Burnout and Stress, Personal Wisdom, yoga

Cow – The Story of a Yoga Pose

Cow – The Story of a Yoga Pose (#1 TriYoga)

 

I’ve always thought I could do “cow,” or “table top.”  (The yoga name is Bitilasana.)

Today, I learned that I cannot.

I thought I knew and understood how to so this position. In fact, it looks like the simplest yoga pose besides the basic standing pose.  I guess I never actually thought about it. It seemed so simple.  I “just did it.”

Like many things, most things…everything, it bears thinking about.  Like many ‘simple’ things – it is simple, but it is not EASY!

The pose does have different versions, I learned, and differs slightly with which yoga system you are training under.  You may argue which one is correct, but as a student, I won’t join you. Different systems, different teachers teach the same thing in different ways.  That’s just life.  It is a table top type of pose, on your hands and knees.  Today, I was told that my knees should be behind my hips, and my hands should still stay under my shoulders, at least in this system. I didn’t know this, nor did I realize I wasn’t doing it correctly.

Now that I am getting some feed back, you would think I, and the room mate in my head, would be happy now.  Embarrassingly, I found the pose done this way extremely challenging. As soon as I got in this corrected position, my arms started to tremble and shake.

 

We work through as many of the variations and props we could throw at it.   It took a long time to work out what the problem was. Was it my wrists? I went through several blocks and wedges to find the thing that worked best. When I used blocks under my hands, I couldn’t do it at all. When I used fists that was OK. When I use my flat hand, I couldn’t staying in the pose but a few seconds. Even with my knees under my hips, it was hard. If I used a wedge and turned it with the high side towards me that helped my wrists, but it was not comfortable on my arms. This is the way wedges are usually used. When I turn the wedge around, so the high side was pointed away from me, I found it immediately relief. My wrist hurt a little, but it was acceptable.

Rather it being a wrist problem it’s a problem of upper arm strength. How embarrassing. I’m just freaking weak.

 

However – I consider this good news! I can work on that! I’ll get over my embarrassment.

What I did learn, other than how to correctly do the pose, is how much shame we carry around with our abilities, and disabilities. It’s amazing.  We invest so much in our beliefs about what we can do, our abilities, likes and dislikes, and even our weaknesss and disabilities.  Then we double the impact: we tie our views of self and worth to these abilities. I was acting like my worth is tied up in whether I can do cow asana?

Apparently it is.

It was.

I’m taking that investment back.

Ability is always a moving target. We start out unable – in everything we try. We develop ability through practice and healthy doses of failure. Eventually, over time, we lose our sharp edge of ability.  In the end, we often loose all ability and often even our eternally apparent wisdom. So given the fact all this – all of this – is temporary, I’ve determined to learn from the learning. That is practice. And practice, well that is The Practice.

Yoga is about the process of getting into a pose and out of a pose. It is about the experience. The whole experience.  Even more, it is about how that experience informs us about ourselves and our attachments.  This whole ‘failure of being able to do cow’ was a beautiful success in those terms.

I’ll take that and run with it!

 

by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA, KSU-CVM Zoo Wildlife Exotic Animal Intern in another life,  Instructor Vicksburg Quest,  Elemental Self Defense supporter,  Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga & Sangha Teacher Training Student, Potter & Poet, Writer & Wire Wrapper, repeat offender – Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, Herbalist, Dog lover, Mother, and sometimes representing aspects of divine loving mother Kali who will cut your head off, all for your own good of course.

 

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Burnout and Stress, Travel, yoga

Traveling Cross-Country

Traveling Cross-Country to Yoga Teacher Training  (#1- TriYoga)

 

I vow to be open to the spontaneity of life. I vow to let what happens happen. I vow to keep my heart and mind open on this trip.

I wish I’d thought about these vows eight hours ago, before my seven hour trip turned into a 9 hour trip, before my Airbnb accommodations for the night canceled on me, and no one respond to my Couchsurfing requests. I wish I had thought of these before I got frustrated by not being able to check for accommodations due to traveling through heavy traffic and construction.  That would’ve been a great time to start this practice. Regardless, I’m starting it now; on the small curvy Pennsylvania roads, leading to a very small town, with a very old-school, and a yoga teacher training which I have been looking forward to attending for several months.

When I signed up, it sounded like a great idea. As the time is gotten closer, I’ve doubted that initial enthusiasm. My mind argues: What the hell am I doing signing up for a yoga teacher training anyway?!  Whose bright idea was that? Plus, there’s just too much to do at home. I have a big trip coming up. I have a business to start. I just need some time to myself.

My response: I’m going anyway

I’m going to try to be present. To be here and now. To breathe. No matter how slow the practices. I hope it slow. I hope it’s boring. I hope I’m forced to let go of my crazy mind, with all it’s plan making and all the ways that I try to control my life, because my life is a full catastrophe on wheels.

This is what I wanted – after all. Isn’t it?

I’m rather nervous – but not really. I’ve done enough new and exciting bold and weird off-the-wall things, that I know how to do it. Inside I feel a small seed an ember of excitement. I’m going to found that ember. I’m going to keep it safe I’m going to blow on it and feed it and see what it grows into.

 

by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA Biology and Sociology, 2nd Degree in ToShinDo, Elemental Self Defense,  Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga Teacher Training Student, Sex Coach Trainee, Mixed Media Artist – Ceramics, Fused Glass, & Wire Wrapping, 2000 miler Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, and Herbalist.

 

Burnout and Stress, food, Food Medicine, Recipes

In the Raw – Spiralized Zucchini 

In the Raw – Spiralized Zucchini

 

My daughter got on an airplane today, kissing me good bye, and leaving me with a gigantic yellow bell pepper of which she’d eaten the end off.  That’s what moms get, I guess, good-byes and half eaten vegetables.

My fiancé (now turned husband) is gone for the next three days working night shift. He left me with two pork chops, an avocado, a wheelbarrow full of zucchini and yellow squash’s, a bag of spiraled zucchini, and a bunch of limes. I’m starving! I don’t want to cook! What am I going to do?!

I did a Google search for spiralized zucchini limes and avocados. Not being one to actually read recipes, I just look at the list of ingredients and decide to make something up.  It’s got to be fast. It’s got to be tasty, and it’s got to not heat up the kitchen!

This is what I came up with. It’s tasty. Fast… That would depend on your internal clock and your belly hunger.

 

RECIPE: Spiralized Zucchini, with Fresh Corn and Pork

Ingredients

4 cups of raw spiralized Zucchini squash (fortunately premade)

One ear of corn fresh or cooked kernels removed from the cob

1/2 avocado cut in quarters, 1/4 for the sauce and 1/4 for the finished meal

Protein of Choice: One Pork chop deboned, ½ cup chicken, shrimp, egg, tofu, seitan…    Cut pork into small bite size pieces.

One very small onion or equivalent, diced

1 to 2 cloves of garlic

Juice of one lime

One bell pepper – slightly nibbled, cut the nibbled bit in away

2 Tablespoons yogurt drained or Greek yogurt

3 basil leaves

1 nice sprig of parsley

5 to 8 Grinds of cracked pepper

1/2 teaspoon of salt

And amount of Sirachia appropriate for your pallet

 

Directions

Place Basil leaves and parsley and a small blender and blend. Add yogurt and half the avocado, lime juice, Salt and pepper. Add an appropriately sized squirt of Sirachia. Blenderize all into a dressing. Season to taste. Add the dressing judiciously to the spiralized zucchini (it may make more than you need!)  Add corn. Mix well.

Eat the bell pepper, while cooking. You are starving and can’t wait; eat up.

Add onion and garlic to a hot pan cook until slightly caramelized. Add pork. Heat briefly until warm.

Place the zucchini with dressing and corn on plate, top with pork chop and onions, add remaining half avocado as garnish, add a sprig of parsley, for presentation. Eat up!

*************************************************************************

The idea of raw zucchini was not appealing to me when I first read about it.  Due to this, the first time around, I cook the zucchini. Don’t do this. It heats up the kitchen and it’s a waste of time, and leaves you with limp “noodles,” that really don’t justify the noodle title.  I tried it again with raw zucchini.  That mistake slowed the speed with which I got it to my belly, but was well worth it. The spiralized raw zucchini is not disgusting, to my surprise. It’s really nice, actually.

It’s took me 30 minutes to make, because I was busy making mistakes. With spiralized zucchini on hand and cooked pork chops, it goes very quickly, if you have an idea of what you’re going to actually do, (which I did not.) The recipe also uses very little heat and keeps your kitchen more cool in the summer.

I think it might taste really good with some apple!

Now please take about 17 squash home with you!

 

by Tama Cathers

 

 

 

 

Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Travel

The End of Our Trip

The End of Our Trip

It is our last day before heading home. Today we are sleeping in. This seems like the most important thing to do in London today. It won out over Windsor Palace, Harrod’s, Harry Potter, and the markets. It even beats going to Dover; the last stop on our tentative itinerary. Given the fact that we got up at 3 am yesterday, it makes sense. I think however, it is more than that.

We spent yesterday doing laundry, and eating. That is really all we had on our plates.

That …. is unusual. What I notice is that my life no longer has these gaps of time in which ‘nothing’ is planned. The time in which one might grab a book and read, or rest.

At home, I get to get over jet lag. This time we won’t have done any work to avoid jet lag, as we did on the way over.  A day after I return, I am getting married. (Yay!)  Somehow, I must unpack, write vows, and stay awake past 5 pm! (That will be the hardest part.) I do need to spend some time with my new husband-to-be. Then it will be off on a honeymoon.

In that upcoming trip,  hiking along the Appalachian Trail with my newly wed husband, those down times are required. Of necessity, there are days that one has the important tasks of eating, laundry, and resting. How will it feel, to limit myself, to revisit these times of recharging. I realize I have lost those times. Will I rage against them when imposed upon me? Will they be temporary? Will I bring them back into my daily life?

Through the thin walls of our cottage, I can hear the family next door, with several little children. They have the opposite problem. Days upon days of nothing but eating, laundry and naps. That too is extremely challenging. What does life mean without some sense of ‘doing” something? The question is how do we find, and maintain, that balance point, even through our career development and family emergence? I know many of us struggle with this.

It is interesting for me to experience the extremes of this dichotomy, within such a short period of time. I have gone from not a moment unscheduled, to an extended break from paid work, as well as my hobbies and vocations. I can really feel the challenges in both sides of this: Too Busy/Not Enough challenge.

We have not even dived into the deeper questions of why we do this to ourselves, and why we feel what we do when in these times. Why is it hard to acknowledge that living a good life is no longer enough? Why is it not enough to make it through the day, or through our life, without becoming famous (or at least having someone outside ourselves acknowledged us/our work?)

We use busy-ness to keep us from feeling empty, to keep us distanced from others. The contact might make us feel. Or think. Why is that so uncomfortable? What happens in the stillness / what arises? What is so scary?

See I am doing it now. Here I am blogging on vacation.

In doing so, I am also experiencing, revisiting, some things that were lost and I miss. I am seeing some things that pinch and noting that I would like to change. Inside, I am changing. This is all what I wanted: to change my life, to slow down, to BE more.

It is uncomfortable. I think, however, I am on the right track. I will continue on.

Soon, I will write about food and herbs and yoga adventures. Who knows what else might happen before then! It’s so exciting!

Life!

 

by Tama Cathers

Note below:

img_5706.jpgThis is my favorite art detail.  I can feel the warm slow lick of the comforting dog on the foot of this child, I can hear the thoughts of the dog, and feel the sun, tongue and breeze on the foot.  It makes me laugh and feel warm all at the same time!Details of a Statue

Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Travel

The Near the End of Our Trip to England and Paris – I feel like a healthier person

The Near the End of Our Trip,  I must say, that the trip has not been without it’s good moments – and a few bad ones. I have loved holding my daughter’s hand while we traveled through the cities. I loved watching her be a child, and watching her practice being adult-ishness. She is still in charge of much of the navigation, but also the playing. Bubbles, straws and drinks or a few rocks still provide an hour of entertainment. I am in charge of…well, everything else, including seeing so many famous works of art, landmarks, and architecture. Seeing these things has changed our understanding of history.

Overseas travel has gotten easier in the last 10 years. There seems to be no need to change much money, debit cards work everywhere except for artists, tips, and alms. The internet helps to navigate your almost every step. I semi-successfully used Uber, as well as Airbnb and Couchsurfing. Oddly enough, the trip has gone entirely according to plan. Even the parts ‘without plans’ went according to plan: adventures were had!

Other than those difficult incidents (or 1 notable day), it has been a good trip. About a week too long, but good. The trip itself has been one of the hardest travel experiences I’ve had; from planning, to travel, driving on the other side of the road, traveling alone with a child, going so many placee – all were challenging.  I feel that I have worked out my leadership and responsibility muscles, more than I am used to in my previous day-to-day life. That is okay. I need to develop these qualities to tolerate more extended periods of leadership.

While I feel tired (my feet hurt from so much travel by foot), and fatigued (from not enough sleep), and drained (from being the tour guide, decision maker, cook, laundress, chauffeur, cheerleader, counselor, parent and disciplinarian), I do not feel anxious in the way I did before I left. I no longer feel my worth is tied to other specific people’s opinion of me. I am getting a slightly tougher parental and personal skin (I hope.) I am not so scared of what comes next in my life, and who I will be, and if I will like myself in my next portion of life.

I feel like I have really had a break from my old life. I no longer feel like a XYorZ Professional. I feel like a person. I feel calmer. I feel healthier, in my soul. I think that is a great spot from which to start the next stage of my life.

Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Travel

Silence

Silence

 

After 3 to 5 hours of hiking, baskets full of silence fill to space between us. Silence filles the sweeping landscape, as well.  I love this time in the hike.   We walk, breathe, appreciate, are together – in silence.  The silences that come before are of different quality. Sometimes they are angry at the hills going up and down.  Sometimes they are filled with daydreams.  Admittedly, sometimes they are filled with panting. However, this time of silence comes with contentment and togetherness.  No just together with each other, but together with everything, the wind, the hills, the grass… All of it.

 

I am fortunate to have a child that I weaned on grassy silences and miles under her feet.  She will hike 6 hours for the price of a couple of shared scones and a package of blueberries.  Even better, whenever I ask if she wants to go to the road, she asks if that is how the trail goes, and if it doesn’t go to the road, neither does she want to.  I am lucky that way, as sometimes I would definitely go to the road myself, missing some of the beautiful sites!  She amazes me, tolerating hours of rain, hours away from Percy Jackson books. I don’t know why, sometimes. However, I am always grateful.

 

As we hopped down the rocks of Hadrian’s Wall Trail, I realized that I have an opportunity. Like my daughter, I have the opportunity to create who I am in my next tomorrow.  I was thinking about my foot, the plantar fasciitis I acquired the last year. Stress related. Standing long hours on a hard floor. The running, I believe, was just ancillary.  Today, it is bothering me a bit, but yoga, physical therapy, and destressing have changed it substantially.  Today, I am hopping down rocks, flying towards my next future, just as she is flying towards her first future.  I can choose something thoughtfully, something that allows me health, that is lower in stress.  What a wonderful gift!

 

Before we set out on this trip, I told my fiance that I was happier, that I could finally feel the lessening of stress.  That is wonderful.  As it this.  This is different.  It’s like the idea is really viscerally dawning on me. I have a new start!

 

We both have the opportunity to choose a future. I am hopeful for both of us.

 

Today’s Favorite Food: Sticky Toffee Pudding

 

 

 

Burnout and Stress

Check in number Three – Increased anxiety

Check in number Three – Increased anxiety

 

In addition to quitting my profession, and beginning the set-up of a new business with my fiancé, I also have to parent a teenager. I have a rental house that has to be remediated after tenants did thousands of dollars of damage.  This property, which I am fortunate to have, is five hours away.  Plus, I’m going on a trip to England, which I can scare afford at this time, now that I have quit my jo and profession. Also, I’m getting married. All before summer ends.

 

I’m feeling a little stressed.

 

I’m sleeping better, certainly. My self-esteem is improving.

 

My busy-ness factor however has not reduced. I’m completely stressed out over how I measure my self-worth if I’m not bringing in income. About not bringing in income.  For 21 years there’s been one way I earn income which I’ve equated with self-worth. Now I have to find a new system to find my own self-worth. That’s quite a challenge!

 

In addition, the list of things to do with starting a new business, or even managing a life, is overwhelming and never ending.

 

I’m learning new skills, every day. I’m learning how to use WordPress,  Siteground,  Webbly, and how to build a website.  I’m learning how to promote a new business. I’m involved in several courses for new certifications. These are very exciting to me: I am a skills junkie. It is a central aspect of my Busy-ness Factor.

 

In addition to these ‘hard skills,’ there are dozens of  ‘soft skills’ to learn in these transitions. Learning how to work with a business partner, when to flex, went to capitulate completely, when and how to divide tasks, how to change the task division, division of labor when things are going well, how to rescue or be rescued when things aren’t going as expected. How to have a regular work schedule and be productive.

 

Then there are new relationship skills: How to be supported, How to have a shared income and spending system. How to negotiate purchases. How to save for retirement, or even for a new dryer we desperately need.

 

There’s a sense of urgency in, however, with the new business to do list.

 

Sometimes – it makes me want to throw up.

 

Really I just want to stay at home. And cook. And make herbal preparations. And work out. And parent. And be a lover.  And meditate. And take yoga teacher training. And mindfulness-based stress reduction certification.  And go to school. And start a couple women’s groups, continue to develop my Threshold Choir, and my abilities to be a director, which also it means taking piano lessons, and possibly voice lessons.  Oh, and travel. Maybe I want to much to really want to ‘just’ stay at home.

 

I think I need another teen hood/early 20-year-old. In my life.

 

I need the space and time to re-create my life and who I am in it. Carving that space out is actually only half the battle. Utilizing the space – that’s the harder half. Doing so in a time and place where I still need to bring in income – well that of course is trickier.

 

It’s a privilege I experience in this moment to be able to face these questions and battles. I know that. And in my soul, I’m deeply grateful. At the same time I’m completely freaked out.