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:

Indira-Gandhi-Quotes-2[1]

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

blueberry

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.

LunchatMedCO

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.

camkathrace

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.)

believe

 

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:

desk

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:

Budget-YogaAffordable-Ways-to-Practice-Yoga[1]

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.

kombucha1

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

P1100157[4][1]

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.

kombucha2k

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?

ClairMikeAfterRNRHalf

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

Clairroadbike1

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.

Normans10k

My Kathleen did it for Cameron:

camkathrace         kath10k

(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:

Clairroadbike2

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.

mag cover

Please stay tuned.

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

headstand2        BethMeditating  imagesCA688V21

Will you be with me forever??

(Did you hear that, Cameron??)

Barely Breathing

You may have heard this story about my beautiful niece.

I have no clever words or clanging gongs of wisdom.

I have no revelations about Warrior I or how to get past mile 22.

I am broken at the core, so sad it hurts.

But I am hopeful and filled with love from many.  Thank you a million ways from Sunday.

 

You are beautiful.

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I’m coming back.  With momentum like you’ve never seen.

 

Until then, let’s keep breathing.

 

5 Favorite Things and My Weekend at an Ashram

The Ashram Experience – Yogaville

I am still in la-la land over my weekend with 10 powerhouse beauties at Yoga Camp – This term we coined to describe dorm life of the Om genre.  Complete with covert happy hours, coffee contraband and making fun of the die-hards we experienced:

“A little bit of weird and a whole lot of wonderful.” Jessica, Publisher of Natural Awakenings and Yoga Camper

Tucked away in rural Central Virginia, Yogaville is a retreat space for main-streamers and a monastic opportunity for folks desiring total withdrawal from ‘real life’.  The two mix in this austere setting seeking oneness with The One and to raise the loving vibration of the planet.  This is a little ‘woo-woo’ for many – our group included, educators, managers, mom’s, sports marketers, extreme adventure athletes, master gardeners, professional body builders, business owners, physical therapists, yoga teachers, writers, marketing specialists and publishers.  A mixed bag of real people from real walks of life.  The bond we hold is the light inside seeking spiritual expansion and a damn good time.  Each was attained in varying degrees.  Moment to moment.  We giggled and gasped for air at times (pranayama exercises anyone??) had gas (good Lord the food! – any more roughage and the yoga classes would NOT be silent.

Sinners and derelicts that we are, we escaped left willingly to find pizza and beer on night #2.  So fun.  I felt so Bad, in A Good Way.

Many programs can be found here.  Also renown facilitators and teachers from all over the world use the Yogaville space to hold their rich workshops.  Our program was for real ashram beginners.  Called the ‘Welcome Weekend’ the offerings showed the broad range of opportunities.  The result was kind of vanilla.  Unremarkable, except of course the head scratching concept of raising my family here.  Couldn’t do it.  Would I go back???  Perhaps for another more focused/intense program in a while after I’ve recovered from the little bit of weird and remember only the whole lot of wonderful.  I have not missed the little gnome that walks the halls at 5:00 AM ringing a bell and chanting:  Hari Om!  I prefer my own alarm clock.

The intention of the space is awesome and amazing and so worth a look.  Especially on a Groupon.  What a deal!!  $85 for all the vegan gas.  Yes!!

5 Favorite Things

1.  mag cover

This publication is an old love that has come back into my life with a vengeance.  Natural Awakenings is in 90 markets across the county – if you are lucky, in one near you.  It promotes a healthy life and healthy planet with real world opportunity to live as such with local resources within kickass and cool community and the most diverse and interesting advertising supporters around.  Check it out  or email me and I’ll send you a copy.

2.  Gaiam purse

My new purse from Gaiam.  I have never ordered from their catalog and I took a chance and purchased a cute dress, this purse and a hade made Fair Wage necklace all for 103.00 with free shipping.  This purse is perfect for my daily shenanigans.  Yoga, meetings, and all the jank.  I love the steel gray color too.

3. 

These ginger snaps.  I gave up sweets for Lent and I am  cheating with these.  Ginger is a spice, not sugar.  So there!!  Delicious, extra crunchy but not hard or gummy.  Love.

4. 

My yoga students and I love love love this fragrance both before and after class.  A little pricey ($30) but it lasts a very long time.  Your family will be nicer and more organized if you spray your home with it.

IMG00149

5.  Back bending against the wall.  Spring is coming.  Can’t wait to unleash the beast in the spine.

The view from my ledge

Spoiler alert:  it’s not this:

More like this lately:

Note the tether.  Things have not deteriorated too much.

I  am so tired of the pain in my foot, I want to explode.  Don’t click to the next email, please.  I need you.  Hear me out.  You’ve seen this quote:

“Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt.
Sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth.” — Mark Twain

I might add:  Write like nobody’s reading.  Which could be true.  In case I have your attention (Beth, Maureen, Megan, Kathleen, Amy, perhaps – Larry, and Maureen thank you!) please be patient. I’ll be brief with the crap.

The Crap

I am experiencing a few existential issues at the moment and I think all that chatter is manifesting itself in my fartin’ foot.  Surely you’ve heard about my (perhaps) dumbass move to run 15 of 26.2 mile in sharp pain on Feb. 2.  The good news is (I think) I did finish.  Proof:

miamimedal

Besides the medal, my goody bag included a heel from hell.  I know I can be a bit dramatic but dear God, each and every stop of those fartin’ 15 hurt like a beeyatch.  I have not run a step in one month and one day but who’s counting?  I saw a sports medicine doctor who took a first course diagnosis of plantar fasciitis, which I knew.  I love this guy and I want to believe it is nothing more.  But, though my logic is a bit illogical (I did not see the PT as he suggested, figured I could ice and stretch to beat band and I didn’t prioritize my own health, which is illogical) I feel the need for validation that PF it is.  I hope so.  And I will, I promise, go see Keith who is my PT and doesn’t know it yet.  BUT – this crap has gotten worse.  I can hardly put any weight on it without soreness that makes me dread the long as hell walk to the commode.  Every.  Single.  Time.  No matter time of day.  Still PF?  I hope so.

To many pain is a state of mind.  My yogi self believes our entire existence is such.  But right now I am unable to disconnect from this omnipresent sensation lurking in my heel.  Here’s my thinking of late:

  • Because 2 out my 3 full marathons have kicked my ass, I suck.

(Because I have some pride I must mention I also have 9 half marathons under my belt.  Sue me).

  • I am not a runner.
  • I am a fool and a fraud and I am bull headed for not opening up to the message from The Universe:  STOP RUNNING

Unless:

  • I have opportunity to improve my training and nutrition.
  • My ego is being softened – whittled to nothing – and perhaps I need it.
  • I have grit and mettle like I never knew.  Preparing me for even bigger things.

Stepping back from my ledge:

Here’s what I have learned so far from this:

  • I love to swim and have a clean and strong stroke (TWSS – sorry, couldn’t resist.)
  • My yoga is always there.  Always.
  • The people I live with are super patient with the skush skush of my limp – and my whining.

That includes them:

ChildrenThanksgiving2013

And him.  Not her (she’s a mess):

ClairMikeThanksgiving

For a number of reasons I spiraled into a state that has rendered me a bit frozen.  Immobile.  The D-word, depressed.  I miss people.  I feel incompetent.  I am blessed beyond belief but biologically can’t feel it.  I considered medication for this feeling, a lethargic existence.  But, I am holding out.  Here is my pill to pull out of my funk:

67  pills pages in and I am pulling out.  I can do this.

Nothing a little of this:

Hike1

or this

Yoga1

Can’t cure.

Yogaville, here I come.

How do you get off your ledge?