Something I am embarrassed about

I am a classically trained dancer with a ferocious love of good bass. I am a health and wellness writer and yoga teacher from the Iyengar lineage. I have practiced Ashtanga yoga in the Mysore tradition and am a self-professed seeker. A purist, a tattoo-contemplator, a hot-dog sneakin’-vegan and a little righteous about pulling yourself out of the abyss and here are some things I’ll admit:

In 2009, I survived my first marathon in 5+ hours. (3 more followed. much better time – I do have some pride.)

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I love a good back.

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I never go anywhere without this:

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I ALWAYS blame farts on other people.

I love these two:

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Here’s what I am embarrassed about:

My name is Clair and I LOVE BIKRAM YOGA.

My rock star yoga friends who worship at the table of the un-hot room may not ever speak to me again but I am who I am. When I travel I find a Bikram studio in most cities I visit. Like Starbuck’s, I know what to expect and it’s the same everywhere. Every. Single. Time. I need that. I like the focus the mental tenacity the endurance required to stay in a room heated to 107 degrees for 90 minutes. I like it when the instructor says ‘nice work Clair’ when I do this:

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To some, hot yoga is cheating, cheesy, impure, a fad and some of the gurus are sex maniacs. But that’s not my experience. Mine supports my affinity for endurance sports.

Jennifer Aniston swears by it.

I’ll still keep this little secret quiet when I visit or teach where Bikram is a bad word.

But I won’t lie. Ask me if I like Bikram and I’ll say:

“I love the yoga.”

“But, I did not fart.” (I have my limits.)

 

This one’s big

I am learning some big, big things right now.  The biggest one comes at the end. 

Kids, work, husband, carpools, bill-paying, training, all the usual and some not so usual life-stuff has put a lot of space between posts.  My last one was Easter Weekend – one of the hardest of my life.  Here’s why:

My niece had fresh wings.

ClairandCam

My spiritually and emotionally war-torn, heartbroken sister and her precious family was trying to breathe thousands of miles away from me.  (Lord, don’t let me lose them too – bring them back from the abyss!))

My siblings and friends were pitifully trying to wrap our minds around our profound, knife-in-the-gut-loss.

I honestly do not remember EVER feeling so viscerally frozen with with sadness, grief and depression.  And then I remembered her mantra: Fight the good fight.  Finish the Race.  Keep the Faith.  I remembered how to breathe. 

So here are a few things that went down:

I did my first Sprint Triathlon with my beloved sister, mother to 5 including our angel girl.

ClairGraceTri

My husband and I became vegan-leaning vegetarians (We lost 25 pounds collectively – another post).

My family and I raced for Cameron at a brewery. 

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Along with my hero sister and brother in law and some terrific friends, I signed up for this:

Lord, help me.  I am crazy!  Happily nuts.  Off the deep end and training like a fool. 

And so last week we did our first open water swim.

OpenWaterSwim

I was scared sh*tless.  Here’s what saved me:

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L’Oreal Silverstone Lipstick.  I never go anywhere without it.  I got nailed for applying said lipstick before the goggles went on.  My beloved sister laughed.  (Did you see that??:  She laughed at me)  Why would anyone polish their lips when they’d be submerged in river water for a couple thousand yards?  “You are ridiculous.”  She said.  She laughed. So here’s the lesson:

Never, ever swim in open water without your lipstick!

I have a feeling Cameron is laughing too.

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Good to Great Friday – Pictures Included!

I am told by some that the photos didn’t transfer.  I know you have been heartbroken probably don’t care but my perfectionist self needed a take 2 on this post.  Here ’tis:

(will some one let me know that the pics came thru this time???)


 

It’s Good Friday.  Having grown up Catholic with 13 years of parochial school under my belt, I know how to have a good Good Friday.  Customs include:

  •  Fasting for the day
  • Adoration of the Cross
  • Worldwide silence at 3 PM (the noted time of death of Jesus)

As I have done for many of the past 40+ years, I will observe each.

This may be difficult as we are on Spring Break.  However, we are doing our best to keep the holy in Holy Week.

My son (right) is in Florida.  (Though some of have been called to be fishers of men, he is a fisher of fish.)

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Normally a Holy Thursday tradition, My girls got their feet washed toes painted before we left for the Outer Banks of North Carolina (a heavenly and spiritual place) on Tuesday:

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I held a beautiful baby boy – a joy Mary shares.

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My daughter worked with clay and remembered an angel:

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There she is in white:

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I cried and remembered much.

I have not yet mentioned yoga or running.  I have done each many, many times this Holy Week.  With it, everything, including Good Friday went from Good to Great.  Always does.

Happy Easter.

How’s your week been?

Good to Great Friday

It’s Good Friday.  Having grown up Catholic with 13 years of parochial school under my belt, I know how to have a good Good Friday.  Customs include:

  •  Fasting for the day
  • Adoration of the Cross
  • Worldwide silence at 3 PM (the noted time of death of Jesus)

As I have done for many of the past 40+ years, I will observe each.

This may be difficult as we are on Spring Break.  However, we are doing our best to keep the holy in Holy Week.

My son (right) is in Florida.  (Though some of have been called to be fishers of men, he is a fisher of fish.)

Normally a Holy Thursday tradition, My girls got their feet washed toes painted before we left for the Outer Banks of North Carolina (a heavenly and spiritual place) on Tuesday:

I held a beautiful baby boy – a joy Mary shares.

My daughter worked with clay and remembered an angel:

There she is in white:

I cried and remembered much.

I have not yet mentioned yoga or running.  I have done each many, many times this Holy Week.  With it, everything, including Good Friday went from Good to Great.  Always does. 

Happy Easter.

How’s your week been?

 

5 Ways to Stay Focused

Life is hard.  Life is busy and if you are like me you have about 590 things going on in your mind at once. This trait makes Yoga my perfect mate and hardest endeavor which is probably why I love it so.  Stillness is almost extinct in this day and age where multi-tasking is revered and doing more means we ARE MORE.  And yet I am convinced that in stillness we finally truly begin to live.  Savasana or Corpse Pose CAN BE the HARDEST YOGA POSE there is.

Doesn’t that look exhausting?  I once had a panic attack during Savasana – never mind that the room was 107 degrees.  There is so much vitality in ‘dead body’ pose, never mind the oxymoron.  Indira Gandhi said:

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And there you have it.  In the frenzy of modern life, stillness is the key to vitality.  In the repose of corpse pose we are vibrantly alive.  BUT HOW THE HELL DO WE GET THERE?

How do we become still and focused?

1.  Practice a crap load of yoga!

It is said that yoga is about peeling back the layers and finding the simple truth.  Your authenticity.  The place you are aligned and happy and not distracted and pulled in a thousand directions which is my usual state of mind.  Anything other than the truth is a lie.  So all the unrealistic expectations you have for yourself and the way-too-dense to-do list are lies.  So get back to your truth and your mat and maybe Savasana won’t feel so flippin’ hard.  It can be luscious.  We can remember the peace of the stillness and bring it to the great activity that is the truth of our lives.  Indira says it’s possible.

2.  Clean up your diet!

Get rid of crap you don’t need.

  • Your body will like it.
  • Your digestive processes can operate with efficiency and precision.
  • It is proven that some foods help brain function.

In Carol Sorgen’s article:   Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain.  It is said that if we add these ‘superfoods’ to your daily diet, you will increase your odds of maintaining a healthy brain for the rest of your life.

  • Blueberries
  • Wild Salmon
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Whole Grains
  • Avocadoes

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Dear God!  I think I just died and went to good-food-choices heaven.  I love all of these.  If they can help me focus and live better.  huge, huge SCORE!

They say eating a green pizza bigger than your head works too.

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3.  Find a ‘Focus Mantra’

This idea may sound a little vague and a lot woo-woo but hang with me.  Focus,  Dang it!

A mantra is:  any sacred word or syllable used as an object of concentration and embodying some aspect of spiritual power.  (Dictionary)  My personal one for personal reasons is:

Fight.  Finish.  Faith.

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Find something that grounds you.  It can be as simple as one word like ‘believe’.  It can be a little more lengthy like Indira’s quote above.  (Don’t say I never gave you anything.  You have your very own Focus Mantra now.)

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4.  De-clutter everything.

I am very very sentimental but I do not keep things I don’t need, love, or use.  Just because Great Aunt Ethel (whom you never met and passed on in 1965) touched a soup ladle (and you don’t even like soup) doesn’t mean you have to keep said ladle.  You are NOT are a sinner if you give it to Goodwill.  Others I am very close to probably disagree.

And keep your living and workspace clear of crap you don’t need, love, or use.  Clean lines and open spaces invite good thinking and calm minds.  Not like this:

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This is my current workspace.  It is an example of what NOT to do.  Because of a recent profound loss, I am giving my entire life a haircut.  No more dead-ends that take up space and serve no purpose.  This means my home, my calendar, my relationships, my to-do list and my commitments.  Lean and open is the new approach to everything including my body and mindspace.  Here we go!!!

5.  Be still

To cultivate stillness and focus you have to practice.  Do some of this:

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That is all.

I am in this quest with you.  I am still me.  I am still certifiably an adult with ADD.  I have:

  • 45 hobbies
  • 100 areas of interest
  • 755 goals for the year

And 1 life (as far as I know) with 24 hours in each of a finite number of days.  This is not easy for me but anything worthwhile never is.  There is magic and vitality in the stillness. I will focus on finding focus and perhaps Savasana won’t make me an actual corpse.

Do you have trouble focusing?

See above.

How to you right yourself in the waves of distraction?

See above.

Do you a saver or a purger?

Purger all the way!!

 

 

 

Yes, bartender I’ll have another!

Have you heard of Kombucha?  The Chinese call it the “Immortal Health Elixir?” It’s been around for more than 2,000 years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits like preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases.  (Source:  The Food Renegade)

I tried my first bottle this past week.

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The ingredient list includes ‘trace amounts of alcohol’.  No wonder I like it.

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Me (2nd from left) and my blogging buddies (which includes Beth from Shut Up and Run!, 2nd from right) are not afraid to leave a writing conference for libation nutrition.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a drink made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.  My bottle said it had trace amounts of alcohol in it.  SCORE!

I drank the brand on the right in the blueberry flavor.  My children think it tastes like PAAS Easter Egg dye. (Not that they’ve ever ingested it.)

 

The beautifully gilded shells that encase the eggs are not edible once decorated with this potion.  The imagined taste of PAAS matched the real taste of Kombucha for Kathleen, thus explaining her forced smile as I forced her t hold the bottle of Kombucha.

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Kathleen did not love it.

(She is not old enough to drink.  No wonder.)

Here are the health benefits of the “Immortal Health Elixir” – Komubcha.  They include (in less detail than the source):

 #1 — Detoxification

Detoxification produces healthy livers and aides cancer prevention.

#2 — Joint Care

Kombucha contains glucosamine, a strong preventive and treatment all forms of arthritis

#3 — Aids Digestion and Gut Health

Because it’s naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, Kombucha is a probiotic beverage. This has a myriad of benefits such as improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability.

#4 — Immune Boosting

Kombucha is extraordinarily anti-oxidant rich, and you all know the benefits of anti-oxidants for boosting your immune system and energy level.

This and alcohol.  That’s good  great stuff.

I was compelled take a shot of Kombucha give Kombucha a shot, when an experienced vegetarian friend gave me and  my newly meatless American Sportsman husband (Digest that!!) advice on ways to sustain our new lifestyle.  We are No Meat Athletes (or we think we are!).  Collectively we have lost 16 pounds in one week.  For now I am happy to have my husband along for a ride I wanted to take for sometime.  Who knows where of if this vegan train stops?

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I don’t really care.  All we have is Now.  And that’s enough. Plus, I rode her for the first time today:

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Happiness.  And forever miss of my Cameron.  Fight.  Finish.  Faith.  That’s all I got.

Bartender, can I have another?

5 Things I will Do Forever

1.  Miss my niece, Cameron Kathleen Gallagher.  Cameron is the 16-year-old beauty and fledging runner who lost her life at the Finish Line of the Shamrock Half Marathon on March 16, 2014 which happens to be my daughter, Kathleen’s 14th birthday.  God can be clever that way.  March 16 or 3/16 or 3:16 is also this verse from the Book of John.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

New International Version (NIV)

Cameron (left) and Kathleen 3 weeks before Cam went to heaven:

 

Cam and Kathleen

For God so loved the world, He called this angel home.  He has big plans for her.

If you somehow missed  this internationally covered story, I implore you to wake up and read it, wallow in it.  Make a commitment to stay your course, finish your race and keep the faith.  I commit to you, myself, my family and friends that I will live to promote this mantra.  In everything I do.  Including the Ironman I am planning.  (Did you hear that, Cameron??)

2.  Run

Back in college I started running so I could drink beer.  Now I run for wine – more of a 40-something female’s libation of choice.  When I turned forty I did my first half marathon.  Since then I have finished the race many times. (Did you hear that, Cameron??)  Injuries and bad attitudes notwithstanding, I love to run.  I will never stop.  I am dragging my family along.  (Actually they are very willing – my husband and I have done 4 half marathons together and a number of 10k’s)

Here are 4 of us after the Monument Ave. 10k on Saturday, March 29, 2014.  My youngest simply could not have missed her BFF’s sleepover.

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My Kathleen did it for Cameron:

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(Did you hear that, Cameron?)

 

3.  Try new things.

I am preparing for my first Triathlon.  I figured I needed a road bike.  Here we are:

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I love her.  Jack, my lab is certainly wondering:

a.  why I have my ear where my butt will go.

b.  when he can baptize the tire with this tinkle.

4.  Write.

I love words.  I am honing my craft and focusing in new directions.  I am thrilled to be  part of this amazing publication.

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Please stay tuned.

5.  Practice Yoga, Seek the Truth, Love you.

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Will you be with me forever??

(Did you hear that, Cameron??)