Scarred and Stoked

Disclaimer: Selfie game is strong. So sorry.

I don’t know if is this morning’s prana pumping party (aka kundalini yoga class) hosted by the marvelous Holly Henty or that fact that I have just had the 3rd of 3 surgeries on my face to remove skin cancers but I feel better than I have in 3 weeks.

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My new face

In less than 3 weeks I have:

  • Received 113 stitches in my face.
  • Taught a yoga class and given a talk looking like this (although a shower was involved):
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Post-op Surgery #1
  • Learned to drink water and wine like this:
  •  Showed up at Thanksgiving looking like this:

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I also got to experience this:

I was not and am not in a health crisis but the work was necessary if I want it to say so.  I feel so refreshed, so free so grateful to have access to an amazing surgeon, health insurance, and the means to pay for the balance on this bad boy. (I estimate my out of pocket to be around $25 per stitch.) Merry Christmas to me, I suppose.

Yes, indeed.

Besides the people, prana, and stitch-free state of affairs, I am stoked from a run-in with an angel this morning. As I was braiding my daughters hair I reflected that my mother (almost 20 years an angel) would have loved watching her daughter weave shapes into her granddaughter’s mane. I decided to ask if she was with us. I felt her presence but wanted a REAL SIGN. (hello, where’s the faith??) I asked her to show me by having my daughter say something in the next 10 seconds, could be anything.

10, 9, 8, (lord, please let it happen)

7, 6, 5 (I just know Jane will speak)

4, 3, 2, 1 (nothing. RATS)

All good though. I don’t like to be tested either.

About an hour later, as we began our yoga class, Holly reminded us that we are infinitely connected to our source of life. Before and after to umbilical cord is cut. The connection never dies. I connected it to my mother-yearning-moment of earlier and just KNOW I was meant to hear it.

It was so right in my face.

Here’s hers:

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I dig irony.

 

 

 

 

 

I got called out at yoga…

It wasn’t for anything good.  As a yoga teacher, I know it is disingenuous to rate the poses or practice as good, bad, or great. However I do not mind being told my down dog is the bomb or my camel, dancer, or pigeon pose is on point.

The middle little girl in me still likes a pat on the back, a nod, some attention that she is special. But not like this.

Last week I tried out a new yoga studio. It is posh, lovely, soothing, and smells good. It attracts the hipster millennials who live in its cool urban hood. When I noticed my teacher looked like Simone Biles, the gold medaling megastar gymnast and was about Simone’s age,  I thought I’d be in for a real athletic and dynamic workout. I had already started thinking how my practice would certainly stun her stunning self (so not yogic).

 

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Not my actual teacher, but the actual Simone Biles.

As is customary in many studios there were no mirrors. By my calculations, on the inside I am about 27. On the outside I am actually 48. Apparently without the help of mirrors, I forgot what the outside said.   Because the next thing happened.

In a new studio I never know how each teacher will incorporate the use of props in the sequence. I do not need them but I find them to be great tools to deepen a pose or provide spatial reference or just give my ASSana a soft place to land if I want to. So I gathered a few to have at-the-ready near my matspace. (I made that word up – like a millennial would)

After the usual centering activity Simone brought us up to (wait for it…) table top – to start our moving practice. I think she thought it might be too much for me.

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Actual Table Top

Simone then explained while looking AT ME that if our knees hurt we could roll our mat up a few times to provide some cushioning. Or, we could use a blanket underneath to soften the blow to our knees. She didn’t say it but she implied – like those of us with more advanced body parts. She even came over to me (only me) with said soft blanket to offer her geriatric follower some relief. I giggled like the school girl I think I still am and told her I was fine.

Some might call it a sweet gesture, others might call it ageism or profiling. Most would might call me petty.

But I couldn’t help it. What I wanted to say is: Look b*tch, I have been holding tabletop and plank longer than you’ve been alive. Have you seen my tattoo?

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My actual calf

I proceeded to put so much zest into a slow hatha yoga with meditation class that I made myself sore – serves me right.

I temporarily forgot that the face that chatted Simone up before class looked like this:

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My actual face

I had just had a number of skin cancers removed and am wearing new but healing scars. I can’t blame my yoga teacher that she may have thought that mostly happens to old people. Because it does.  Compared to my waiting room compatriots for the procedure, I am millennial.

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The actual waiting room

I am old. I am young. I am whatever. Age isn’t a thing – it’s me that made it so.

Maybe the gymnast in Simone look-alike saw the efforts my body made to be strong and vital and healthy and thought I could use a rest.

Maybe she felt a tug at her heartstrings that I may have been through something recently and could use some extra softness.

Whatever it was, it was just (what for it…) nice.

For the record, I would go back. Maybe my next teacher will be her:

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Jaysea DeVoe – The Youngest Yoga Teacher in the US

She’s 13. Like her:

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My actual daughter, Jane.

76 Million Reasons Not To Die

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At almost 80 years old, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is one of the wonders of the world, and one of the most photographed things on the planet.

By 2020 it will be impossible to die by jumping off of it. According to a Golden Gate District press release, a  stainless steel net, will be installed about 20 feet down from the main Bridge roadway, extending 20 feet out, with a slight raise on the outer edge will deter suicide attempts and catch those determined to try.

Beginning on the east side, the net will be installed along both sides of the Bridge, running 1.7 miles in each direction. It will be constructed to have minimal visual impact, with 90% transparency.

This super safety net costs $76 million dollars.

According to Kevin Hines, it is worth every penny. Kevin, like over 2000 others, tried to end his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

He, like 35 others, failed.

Thank God.

On Wednesday, thanks to the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation I got meet him and hear his story firsthand. Kevin is holding Cameron’s SpeakUp5k race shirt. (2014 edition). Cameron’s cousin, Kathleen (my daughter) is on his left.

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Kevin had a rough start. He was born to parents addicted to hard drugs. As a toddler, he was adopted by people he considers his parents and raised in a family with love but not without problems. His parents divorced, a beloved teacher committed suicide, and in his teens he succumbed  to bipolar disorder with paranoia and auditory and visual hallucinations. He was sick. He needed help. He felt he had no hope.

Sixteen years ago this Sunday, Kevin methodically and purposefully made his way to the bridge hoping for a sign not to jump. He didn’t get it. However, he says he experienced instantaneous regret the minute his hands hit the rail. But it was too late to pull is body weight back. It took 4 seconds to break the surface of the water at which time he broke several vertebrae. The bone fragments pierce many of his internal organs. He used  his arms to get to surface. It took much more than 4 seconds to break the surface of the water from the other direction. And he has severe asthma.

He now works as a mental-health advocate, traveling the world to share his story in the hopes of preventing suicide. His first book, Cracked, Not Broken, a memoir of his life before and after his suicide attempt, was released in 2013.

Kevin’s father, Patrick Hines now sits on the advisory board for The Bridge Rail Foundation, which works to stop suicides on the bridge. That group is largely responsible for advocating and raising the $76 million dollars for the life-saving net.

The first time Kevin spoke publicly about his life after the suicide attempt was to a group of 7th and 8th graders at his alma mater.

Bingo!! Schools!!!

This is the focus of programming like Minding Your Mind provided free of charge to area high schools by the CKG Foundation. These are school based workshops and presentations to give teens real tools and resources to help with anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health issues. And to end the stigma associated with these challenges.

Kevin is so stoked about the work of CKG, he had to pick up Cameron’s shirt.

He says he will come run the SpeakUp5k next year and you should too.

We welcome you with open arms, Kevin Hines.

 

 

19 Reasons to Drop the Mic

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Boom.

At 2:21pm tomorrow I will have been married 19 years. I never tire of a good race, birth, or relationship story and I do wholeheartedly believe every single one of us has one or a few. Here’s my story and why I simply must drop the mic.

I met my husband 20 years ago tomorrow at a party my cousin threw to mark her move to a new neighborhood that would soon become mine. She thought I may like her new neighbor but probably didn’t bank on having her cuz, bestie, partner-in-crime literally living a hundred yards from her kitchen table one year later.

Boom.

We met. We chatted. Three weeks later, he asked me out on a date. 9 weeks later my mother died suddenly.

Boom. Biggest ever.

Two weeks later at her gravesite he asked me to marry him. Seven months later, a year to the day we met, I said ‘I do’ forever. Six days later, I got pregnant.

Boom. Oops.

We had him:

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19 months later, we  had her:

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Then we had her:

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Boom. Boom. Boom.

16 months later, my first love – my Dad – died of a heart attack in his car.

Boom. Seismic.

A number of years passed. Big stuff. Little stuff. All kinds of stuff happened on this amazing journey we call life. Two and  half years ago, we were changed forever.

We lost her:

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My sixteen year old niece. Her story is here.

Boom. Broken.

From the beginning we have been going through big booms.

Meeting and marrying my husband is a case study in serendipity. When my mother died I had a brand new, called-when-he-said-he-would boyfriend who made me a laugh at the ready to help heal my broken heart. His million good qualities are only matched by my immense hope that he knows how well loved he is. By many – especially me.

He is tenacious, kind, loyal, compassionate, an amazing listener, an athlete extraordinaire, shy by nature, award-winning salesman who puts his family above himself with every breath he takes.

(That’s 15 booms mic drops if you are counting.)

He a wants only the best for me, supports my crazy, is a good cook, a gardener, with a sense of humor that still makes me belly laugh 19 years later.

One day I’ll get him to take my Yoga class

BOOM!

(The seven half marathons we’ve run together just isn’t enough).

We should all have a Mike  mic story like this.

Oh so very lucky, me!

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Why You Should Always Take the Train

On Sunday, my husband and I took my oldest to college. It hit me like a freight train.

I knew it was coming but didn’t anticipate the impact.

Sure I:

  1. Deal with the ache of missing him daily around the house. (knew it)
  2. Wish I could have stayed longer when we dropped him off. (normal, kinda)
  3. Face the fact that much of my job with him is done. (endings, not doing well with this one)

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I like beginnings much better. Until I went to Germany with the SpeakUp Race Team, I had never been on a train. Because of the beer and comfy seats, I love this mode of travel.

Just yesterday I said good bye to Nick as he boarded the big yellow bus for the first time.

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What feels like 2 seconds later, I did this:

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Organized his dorm room and stood next to him for a big moment – The last hug before I was no longer his daily confidant, baseball sherpa, homework advisor, cook (sometimes) and nag (kinda, sometimes).

He is ready to fly and for that I couldn’t be more grateful for all his new beginnings. (And for the record, mine too)

He is prepared!

As we were loading the car I noticed one of his Thomas the Trains sitting in the box marked “desk”. I pointed it out to him as tears welled for a moment long gone:

Nicktrain

 

He said:

Mom, you gotta bring Thomas. It’s good luck.

His childhood brings him strength and hope and luck for the hard work of new beginnings. That’s just what I needed to let him go and grow.

And to begin again in a life of change and adventure. How blessed am I for the chance.

I am so lucky.

Has to be the train.

 

One Thing I Am Obsessed With and Why You Should Be Too

I have a bevy of beautiful girlfriends; smart, adventurous, fun, accomplished, driven queens of their kingdom who inspire me everyday. Of particular note, is my friend Jen who could and probably has been mistaken for Kelly Lynch or Michelle Pfieffer.

I was super excited when KellyMichelleJen came to a few of my yoga classes earlier this summer.

Jen gave me a book she thought I would enjoy, she was super-sized right.

Here’s the obsession

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I want to attain a level of fitness as I approach 50 that is currently stunted by the untrue mantra, ‘sucks getting old’.

No it doesn’t. It means you are here drawing new, never-been-done before inhales every single second. Makes me giddy to think of it and to read this book.

One excerpt:

Webb argues that exercise can improve our bodies at any age, hailing it as the most powerful tool we have to forestall aging and prevent and even treat just about every chronic disease that exists today. “If we had a drug that did what exercise did, it would be the biggest revolution ever and would be promoted all over the world. And all you have to do is go out for a run.”

I am staring at 50 with rose-colored glasses and this affirms my passion for exercise. I am not going down as age creeps up, unless it’s opposite day.

This book is filled to the brim with research-backed expert, nutritional advice and preaches from the Bible of Yoga and Cross Training – my own personal fitness scripture. Among other, I-love-you athletes and experts in their field, Webb went to see the world’s oldest yogi to glean sage advice for living with vitality to old age.

Tao Porchon-Lynch who turns 98 tomorrow.

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Happy 98th Birthday Tao! I love you.

Like the author:

I want to enter the second half of my life in the best shape of my life.

And I will get older, faster and stronger – a nice side bonus will be more energy, better quality, good moods, and a leaner frame. Good Lord, now I can’t wait to be fifty.

I bet this book is pretty good too:

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I  never said I wouldn’t have fun along the way. Margarita’s, anyone?? (only with fresh organic lime and Patron, please)

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How are YOU staring at the rest of your life?

Join me on my journey, please. Details to come.

 

3 Recovery Revelations

With Challenge Roth 140.6 in my rearview mirror, I want the euphoric after-feeling to last forever.   Alas, deadlines, family responsibilities and bills are taking up the vista on the view out the front.

But that’s may fault. It’s up to me to recall and imprint the lessons and successes and pure love of the day and to let the experience take root.

In the days following my return flight I did a 3-day juice cleanse, took 4 yoga classes in 5 days; 3 hot and 1 suspended, and found my way back to my strength trainer. I executed a days long festival; Jane-a-palooza, as a way to beg forgiveness for missing my daughter’s 13th birthday to chase my dream race Challenge Roth. I dug back in to personal and professional projects that I had placed on hold.

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Jane (left, orange) and Mom during day 1 of Jane-a-palooza – “Yoga on Ropes”

I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to have to climb up from a low so low during the run. Now the work begins to be the change that I felt after the race and to banish old beliefs about abilities, capabilities, and possibilities.  While I am still recovering and discovering a new path since July 17 a couple of big things became apparent.

Revelation #1 – I do not need drugs to sleep

Dealing with chronic insomnia since my early 20’s, I was taking melatonin every night to help me sleep. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I don’t know if my body was jolted into making its own because of the physical demands of the race or if I have had spontaneous healing – either way I have been sleeping drug-free since July 13. Feels good.

Revelation #2 – I still like to run.

4 miles hot and humid. A herd of dragonflies levitated and danced about with synchronicity at mile 2. They are never far away. This is my favorite one.

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Beauty on Beauty

Revelation #3 – Reconnecting is essential.

Training takes up so much time and energy, some areas of life don’t get the attention you want to give. Time with family and friends is sucked up in to bike wheels or pool lanes. Neglected people, projects, goals, and bucket lists items wait patiently for attention. I am here.

 

I am ready to love on you all.

And plan for the next big race.