Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's Complicated

So I haven't been to yoga in a while. Like probably for 2 weeks, maybe 3. Why? Well, that's the complicated part. If you asked me last week, I would've told you because of my back pain. Or because of the headaches. But if you ask me today, I will tell you that it was because I wasn't listening to my body and therefore I over did it.

That quote I posted just a few days ago about being happy right now instead of having "destination addiction," is what I'm talking about here, believe it or not. In a lot of ways, I've
overcome that addiction. For example, I no longer feel like I have to get my masters degree or PhD to consider myself successful. (That one took a while to get over). I don't feel like I have to have 100 extracurricular activities to
be happy. I am so happy where I am living and thankful for what I am doing for work and how much money I make. I take time as it comes now, too: sometimes when people ask me what I have going on that day, I literally have no idea how to answer, because I don't know until I'm doing it. So in one regard, I've really come far. I even felt proud of myself posting
that quote, knowing that I have overcome a great deal of these issues.

In my arrogance, I failed to see my shortcomings.

I remember, several years ago, when I first got into
running. I HATED going to the gym because I didn't want anyone looking at me. It was embarrassing to walk in there with all those fit, athletic people when I was frumped out in my shoddy gym clothes and giant tshirts, trying to conceal my body from the rest of the world. But
eventually my running became about me. I
began to focus on what was going on in my body and in my mind instead of all the extra stuff. Running became an activity of refuge for me. In other words, it stopped having to do with
anybody else besides me.

Imagine that.

So today when I went in to yoga, I told myself
that today's mantra is underachieve. Even if I felt like I could do more, I promised myself that I would take it easy. And what happened? Best. yoga. class. ever. I actually HEARD my body say "enough" when it was enough. I focused on my breathing, I took my time in getting into each stance. I looked at my feet for an extra second and made sure they were secure before moving on. I suppressed the competitor inside me that said to stretch further,
stretch as far as I could go. In the space left behind, where competition once was, I made sure I didn't hold my breath and I checked to make sure that I was practicing Uddhyana Bandha (fancy word for pelvic tuck). It was really wonderful. I could feel the space opening up in my life and in my mind. And when it was time to cool down, to lay back on my mat and feel grateful for my class, I heard
a tiny, tiny whispering voice say, "thank you." Tears started to roll down my face.

This amazing body I've been given, that has survived cancer, that I injected with what felt like poison, that ate nothing but waffles for days on end when everything else tasted like battery acid; this body that swam in stock tanks as a child and rolled in hay fields, ran through rows of sunflowers and rode horses in the summer sun for weeks; this body that sustained me through countless all-nighters in college, as well as nights of endless dancing and singing, and drinking binges that would put pirates to shame; this body that I continually hate, and I mean HATE
because it is not thinner; this poor, poor body that has done me so right for all these years: I finally felt a deep and appreciative love for it. I felt, for an instant, unconditional love for it. I saw in my mind's eye how beautiful it is, how unflinchingly reliable and perfect it is. Perfect.

I waited a long time with that feeling. Perfect. I breathed it in, drank it, tasted it in my mouth and throat. Perfect. I felt it in my chest like radiating warmth. In all my flaws, I am still so perfect.

I love those feelings. When class was over and I couldn't wait to come home to tell you all about it. To tell you that you are perfect.

This is why I heart yoga. And why eventually I'm going to have to admit that my job is not letting me listen to my body.

Perhaps tomorrow's yoga practice will help me figure out what to do about that. Or maybe not! Ha!

Until then,

Tips for yoginners (is this a word?) that I've learned this last month:
1. Yoginis: you don't really need a sports bra for yoga. I was wearing one just by habit because,
obviously, I always wear one when I work out. But I found it was really just putting a lot of extra pressure on my shoulders when I don't need that kind of support for this type of workout.
2. If you're getting headaches during yoga, try different areas of the room. I have found if I place my mat near a door, or away from the majority of the group, I don't get as hot, and don't get headaches.
3. You might also try using Gatorade or Emergen-C in your water if you're getting headaches. It may be that you're just needing a boost of electrolytes to get you through the first few classes.
4. If you're competitive like me, placing your mat away from the group may also help you focus on your body and not if you're right in step with everyone else in the room. I even intentionally close my eyes or focus straight ahead sometimes so I don't try to compete.
5. As someone once told me, keep an open mind and keep going back until you really know whether it's for you or not. If it's for you, you'll be so glad you did!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What are you looking for in a blog?

I'm just wondering, because if I am going to dedicate more time to this blog, I need to know what the people who come here want. So please copy and paste this into a comment, deleting the things you don't want to see and leaving the things you do. I'd really appreciate it, and you can even do it anonymously if you want. Thanks again!

(here's the part you copy :)

These are things I'd like to see more of on the Miss Melanoma Blog:
*funny pics
*pics of MissM
*personal updates on my health
*health news about melanoma
*research news about melanoma
*personal anecdotes/experiences
*spiritual insights
*book reviews
*cancer insights/experiences
*questions from readers that I answer
*teaching stories/updates
*yoga stories/insights
*lymphedema updates
*guest interviews
*beauty product give aways
*sun safety tips/new merch
*melanoma research/psa/advocacy opportunities
*news about other survivors/bloggers
*personal development topics

Other tips/comments/suggestions/info:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Happiness Quotes

Dr. Holden says the key to being happy is overcoming "destination addiction," which he defines as "living in the not-now."

"It's always about tomorrow, so you're chasing 'more,' 'next' and 'there,'" he says. "You promise yourself that when you get there, you'll be happy. And I promise you, you won't, because you'll always set another destination to go for."

Instead, Dr. Holden says if you are unhappy with your life or looking to improve your score on the satisfaction test, there are two things you can do. "We have to learn to let go of our past, we have to give up all hopes for a perfect past. Let the past go, it's gone." After that, he says, "Take a vow of kindness. Be kinder to yourself and to others.

"It's never too late to be happy," he says.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

May I recommend the purple bracelet?

"And he said, 'You have to understand that the pursuit of happiness is a mistake. It's like, you don't chase happiness out there. You learn that you're happy inside you and then you go running. Then you go into the world.'"

-Dr. Robert Holden, founder of the Happiness Project, author of Happiness Now!, who has dedicated his life to studying the pursuit of happiness.

So, you know that whole "happiness is not something that you have to find, it's something that it's inside of you" thing? Well, I'm a big believer in it. Call me corny, or crazy, or call me Pollyanna-ish, whatever. I honest-to-God believe that happiness begins with loving yourself and then that loving kindness spreads outward from there, and you see the world as a better place.

But enough about me, let's talk about you. Maybe you, like me, see yourself as this type of person, too.

If so, I recommend this book that I read (and am re-reading) called a Complaint Free World. Or, if you're not like me, and prefer instead to worry about the demise of the western world's media coverage, the incline in feline cat leukemia numbers, the cost of milk these days, gluten allergies, or the level of mercury in fish, then this book might be for you, too! You might be surprised how much you get out of it.

The book says that the average person complains 15-30 times per day. Geez!

Here's how this works: you get a purple bracelet from the complaint free world people. They say it's free, but I couldn't find a way to get around the $10 donation for 10 bracelets. Pretty reasonable if you ask me. You put on the bracelet, and then if you complain, gossip or criticize, you switch the bracelet to your other wrist. Your goal is to go 21 days, in a row, without complaining. The book says the average time is 4-8 months to accomplish it. I haven't made my 21 days yet! In fact, I'm on day 1 all over again today. teehee

Here's what I like about this book: it's about finding your Buddha nature, or being Christ-like, without those words ever being written down. I didn't even know it was written by a minister (Reverend Will Bowen) until I was well into it. So it's not churchy, or preachy, or any of those things that you don't want to read. It's about the inception of the project, tips on being positive, letters written by other people who have completed the challenge, and other good stuff, too.

I, personally, have noticed that I complain most often when someone else starts to complain around me. Totally my bad. I can't wait until I get my bracelet so I can just point to it and smile when the ranting begins.

So check out their site if you're interested. And if you're looking for more on the same topic, the Pope-rah (Oprah) did a special on "the pursuit of happiness." Also, if you're interested, there is a satisfaction with life survey on, too.


I'm Too Young For This!