up somewhere in the middle I'm ahead.

I signed up. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Farewell to Moderation

Awhile ago I went on a "clean" eating purge that lasted about 60 days.  No alcohol, no caffeine, pretty regimented meal times, and minimal processed food.  I ate an obscene amount of greek yogurt in an effort to hit a protein quota.  I felt amazing!  I didn't loose any weight, but I dropped 2 jean sizes, had insane amounts of energy, was sleeping better and had upper arms that even Jillian Michaels wouldn't criticize.  

In order to do this though, I became something of a social pariah.  I went to work, I went to yoga, I went to Pilates, I hung out with myself and Ari-and I had no real issues sticking to my cleanse. In the midst of my body high I felt a little lonely and decided that as my cleanse ended I was going to recommit to my social circle, meet new people, and by god I was going to date.  Do you know what happens when you're socializing with people in their late twenties and early thirties?  You stay up late, you end up having lots of drinks ordered for you-which you drink so as not to be a lame ass, and you find indulgences smothered in cheese become the norm and the sexy jeans you were parading around in smugly that helped you meet new people no longer fit.  

My sister and common sense parroted that I needed to be more moderate.

You know what?  I suck at moderation.  SUCK.  I'm too much of a perfectionist to quite literally work "cheats" into a plan, and to be honest once I have a cheat I usually can't stop until its gone (says the empty quart of ice cream in the bottom of my trash can).  I want things to be "right" and I will work my ass off to get them there.  When I was unhappy at work I sulked for awhile (albeit epically), then got off my ass and lobbied hard for a new role and a new manager.  After about a year of not dating anyone in Austin, I acquiesced to several requests and got on a dating site with an open mind telling myself the worse that would happen is I would say "No thanks."  I don't do things half way-I do full stops, consider the situation for awhile, and then go all in.  

Its how I work.  

I read an article on Gretchen Rubin's (author of the Happiness Project) website commenting that for her abstinence is easier than moderation-and it struck a chord.  Yes!  Abstinence vs. Moderation-there are tons of us out there preferring to go all in rather then gently inching into the cold water.

That said, I elected to sign up for a Teacher Training Immersion at CorePower Yoga, the reasoning in a post to follow.  I am about to find out that the opposite of moderation is.  12 hours of classroom time and 5-7 hours of practice (actual yoga classes) for the next 8 weeks coupled with a cleanse.  That's almost 20 hours of yoga a week for 2 months.  Even as someone who loves going all in-I'm completely daunted and also completely accepting that for me, this is how I lean and learn into my passions.  

Fare thee well moderation, I'll see you on the other sid

Monday, April 15, 2013

Thoughts from a Runner on Boston

Around 2 o'clock this afternoon my phone started to buzz with text messages asking if I was okay.  

Then my sister texted me "2 bombs detonated at marathon finish" and that was how I heard about the tragedy in Boston.

This morning some of my closest girlfriends, girls I had talked to only a couple days ago were out there-bibs on an ready to run-posting on Facebook "I run this town", "En route to the start!!", and "preparing to be inspired!!"  

Having run a marathon there is nothing like the elation of finishing, the experience of pushing your body to its limit, the roar of the crowd, and the sheer camaraderie of fellow runners surrounding you. Boston is "the" marathon.  One of the toughest in the world to qualify for, and known to anyone who runs as the best of the best.

The coverage throughout the morning, tracking the elites, made me miss my walk to work though Commonwealth Avenue and down Boylston street in front of the public library where I used to stop 2 or 3 times a week, the Marathon Sports store whose running group I was a part of for 3 years and where I was fitted for dozens of shoes, and the Finish line where for 2 years I had joined in the revelry that is Patriot's Day in Boston.  I was monitoring my friends' times and feeling proud…and jealous.  

And then around 2 o'clock this afternoon my phone started to buzz.

I saw the smoke in a place I am more familiar with than most places in Austin.  I saw the my old office window in the photographs at the scene and my apartment in the aerial footage.  I saw so many runners just collapsing and crying and running. I worried about my friends frantically refreshing all my social media and responded to other friends who worried that I was there.  I thanked god that my sister had missed qualifying by 4 minutes, and hated myself for thanking god for that.

I am 3000 miles away, and I am sick with sadness because I can so perfectly picture every minute of it.  I know what it is to finish, to be completely depleted-but I can't imagine what it is to run 20+ miles and have a bomb go off and be unable to run any faster than you have the previous 20.  To have no place to run to.  To worry about all the people who loved you enough to support you at the race and not know where they were or if they were okay.  To know that the runner who passed you and gave you a pep talk for no other reason than runners take care of each other could be dead.  That a place as familiar to you as the back your hand, a place where you knew the divits in the sidewalk was soaked in blood and screams.  

I am a runner, so I can imagine the terror and depletion, and the annoyance of the runners as they were slowed to a stop before they knew what was going on.  I am a runner so I know what "Boston" means-years of tradition, pride, athleticism, inspiration, and excellence and I hate that in an instant someone could change that connotation.  

I am a nomad.  No place has ever felt quite like home to me, but the streets of Back Bay and the Charles River where I ran almost daily and slipped into moments of quiet consciousness  are some of the places that I've felt most at home.  

Boston is where I learned to love to run.  And maybe that, more than any other reason is why I feel guilty for not being there-my community was attacked, and I'm not sure if it hurts more because it was a place I called home or to a group of people that as a collective always make me feel like I'm home.  

Pray for Boston.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Cracks

Before the holidays began my manager left the company and it was decided that given that the holidays are the busiest time of the year it wasn't the best time to bring someone aboard.  So my colleague and I picked up the slack.  I was amply rewarded for this promotion in duties with a 10% raise, stock, and a small bonus.  I was thrilled with the challenge, laying down process as law, dividing product across hundreds of accounts, rolling my eyes in meetings with high level people and generally being bad ass at my job.  

The problem:  being bad-ass at my job and performing at the level I was translated into working when I was home, desecrating my social life to be online and responding to emails, answering calls from frantic sales guys at 11 o'clock at night, accepting more and more responsibility in order to get the work done, even my slumber was surrendered as I would dream I was at the office when I was lucky enough to fall asleep-most nights I was in a ball mentally working through the to-do list. 

I was okay with it, because I knew the commitment I had made through the holidays.  In mid-January though, I was sitting in my cubicle, on my headset in front of a 27" display, giving a presentation to senior leadership, and I bombed my presentation.  Bombed it.  Epic failure.  The slide deck wasn't done, and the work was clearly not up to par.  

I got off the call and set my head on my desk, not even bothering to remove my headset.  So this is what failure felt like?  As I sat there ruminating in what had transpired I recalled a conversation with my management from the week before when they'd asked how I was holding up and I had answered, "I'm beyond my limit, I'm keeping everything together by doing the minimum required for everything, and I'm not sure when but something is going to fall through the cracks."  Hello cracks.  

My phone started to ring.  I got on another call and listened to storming and raging by another team about why my team was out to jeopardize everything they had worked for.

All I could think was, what am I doing here?  

I got up and grabbed my manager and pulled him into a team room for a chat.  In the next 30 seconds I made a bad female employee mistake.  I got angry, I got emotional, I got teary eyed.  My (male) manager didn't know what to do.  Obviously crying girl makes any man uncomfortable, but when one of the rock solid performers on your team is having a crying breakdown in front of you thats obviously hard to handle.  I regained my composure, looked him square in the eye, and told him, "I can't do this anymore.  And I have no choice but to look for another job because if I have to be berated by anymore people I interact with about how I am not doing enough when I've sacrificed my personal life, my family and a relationship to be here I am going to snap."

Then I walked to my desk, grabbed my purse and my keys-and left the office.  At 10 in the morning.

I went home and slept for 20 straight hours.  

I woke up to 18 messages from sales rep desperate for my help.  One of them had called me 8 times.  In a 2 hour span of time.  

I didn't give a rip.  I had fallen through the cracks, and was enjoying the free fall of not giving a damn.  

Reaching my limit was a blessing, because once I got there I remembered that it was just a job, a job I had done well-and far beyond the original expectation that had been outlined months before.  I remembered my priorities: and one of my priorities  is being excellent at my job and respecting the people in my life and having them respect me-and I was being set up to fail.  

And once I realized that, I could remind other people as well.  And draw the line about what was acceptable to me, those cracks made that line extremely easy to see.

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Soon you will see..."

Does anyone else have those friends on their Facebook feed who sappily post lyrics to pop songs in an effort to thinly veil their emotional duress behind the words of Katie Perry or the annoying Goteye?  For awhile on my wall a girl I vaguely know worked her way through the entire Top 40 in the 2 month duration of her relationship.  Its a little disturbing when songs I hear on my commute home remind me of a guy I never met because of this girl's regularity of high school girl style posting.  She didn't moderate herself at all.

Anyway, its something I swore that I would personally never do when I had an ex post ALL OF THE lyrics of Jewel's "You were meant for me" directly on my wall in case I overlooked it on my newsfeed or something.  My sister made fun of me for months, crooning "soon you will see you were meant for me" whenever I regaled her with his latest attempt to win me back.  In retrospect its just as hilarious as it was then, but really really sad in a pathetic "Dude pull yourself together" kind of way.  

I adhered for 4 years.

And then, today, I had an emotion that was best summed up with a Top 40 lyric.  I posted and quickly removed it.  Damn my inner high school girl who feels the only one who understands her in the whole world is Lady Gaga.  Of course maybe one song lyric in 4 years is moderation?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Flashback: NYE

As a concept I like the idea of New Year's Eve being a goal loving junkie, but in practice I loathe it.  

Not the resolutions portion, the celebration that mandates this be the best day of the previous year and set the standard of what is to come.  It never does.  Its always a mammoth let down. 

I spent most of my morning answering enraged emails and trying to locate product curled up in the fetal position in front of my work computer.   Around 8 o'clock I wiggled into a petite brown strapless dress that demanded attention for my legs and wandered to my friend's house party…and en route got a note from an ex wishing me a happy NYE, an instant downer and prelude of what was coming.  

I walked into the party and was immediately confronted at the door with a voice that made me stiffen.  The voice of someone I violently hate who a few months before I had been relentlessly pursued by until I wasn't, I swallowed down my rage plastered a smile onto my face and marched in… and he eyed my legs like a fox about to pounce.  Luckily my friend Jon swooped in and provided a social barrier.  About five minutes later another cast of thousands arrived and with it yet another of my Austin mistakes.  I felt awful and exposed,  I wanted to disappear.  

In the elevator on the way to another party one of the former contenders for my affection was loudly parroting on about wanting to get 'nailed' that night, Jon noticed I was going white knuckled and quickly handed me a bag of M&M's.  We crossed in front of my building and I resisted the urge to barrel home to Ari.  Once we arrived at the bar we got into the line, and yet another guy I had gone on 3 or 4 dates with jumped in behind me.  At this point I looked up at the stars and stated, "Are you fucking kidding me?"  I decided then and there that God was clearly trying to tell me something so I turned and chatted to the guy behind me and caught up on his life's happenings.  

Once in the bar I got a deathstare by some guy who had tried to pick me up at the bar the week before.  I was not surprised and prepared myself to assume that there was a real possibility that everyone I had locked lips with in the 3 years I've lived here was going to make an appearance.  I decided to be grateful I looked hot and that I was in the immediate vicinity of strong social lubricants.  

I saw some girlfriends across the bar and made my way over.  Once a beer went down I relaxed, and as the night wore on I talked to my assorted and failed dalliances.  And they were boring, kind of dumb, a little lame, or just plain old scuzzy man whores.  Out of no where I went from feeling awkward, to feeling grateful that these guys weren't a part of my life anymore.  I stopped feeling unloveable and focused on my friends.  

I danced and gabbed, and got a surprising kiss, with tongue, from one of my best girlfriends.  How's that for unloveable?  My savior of the night Jon kept me company with all manner of sarcastic commentary and at midnight spared me the awkwardness of staring at my glass by giving me a bear hug and a smooch.  After midnight he and I went to a diner and grabbed a late night snack with some friends who had also had the same idea.  We chuckled and laughed, and all around had a banner evening.  I was glad my night had ended far from where it started with someone I consider a real friend-the extra company was gone literally and figuratively.  

NYE is a time to spend reflecting on the year ahead and to spend some time with friends.  For my NYE my reflection was brought to the front and center of my space.  I faced my fear, and ended the night in a totally new place.  

I felt beautiful and lovable and completely free, and thats a great way to begin a new year.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sans Vino: Moderation Extreme Challenge

About 4 weeks ago I woke up on the floor of my apartment with all the lights on.  Shoes littered along with my bra in the path I navigated the night before from my doorway to my bedroom.  My phone denoted calls that I had little recollection of.  

This is never a good way to begin your day.

I crawled to my bathroom, and promptly vomited.  Did I mention it was a Monday morning?  I had gotten shit ripped on a Sunday evening…with my parents who were in town visiting.  Somewhere on the other side of Austin my Mother was making her own pilgrimage to the bathroom.  I had had a fabulous time with Mama and Papa Gray the night before, such a good time that we had all giggled when I was tossed into the back of the truck they were driving and I tried to guide them the wrong way down one way streets to get me home.  

As I sat in my cubicle at work an hour or so later feeling like garbage, I winced at the light and the annoying chipperness of my colleague I share a cubicle wall with, I cringed at the memory of my mother telling hilarious sex jokes, I felt nothing but embarrassed every time I glanced at my call log.  And dear god the text messages.  But mostly I felt squeamish by the idea of losing control.  On a Sunday.  On a school-errr-work night.  

I spent my lunch eating out in my car reading the latest Jillian Michaels book, alone with the silence trying to will my head to a non-pounding state.  Jillian went into great detail about why drinking to excess was bad for you. In my sorry state I was willing and eager apostle for her gospel, and decided then and there to go cold turkey on alcohol for 30 days.  No beer, no cocktails, and no wine.  Not even after a stressful workday, not even out with all my boozy friends.  For the first time since I was 19 I was going to abstain.  

Out the gate I was nervous, I have friends that can't go two days sans wine without getting the shakes.  But I was fine, didn't miss it at all.  I was sleeping better, getting in significantly better work outs and even waking up easily in the morning.  On Sunday mornings I would bounce out of bed by 9 in a blaze of productivity in time usually reserved for my moderate hangovers.   Do you know what its like to have gotten in a 2 hour work out, have cleaned your apartment, and done all your grocery shopping before 1 PM on a Sunday?  Neither did I before this little endeavor of mine,  let me assure you, It was awesome.  

Also, do you know what happens when you cut out drinking?  Say adios to your pouch.  In all my 27 years I have always stored anything excess in my body in my boobs and in my tummy…well…all of the excess in my stomach disappeared!  I have muscles that I can see, and they are cute ones!  I did a victory dance in my shower whenI noted the change.  

After 20 days I was ready to commit to a life without booze forever, I was on a high.

But then, I had a really shitty day at work.  Really shitty, like panic attack-tear inducing shitty day at work.  At home my wine winked at me from the bottom level of my fridge.  "Drink me!!!"  Unwind!!  Relaxing reds!  Kill the memories of today!"  I went to yoga instead.  It did not produce a satisfying buzz.  And I spent most of the class glaring at my mat, mentally at the office thinking about how badly I wanted wine.  

I went to a friend's birthday dinner and was that awkward one who wasn't drinking.  It was weird when people kept asking me why I wasn't drinking.  One colleague even asked me if I was abstaining because I was pregnant, which as he put it, "would explain me not drinking and being so moody at work."  I had no idea it was going to be such a thing.  

Out another night I faced questioning about whether or not I was on some weird medication, there could be no other reason for me to me alcoholless.

I went out with other friends, and once again I was heckled by all sides for not drinking.  Which was annoying, and so are drunk people when you are sober.  

I had never pictured not drinking alcohol to drive a social stigma, but it does.  Particularly when you are young, single, with a reputation for being fun.  I felt like a Debbie Downer-which was weird because I was all but levitating when I wasn't in social settings-my energy was through the roof, my skin was clear, and need I remind you, I had abs to keep me company.  

My 30 days are up today and I'm trying to figure out how to be moderate about alcohol now that my extreme is off the table.  Truth be told, I'm glad I did it, but I feel oddly lonely as I complete the journey.  The not drinking thing made me so uncomfortable around my friends I spent a lot of nights in.  On the flip side, I love how I feel after a cleanse from it.  

I'm am sure I will go back to having a glass or two of wine, and it will be nice to not to feel like a pariah when I'm out with friends-but its nice to feel like my body is powering on all cylinders. I just need to add some moderation to my plan to get the best of both worlds.  

Fare thee well abs, it was fun while it lasted.