Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Way with Words

Image result for words                 Words - aren't they interesting?

A few years ago I volunteered for the nearby city's community education program and offered to teach a stress and de-stress workshop. The first half of the class was an hour examining the stressors in our lives and offered tips and techniques to work with them. The second half was an hour of yoga for all levels. A paragraph describing the workshop was included in the Community Education brochure and sent out to all of members of the area. Centered was a word I used in the description to describe what people would get out of the event and how they would feel. I was surprised at the reaction from one of my friend's friends that received the notice. She was very upset and concerned by my use of the word "centered". To her yoga was a religious practice and the word centered meant something connected to some spiritual practice that concerned her.  

The truth is, by centered I meant stress free, balanced and enjoying your life. Once she heard my take on the term, she relaxed about my offering.

There was a recent protest along with debates regarding the sculpture of the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds in Oklahoma. Those against won the battle and the Ten Commandments were removed. By changing one word - "religious" to "art" or to "history" in reference to the sculpture, the Ten Commandments might still be standing on the Capitol grounds of Oklahoma. 

I recently submitted a training proposal to a major corporation on Busting Assumptions - and being creative and courageous. They wanted a workshop to inspire the sales people and I have the tools to make that happen. When going through the details of the workshop with the director, I explained an exercise I would use to assess the risk taking tendencies of the audience. It was a sidewalk game I played as a child called Red Light Green Light. I have frequently used it with all levels of audiences to illustrate risk and tendencies and generate discussion. But I used the words "children's sidewalk game". The director of course was concerned about the activity being too childish (my words exactly - right?!). It is a fun engaging activity I use with adults - even executives - and they love it. Had I mentioned it as a risk taking model activity I am sure it would have elicited a completely different response. 

I believe if we were to become and or/remain more open to understanding, being curious, open to possibilities and appreciative instead of taken offense to everything that isn't the way we want it to be - that the world just might be a whole lot better off.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Italian Diet

I don't try to do it on purpose, but I always seem to lose a few pounds when I go on vacation.  
I recently had the amazing opportunity to visit Italy with my sister-in-law and nieces and was surprised when I jumped on the scale the day after my return. I thought my husband played a joke on me and adjusted the scale. How could I have lost weight on a diet of Italian wine, pizza, pasta, gelato, limoncello and other various vacation delights?  Might it possibly have been the thousands of steps we took daily sightseeing or our running from one train to another with our suitcases in tow as we ventured from city to city?
I am sure the 10,000 plus steps a day had something to do with it.  But what I think it was more than anything was the way I approached the vacation. I knew that it might be a little crazy on the trip traveling to a new city every one to three days.  I kept an open mind to enjoy whatever it was we were doing and wherever it was we were going, soaking in all that Italy had to offer.  From the creamy gelato to the wonders of Michelangelo's David, I enjoyed every moment by just observing and absorbing everything around me (as well as taking a few hundred pictures!).  When we slow down like this we can enjoy what we are experiencing.  There is less stress (and less overeating).  Unlike when we are running from one activity to another. 
That is when our creativity really has time to work too - when we take some quiet time to just observe, to think or not think and let our mind wander to experience everything that is around us.  The breathing exercises in yoga assist us in developing our focus skills.  
A girlfriend recently surprised me with a lighted glitter lava lamp that I had admired on her desk.  It plugs into the USB port on your computer.  With a shake, (which is sometimes what we need to get started or to change a mood), the glitter starts to flow and the colors slowly change in the encased liquid.  I find it relaxing, beautiful as well as a great reminder to slow down and enjoy the moment - to stop and let a few creative ideas have a moment to settle into my brain.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Men Want It Too

A friend of mine is a wealthy executive. I asked him about his Valentine's Day and he said it was only ok. Apparently he had showered his girlfriend with presents but did not receive anything in return.  I commented that just because a person is a millionaire and can buy themselves anything that they want, doesn't mean they don't need a little sign of love and affection like a card. "Exactly", he replied.  

Men want it too.  

I attended the funeral of a dear work friend a few months ago.  My deceased friend had three children - two sons and a daughter.  At the wake the daughter was surrounded by family and friends. For the most part, the two sons were by themselves, greeting an occasional consoler but mostly talking to each other.  Our group looked over at them and noticed they were alone.  We each went over to talk to the guys, extending out heartfelt sympathy through words and hugs.

Men want it too.

In my yoga class the men tend to fall into the strong category and the women fall into the more flexible category.  I try not to make assumptions, even encouraging the new people to try each pose and go as far as they can into it. You never know where your strengths are and where you need work in a pose until you try.  Sometimes I am working with the men on strength and sometimes I am working with the women on flexibility.  I am holding up a man's legs so he can enjoy the freedom of a handstand or gently pressing on a lower back of a woman to move them deeper into a pose and increase their flexibility.  

Men want it too.

Friday, February 6, 2015

All Levels Welcome - One Size Fits All?

I recently returned from my annual trip to San Francisco to attend the Yoga Journal Conference.  I keep my certifications current with continuing education and this is my favorite city to travel to for that purpose.  There is always something interesting to see and do there between yoga conference sessions and in the days before and after the event. From museums, comedy clubs, hotels with incredible skyline views and Broadway shows to simple walks up and down the crookedest street in the world, trekking across the Golden Gate Bridge, sitting by the Bay and watching the fog roll in or away and ferry rides to Alcatraz Island or Sausalito.  That is just the tip of the iceberg of things to do in this magical city by the Bay.  I understand completely the song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". Many of us that have spent any time there do.

I selected six sessions to attend over the main conference weekend.  The sessions ranged from a very easy slow yoga training that focused on breathing and heart lifting to incredible advanced and intense workshops where I sometimes simply sat on the floor and watched as others tried seemingly impossible feats.  

When I came back to teach my classes I shared the feeling I had in the more basic classes versus the advanced classes, letting them know I empathized with their feelings wherever they were in that range of too easy to whoa impossible.  I encouraged them to hang out in simple poses if that is what their body needed or to try parts of the advanced poses that worked for them. I reminded them to pay attention to their bodies and knowing their limitations, to make the class work for them.  It provided them the opportunity to be ok with stepping away from what the group was doing and do their own poses or simply enjoy what others were able to do while they rested and observed.

Information is always coming at us from many directions, each "guru" touting the new diet or the new management technique or the new way to stay organized - the way we must do things is we are to be successful. We need to remember we are individuals with different talents, skills and needs and that there isn't just one right way to approach anything. The right way is the way that works for you.  Maybe you like some of the suggestions of an expert but know that not all of their ideas are possible or practical for you to implement. Take what works for you and create your own versions of their suggestions so that one size can really fit all with a few personal adjustments.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

An Unusual Turn

I don't really know what possessed me to turn right at that moment.  I was driving home from an appointment and in a split second I decided to stop.  It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  And it turned out to be the perfect thing for me.    

I don't believe it is something people typically do, not at all.  Especially if they don't know anyone there.  And I certainly didn't, but I stopped anyway.

I noticed it first when I was driving home from an appointment the night before, about dusk. I thought what a spooky place that would be at midnight - or exciting!  I tried to think back into my past, looking for any glimpse of a night when I might have ventured into one before.  I am sure with a group of friends I would have had the courage to do it.  But in the bright of day it didn't take any courage, just a strange curiosity.  

Why did I suddenly decide to come here for a visit?  I was driving the same route I had the night before, returning home from another appointment.  But it looked so much more inviting and less frightening in the brightness of the mid day sun.  

I think I stopped simply because it looked so beautiful and peaceful.  

I was headed back home without much thought to what I was passing as I drove through the countryside. Then I noticed I was there again, the same spot as the night before. This time it called out to me.  "You have time, come and hang out with me for a while."

I turned slowly onto the path between the gates.  There wasn't anyone else there, in the cemetery.  I stopped the car about ten yards down the road and just looked around.  Not a cloud in the sky on a seriously chilly day for South Texas.  There were flowers placed lovingly at many of the headstones - fake ones I am sure.  That is all that would survive in this cold.  Beautiful slim pines swayed a bit in the breeze. 

I just sat there and looked about the acres of green, and headstones, and flowers and trees. It's one of those things that I am reminded of every time I teach my yoga class.  Be present. Just be.  

After a little while, I decided to brave the cold and go for a walk.

I slowly walked between the headstones being careful not to step on any grave.  Many stories were told without a word being said.  I saw birth dates that went back into the mid 1800's, and more recent ones where the spouse had passed away but one still lived on. I imagined the lives of those that had gone before, and what life was like for those left behind. It brought up many beautiful stories of my own of friends and family that had passed away.

It was a wonderfully peaceful road side stop on a chilly clear blue sky day.   

I smiled as I headed back to the car.

I am so glad I turned right. It was the right turn.