Summer Moments 2013 (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, Mama Kat asked us to list our top 6 summer moments so far. I have eight. Good rule follower, aren’t I?!

First, I have to thank Gini Dietrich and Spin Sucks for featuring me as a Follow Friday selection. The Spin Sucks community has made this non-industry person feel very welcome; they have taught me a lot about communications and public relations, and they have made me laugh! I am grateful. That was May 31; a happy omen for the summer that lay ahead.

Second, there was “the bridge.” When I visited Savannah for my niece’s graduation in June, I ran the Talmadge Bridge. I really hope I can go back to run it officially in December for the Savannah River Bridge Run (double pump of course!). It would be fun to do it with permission and a little traffic control.

talmadge bridge

Third, there was “family picture time at the beach.” Props to my sister in law Brenda for putting this all together. I know over the years to come, we will look back at these photos of our extended family and be glad we dealt with getting everyone to coordinate, hauling everyone over the sand dunes, and the “hunt for the Heineken shirt” in order to capture this moment in time.

beer shirts

Fourth, my conversation with my brother in law Jamie. I’ll bet that even after all these years (26 to be exact) of us knowing one another, there isn’t a single picture of us together. At most family gatherings, he is busy boiling peanuts or convincing the grill to do what he needs it to do. But we had a great conversation by the pool. It wasn’t profound; it won’t change the world, but it was a rare opportunity to share a little bit about each other’s views of the world and the fact that some of the things that people perceive as “a waste of time” are in reality the complete opposite.

Fifth, I am so excited to have gotten involved with “I Run for Michael,” which pairs runners with kids with special needs. I run for “G,” who has a mitochondrial disorder. If I could bottle the compassion, enthusiasm, and candor that are exchanged hourly on the Facebook page, I would! I am happy to run for you, “G,” and to be a part of your family’s journey.

IR 4 Gareth Cropped

Sixth, there was a moment (a fleeting one) when I first met up with Tenley after her three-week absence at dance intensive (at the University of Alabama) when the hug had that intensity that we have with our kids when they are little and really, really need us. In a weekend where she said one sentence that will go down in my parenting annals as pretty much the most painful thing I’ve heard to date, I have to remind myself of those “I need you” moments. (And, as an aside, we both fell a little bit in love with that campus — one that has never been on my radar screen.)

Seventh, to close things out – I woke up on a routine Saturday morning to learn that someone had written a song about me (well, about me and three other incredible people). Oh, Chuck Kent, you made my summer.

Eighth. I have been fortunate to be able to go to Yoga & Meditation at Journeys in Yoga twice this summer. Not only has the yoga been great, but the meditations, centered around the July theme of “identity,” have been good for my spirit. Who knew writing could help you figure out who you really are?

What have been the highlights of your summer?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Happy Sixth Birthday, Journeys In Yoga

Journeys in Yoga turned six yesterday. In typical generous fashion, Suzanne offered a day of free yoga topped off by a champagne toast and birthday cake. I wasn’t able to attend, but would like to offer this post as my birthday “thank you” to Journeys.

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Six Gifts Journeys Has Given Me

Flexibility Of course it is not unexpected that a yoga practice will increase flexibility! Journeys has helped me improve my physical flexibility, and time and again has helped my tight hamstrings and other running-related muscles and tendons become more pliable. But it is a flexibility that goes beyond the physical; it is a flexibility that encourages me to stretch my mind and heart in new ways.

Strength The first class I went to at Journeys was a core yoga class. I have written before about how I think core strength is indispensable to runners. At Journeys I became stronger, in my abs and in my confidence.

Peace of Mind I started going to Journeys at a time when I was injured and could not run. My husband had just lost his job and our family faced an uncertain road financially. The injury did not go away magically; the family situation did not repair itself spontaneously. But Journeys gave me a place to take a respite from all of that, one savasana at a time.

Friendship I have made friends at Journeys who broaden my life and support me. By sharing yoga time with people I know from other areas of my life, friendships have been deepened and extended. I needed this.

Focus Staring at a driste trying to balance does help us (usually) keep from tumbling over during a yoga session, but learning to look ahead at a steady point is a lesson I needed to learn (still need to learn) for reaching my goals in life. Journeys gave me a place to internalize this.

Abundance Abundance is Journeys’s theme of the month for March. It is fitting. Journeys has helped remind me of the abundance surrounding me, the tangible and non-tangible. In involving me in helping to publicize various donation yoga campaigns (such as One Million Bones and the Human Trafficking Prevention efforts), Journeys helped me feel that I had something to give, no matter my yoga abilities.

Lastly, Journeys is my “yoga home” — although I am early on in my yoga journey, I have had the opportunity to do yoga in several other states, to do yoga outdoors, to do yoga in front of a computer screen. No matter where I am, I am reminded that yoga shouldn’t hurt, that I should feel comfortable speaking up about what I need, that I should know deep inside that yoga is for everyone. These are all principles that Journeys has taught me.

I do not know if “gratitude” will end up being one of Journeys’s 2013 “Transformation Themes,” but whether it is on a list as a monthly theme or not, it is something I feel for this place every day of every year.

compressed namaste


 

Add Your Bone To The Million

There’s no better way to learn about something you only superficially understand than to volunteer to write about it! I had seen my friend Jane McPherson’s Facebook postings about the “One Million Bones Project” many times, enough to know that it was about genocide and that it involved literally making “bones.” Beyond that, I didn’t fully understand if it was about raising awareness, fundraising, taking action on an issue of international significance, or a combination of the three.

Fortunately, two representatives of Florida State University’s branch of the “One Million Bones Project” came to Journeys in Yoga today to participate in the Journeys donation class that benefits the project. They covered in five minutes what I had failed to understand over the past five months. A visit to the One Million Bones website answered my other questions.

The Million Bones Project is about genocide. It is a “collaborative art installation designed to recognize the millions of victims and survivors who have been killed or displaced by ongoing genocides and humanitarian crises in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Burma.”*

In addition to raising awareness, there is a fundraising component. In conjunction with “Students Rebuild,” every bone made as part of this collaboration will result in generating $1 toward the work of CARE in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This awareness-building and fundraising has a physical manifestation in the “bones” that are made by participants all over the nation

Here in Tallahassee, the local project has already created over 10,000 bones and therefore raised over $10,000.  The installation of 6500 bones in Bloxham Park last April made a strong statement:

Tallahassee’s Bloxham Park Installation April 2012

The local One Million Bones group plans future installations at Florida State University as well as 621 Gallery during this academic year.

Ultimately, the national goal is to cover the National Mall in Washington, D.C., with one million handmade bones in 2013.

A Preview Installation in Albuquerque, NM

You may be asking, “why go to all the trouble to shape some clay or plaster into a hipbone or rib (or other bone) replica?” I don’t know about you, but I learn better and am more invested in things I have seen and touched than things I have only heard. If that’s true for me as an adult, I can only imagine that it is even more true for a child or young person.

Students at Tallahassee’s Palmer-Munroe Teen Center make bones for the One Million Bones project.

I am happy to share the news that Journeys in Yoga is donating 100% of the proceeds from its Sunday noon donation classes through the end of October to this project! All levels of yoga are welcomed, and the donation amount is entirely up to you. In addition, Journeys will offer several opportunities in September to make bones before or after a yoga class.

For information about the September 16 bone-making and yoga event at Journeys, click here. (Bone-making is free. Please contact Journeys for class fee information.)

For information about the September 18 bone-making and yoga event at Journeys, click here. (Bone-making is free. Please contact Journeys for class fee information.)

Keep up with the Journeys/One Million Bones partnership schedule via this link.

Follow this sign to do some good for yourself AND for others!

If you have other questions about the One Million Bones project, here are some resources:

The Florida One Million Bones website is http://www.onemillionbones.org/rtwflorida/.

The national One Million Bones website is www.onemillionbones.org.

The website for Students Rebuild, which focuses on engaging young people, is www.studentsrebuild.org.

You can “like” the One Million Bones/Florida Facebook page here.

You can make your own bone at a Tallahassee First Friday! Information on that is here.

If you want to have a bone made in your name or the name of someone you care about, click here. (These bones will be part of the National Mall display. They are biodegradable and will be filled with flower seeds afterwards and planted around the country to symbolize hope and new life.*)

You can learn more about the local One Million Bones principal organizer, Jane McPherson, here.

You can watch a video about the project here:

Thank you, Journeys, for your generosity not only to causes in our town but to the worldwide community!

*Source: www.onemillionbones.org

 

Help Victims of Human Trafficking, One Vinyasa at a Time

Journeys in Yoga has a commitment to SEVA (Community Service). Every Sunday, a “donation” class is held at noon; the students give whatever they want to give financially, and Journeys donates 100% of the proceeds to a selected charity. (Teachers vary Sunday to Sunday; you are welcomed whether you are a beginner, experienced, or somewhere in between.)

For the next five weeks, Journeys is donating proceeds from the Sunday noon class to the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, which provides free legal services to victims of human trafficking. In addition to legal services, the Center has found itself providing for other needs of trafficking victims, including helping them find work and housing, and facilitating reunification with their children.  Survivors of trafficking (at least those who cooperate with law enforcement) are entitled to permanent residency in the United States, but this road to residency is VERY expensive. Survivors must provide official translations of their birth certificates and other documents, obtain thorough medical examinations, and pay court fees.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It is “the sale, transport and profit from human beings who are forced to work for others. Against their will, millions of people around the world are forced to work for the profit of others, for example by begging, prostitution, involuntary servitude, working in sweatshops – even becoming child soldiers.” (This definition is from this resource.) The United Nations has estimated that more than 2.4 million people are currently being exploited as victims of human trafficking (Read more from the UN here.) In Tallahassee, the survivors being helped by the Center were trafficked for sex and work.

In order to give you just a hint of the typical mindset of a trafficking victim, I have adapted material from The Campaign to Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking to present it from the perspective of a victim:

You are a young woman from Russia, the Ukraine, or Central Europe, promised marriage, a good job to be able to send money back home, and a better life, only to learn once you are in a foreign country, completely cut off from your support system and your family, that none of it is true.

You find yourself trapped in the sex industry, the service industry, in sweatshops or in agricultural fields – living daily with inhumane treatment, physical and mental abuse, and threats to yourself or your family back home.  You may not know what city or country you are in because you are moved frequently to escape detection. 

You fear or distrust the government and police because you are afraid of being deported or because you come from a country where law enforcement is corrupt and feared.  You may feel that it is your fault that you are in this situation. As a coping or survival skill, you may even develop loyalties and positive feelings toward your trafficker or try to protect them from authorities.

(For comprehensive information about Slavery, visit this website.)

Image Source: www.dosomething.org

Consider joining us at Journeys in Yoga Sundays at noon through the month of May to experience the peace that yoga brings while helping provide peace of mind to these women who are trying to rebuild their lives after trials that we can barely imagine.

If you can’t come to the donation class but would still like to donate, please contact Vania Llovera, Assistant Director of the Center, at vllovera@admin.fsu.edu or 850/644-4551.

Journeys in Yoga is located at 111 South Magnolia Drive Suite 34 | Tallahassee, Florida 32311 and the phone number is  850.228.2223  
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Wordless Wednesday (#StyleMeMarch – Week Four Edition)

Week Four of the “#StyleMeMarch” challenge from Hilary Rushford of the Bow Ties and Bettys Style Blog had me digging deep — into my closet and into my imagination.

Here’s the entire month’s plan:

Week four started last Wednesday with “so my city” day. We love our institutions of higher learning here in Tallahassee. I donned my garnet and gold, and topped off the day at boot camp climbing the stairs of Doak Campbell stadium over and over, reliving decades of FSU memories.

Thursday was “hair accessory” day. I didn’t go out and buy anything new; I don’t have a lot of “accessorizing” options for workday hair. But it was the perfect day to give an homage to the unsung hero of my active fitness life: the humble little “Effortless Beauty” headband.

I usually only wear one at a time, of course! But they keep the sweat and my bangs out of my eyes. They do their job, day in and day out, with little fanfare. So thanks, rainbow of knit headbands, for helping me stay fit (and for occasionally actually coordinating with my outfit).
Red Hills Cross Country Equestrian Course

On Friday, our theme was “your least expensive piece.” Next to the number of run-related tshirts I own (enough to clothe a small army), I own a lot of Florida Healthy Kids and KidCare apparel. Here’s one:
Saturday was “fresh faced” day; that was perfect since the day was a typically active one for me. It started with me lacing up my shoes for a 9.7K race (wearing one of the aforementioned coordinating headbands!):

and flowed* into yin yoga at Journeys in Yoga for Journeys’s fifth birthday party:

Sunday was “saw on a style blog” day. The best I could do was to incorporate tangerine (or the closest I could get); I have been reading a lot about how tangerine is the “it” color this spring (here’s one example):
Along the way I learned about other spring trends, and now I see them everywhere – peplums, huge florals, nude shoes.

Monday was “layer over/under a dress” day and that was another one that I found pretty difficult. None of my dresses and separates really lent themselves to layering, so I went with this dress/sweater combo.

When I read that today (Tuesday) would be “statement necklace” day, I knew immediately what I would choose. It may not make the biggest fashion statement, but I love this cross I bought in Guatemala last summer. I almost didn’t get it — as the trip wound down I was trying to conserve quetzals (Guatemalan currency) but I am so glad I made the relatively small splurge. I love it and it reminds me of the people I love, especially Silvia and Estela who we sponsor through CFCA.

I’d like to thank my coworkers for getting in on the “#StyleMeMarch” fun:

Beth’s Hair Accessory
Beth’s “Least Expensive Piece” Day
($5 tshirt/$6 overshirt)
Beth’s Accessories for Least Expensive Day
(Handmade by a Young Friend!)
Beth’s statement necklace (from Quarter Moon Imports
of Tallahassee).
 Karen’s “Dollar Store” Socks for Least Expensive Day
($1 for 5 pair – Fifty Cents Per Sock!)

It has been a lot of fun playing with these clothes and accessories, and rediscovering a few neglected items stuck in the dark hinterlands of my closet, but hands down the best part has been sharing the #StyleMeMarch fun with my coworkers. Thanks ladies for playing along – we may not have big budgets but that doesn’t mean we can’t have big hopes for looking great!

*little yoga joke!

Do Stretching and Yoga Help Runners? It’s a “Stretch” to Assume They Don’t

I enjoy Jeff Galloway’s e-newsletters about running. I have a lot of respect for Jeff, and I know that his route to success went through Tallahassee, which leads me to feel a commonality with him.

But I have been unsettled about something Jeff wrote in his April 2011 newsletter. Even though I have not been an Olympic runner (never will be), haven’t written a single running book (doubt I ever will), and couldn’t run even a half marathon in the time it took him to win a full marathon (2:23:02), here’s my non-Olympian, non-published, non-speedy-runner thought.

The passage that I haven’t been able to shake mentally was this:

Q&A on Stretching and Cross Training



What stretches should I do?


Surprisingly, I’ve found that stretching causes many injuries. I don’t believe that most runners or walkers benefit from stretching. So I’m going to take away the guilt for not stretching. If you have some stretches that help you and don’t produce aches and pains, then do them—but be careful.


What about yoga or pilates?


I hear from many runners every year who are injured in yoga or pilates classes. I don’t see any benefit for most runners in these activities. But if you do them (and are not experiencing problems), be careful.

For my response, let me start with yoga. I had never done yoga before I started in the fall of 2010, after a foot injury caused me to take a lengthy break from running (more about my fitness plan during the non-running period here). I bounced around a few types of classes until I determined that core yoga was the best for me at that time. I was doing a lot of reading about how the core drives the rest of the body and creates a strong foundation for the work that the arms and legs have to do. Improving my flexibility, I am convinced, made me less likely to be injured, not more. And one benefit of yoga as it relates to running has nothing to do with physicality and everything to do with focus. My mind can wander (isn’t that true for all of us?) and learning to concentrate during a two-minute plank or a one-minute balance pose, keeping my gaze on a specific point, is a discipline that ties into my running when I try to remain on a specific cadence without the benefit of any kind of “beats per minute” audio support in my ear.

As for stretching, there is lots of stretching, it is true, that can be counterproductive (or at least not as helpful to the runner as the runner may hope). Where static stretching can be ineffective, active isolated stretching (AIS) can prevent injury and improve athletic performance when applied correctly. Kim Ortloff explains AIS well on her website here.

To be honest, it isn’t Jeff’s contention that yoga and stretching don’t benefit runners that bothers me. It is the wide reach that he has with beginners and elite alike and my fear that beginners will decide not to learn more about effective stretching or the possibility of incorporating a yoga practice into their fitness plan just because of Jeff’s opinion. I know both have been irreplaceable to me in overcoming an injury, being better equipped to fend off injury in the future, and achieving better mental focus.

Poet Antonio Porchia wrote:  “I know what I have given you. I do not know what you have received.” I doubt Porchia was writing about running, yoga, or stretching, but it’s the perfect quote to sum up my post. Jeff knows what he has given us in his writing, and I have no doubt that stance has worked great for him personally and for countless others. But I fear that what many of his readers and students have received is the closing of their minds and hearts to something that can be an important part of their fitness lives, one that prevents injury and opens their minds.

Have stretching and/or yoga been a factor in your running life? Tell me more…….


Birthday Savasana

I am very new to yoga, which I have been interested in for a while. My curiosity was heightened by a “Speaking of Faith” interview with Seane Korn that I listened to this summer. I was also drawn by programs like ALPHA Running. ALPHA Running’s approach is centered on a strategy called “RYT,” which stands for “Running,” “Yoga,” and “Track.” 

Now that I am about eight weeks into going to yoga regularly at Journeys in Yoga, I am hooked. I know it will be good for my running, when my injury heals enough for me to run again, but in the here and now, it is good for my mental state.

There is a phase at the end of each yoga session called “Savasana.” (Yes, I did have to look this up in order to be able to blog about it – remember, I said I am very new!) In Savasana, you typically take the corpse pose and to quote Amey Matthews: “release holding in the muscles .. let go of thoughts in the mind .. relax the breath .. gradually create a sense of dissipating into the atmosphere around you.”

I am very surprised that the teachers at Journeys in Yoga have not had to wake me up to make me leave and make way for the next class while I have been in Savasana.  Amey Matthews writes, “sleepiness can be an unconscious escape into a more familiar state of mind.” (And no, this post is not about me and meetings … it’s about yoga, remember?!) 

There have been about three times over the past two months when I am sure my mind was doing some important work during Savasana.  One time involved my husband’s previous employer and the letting go of resentment. Another involved something very fundamental about the parent-child relationship, and understanding the intent behind the physical gifts our children give us – how much they want our approval and how much they gain from our pleasure in the items they bestow on us. Today, mindful that I needed to have something to write about tonight, I was trying so hard to consciously hold on to the phrase the teacher said as we began Savasana – something about creating spaces for our minds and our bodies.  But the deeper I allowed my “boundaries to soften and dissolve” (credit Amey Matthews), the more I lost the ability to hold on to that specific phrase. The music playing had to do with magnificence and the ocean. I was gone, and I was not asleep.

On my birthday, I am so grateful for this new influence in my life. I suppose I have my foot injury to thank for sending me on this particular path. I love this simple yet eloquent graphic shared by Ashley of MS Run the US recently, and I view these moments of Savasana as stepping stones between the comfort zone and the magic.   

Speaking of things that I am grateful for, check out this creation of my young friend Leila’s. Is this not the best “front of a birthday card envelope” EVER?
I thank Leila for these well-articulated (and flattering!) thoughts. I thank my friends and family for the things they have done, big and small, to make today nice for me. I thank my son for “eliminating” the wasp that was buzzing around the keyboard tonight. I thank the practice of yoga for the moments of Savasana, of providing me opportunities for “time of observation without expectation.” (Amey Matthews quote)

Thoughts As I Close in on 60 DWR*

*DWR = Days Without Running

When I look back at my training logs, especially from the perspective of the time that has elapsed, I can pinpoint my injury to early July 2010, when I decided to do some homegrown speedwork.  What I thought was plantar fasciitis ended up being more of an ankle joint/tendon injury, and like many runners, I kept on running in hopes of “working it out.”  I actually had a pretty fun summer of running, despite the regression in my times and the circuit of chiropractors, doctors, ultrasound treatments, and inserts.  Finally, after the Miller’s Landing Madness 8K on August 28, I accepted and decided to act upon the sound advice I had received from several reliable sources:  it was time for a break from running.

Miller’s Landing Madness 8K (8/28/10)
Photo credit:  Herb Wills
It was at a PiYo (fusion pilates/yoga) class 24 DWR that some of the information those reliable sources had been imparting to me started to click — information about how our core really provides “a solid base upon which all other muscles can work upon to initiate movement,” as described at the Virtual Sports Injury Clinic.  When I took my shoes off, entered the downward dog position, and felt my achilles, calf muscle, and hamstring all stretch in unison, something loosened up in my brain a bit too regarding my approach to running and fitness.

Here’s a breakdown of my DWR journey:

17 days on my old but still fundamentally sound (enough) bike
11 rest days
9 swimming days
9 walking days
RealRyder days (2 of which included a TRX workout)
5 PiYo/Yoga days

I have had some fantastic guides along this unexpected (but quite rewarding) journey.  One influence has been a RunRunLive podcast in which Chris Russell interviewed Jessi Stensland of Movement U.  She talked about the core and her work with athletes in many different disciplines.  Her comments echoed those of Jeff and Ann Bowman of RevTriCoaching, my swimming coaches, who pointed out that your core has to drive the motion of your arms and legs, or else you waste energy.  Kim Bibeau and staff at Sweat Therapy Fitness have introduced me to the RealRyder challenge, to TRX (which made itself known to me for DAYS afterwards), and by offering a few complimentary sessions of PiYo helped me get acquainted with something I clearly needed.  Journeys in Yoga has helped me extend my interest in yoga, stretching and strengthening my body as well as my spirit.  Jeff and Diane at PRSFit shared their experience,  knowledge, and wisdom with me. 

I wrote Chris when a friend was starting her “DWR Journey” a few weeks behind me.  I was searching (and failing) for something to say that would make her feel better and less defeated.  Here’s what Chris said:


Running is such a large part of your life, a personal part, losing it is like losing a friend. You will go through the cycle of grieving. Denial (your friend), Anger, Sadness, acceptance and learning. Once you know this your big brain can cope. Once you set your immediate goals aside and take the long view you can move ahead in a positive manner. I like to think of time off as a “great gathering of strength”. Time off allows not only physical healing but allows you to put this thing, this running, this gift in perspective.

Now that I am approaching 60 DWR, I am so happy to be more in the “learning” phase than the “sadness” and “anger” stages.  Over the past two weeks, there have been times when I can almost physically feel the area that had been so painful and tender throughout the summer knitting itself back together.  I suppose I owe my body the courtesy of giving it a chance to put itself back together, right?  I also owe it the courtesy of preparing the “solid base” of a core from which all of the other good, fun, challenging exertion can come.  To those of you who have helped guide this journey, thanks!  When I eventually cross a 5K finish line in less than 30 minutes, there may only be one runner but a bevy of virtual “teammates.”