glow notes

Sunday, April 30, 2006

more lessons from the trail

B. and I dusted off our mountain bikes for the first time this year yesterday and took them up to a trail in the Cuyamaca State Forest. It was beautiful - the rains this season have yeilded to wild flowers and green. We saw a bunch of wild turkeys (the males really DO say 'gobble gobble!') and burned a few hundred calories on the way up - then got to say WEEEEEEEE all the way down.

I've written about this before. I am a really bad mountain biker. This is a good thing. Because pushing my boundaries in this way teaches me a lot that is applicable to my life. Here's what came to me yesterday.

One. Things that seem like a pain in the a&& get easier. It took us an hour to get ready to go and have about 90 minutes worth of fun. We had to get the bikes out, be sure they worked, fill the tires, locate our helmets and gloves, pack up water and snacks, etc. But next time it'll take 30 minutes. And pretty soon it'll take 10 minutes, because we'll have it wired. Life application: I look back on when I started getting fit and eating right, and it's the same thing - what comes like breathing to me now was a lot of work at first.

Two. There is a big different between prudence and fear. Prudence is what kept me from getting injured by going so fast that I could not avoid upcoming rocks and such. Fear is what could make me fall off my bike because I hesitate in front of a rock that I could get over if I powered it. Or what could keep me from ever getting on my bike. Life application: there are reasonable and unreasonable risks, and I should choose wisely based on prudent calcuation, not irrational gut reaction.

Three. Even on an easy ride like this one, there are rocks, ruts, and other obstacles. Part of success it to pick a line and stick to it, and part is to make fine adjustments along the way. That requires a balance between scanning the trail ahead and looking at the ground right in front of my wheel. But I'm outdoors on a gorgeous mountain instead of in a spinning class for a reason, so it's also important also to enjoy the scenery. Life application: I need to pick goals and stick to them, but may need to shift my methods along the way due to unforseen obstacles. And I need to enjoy myself along the way, too!

Four. If I choose a ride that's too hard, I'll spend all my time pushing my bike and won't have fun. If I choose a ride that's too easy, I won't get a workout or learn anything. Life application: doing things that I'm not comfortable with is good for me. But if I push my limits too far, I'll either be miserable and avoid that activity and/or won't get anything out of it anyhow.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Choosing

I work at a University that always makes the Playboy 'hot chicks' top 10. These girls know that they're babes. Husband (with whom I work) often mentions that the view from his office window appears to be a casting call for a porno.

I get my exercise at a mostly student fitness center on campus. Afterwards, I shower up and change in the locker room.

Which is to say that I am often standing near some of the best butts and bellies and boobs in the free world. Sometimes my jaw drops open at the sheer perfect-ness of some of these rear ends.

Not that I'm staring, mind you.

Does this make me feel insecure about my body?

Aw hell. These are 18, 19, and 20 year old girls. I'm 35. We're talking apples and mangoes here - they're both delicious, but how can you compare them?

But it's not just an age thing. I also work out at another gym, and me living in Southern California, the 30-, 40-, and 50+ year-old bodies in that gym are also very well cared for, genetically gifted, and sometimes surgically enhanced.

OK, jump back. I'm throwing around some words like 'best' and 'perfect' that have no place in describing the body. The fact that each of us in that locker room is standing there is a miracle of the highest order. I'm just plain lucky to be alive and able to enjoy my body and move and be free.

So, if I am treating myself with care, I feel great about my body, no matter the outside messages coming at me. Age, gravity - eh, these things happen. I am a beautiful 35-year old woman with a body that is nothing short of astonishing - I pick something up, I get stronger! I stretch, I get more flexible! I eat well and run hard, my jeans fit better! Wheee!

If, however, I am not caring for myself - then, yeah, these bodies become a harsh reflection of lost potential. Here's the thing: I get each day to live, each breath to take, each choice to make exactly once.

Once. No excuses. That's a lot of responsibility. And a lot of power.

What will I do with it?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

on the moment between here and now

OK, the Kripalu Yoga Center catalog came today, and at the end a short bit of this book was printed. The chapter is linked from there, but it keeps crashing my browser when I try to open the pdf file. Does it crash yours?

Anyhow, it describes a woman with a binge eating problem, and how one evening she finds herself in the parking lot of a grocery store with a full basket of pastries. The author, who is a therapist and yogi and doesn't appear to have a particular food problem, talks about earlier in the week having found himself eating banana muffins even though he was "off" sugar.

Apparently I'm not alone in the experience of moving from craving to action without even quite being aware of the feelings that brought me there. I suspect it's a pretty universal human experience, getting tied into confusing knots that lead us to unfavorable conclusions - over and over and over, until we finally get them loosened up or (hopefully, eventually) untangled.

I'm not a 'good' yogi these days. I spend more time pushing iron and pounding pavement than practicing asana. My day job is very cerebral, and I need a very yang physical practice to bring me back into my body. And in my experience there are more effective ways than yoga to access and heal physical aches and pains. But this piece made me consider the benefits of yoga.

What yoga can do is create space.

You know those scenes in action movies where the hero/ine is fighting off an enemy and the action slows down so you see every kick, jab, and dodge?

Yoga (meditation, grounding work, prayer, journaling, etc.) can create a few moments of slow motion; enough time to get a good close-up of what's really going on. Time to work that knot. Time to get a few threads unraveled.

I think I'll go do some Savasana now : )