Free Ranging It

I’ve been on the road most of this week visiting family. All the running around has left me a little tapped out blog-wise, but I have a good feeling about how quickly I’ll be inspired again.

In the meantime, I’ve just started reading a pretty awesome book that I thought I should share on here (I’m also thinking of making an essential reading list page for this blog).

Be a Free Range Human” is going to a pretty fantastic read; I can already tell and I’m only a couple chapters in.

One things that’s struck me about it so far, and that I saw in action this week, is the idea of putting of the things you want to do until later in favor of working now. So, as long as I choose something that makes lots of money, I’ll have that money to spend having fun once I retire.

I’ll take the fun and fulfillment now, thanks.

I’m excited to go through the exercises to try to tailor my work even more to fit who I am and what I want. My plan is to love my job even more than I already do, what could be better than that?

Do you know why everyone at Chicago street tests go bonkers for these guys? Because they love what they do!
Do you know why everyone at Chicago street fests goes bonkers for these guys? Because they love what they do!

Slowing Down

I have so much to do today that I am going to meditate for two hours instead of one -Mahatma Gandhi

Yesterday I finally kept a promise to myself; way back in the winter I decided that one day, when the weather was warm, I would sit under a tree by the lake and meditate for as long as my heart desired.

I haven’t felt so free in a very long time. The strong winds, pounding waves, the movement of the grass and leaves, I felt like they were allowing me to finally release some of my old wounds. After those two hours, I felt lighter than I have in a long time.

It was a revelation in many ways, but one thing that struck me the most yesterday was how much time I seemed to have for the rest of the day. Normally, my days go whizzing by in a whirlwind of activity and thought. Yesterday I was constantly amazed by how early in the day it was. I’m sure that part of that is that I set no tasks for myself beyond the meditation and eating.

There’s more to it than that though. I had my phone and computer off all day (well, until I caved at 6:00 pm), and I focused on one thing at a time.

It inspired me to try a mini-experiment: for the next week, I have turned off the email alerts on my phone. In fact, the only alerts I’ve allowed are phone calls and texts.

So far, I love it! I’m so used to being immediately reachable via email that I thought it would feel like I’d lost a part of myself. Instead, I feel more able to really focus on the task at hand.

I have been just as productive today as I would be on one of my whirlwind days (I ran, I went to yoga class, I cooked for myself, I ran errands, I did laundry, and now I’m writing this post!), but I feel much calmer than I normally do.

I think a two hour meditation day is going to become a weekly event! How about you? Have you tried anything similar? How did it work for you?

Ch-ch-ch-changes

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. –Carl Rogers

I’ve been thinking a lot about some of my old posts over the past couple of months. There a a few ideas that I’d like to revisit when I have the time and mental space. This seems like a good place to start.

As I’m softening, breathing, smiling, all the things I like to do, and then came that blessing. It felt like a little contraction in my heart just to hear it.

I still remember that moment very clearly. It could have happened this morning instead of 9 months ago. It was one of those moments that stopped me in my tracks and pointed me in a new direction. It also introduced me to Val, who is amazing.

The idea of accepting myself in each moment, of not trying to force myself to change with willpower alone, has been one the most powerful tools I’ve gained so far on this journey.

The first time I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “I accept you and love you” and actually believed it; that was when things really started to shift for me.

I used to be a very negative person, I was always beating myself up for my mistakes and demanding perfection. Accepting my own fallibility with the same love that I extend to my friends and clients really changed my outlook on life.

I grew and became the positive, cheerful person I am today. From pessimist to optimist, just like that.

It took a lot of struggle and heartache for me to get on this path, and I wouldn’t trade any of it away.

 

Play Outside

Many years ago I had a gym membership. It was a nice little neighborhood gym, with very few intimidating members. It was mostly older women, come to think of it.

I lasted for about ten months, then the expense (as well as boredom) got to be too much.

Now I do most of my exercise outside (even in the winter, back when I could ride my bike, I was a 365 commuter), and I love it. It’s amazing what a difference it makes when I walk or run outdoors.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that all the walking and climbing on ice formations I did this past winter is what kept me feeling good all the way into the middle of February.

Now that it’s officially summer for us northern hemispherers, it’s great time to take advantage of the free opportunities for activity and exercise presented by the great outdoors.

Personally, I like to run over to the lake a couple mornings a week and then play in the water as part of my cool down. Evanston’s lakefront trail is cool too, they have some neat workout stations along the trail.

Pick a spot that inspires and refreshes you, and do the activity of your choice. The lack of climate control adds a nice little spice to things, and you really can’t beat the price!

 

Challenge Accepted

I wrote about a recent realization I had about my own physical capabilities. In a small way, I have experienced what it’s like when your body “betrays” you.

That feeling still lingers in the periphery of my awareness, that tiny little voice telling me, “you can’t” when I start to consider whether or not to push myself harder. It spoke up when I decided to start taking kettlebell and boxing classes (which I absolutely love), and it spoke up when I decided to start running again.

Sure, the last time I took up running was when my wrist issues were just starting and I had no idea what was coming. I ended up running for a couple of months and stopping when I had chronic hip pain and bronchitis. That was a fun summer.

I have to remind myself sometimes that I really have changed my relationship with my body in the past two years. I give it love and care that it would never have occurred to me to give back then.

So this past Sunday morning I had a little thought, one of those little sparks of inspiration that only hit me when I’m outside in the fresh air, I should run a marathon the year I turn 35.

That means I should aim to run a half-marathon next year and go the full monty the year after that. That seems just over the line of what’s possible, like I’m being a little overly-ambitious. Good.

I’m putting this new idea out on the blog now for two reasons. One, putting this intention out there for all the world to see will be great motivation. And two, because even if I don’t do it, even if I fail (oh no, not that word!!), there’s a lesson waiting for me here.

So, any favorite marathons to recommend? I think I might as well go someplace a little more exotic than downtown Chicago in case 2017 is my only attempt. Next up: better running shoes!

I Did Walk 500 Miles

The 12th week of the 2015 Women Out Walking program just ended and the final walk is this Sunday at the Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate.

I had so much fun participating this year, and it inspired me to get out and walk on some cold, gloomy days. In the past 12 weeks I walked over 500 miles, and my step record for a single day was 30,137.

It was great to lead a walk for the public. My favorite part of this was being part of such a great community activity. I definitely plan to do it again in 2016, and I hope more of you will join me.

Logging my steps and seeing how much activity I actually did in a day was what gave me the courage to take a leap and add weights and running back into my routine. Seeing those number proved to me that I wasn’t the frail person I had been treating myself as.

It just goes to show what can happen when you try something new. Thanks, W.O.W!

Daily Mantras

I love mantras. I used to think they were silly, but that was such a long time ago that I honestly can’t remember what changed my mind. Now I use them all the time. Whenever I feel upset, anxious, or just disconnected from my body, I have a lovely little touchstone that’s always right there.

I like this journal for mantras and general life-improvement ideas and plans.
I like this journal for mantras and general life-improvement ideas and plans.

I’ve had what I might call a life mantra for several years now. It changes every few months as my life and needs for it evolve. Whenever I feel adrift or unfocused it’s nice a nice reminder of where my life is right now.

This past weekend I was finishing up my lymphatic drainage and visceral manipulation training, and I was feeling a little apprehensive about it. It takes a great amount of trust for someone to allow their organs to be manipulated. I am literally moving around the fluids and tissues of their soft underbelly. The practitioner needs to have a clear intention of what they are working with, and be absolutely attuned to their client.

Add in the distraction of the other students, the traffic noise outside, and the general nerves that come from being new to a technique and it can be hard to focus.

A mantra to the rescue! Both mornings before class I would sit and write my daily mantra in that cute little journal. Whenever I felt nervous or in danger of losing my intention I had the right words to bring me back.

It was so helpful, that I’ve decided to continue the practice in my everyday life. Taking the time to sit quietly, come up with the right words, and then write them down is a wonderful way to start the day.

Believe It!

I made this thing!
I made this thing!

A couple months ago I was in a panic when both the women I share my room with were planning to leave. My mind immediately jumped to all the best nightmare scenarios, mostly about how I would never find new tenants and this beautiful business I’m building was going to crash and burn. That’s a lot of stress.

That’s only the beginning of the story. What I did next would surprise anyone who has known me for longer than the past year.

I paused. I paused and took a deep breath; I asked myself if I was letting my fear hold me back. If I was missing out on an opportunity for something bigger that was made possible by this change in circumstances.

What I realized is that instead of fighting against the opportunity I had just been given by finding tenants to sublet all my available days, I could choose to add more days. More chances for clients to come and see me. I let myself sit with the idea, and the word that came to me was “Abundance”.

Every day since I had that little revelation, I have taken some time to sit with that word and embrace what it will bring to my life in the fall. I made the picture I posted at the top of this and put it on my computer. Every time I sit down to type anything it is in my line of sight; reminding me that I don’t have to be afraid of failure and that I can embrace success.

It’s a small shift that had a huge impact on me.

What word do you want to watch over you today? What would you like to welcome into your life?

Alpha what?

My monthly resolutions post seems to have struck a chord with people in real life, which has been pretty neat. I thought it would be fun to revisit that concept and my results from last month.

Resolution:

I decided to meditate on my mat instead of in bed and eat a light snack.

Results:

Mat meditation: I chose this one because I kept falling asleep during my guided meditations when I did them in bed. I thought lying on a thin mat on the hard floor would help. While it did make it easier to stay awake for the entire guided meditation, I think then having to get up and go to the bedroom woke me up enough to really limit the usefulness of this one.

Snack: Despite my best intentions (and written reminders) I only remembered to do this one a couple of times. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the concept of eating anything before bed.

Conclusion:

I’m calling both of these a bust even though the snack didn’t get a fair trial.

Do I feel discouraged by this result? Not at all, because it’s June. New month! This month I’m going back to meditating in bed, but propped upright with pillows. I’m also listening to alpha wave music as I fall asleep. Last night the music was kind of overwhelming, but I want to give it a decent chance. If I don’t like it, I get to try something new in July!

Think Community

The first yoga class I ever took was a free community class held by Patricia Hyland on Sunday evenings. It was an amazing introduction to yoga; Patricia was so warm and welcoming, plus it was free! I have also gone to some amazing community meditation classes and events.

One of the aspects of yoga and meditation that resonates most strongly with me is the idea of community and generosity that so many studios and individuals embrace. In spite of needing to make a living*, there are so many options out there for people with limited means to still get the benefits of attending these types of classes and workshops.

Once again, our friend the Internet makes it easier than ever to find local resources. Just use the search engine of your choice and search for “free (yoga/meditation) your city” and give a couple classes a try. Here’s a website listing free and donation yoga classes for Chicago.


*It was such a good day when I realized that I had enough money to start paying for classes again. I get more out of them because I am paying in time and money now, so I am even more present. Plus, it feels great to make a financial contribution toward someone else living their dream.