Wednesday, February 24, 2016

This Month of Trying

Well, I am on my last week(ish) of yoga.

Some days I succeeded in pulling out the yoga mat and did 10+ minutes of yoga. Some days I didn't. And through it all I have been more aware of my choices and of myself.

This is going to be a tough year. I can see that now. My natural inclination is to not work out. (What a shock since I am out of shape!) It is hard to form a new habit...there's a reason it takes 30 days.

I didn't honestly think 30 days (or for Feb, 29 days) would be that hard to do something new. But I guess that is why it does indeed take so long for something to stick.

My hope is to continue yoga on a semi-regular basis. But I am also allowing myself to do a month of trying and not touch that habit again for a while. My idea of doing this whole year of trying is to create new self care habits. Right now my go to is food and that has not served to help me.

Am I suddenly craving yoga? No, but I do find myself wanting to do it sometimes. Like this morning, I work up with my muscles in my back aching. I don't know if that is because I did a twist and align yoga session yesterday or if sitting in a car for 2 1/2 hours talking with a friend and twisting  to look at her was the cause. But my immediate reaction was "I should do some yoga to help this pain!" rather than my usual "this sucks, let's each Chick fi la!"

Progress.

I like it! Now the yoga this morning didn't completely heal the backache, but when I finished I felt a little better and felt like I could cope with this unexpected turn of events. I hope these last few days I can keep up the yoga, but if I skip a day I will give myself grace rather than shame.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Life Sucks - and that's okay?

My dad sent to me what I thought was a completely random New York Times article titled "Death, the Prosperity Gospel, and Me"

What the heck dad? Are you trying to subtly tell me you are dying? I ignored the article for a little while but today I finally sat down and read it.

Let me explain to you that my dad has the sixth sense to send personal emails, articles, etc. at about the time I need them. Heck, I don't even realize how much I need them until I read whatever he has sent me.

I read the article which is about a woman learning she has cancer. She has been studying the American church and the Prosperity Gospel - the idea that if you believe in good things you shall receive good things. She calls out the #blessed (which I have always found incredibly silly because you are self promoting yourself then trying to end it on a humble note) because there is an underlying assumption that we deserve to be blessed.

When I read it I thought "Oh, this is just dad helping me see how culture can influence and be influenced by Christianity." Me being open minded and progressive I found this intriguing and moved on to thinking about the coding I need to complete for a lab that is due Monday.

Not five minutes later I am still thinking on this subject. How on Instagram we strive to take the perfect shot. I will give up on a posting a selfie if I can't think of a good shot. No one is ever going to take a really ugly picture and post "This is how I feel. Today just sucks. #grumpy" No! Even "no make up" shots have beautiful natural light that makes one's skin positively glowing. We strive to put forth a happy, joy filled life to the world.

So back to me. This season in life sucks. I am living with my parents (shout out - they have been supportive and loved on me so much I can't believe how much they have proven my expectations to be wrong), am basically broke, and have no idea of what I want to do next.

This is the first season where I have really been adrift. No goal on the horizon and nothing to be passionate about. Can I tell you how I love to be passionate about something? I love that feeling and right now I can't seem to muster up any really joyful emotions.

How easy it is for me to start trying to cheer myself up. "It's okay Elise, you have so much to be thankful for! God knows what the plan is!" I have had many wonderful people encourage me in this season and I am grateful for it.

But maybe I just need to be present and realize that this stress-filled, anxiety driven season just sucks. If I don't acknowledge it I am going to continue to sweep it under the rug and pretend that I see the purpose in this hard season of life.

I am noticing this a lot with yoga. After I got sick two weekends ago I have done yoga maybe 3 times. I push it aside because I don't want to do it and then get angry when I go to bed. Great Elise, another failure - can't even get your "Year of Trying" off to a promising start. So what's the point?

My natural inclination right after saying all that is to offer a positive spin on life. But in reading this article I am reminded of something Dr. Henry Cloud calls the good-bad split. It is the realization that there is both good and bad and as adults we have to learn to hold those two beliefs in tension. Our inclination is to see a situation, event, or person even as all good or all bad. And in maturing one must be able to understand that life isn't all good or all bad.

I think up to this point I have tried to see this season as all good and force myself to see it in that lens only. My dad in his simple way was showing me "Elise, it's okay that this season has bad in it too. God is not all giving or all punishing,"

So, I decided I needed to write a post about the bad. Both in the month of trying and in this season I find myself. Because if I keep up this "look how everything is turning out great" theme in my posts I am not being honest with myself.

Today I did yoga, today I also do not want to code but I'm going to. There is good and bad today and that is okay.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Unexpected Circumstances

Every well thought out plan can be hindered.

Friday I hit a wall - it was 11 o'clock at night and I did not want to do yoga, I was ready to go to bed. But I rallied and did 10 minutes of a guided meditation in the yoga app, felt proud I had done my goal even though I was cranky and didn't want to do yoga so late at night.

A few hours later, I get very sick. I won't go into details but let's just say that there was no way I was going to do yoga Saturday or Sunday because my body was incredibly weak and to force myself to do yoga would not have been wise.

While I was mad that I couldn't do my goal for those days - as I reflect I realize this was a good thing. Because I learned some things:

1. I was mad because I wanted to do yoga! That is amazing that I wanted to complete my goal even while incredibly sick.

2. These months of trying are going to have bumps in the road - if everything went perfectly I would get an ego complex. Or if everything went perfectly and I decided not to do a day of trying I would berate myself for not being perfect - and that a load of BS.

3. Some things are out of my hands and all I can do is adjust and go forward.

4. But trying is a success - and sometimes not forcing myself to try when my body or mind is not in a great place is a success because I am understanding my body's needs.

Sure, I am going to have to push myself like I did Friday night. Trying new things is hard. I am learning from this past weekend though that I can't push myself too hard because that can cause more harm than good. So I call this weekend a success, when unexpected circumstances came upon me I had to decide what would help me the most, and rest was the best answer.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Attempting to be Flexible

So it's day 4 of February which means I am in the month of trying yoga.

My only expectations were that I do 10 minutes minimum of yoga before I go to sleep. I know myself and if I say "Oh Elise, do 30 minutes of yoga 3-4 days a week" do you know when I would do it? Never. I would have woken up February 1st and thought "Oh, I will do yoga tomorrow, I don't really want to do it today." And every day after that I would have said the same thing then frustrated at myself for not doing it.

Small steps when looked back will show my progress. Whereas imagining big steps forward would lead to a great destination, I likely would just stop and give up. I keep trying to remind myself of this.

I am really impressed with myself, cause honestly February 1st came along and I got my period. Forgive me blog gods but I am being candid for a good reason. I was given a great excuse to not even start yoga, because honestly who loves starting a new physical activity while on their period? No one. I could do a poll of every woman and they would have said "Elise, you deserve a little grace, just start yoga when you are finished with your period cause no one deserves punishment like that. And really what is 2-3 days of skipping with 25 days of success?"

But no, I knew that if I did not start yoga February 1st I would likely never start yoga in February and would have tried to move around my pretty schedule to try some other activity this month. Which then means rewriting my lovely schedule I painstakingly wrote out in pretty font.

February 1st came and I pulled out my iPad with my yoga app and selected the beginner's relaxation 10 minute class. (Read: not too many transitions and lots of sitting and breathing - but it counts!) And I completed it, period be damned!

And I have been doing it for four days! I have a history of giving up on exercise regimens after one week so we shall see how my mental warfare is after day 7, but today I only see victory!

Now, is my downward dog perfect? Far from it, I guarantee that the lady in the video looks nothing like me, but who gives a care? I am doing yoga during the day at my house, I doubt a die hard yogi is going to walk by the back porch and look in and say "Elise! You are doing it all wrong! You are a disgrace to yogis everywhere!!! Please stop for the sake of humanity!!"  But I doubt a yogi would ever say that to anyone ever. So I attempt each pose, sometimes having to modify or do a different pose cause my body is not in top shape (which I love and embrace) nor is it flexible (yet!).

Right now I do not detest yoga, though I don't doubt I will have days this month where I curse yoga because I am doing it at 10 pm to fulfill the whole "doing yoga before going to bed" rule I put in place.

But right now, I am stumbling through yoga and I am trying something new. YEA!!!