2018 is All Jacked Up – Already

I mean, CRAP! In like a lion, 2018.  Is it too early to ask for the lamb?

I am all jacked up for this year because it is the one wherein I turn fifty, (shhh!).  Saying ‘yes’ as much as I can is.  Pondering ‘how’ not ‘if’ cool things can be done.  Not just dreaming but developing action plans for doing Very. Big. Things.  In life, in work, in sport and adventure, at every intersection possible.  In my 49 years, I have loved each New Year for this fresh opportunity.

13 days in and 3 biggies already.

#1 – We lost him:

Frank.jpg

My sweet-natured, loyal to the core, gentle-spirited uncle, godfather and friend. It was sudden to say the least. Fit and healthy in mind, body and soul, he died at the gym. His exit from here and entry to his heaven stunned  his large family and devoted friends. We love and miss you, Frank H. Nott. We are reeling from the loss of you. However, I am comforted to know your energy is commingled now with your sisters and brothers and parents who paved the way before you.  I am grateful to feel it is a little more okay to hit the highway to heaven – I just don’t want it t happen to me anytime soon. I got sh*t to do.

Lesson: Ya better get going, people – you never know when it is your time.  Repair what’s broken. Create your dreams. Dump love along the way.  Everywhere.

#2 -I did this:

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 6.31.27 PM.png

I had my 5th or 6th surgery to remove skin cancers from my face.  This is not really a biggie but starting off a year with surgery and scars is kinda a thing. I list it really for the irony.  The surgery was scheduled for Feb 6th. I got a call from my surgeon that she wanted to fit me in on 1/8 the same day and almost time that Frank left. As my face was getting fixed my aunt and cousins were falling apart. My face will heal fast. My prayers for my Aunt and cousins picked up pace and continue so. Drop one down (or up) for them if you are so inclined.  Thank you.

#3 – January happens.

Every year.

This month is full of significant milestones. Anniversaries of loss, births and memories of knuckle grinding, bootstrap pulling, breathing to survive.  We have been remembering for 21 Januaries now.  New sh*t in the pot of heart-searing memories re-etched year after year.  This is a pot I will gladly keep stirring – because it’s a poke at the bee’s nest of pure pure love.

And so themes for 2018 are:

Love.

Yes.

How.

Happy New Year.

 

 

 

 

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?

Do you think I’m pretty?

Oh for god's sake.  Can MMY be more self-involved?  I take selfies at work instead of writing research proposals.  (shhhh, I need my job.)

Clairselfie

My new mantra:  Strong is the new skinny.

Not a petite person but related to several and friend to many, I have always had a negative body image.  The overly blessed bosom that I skinnied down with the help of a plastic surgeon 13 years ago had always been by  nemesis.  With that weight gone, you’d think I was slim-pickins.  Not so much.  I still want to be different that I am.  I forever compare myself to the likes of others who are freak-of-nature gorgeous and with not-possible bodies.  Aim high, right?  Wrong when it comes to body image.  Aim where you are then move if it makes you healthier.

On Sunday morning  when my husband grabbed my arm (don’t call the police – it was in play) he said:

Dang, my wife is getting so strong and muscley.  She feels like a 13-year-old boy.

1.  Get your mind out of the gutter.

2.  It felt dang good.  I do feel strong.

Whether it’s the marathon training or the yoga or my age (45) – I am entering my own skin.  I am still not skinny.  I still rock the 3 (BIG) baby belly.  But that’s okay with me.  I am doing my best, getting stronger and feeling good.  One day I may just feel great about it.  For now, ‘good’ is as good as it gets.

ING Miami Marathon, here I come.

ClairMegan

I want my daughters to love themselves as they are.  The only goal is optimum health and maximizing potential.  No size. No specific weight.

KathJane5k(I love Jane’s expression.  This was taken after a Toys for Tots 5k.)

My middle daughter is 13 and for better or better or worse she is built like her mother only much better.  I want her to embrace her build and her strength as a gift.  She is Katniss to me – mighty, fierce, all girl and all things tenacious.

And cool as crap.  Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) told Barbara Walters:

‘I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV.’

Katniss also said:

I think she’s gorgeous and I love her.

 This one too:

katclair

Even if she does make fun of my selfies.  Here’s her imitation of her mother:

kath

If strong is the new skinny, this woman is a rail.

Sharon  Dangles - NPC Continental Championships 2011 - #1

Do you think she’s pretty?

Saturday’s run:

16milerun

Up next:  18, baby!

Not my size (there I go again, still working on it)!  My mileage.

Dirty Love and My Hero

I am in the middle of reading this book. 

                        

In this heartbreakingly beautiful book of disillusioned intimacy and persistent yearning, beloved and celebrated author Andre Dubus III explores the bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses of people seeking gratification in food and sex, work and love.  –Amazon

I picked it  up at Hudson News (you know the place) in Atlanta while galloping down concourse C desperate to make my flight.  Though today’s post is not a book review, I will share this observation of my reading experience.  Andre Dubus is a master at story telling and character portrayal.  Presented like a montage of short stories woven together mysteriously taunting the reader with a yet-to-be-revealed web of connection, the writing is brilliant.  Though the characters’ experiences are extreme they are relatable human beings.  It is a raw and rich telling of very dark stories.  The dark part is disturbing and makes me wonder why I am reading it.  The stories haunt me during the day but entice me to keep reading at night. 

There is sort of beauty in the truth of even when it’s not all butterflies in the meadows and what ‘ave you.  If you saw Just Go With It 6,000 times like me you’ll understand this reference, if not just go with it.  It’s funny and ironic.

Source:  listal.com

My conclusion:  there is a lot of beauty in the truth.  My goal is to post on MMY once a week.  I am compelled to be smart, funny, prolific, charming and yes pretty (you know you do it too, only post the good pics.)  I am never all of these things at once and only sometimes (very rarely) one or two at at time.  So after reading a particularly engaging part of Dirty Love last night, I decided the the Truth was much prettier than embellishments.  Nobody believes the BS anyway and most can smell it a mile away.  So the truth-tellers are my heroes.  People who can be real even if it sucks because sometimes things do.  And that’s the truth.

Like cancer.  Who hasn’t been affected?  You???  You might be lying (hope so) but here’s one of my all time heroes and I just became aware of her blinding light last week.

She is Deborah Cohen.

courtesy:  Deborah Cohen’s Caring Bridge Page

She danced her way to the table for a double mastectomy.  Read and watch this.  Tell me what you think.  You will come out changed and loving Blue Ivy Carter’s mother.  I love Deb.  She has me wanting to dance in my truth.  So here goes a few little nuggets of truth:

My real 10 mile run on Saturday.  A Garmin, like Dirty Love can’t lie.  9:39 pace not 9:28 like I might have said.  Liar!

10 miles 2013!

Here’s the real me in my  new Speedo for my master swim class.  Go ahead, say I look like a skunk.  She did.  And don’t say one word about the duct tape on my couch.  I might cry.

skunkie

Because this is a yoga blog and this post is about heroes,  here is my Virasana (aka hero’s pose) with my real hair and real Mom Jeans and bad balloon shirt.

hero's pose

And finally, here’s the real me, writing a real post.

real me

Do NOT be jealous of my  neck.  Go ahead, throw up – unfollow, unfriend, deny you know me.  I won’t cut your ear off but I will know you left me for real (shallow) reasons.  And that’s a truth I can live with.  Stay and we’ll have real (truthful) fun.

I feel naked.  Like Dirty Love – but it can be fun.

Love you.  Be my hero.  What’s your truth?

Medic! Tales from Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach

Following is a short race report from the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, Virginia on September 1, 2013 and a review of the hot vinyasa class I took 24 hours later thinking it would help me.

Spoiler:  I did not win.  31-year-old Kenyan Henry Rutto did.

Of the now 9 half marathons I have completed this one sported the most drama.  Runners were falling out all around me.  Not just the slow old people like me – young, amazing-looking specimen of fitness.  No matter how prepared and experienced a runner is, race day and results carry a veil of mystery.  Some things just can’t be explained.

Like the lady who dropped down 50 yards from the finish right in front of me.  A group of medics rushed to her instantaneously shouting:

Get a Pulse!!

Or the convulsing runner my husband saw being aided by a posse of friends and then placed on a stretcher.

Or the gentleman who died just after he got started – one or two miles in.  Why.  Why.  Why???  So very sad.

And yet, we keep coming back.  This event was a celebration of life and tenacity and appreciation for health.  Ask VB Team Hoyt how big it was to race this one.

Or maybe the guy whose tee-shirt read:

Survived: Cancer 2010

Survived: Open Heart Surgery 2011

This is nothing.

I saw this hero right before I was encountered by a line of garden hoses spraying us as we passed by mile 11.  Even winning Henry (above) said:

“I did not feel good until mile 11,” Rutto said after the race. “But when I went past [Kosgei] I knew I would win. It was hot and I was not feeling very good.”

My stranger-buddy next to me said as we were showered with yard water:

“I love people.”

Me too.  I think those guys over in Syria need to run this race.

My family and I had a blast.

We went to Buffalo Wild Wings after we checked into the hotel:

ClairNickBW3'sVB

My husband I drank a beer in the car afterwards.ClairMikeAfterRNRHalf

Best beer ever.

We celebrated at a waterside eatery after a day on the beach.

ClairNickJaneChick's

We made it home happy and healthy.  Thank you God.  Bless all the runners.

The next day I thought a hot vinyasa class would do me right.  The hot part was a good idea, perhaps not the vinyasa.  The long holds and strenuous flow did not serve me.  My legs were not working but my shoulders, sweet Jesus, opened like a book.  Baby got back.

yogashouldersupperback

I’m getting old.  My shoulders have wrinkles.  Elephants are cute, non??

Later, my girls and I tried out a new State Park and gave our mountain bikes a whirl.

KandJBikes

Notice I have not mentioned my pace.  I have a lot of work to do.  I have never really done speed work to prepare for a race.  It is time.  I am within a minute of my average half marathon time but I have a PR to get in Miami in February.  On a full.  Full heart, Full Life.  Full marathon.  All the same.  Such is the mystery of life and running.

So I swam today I taught my precious yoga and thanked the good Lord over and over for my breath.  My very life.  I love people.

 

5 ways to deal with non-yogi’s in your life

Can’t we just all be happy?  Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Our constitutional and God-given right.  Right???

Right. 

Warning:  a little self-disclosure is on tap today.

Over the years I have found my way to a therapist’s chair (thank God) for various issues collectively called Life.  Some to them include:

A broken heart (by a boy)

A broken heart (by my Mom’s passing)

A broken heart (by my loss of self in the frenetic craziness of life)

A broken heart (by my Dad’s passing)

A broken heart (perceived injustices done to me)

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD!) (caused by the pursuit but non-attainment of happiness)

What is this pursuit business anyway??  It’s like the word ‘try’.  All it does is connote good intentions – which are super good and important but come on.  It shouldn’t even be a verb.  THERE IS NO REAL ACTION IN PURSUING OR TRYING.  There is action in BEING AND DOING.  One cannot do or be anything until the desired outcome is sited in.  True that.  So for me pursuing and trying is a necessary part of being happy.  It points to the right direction.  However, I don’t see the actual movement in effort. 

Effort is like gas – you need it to go but at some point you place your foot on the accelerator and in a moment of blind faith just start to move forward.   The gas is necessary but not the cause to the effect of moving.  It’s all you.  Go.  Do.  Be.

Remember the Steve Winwood/Eric Clapton collaboration?

I am absolutely not old enough to totally know about them as a current band – only a classic duo.

My favorite song is “I’m wasted and I can’t find my way home”.  Genius.

 

Hang with me dear readers (all 2 of you – I love you so much) I have a point I am itching to make.  (Notice I didn’t saying ‘trying’ – that would be lame.)

Here is comes: more self disclosure.

I have benefitted from good therapy in chunks over the years.  I do not currently go regularly but would if I felt I should.  During one of the therapy chapters I remember making a comment that went something like this:

Why can’t I just find a peace-loving, Birkenstock-wearing, dude with a groovy vibe and a spiritual practice?

 

My therapist said:

Believe me.  They have their problems too.

True that.

As I have grown and developed my yoga practice I am flummoxed often when I answer the question: 

“Does your husband practice yoga with you?”

Here’s the answer: (wait for it)

“Hell to the no.”

He says it’s not really for him.  Okay – my belief is, if you have a body, yoga is for you but okay.  He does however brag about yoga being the X-factor for our athletic children.  And so it begs the questions:

Can yogi’s and non-yogi’s be in good, deep, thriving and growing relationships?

“Hell to the yes.”

How unfulfilling would it be to only interact with people just like us?  Affirmation is good but differences inspire thought and expand the realm of possibility.  But seriously, can a vegetarian leaning (not yet fully committed) enjoy cooking and eating meals with a solid and true American Sportsman who enjoys provided meat for his family foraged from the forest?  Sure. 

I am no expert on anything but here are a few tips that seem to work for me in navigating a 16-year-old marriage and 3 kids to a non-yogi who joyfully loves nature and hunting and fishing too.

1.  Unapologetically know what resonates with you for fun and fulfillment.  Could be yoga.  Could be marinating chicken wings for a Superbowl party. 

2.  Don’t judge but just notice and respect the differences among loved ones.

3.  Actively and often engage in those activities that feed your soul.

4.  Try something new perhaps from the treasure trove of your partner.

5.  Have a lot of Blind Faith.

Go.  Do.  Be Happy.  Don’t try.

Are you in a relationship with a non-yogi?  How’s it going?

It’s going great for them.