Tenacious By Nature

tenacious by nature

During our visit to Esalen, our son discovered what my husband declared to be the most beautiful trail he’d ever hiked (and he’s quite particular about these things).  My husband pointed out the tree in the photo above and speculated that though the tree had fallen many years back, it wasn’t quite dead and so new shoots took up the organism’s perpetual quest for sunlight (and endured a fire too).  I admired that tree’s tenacity, so I took a picture.  A while back, somebody called me tenacious and I took comfort in knowing that somebody recognized my enduring efforts.  I’ve had to be these past few years, holding on to the career that I built with a decade’s worth of all my available resources (and then some) has taken all my resolve.  And I’m not in the clear yet, not by a long shot.  In summary, being a business-owning-hands-on-mama is no joke.  No joke.

Saturday 3/29 was slated to be the end of the second phase of My Pilates Body Boost.  But as I’ve mentioned, I got a little off course this time around and I don’t feel that I’m ready to be done.  Last weekend, I had a treat in the form of a lesson with Siri Dharma Galliano.  She gave me some great things to think about with respect to my current goal of creating more space within my body.  It was a pleasure to have somebody with such knowledge and heart so close to my home.  Part of me misses my days of frequent travel for Pilates training, but the other part knows that this is my time to deepen into my home and my own life.  Pilates is ever-present in those endeavors and having a lesson with such a great teacher feels like a celebration and affirmation of that.  And honestly, it keeps me going.  True to her style, Siri gave me some much appreciated tips about how to transform my little studio into a thriving small business so I’ve got lots to work on in the coming months.

I’m gearing up for some new projects and in the meantime tying up unfinished ones so my mind is mostly swimming these days.  I remain grateful for this space and eager to share more once I get my bearings.  For now, I’m deeply engaged with the many tasks of transitioning and so very grateful to have the feeling that I’m right where I need to be, and that my tenacity may indeed pay off.  For so long that hasn’t been the case and so my sense of gratitude is even stronger than usual.

Since my mind is rather scattered but very full at present, I thought that I’d share a couple fun things that have been keeping me entertained and engaged:

A really cool tour of the female pelvic floor in two parts.  This is the sort of thing that every woman should know (IMHO):


And a bumper sticker that made me laugh today:
Back off!  I’m not that kind of car.

As far as the day to day goes, I’m going to keep that tree in mind and keep looking for the light.

Hitting the Road

We're headed to the coast!

We’re headed to the coast!

Today our family heads to Esalen.  It’s our first visit and I’m quite excited.  But I’m not one to get out of the house easily.  I’m having trouble tearing myself away from my desk, truth be told.  But I saw a little item in my “to be published” list that I thought might make it a little easier for me to say goodbye to cyberspace and all my unfinished tasks.  One little thing to post, one more little thing done before I unplug.

It’s something that I read on a bumper sticker.  I do appreciate a good bumper sticker:

And with that, we head off on a little family adventure to discover together what will emerge once we are free of our daily constraints.

Sensing Hope

stages of opening wide

stages of opening wide

A few days ago I had an interesting experience after my workout.  It was my first after a couple days off that I take in accordance with my hormonal cycle that just so happened to coincide with my boy needing extra tender loving care due to the presence of two staples in the back of his head.

I wasn’t expecting much because I didn’t have a lot of time and it hadn’t been the easiest couple of days off.  So I was surprised to feel such an immediate and full-body sense of lightness as I walked back from the studio.  I felt as if a heavy fog had lifted from my body and I daresay that this sort of experience is what prompts my clients to exclaim how wonderful they feel at the conclusion of a lesson.  I’ve always privately marveled at the complete conviction with which folks say that they are improved after a Pilates workout, because the effects have rarely been so dramatic for me.

I’m wondering if this is a result of MELTing.  My bodyworker has noted that my body seems to have less noise and perhaps I’ve just experienced what she means.  If indeed my body’s internal static is fading, then every input I receive will be more easily processed and likewise I will be able to sense the positive effects of all my self care projects.  I do believe that this is what getting out of chronic pain feels like.  If nothing else, it’s what hope feels like.

Good for the Body

Little Footwork

My son loves to meet and greet my clients.  Sometimes he likes to do some exercise along with them.  Sometimes he likes to do the instructing.  Lucky for me, my clients respond to my toddler with kindness and what I hope is sincere pleasure.

Today my client, son and nanny were in the studio a couple minutes before me and my son was talking about what they were going to do.  His plan was that they’d do the exercises together.  He got up on the reformer, waited for all but one spring to be removed, and started with his footwork.  Once he was done with that he bustled purposefully on to the next exercise.  All the while he explained what he was doing and the benefits that would follow.  He summed it up by saying it was “good for the body.”

At that turn of phrase I couldn’t help but remember how many times I heard Romana’s stories about Uncle Joe’s frequent answer to the all too common question, “what’s this exercise good for?”  According to her, his response was always the same, “it’s good for the body.”

These days as I’m enhancing my Pilates practice with studies of other methods and continually learning in my teaching practice, I’m seeing the method in a broader way.  Each and every intricacy makes up such a perfectly complete whole, that Joe’s answer becomes so much more significant than it once seemed to me.

These kids, they know some worthwhile stuff.  Maybe it won’t be too long before my kid is teaching the Pilates lessons.  For now, at least, he reminded me of something very important and for that I am grateful.

My Thoughts After Reading “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed

tiny beautiful things

My recent few days have been full as is to be expected.  But there is something of a theme running through them, that has to do with pain and perspective and the role of tiny beautiful things.  A while back Tara recommended this book to me and boy am I grateful for that!  It is full of so many heart-moving insights that I could not possibly sum it all up other than to say that it’s a worthwhile read.

My biggest take-away so far comes from what Sugar had to say about entitlement and ambition.  She gave me some good thoughts to marinate on and I feel that I may have been able to turn around my thinking on a few topics that my mind is prone to torturing me with.  The sum of it is this, sometimes the way to change perspective is to alter the scale of thinking.  When the unproductive and obstructive thoughts are grandiose, then it can be useful to get engaged with something on a very small scale.  Likewise when the thoughts that paralyze us in a negative holding pattern are minuscule, then it may well serve us to think big.

These days it’s the big thoughts that drive me crazy.  The past couple weeks have made it clear to me that there is no point thinking about why these thoughts enter my head, rather I have to shift my perspective:  spend time with a friend, work on an intricate crochet project, admire tiny little pebbles collected by my husband and son on the beach, focus on very small gentle movements in one very specific area of my body, talk through the details of someone else’s current life experience.  All of those things have been a welcome salve in recent days.  And it was Cheryl Strayed’s words that helped me put it all together to understand what was happening.

When I’m four days into a painful episode that relates to my decades-old injury as I am today, I am prone to angry thoughts about the lack of help that I received when I originally knocked my tailbone to the side.  I happened to be complaining to my mom about my frustrations when by some grace, I was granted a perfect opportunity to redirect those thoughts.  Probably because it was related to the topic at hand, she mentioned that a co-worker had to leave early because her teenage daughter called from school with back pain so extreme that she wanted to go home.  It occurred to me that my mom and I could do a little something with all the regret that we shared over the failings that we experienced back then.  I suggested that she make good on our unfortunate history by telling her coworker that there was most likely some relief in her daughter’s future if they were to seek the appropriate support in the form of a healing practitioner outside the western medical model.  Had I been told even this as a teen, the search would have begun.

It’s not that any problems were solved in that moment.  But a mental shift occurred because I was given the opportunity to shift my perspective.  The big and unalterable history of my current situation melted away as I considered the plight of another and one tiny little thing that I could do to offer my help.  Who knows what will come of it, but in that moment despair gave way to hope.

In the course of a full day, that’s a beautiful moment worth appreciating.

Thoughts on Being Gentle and Kind

a lesson in gentleness

a lesson in gentleness

Be gentle and kind.  Those words are circling around in my head a lot these days as I am doing my best to teach our boy the many expressions of gentleness and kindness.  I trust that he’s working with the concepts in his own way when he follows the cat around the house screaming, or when he pushes over a friend that he really loves.  We’ve been following up those decidedly un-gentle and unkind acts with a lot of close and quiet conversations about how our behavior effects others.  To the point that yesterday in the car he said, “be gentle and kind.”  I was on the phone with my mother at the time and she oohed and ahhed over his sweetness – more than she would have over the acts that have prompted the frequent reminder.

Anyway, I woke up today with a really stiff back.  The kind that used to be commonplace for me.  It put me in a sour mood and demanded a good deal of my attention.  Which pulled me into a process of evaluating just how gentle and kind I am to myself.  I’ve been looking back over the past couple days because I’m currently in the thick of these various new body projects and I have the idea that perhaps I pushed myself a bit to far.  All the while trying to be gentle and kind.  I believe that it’s a pitfall of specializing in corrective exercise that one runs the risk of becoming a bit too vigilant with one’s body.  In all the efforts to make things right, there is an undertone that things are not currently so.  That seems fine enough, but for certain kinds of over-thinkers like myself, it can easily become a constant barrage of thoughts about what is wrong and what needs to be fixed.

My injuries compound these tendencies.  Twenty-three years of daily pain has definitely influenced my perception of my body.  I’ve come a long way from where I started, and yet it is still quite easy to feel downright negative about the state of me.  The only way through that is to be gentle and kind and to clean up those critical thoughts as they sweep through my mind which is also navigating pain signals, wild toddler signals, nanny signals, client signals, and all the rest that a day offers me.  It was around noon that I had some time to myself and I really noticed what a relief that quiet space was.  I needed that quiet to engage fully with my body, to tend to the aches and pains and everything else in between.  I made progress and that was a comfort.  But I believe that I’m going to be in the process of unwinding for at least a couple days here.  And I will look to gentleness and kindness as my constant guides.

Thoughts On Showing Up

tulips reaching for the light

tulips reaching for the light

80% of Life is Just Showing up - Woody Allen

Remember that video that I promised?  Here it is.  I will confess that I do not at all like seeing myself on screen.  All those postural imperfections, mannerisms, and flubbits in glaring clarity.  But sharing is caring, and I do care to share.  So there, self.  There.  I’ve made it something of a personal goal to improve upon those things that I don’t like about looking at myself in videos, it is one way that I plan to show up to myself in the months to come.  Because, I do have some more video ideas to manifest and aren’t they sort of an ideal way to see just how we show up in physical form?  I do believe so.

Showing up seems like something of a theme in our home in recent hours.  It started with our nanny not calling, not coming, not responding to her subsequent termination.  In more than one sense, she failed to show up.  Perhaps her mostly – she’s always been slightly unreliable but it’s not too easy to find childcare for a 8-noon shift on Sunday mornings – uncharacteristic behavior can be attributed to the start of DST, but unfortunately it makes us all the less sympathetic to whatever may be her side of the story.  Try as I am, I can only get to the point of having lost a majority of my respect for her.  I’m offended that she was so disrespectful in her method of quitting, that she left us to do the “dirty work” of ending the relationship.  And now I’m here holding the bad feelings too.  So I continue to work on it because I’m pretty sure that right now I’ve got double the load, hers and mine.  Apparently this current situation reveals something of a cultural thing.  In some places it is considered acceptable to terminate one’s term of employment with nary a word of communication.  Point taken.

I must confess that I have my own history of not showing up to my personal preferences with respect to work.  As it’s virtually impossible to erase any of our experiences completely, I must still have some remnants of an old complex around leaving, something of a reverse abandonment complex.  Back in my early twenties, I was ready to leave my waitressing job, but I had an irrational fear that when I gave the standard two weeks notice I’d be instantly terminated.  So I arranged to have all my shifts covered for two weeks and then I gave notice.  Strange, eh?  I eventually came to terms with my error in judgement and lack of consideration and apologized to my manager.  She was gracious, but explained to me precisely the pickle that my actions had put her in.  Clearly I did wrong, but I feel that I did my best to take responsibility for my negligence.  In some way, if only retrospectively, I showed up.

There’s no two ways about it, breaking up is hard to do.  But I believe that it’s worth doing with as much respect for all the people involved as possible, and that requires showing up.  Saying goodbye in person.  Facing oneself in the face of another.  Being an employer forces me to do my best to do those things, that are in no way easy for me to do.  Perhaps that is why I’m an employer, because I need to be forced to show up in order to do so.

This weekend I had an enlightening Holistic Biomechanics lesson in which I sensed my tailbone in a whole new way.  I felt so many amazingly alive sensations at the very base of my spine and afterward I felt a kind of relief that I have not had in decades.  Apart from being an exciting discovery process, it was also trying.  I noticed myself becoming impatient and irritable more than ever before in a HB class.  I had the idea that perhaps those emotions relate to the very base of the spine, indeed I’ve often noticed a correlation between the length of my fuse and the amount of discomfort that I’m experiencing in my pelvic floor.  Because I was supported in showing up to my body, I was able to work through and hopefully work out some of those emotions.  Now I’ve got more ways to tune into my tailbone and will be doing so in the coming weeks.  The prospect of truly releasing the old injury, as much as is possible, is a powerful motivator.

In my work with clients, I am the one who keeps them company when they show up to themselves, that is what they are essentially doing when they arrive at my studio.  Often, people are finally showing up to parts of themselves that they have ignored for many years.  It is incredible to witness the relief that comes from addressing those long-ignored parts of ourselves.  I get eager for more.  So much so that I have to refrain from pushing rivers.

But sometimes, I can’t keep my words to myself.  Here we are again, Daylight Savings Time has arrived and I’m gonna beat the drum of discontent.  I’m gonna proclaim:  That DST! That DST! I do not like that DST! (did you catch the Seuss reference?  I hope so!)  I’m even gonna go so far as to say that if more people were showing up to themselves regularly, we would not stand for such silliness as changing the hour twice a year.  I know, I know, people like more light at certain times of the day, work / play schedules blah blah blah.  I don’t care about that stuff.  I care about the fact that I feel like crap for a couple weeks two times a year.  I care that in the years when I was more vulnerable I would routinely get sick every spring forward.  I think that I care because I show up to myself enough to notice the effects of the time change on my body.  On this point I’m quite certain.  And I’m gonna keep banging this drum because I figure that after years of showing up to my twice-yearly frustration maybe others will see my point.  Maybe something will change for the better, maybe the saying will be proven right.  If I don’t keep showing up, I”ll never know.