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my balanced life (me and lot’s wife)


I am Lot’s wife.

Frozen in place.  A pillar of salt.

Eye on the past, no thought for the future.

Carrie and Regina Mae

I haven’t written a word since my last post on my beautiful friend, Carrie.  Afraid to write, afraid to think or feel.

Afraid to lose my friend.

Not the kind of loss that can be overcome by a long talk and a foot soak over a favorite pastry from The Corner Perk.

My sweet friend who taught me how to listen to my body.  How to walk into a room full of stretchy-bendy yoginis and just do my best.  Not compare myself to their best.

My sweet friend who taught me how to recognize peace.  How to walk away from the toxicity in my life.

My friend who taught me as much about bravery as any sheepdog I know.

I keep looking back to when the studio was open.  My safe haven from the ugliness and pain in my life.

Always looking back.  Frozen in place, my own little pillar of salt.

After spending the evening with her, I realize the fear is mine.  The despair is ours.  She’s made her peace and is ready to move on.  It’s those of us who will be left behind who struggle and despair.

Holding my breath, holding my words, won’t change the outcome.

Maybe breathing again, sharing my pain, will provide the salve my soul needs to keep going forward.

Maybe sitting next to her, absorbing her peace, will crack away at my pillar of salt.  Allow me to break free and face forward again.

Carrie

I love you, my friend.

I’ll miss you.  Always.

Sweet dreams.

See you on the other side.

my balanced life (or 95 days of movement)


There are ninety-five days left in the year.  I’m making a vow to myself and my body to make them ninety-five days of movement.

silhouette of running woman

Four years ago, I started taking yoga classes.  Yoga saved me.  During the lowest time of my life, yoga was my safe haven.

In 2011, things changed and I couldn’t make it to as many yoga classes.  So I started walking.  And then I started running.  In September 2011, I walked and ran my first 5K.   I finished.  Last.  But last beats the quitters behind me who stopped.  Even the quitters beat all those who didn’t start at all.

I walked or ran two 5Ks last year.  I kept running until November, when I fell and threw my hips out of alignment.

This year, I’ve struggled to get back into my groove.  The yoga studio closed while Carrie uses all of her energy to beat cancer.  There is a yoga class I take on Saturday  mornings, when I’m home.  And healthy.  I haven’t been since…when?  August?  Maybe July?

The last time I ran was the night before Nature Boy got mad, ran down the stairs, jumped over the gate and got bitten by my Rocky dog.  It was one of those hot, late night runs that sustained me through 2011 and mostly eluded me in 2012.  A slow, hot mile in shorts and a sports bra.  Nobody out but me and the moon.

After that, I went to bed each night thinking, “I’m too tired.  I’ll run in the morning.”  And every morning, I’d wake up thinking, “I’m too tired.  I’ll run in the evening.”

There are ninety-five days left of this year, and I’m done with excuses.  I’m going to fill those ninety-five days with movement.  If I’m too tired to run, I’ll walk.  If I’m too tired to walk, I’ll ride my beach bike.  If it’s too rainy to go outside, I’ll go to my yoga room and pretend that Carrie is there to push me to hold that position just a little longer.  Breathe just a little harder.

Between my birthday and the end of the year is when most people put on weight each year.  Between Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas goodies, it’s a challenge to get through the year without plumping up like that Thanksgiving turkey.

I used to say I dieted and exercised to get my old body back.  I’ve changed my goal.  I don’t want my 25-year-old body anymore.  I want a different body.  A better one.  One that is soft yet firm.  Toned and healthy.  Lungs that can fill me with oxygen.  Heart that beats strong and sure.  Legs that carry me to the finish line.  Arms that hold me in a handstand.  That’s the body I want to walk into 2013.

Move with me!  Let’s end 2012 in triumph and start 2013 in the best shape of our lives! 

my year of balance (or Regina Mae floats away)


I take care of my body with intention.  I practice yoga.  I get acupuncture.  I do detoxifying foot soaks.  I get rainbow oil treatments.  I tap using EFT.

yin-yang symbol

I am a Reiki master.  I meditate.  I pray.

Four years ago, I was overweight, stressed and unhappy.  Perimenopause meant hot flashes and out of control emotions.

Four years ago, I started my journey into holistic medicine.

Four years ago, I started seeing my brilliant acupuncturist, Dr. Rahmie Valentine.  Week by week, her needles worked their magic on my meridians, or energy channels.  Lying on her table, I feel myself float away.  From the table.  From my troubles.  From my pain.

As my meridians opened up, I saw definite, palpable improvements to my body and my emotions.  My hot flashes went away.  My emotions came under control, allowing me to stop using Lexapro.  My digestion cleared up, resolving a lifetime struggle with IBS.

During one of my treatments, I mentioned to Rahmie that I had inexplicably started doing yoga at home.  She referred me to Carrie Peterson Wandall, who became my beloved yoga instructor.

girl in downward facing dog yoga pose

Yoga helped me get in touch with my body.  It helped me start to hear what my body was trying to tell me. I lost twenty pounds in yoga.  I learned what peace feels like in my yoga classes.

After surgery, I told Carrie that I felt like I just couldn’t shake the anesthesia.  I felt like I was walking through a cloud.  She referred me to Barbara Bock, R.N., Ph.D.

Barbara is a registered nurse who earned a Master’s Degree in Health Care Management and her Doctorate in Health Care Administration.  Barbara spent years in traditional medicine before her own health crisis led her to holistic healthcare.  She is a Reiki master and Licensed Massage Therapist who uses her life experiences and intuition to change people’s lives.

Barbara introduced me to the world of detoxifying foot soaks.  After the first soak, I felt like a new woman.  I slept better.  I had more energy.  I felt lighter as I walked out of the treatment room.

reiki hands and om symbol

Carrie also brought me to Reiki.  “Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.”  Carrie introduced me to Bob Calabrese, who gave me my first degree attunement, and Vivian Quattlebaum, who gave me my second degree attunement.

Eric Burns gave Carrie and me our Master attunement together.  I met Eric at one of Carrie’s Holiday Restorative classes.  She lined up several Reiki practitioners to go around the room and give Reiki to the participants as we laid in various restorative poses.  When Eric gave me Reiki, my entire body tingled.  To this day, I’ve never met a more powerful Reiki practitioner!

Four years after starting my journey into holistic healing, my body is healthier than it’s ever been.  Yoga and meditation are easy ways for me to keep in touch with my body and mind on a daily basis.  Monthly acupuncture visits keep my meridians flowing.  Rainbow oil treatments are the newest feel-good addition to the repertoire.

I can’t wait to see where this journey leads me next.

Question: What do you do to take care of your body and soul?

my year of balance (or Regina Mae falls down a hill)


“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced 
life.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Twenty twelve is my year of balance.  At least it was until this past week. Seven months after my last fall, I fell again this weekend.

I wish, like Elizabeth Gilbert, I could say that I lost balance for love.  I don’t love any of the men I’ve dated this year.  None of them since Coach, anyway.

I enjoy spending time with them.  Listening to Tri-Guy tell me about his latest triathlon, which in retrospect may be me.  (Three dates and crickets chirping sounds a little like a triathlon, doesn’t it?)

I enjoy the peaceful, easy feeling I get sitting on the back patio, listening to Lady Antebellum sing, watching the sun set over the back fence, while Nature Boy tells me about his day.  I’ve never spent time with anyone who makes me feel that relaxed.  I don’t know how our story ends.  But I know it isn’t finished yet.

The other guys range from eh to nice but none of them rise to the level of love.

So, if it isn’t love that’s making me lose my balance, what is?

The feast or famine business I’m in?  I’m happy to be in the feast phase still.  Happy and tired from working too many hours the last three months. Business is definitely a frontrunner of my balance-stealing suspects.

Stress and Anxiety are running amok like evil twins.  Silent ninjas stealing my equilibrium.   I stood in the woods at the National Whitewater Center Saturday.  Instead of enjoying the peaceful feeling I normally experience surrounded by nature, all I felt was tight-chested anxiety.  I worried so much about falling down the hill, I didn’t enjoy the walk to the river.  Worried so much, I fell right as I got to the bottom of the hill.

I’ve been worried about my balance all week.  Worried about being too tired, too stressed, too anxious.  When I ended up flat on my butt, I wasn’t even surprised.  I didn’t spend any time trying to figure out how I fell.  The how isn’t relevant.  Balance is everything.  I just worked on getting back on my feet and cleaning up the aftermath.

Too much work, too many men, too much to do.  No wonder I went ass over teakettle again.

Time to pull back.  Find more help for the office.  Spend some time running, practicing yoga, meditating.  Sleeping.  Maybe putting some of the men on the back-burner.  Maybe all of them.

Or maybe not.

Question:  What do you do when you lose your balance?  Where do you find it?

adventures in dating (a series of dogs)


This morning in yoga, we did a series of dogs.  Downward dogs, that is.

woman doing downward facing dog

My dating life has been overtaken by a series of dogs, too.

It’s no coincidence that Nature Boy’s ring tone is a barking dog.  Woof woof!  We get together on his timeframe.  When it is convenient for him.  Every time I’ve suggested getting together, he’s been busy. Or he’ll call in a little while.  A little while being defined as sometime in the next week.

It’s not just Nature Boy.  He is representative of all the boys.  I’ve noticed they call on their time frame, wanting to get together when it suits them.  Their needs.  Their purposes.  Fulfilling their loneliness.

In yoga class this morning, each downward dog was a little different than the last. Different hand position.  Different foot position.  Yet each variation led to the same result.

Each dog targeted different muscles and taught our bodies something new.  Each led to a little more release.  On each dog, our muscles let go of a little more tension.

The same way our bodies learned things this morning in our series of dogs, I’m hoping my heart and mind will learn something from the men in my life.

I’ve learned I’m attracted to men who are emotionally unavailable.

Like the man who used the term “divorced” very loosely.

And the man who is still in love with his ex-girlfriend.

I’ve learned that men love a challenge.  When I let them know I’m too busy to meet them, or let them know that I’m not overly interested in getting together, they pursue me that much harder.

I have no game, so I have to actually stay busy in order to be too busy to be at their disposal.

Then there are the men who are unavailable for weeks at a time and suddenly become insistent on getting together, right after I decide I’m ready to move on to someone new.

gardenias in the moonlight

 

I’ve learned that sometimes it’s enough to sit together on the front porch, smelling gardenias and night blooming jasmine, watching the stars twinkling in the sky.  Sipping water and talking about your day.  Feeling the tension seep out of your body the same way it seeps out of your muscles when you relax into a downward dog.

I want to be as confident about settling into that feeling as I am about settling into my next downward dog.

I’ll keep exploring new men the way I explored different downward dogs, until I find the one that fits best.  I’ll relax into the knowledge that each dog has something to teach me.  Each one different and no less valuable if I only hold it for a few minutes.

I learned something in class yesterday.  When you move into a yoga position, your muscles react with dualing reactions of relaxation and retraction.  It takes thirty seconds for the relaxation reaction to outweigh the retraction.  It takes two minutes to fully relax into the position.

I wonder how long my heart will react with dualing reactions of relaxing and retracting when I start seeing each new man.

I wonder how long it will take for my heart to fully relax into the security of love.

Will my heart know it’s found the right one at once?  Will dating so many wrong men make the right one stand out so much clearer?  Like a lighthouse on a foggy night?

I wish dating were as easy as yoga.  Maybe it will be.  One day.  Time will tell.

run, regina mae, run


I never thought of myself as an athlete.  As a child, reading was my sport of choice.  When mama sent me outside to play, I’d tuck a book into the waistband of my shorts and recline under a shade tree.  A tiny, delicate girl, nobody looked at me and thought, “there’s our next star athlete.”  When it came time to pick teams, I was a bargaining chip.  (You can have HIM if you take HER.)  Other than one very determined and seemingly misguided PE teacher, nobody made an effort to turn me into an athlete, either.

That changed when I started yoga three years ago.  My jelly donut of a belly tightened up.  I found my core!   I started believing in my body.

Last March, after two months of deliberation and hours setting up the perfect playlist on my iPod, I started walking.  My first walks were plodding half-mile affairs.  I moved at a snail’s pace from my house to the pool and back – half a mile.  Then I graduated up to the elementary school around the corner – a mile.  My time dropped from 26 minutes a mile to 22.  Then 19.  My distance increased to two miles. Then three.

Around that same time, some of the girls in my yoga class started running.  They inspired me so much that I decided to run, too!  In June, after talking to my friends and reading everything I could find on the Internet about running, I downloaded the Couch to 5K (C25K) app on my iPod.

C25K is a great way for beginners to become runners.  Three times a week for eight weeks takes you from nine one-minute runs interspersed with 90-second walks to running for thirty straight minutes.

The higher the temperatures rose, the farther I ran.  My easy, every day run became the mile and a half loop around my neighborhood.  Weekend runs were two to three miles on Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.  It was the slowest run you’ve probably ever seen, but it got results.  I lost weight, my booty shrank, and the endorphin rush was out of this world!

To make sure I stayed on track, I signed up for two 5Ks:  the Lt. Dan 5K in Beaufort, SC, and the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure in Charlotte, NC.

It’s sad the Lt. Dan 5K organizers don’t have a trophy for last place finishes, because I earned it!  Thanks to shin splints that started in the first quarter mile of the race, I did my own personal portrayal of Forrest Gump (before the braces fell off), walking stiff-legged through the streets of downtown Beaufort.  My friend, Myrna, signed up the morning of the race and ran for the sole purpose of making sure I didn’t quit.  I wish I could say I’d have finished either way.  Honestly, without her pushing, prodding and encouragement, I’m pretty sure I would have joined the crowd lining our downtown streets and waited on the parade to start.

Myrna and I after the Lt. Dan 5K

Luckily, I signed up for both races early, because the dead-last finish would have discouraged me from signing up for another 5K in this decade…or lifetime!  Whatever.

Carita, Astrid and I decked out for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was a much easier event.  My baby sister, Carita, her beautiful daughter, Astrid, and I walked along with seventeen thousand other participants.  (Yep – 17,000!)  We finished solidly in the middle of the pack.  No shin splints!  No last place finishes!  That sure felt like success to me.

In the last year, I’ve walked and run over 200 miles.

I dropped my time from 26 minutes/mile to 18 minutes/mile.

I finished two 5Ks.

I learned about myself in the process.

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

I love running alone on deserted, residential streets late at night, or through a national wildlife preserve, communing with the alligators and egrets.

Getting fitted for the right shoes is as essential as sweat-wicking panties!

No matter how much my body wants to quit, my knee complains, my shin shrieks, the endorphin rush waiting for me at the finish line is worth the effort.

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 2011

There is no worse feeling than watching the pack recede further and further into the distance.  My times for my races were within two minutes of each other.  But psychologically, it’s easier for me to be crammed into the middle of a swelling pack of humanity than trailing stiff-legged behind a small crowd of much fitter and faster athletes.

It is essential to practice your parade smile and wave, just in case the parade catches up to you!  (And thanks again to the nice Beaufort Police Department officer who trailed me in his squad car, lights flashing, to make sure the parade didn’t overtake me!)

The last runner gets the loudest applause!  Mostly because the crowd knows the parade starts next, but still…I take my wildly infectious, foot-stomping, clapping, shouting encouragement any way I can get it!

Best of all, I learned that frail, skinny little girl who was me is an athlete.

I am an athlete.  I am a runner.  My run may not look like yours, but it doesn’t have to.  It just has to look like mine.

Question:  What have you done lately to expand your idea of yourself?  How have you taken the idea of who you are and turned it on its head?  And if you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for?

yoga whispers


Yoga came to me in a whisper.  And it saved my life.

At the yoga studio where I practice, I am the poster girl for “if she can yoga, anyone can.”  My yoga instructor has told me that she’s never seen anyone so completely disconnected from her body.round yogini in loose forward fold

Disconnection was my coping mechanism.  That was my survival method for enduring an unhappy marriage for over twenty years.  My body practically shouted at me, “Pay attention!  You are hurting! Life can be better!” But I was adept at tuning out the shouting.  But one night, lying in bed, I heard a whisper.  Just a whisper.

“You should start doing yoga.”

Yoga?  I was an overweight forty-something.  It would be difficult to find someone less athletic than me.  I spent my childhood curled up with books, hundreds of books – sneaking them out of the house under my shirt when my mother ordered me to play outside.  Thanks to two ear surgeries, my balance is still precarious at best.  But the whisper was persistent.

You should start doing yoga.”

So I did.

I started with easy beginner yoga videos, and within weeks, I was hooked.  Eventually, I got up the nerve to start taking classes at the local yoga studio.  The knowledge and support I received at YogiVeda transformed my practice. The friends I made in yoga class became my support system and my lifeline in the dark days ahead.

Within months, I lost weight, my blood pressure came down, and the hot flashes that were keeping me awake at night (thanks, early menopause!) were under control.  I could touch my toes for the first time in my adult life!  My back pain disappeared.

Within six months, I was ready for my first weekend yoga retreat!  My insightful, beautiful yoga instructor, Carrie Wandall, started the class by giving each of us a piece of paper.  As we meditated for a few minutes, she told us to think about what was toxic in our life, and write it on the piece of paper.  She told us we dedicate our practice to ridding ourselves of whatever was most toxic to us, and symbolically burn all those little pieces of paper at the end of the class.

I obediently sat with my knees crossed and eyes closed, asking myself what was toxic in my life.  The same answer came to me over and over again.

My marriage. 

My marriage is toxic.

My marriage is killing me.

That’s the day I knew my marriage had to end.  It took another year and a half to have the courage to walk away, to ask for the divorce I knew we both needed.  But that was my beginning.

Yoga class showed me what peace felt like.  For years, I memorized Bible verses about peace.  I craved peace in my life, in my home.  But I never knew what peace felt like until I found it laying in Savasana, corpse pose, at the end of yoga classes.    Then, I’d come home and feel that peace being sucked out of me, replaced with my old frenemies, Anxiety and Anger.

Thanks to yoga, today my heart is filled with peace.  My house is filled with peace.   And when my body talks to me, I listen ever so carefully.

What is your body telling you? Is your body shouting at you? Do you listen for the whisper that’s trying to save you?