Can't Sleep? Meditate

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After experiencing the sudden loss of a loved one last month, my mind has been hyper-obsessed with health and wellness.  Some of my habits need changing and one of them had to do with my sleep.  All the yoga and other workouts I did weekly was not helping me get a good night sleep.  I would fall asleep with no problem, but find myself waking up two hours later and either stay awake or fall back to sleep only to wake up a couple more times.  It was frustrating to the point where I dreaded bedtime, can you imagine? NOT wanting to go to bed because you knew it was gonna be another shitty night?  

I tried drinking a glass of wine earlier in the evening, that sometimes worked but mostly did not. I started taking Tylenol PM.  For a while it seemed like the Tylenol PM was working but it wasn't consistent.  Then I learned about the side effects such as messing up your kidneys.  I was responsible with how much I took every night, but I'm always nervous about what kind of long term damage I'm doing to my body.  That's why I never experimented with drugs and quit smoking 15 (!!!) years ago.  So damn, I was starting to think that maybe I should stop taking these pills that only sometimes helps me sleep.  What else can I try?

I recently brought meditation into my life and it has become a two-time per day (morning & bed time), daily practice.  A friend told me about Yoga Nidra for sleep and how I should give it a try. Using the Insight Timer, I found a few guided Yoga Nidra for sleep sessions and they were okay but some were kind of long and I've grown to like my meditations with background music.  Let me tell you, there are some great guided meditations for sleep and I've bookmarked a bunch.  I listen with my earbuds in so when I'm done (or if I wake up), I have to take them out and put my ear plugs in but find myself falling right back to sleep. It's become my regular routine and I can't go to bed without meditating first, even if it's only for a few minutes.

I'm happy to say that after doing this every night for the last several weeks, my quality of sleep has improved greatly.  I might still wake up but not as much as I used to, and I'm feeling more rested overall. I credit this all to meditation and not adding any foreign substances to my body.  There are so many benefits to meditating, not just for sleeping but being awake too. Meditation not only brings stillness, but it can also lower your stress level, improves overall health, increase your energy, taps in to your creativity, and bring some clarity to your mental well being - which makes sense, I mean, how many times do we lie awake in bed with a zillion thoughts racing through unable to sleep?

There are so many different ways to meditate, there is a style for everyone.  Meditation helps you to slow down and observe whats going on around you and how you respond to it.  In this current political climate, I think we can ALL use some meditating to help us step back and collect ourselves before we react to something.  

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Love and Acceptance In Your Forties

I wrote this in my private journal yesterday afternoon and felt compelled to share it here in case it might bring comfort, hope, reassurance to someone who is currently in a dark place hoping to get out of it.  Maybe it won't take you as long. It's never too late.

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It took a really long time to get to this point, most of my teens and twenties, part of my thirties living like this. For many, many years, I hated who I was. I was so insecure, so unhappy. I carried so much anger and sadness. That's what initially drew me to Yoga, hoping it will change me and it did but it didn't come quickly.  It wasn't until I got to my 40s to feel comfortable in my skin - accept every extra pound, every dimple, every scar. To really get to know who I am, what I am made of, and who I am capable of being.  I am strong, beautiful, smart, witty, funny, weird, and open. My silence just means I'm observing, listening, taking it all in. I don't need the attention, I know where my support comes from. We go through the shit we go through so we can look back and at it and say "Oh....that's why." There's something to gain from everything.  I'm still getting used to not being angry or sad all the time. Instead, I'm replacing that energy with yoga and working out - which has saved my life, and saved me from more unnecessary pain. It's opened new opportunities to experience, new people to meet.  I write this now with a heart full of contentment, compassion and acceptance of the person I've become. Looking back at who I used to be with some regret that I let that person carry on that way for so long. Don't worry about the time wasted, I'm looking forward to what the next part of my life has in store - older, wiser, confident, loved.

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Be Willing To Come Apart

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The title of this blog post is the name of Law 2 from 40 Days to Personal Revolution by Baron Baptiste. When I was reviewing this Law/Chapter, I thought "Uh oh!"  I had a feeling I was gonna have to go to a place I didn't want to.

I'm a Type-A personality.   I'm very particular, I plan out everything, and everything needs to be done exact and if a monkey wrench is thrown in, I get frazzled or I just yell "#&@%!!!!!!!!" I used to punch walls until the last wall I punch ended up with a hole in it and poor Mike had to patch it up. 🙁That was embarrassing. The point is, I was never one of those laid back, go with the flow types.   I do feel like that is changing as I get older. 

Getting back to this law I was reading, I really had to look into what was holding me back from being my best self and this aspect of my personality was a part of it.  I can't control every aspect of my life and I can't lose sleep over it anymore.  Ever watch a Control Freak lose their shit? It always happens, because things never go exactly as planned, I know this...but I plan anyway without leaving room for flexibility or change. 

I'm learning that when you start to let go, that is when things start to fall into place.  Last Summer, when I was in the thick of purchasing my first home, I was sooooooo stressed out about everything - when do we close? How much do I need for closing? Can't they just tell me how much I need to close already? I need to be out of my apartment by the end of the month! What if we don't have enough money to pay for everything? This was my entire Summer.  Now I look back and everything went fine and I made myself sick for nothing.

That was a big lesson for me and was something I reflected on during this challenge.  I need to let go. Give up control to heal all the harm I inflicted on myself mentally and emotionally.  Let go of expectations and be open to what can happen.   Stop trying to make things happen but instead allow things to happen. I'm opening myself up to opportunities now that a month ago, I would not have considered (more on that in another post).    There are other things going on right now that have been unexpected and pretty upsetting but this new outlook is helping me get through it.  All of this recent self-reflection has totally shifted my way to looking at how I live life and the type of impact I want to leave on others.  

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Forty Days Later

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Forty+ days later!  I wanted to write a recap of the 40 Day Challenge in my last blog post.  I finished last week, I did it! I didn't drop out!   By about Day 20 I was considering it but I knew if I did, I would be really disappointed in myself, and I'm tired of being disappointed with myself. 

In addition to the insane amount of yoga I was able to fit in, I found myself feeling stronger, more confident, more self-aware and acknowledge the parts of me that needs improvement - not physically but junk that is taking up space in my brain.  The self-inquiry was the hardest part of this challenge, I really don't want to self-evaluate that much, I mean who does?? But it's necessary to do once in a while.

One of the things I learned is  that I cling to things too much, especially things that are no longer in my control.  I don't need to think about people from my past who I wish could see how much better off I am without them, who cares? And I don't need to plan every detail of my life.  It's okay to just be present, which meditation has helped greatly. 

I mentioned the Insight Timer app and oh my God, it has been life-changing! I went from a person who struggled to meditate on their own for five minutes, to meditating twice a day in the morning and at night.  So many bookmarks and teachers I follow now!  I continue to struggle staying asleep, some nights are easier than others.  The nightly meditations help. I really don't want to take Tylenol PM anymore, although that didn't always work either.  

Then there's also the community, I love my yoga studio!  I mean I loved it before but I have made more friends and connected with more of my fellow yogis, it's pretty special.  It's nice to go somewhere and be a part of a group that is so open, supportive and welcoming.  I look forward to doing more workshops and classes there.  Plus there's a group of us that's been taking Spin/Boxing classes in Beacon which I'm pretty obsessed with.

That's actual footage of me!  It's great to get my sweat on and move.  I've grown to like the cycling and my cardio is getting better. With Boxing, I still gotta work on my form but boy do I feel it in my arms and shoulders.  Plus my coach is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!  If you're reading this Eva, YOU INSPIRE ME!!

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Yoga Challenges And Trying New Things

Once again I am snowed in so I thought it would be a good time for a blog post - the first of 2018! The last day of 2017 was so bad. I woke up early in the morning with a horrible stomach bug and I broke in the new year binging on Ginger Ale and Pepto Bismol, it was pretty terrible.  I had wanted to take yoga classes New Year's Eve and New Year's Day but my body had other plans.  I ended up not practicing for a whole week because I was sick after the stomach bug wore off. I also wanted to make sure my body was fully recovered for the challenge I signed up for at the yoga studio: 

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I've never signed up for any kind of challenge before so I thought this would be a good way to start the year and commit to something to the very end.  It's more than just doing yoga for 40 days, it's about meditation and personal revolution - how to be the best YOU that you can be and address what is holding you back.  Getting the yoga time in is not a problem, but I need help with meditation.  I've wanted to add more meditation into my life but books, articles, podcasts weren't enough to get me to stick with it.  Doing a challenge and being a part of group to help with accountability is helping, plus I learned about the Insight Timer app which is awesome.

With all the yoga I've been doing, I thought about adding something different to my workout routine.  I don't go for my walks/jogs anymore because I got bored.  Through work, I learned about The Studio @ Beacon which just opened up this month.  They are a Boxing/Cycling studio and the idea of mixing the two sounded kind of cool.  I like the idea of going to these smaller fitness places over joining a gym. I think my big box gym membership days are over! I took my first class, which was the first class for the studio and it was fun!  I was reminded that I hate cardio, all the yoga in the world did not seem to change that. Thirty minutes of spin and the remaining 20 minutes doing boxing and core work wasn't bad.  Personally, I would prefer to do more boxing/core and less spin but again, that's my dislike for cardio talking. Maybe I'll grow to like it more like I have with Hot Yoga, either way, I'll be back next week!

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A Year Ago Today

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A year ago today (well, in just a couple of hours), things were pretty messed up.  I went to bed hardly able to sleep because I was so angry at this country and what it allowed to do to itself.  Last November was an emotional roller coaster.

Needless to say, Trump has not disappointed me in his ineptitude and nonsense since he was elected.  I still can't stand the orange turd, probably more now than a year ago, and believe he is the BIGGEST EMBARRASSMENT this country has ever produced. 

HOWEVER

Things have changed in the last year, and I think the yoga helps! But seriously, today I am feeling better.  I went to vote last night and it was just a local election, no big offices were up for election, just local Comptroller, Town Council, Clerks, etc. It was the biggest turnout I've seen since I've moved here and I think I've been to all of the local elections where it's just me and Mike showing up.  I thought that was awesome!  

My Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds were full of people showing off their "Voted" stickers (I didn't get a sticker *kicksrocks*).   I was following the gubernatorial results in New Jersey and Virginia where they voted out Republican incumbents for Democrats. There were other elections where long time Republicans were voted out.  Not that I'm all "Wooooo Go Dems!!!" but it's nice to see a year later that a shift is happening and maybe the pendulum is already swinging back or at least evening itself out.  Hoping the backlash against Trump and his cronies continue to knock them out one by one.

Democrats have a really long way to go, they need a good PR company to come in and help them rebrand themselves because right now, other than being "Anti-Trump" they really don't have much else going for them.  Being anti-Trump can only last so far before people want some real substance, and they feel like that substance was lost while Obama was President, all flash, no substance.

There are some great stories that came out of last night, such as Danica Roem in Virginia and Andrea Jenkins in Minneapolis.  Both are the first openly Transgender women to win public office.  Not only that, but Roem in VA defeated Robert Marshall, an anti-LGBT jerk who had no problem referring to himself as "Chief Homophobe" and drafting a bathroom bill similar to the one passed in North Carolina (it didn't).   

There's also the moving story of Chris Hurst, who went into politics after his girlfriend was killed on live television, went on to defeat a pro-NRA incumbent.  And Hoboken, NJ just voted for their first Sikh Mayor, Ravi Bhalla who was labeled a terrorist by what can only be ignorant idiots.  The moral of the story is, I love it when people come together and give ignorance and hate  a big "Fuck you!"

And last, to end this on a funny note, check out the funny meme's "Me on Election Day 2016 vs Me on Election Day 2017":

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Listening Make The Difference.....

From my Instagram today...

I guess what I'm trying to say is sometimes, when you KNOW you can go further, it's best to listen to your body say "Ease up! I'm tired!!!" and not push yourself.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes it's good to push yourself, that's how progress is made but there's a happy balance that's takes some time to figure out.   I hope I'll get a better night sleep tonight because I have another yoga class tomorrow morning. :) 

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Life Lately - A New Home and LOTS of Yoga!

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I'm back! Well, let me not get ahead of myself.  I'm back to writing my blog.....today. No promises of how regular this will be, but I have good intentions! 

So much has happened since my last post in July. For one, I bought a home! I moved into my new condo with Mike at the end of August. It's only a few minutes from where we previously lived and it's bigger.  The whole Summer was a big stress-ball and there were moments trying to get a closing date just made me want to give up and keep renting. In the end, everything worked out and we're settling in nicely. I can't wait until we are totally unpacked, shelves up, and more furniture is purchased but overall, I love my new home. 

Speaking of being home, I've been spending A LOT of time at Firefly Yoga practicing several times a week.  It helps that they're so close to home. I've completely fallen in love with the practice again.  I've dusted off some of my old books. I just finished The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita - A Commentary for Modern Readers and I'm now reading Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice.

I started posting videos on Instagram doing a couple of inversions.  I figured a couple of things: 

1) I see too many videos of people in the gym lifting weights. 

2) Not to sound egotistical, but I like to see myself.  I like to see if my alignment is right.  My lower back has been giving me problems for a long time and I don't want to make it worse. 

3) Being a bigger, stockier, bulkier, curvier girl - whatever you wanna call it, I hope someone who is curious about trying yoga but is afraid because they don't have that "yoga body" will see it and say "Wow! If she can do it, why not me?"  I got a yoga body too! It's just not what most people think of at first. 

I still have those insecurities.  Recently, I stayed in the city and reserved a spot for a class at Lyons Den Yoga in Chelsea. I've never been there before but I heard great things about it and they teach Baptiste Yoga which is the type of yoga I've been doing.   I could not sleep the night before because I had SO MUCH anxiety of walking into a yoga studio full of beautiful, tall, fit NYC people and then there's me.  I hate feeling that, I thought I was over it since I've developed a stronger practice but nope! Turns out I had nothing to be worried about and I felt like an ass afterward for losing a night sleep.   

No matter how much I practice asana, the biggest challenge is always getting out of my own head.  I learned from that day and hope to go back to Lyons Den when I stay in the city.  It would be a nice balance to all of the unhealthy eating I do when I'm there. =D

I hope to get back to blogging again on a regular basis, this Summer was just ridiculous with the move that I didn't get a chance to really enjoy the Summer.  Now that Fall is here and it's my favorite time of year, I hope to bring myself back to some kind of normalcy which includes writing more. 

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Sixteen Waterfalls of Dreams, Memories, and Sentiments

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I don't usually stare at paintings for too long. On my last visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I went to the 20th Century gallery, I don't usually go in that section as it's a pretty ginormous museum. This piece by Pat Steir caught my eye and I stood looking at it for a few minutes. It's called "Sixteen Waterfalls of Dreams, Memories and Sentiments."

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I didn't think waterfalls but I thought of one of my favorite times - being home when it's pouring rain. I could hear the rain hitting my windows and the sound of thunder in the distance all in my head.

I try to check out every Fashion exhibit The Met hosts too. My invite to the Met Gala seems to get lost every year, go figure! This year was designer Rei Kawakubo. Some of the designs were pretty trippy (see IG slideshow below)!

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NYC Pride Parade 2017

Empire State Building - NYC Pride Celebration

Hey guys! Long time, no write - or read! I had such a fun weekend, I thought I'd write about some of it. For the first time in about 20 years I went to spectate the Pride Parade in New York this past weekend.  I especially wanted to go in light of the last year and all of the negativity floating about.  There is so much division, anger, frustration, and intolerance.  I wanted to get a shot in the arm of something positive, open, and welcoming.  It was such a fun day once I found a spot to stand.  This parade gets more and more popular every year.   

Progress has been made with LGBT rights but there is still a lot more work to be done.  Now that the Supreme Court has decided to look at the "Wedding Cake" case from Colorado, such objections make me shake my head just because of religious views. I just hope the SC will review this and realize that this is just another form of discrimination and should not be tolerated. Where do you draw the line? Can a doctor refuse to treat a trans person because they think they're a freak?

I digress, the parade is more as a celebration now but it started as a march that took place June 1970, one year after the Stonewall riots, as a form of protest.  Over the years the march has turned more celebratory but there is still a lot of politics and causes represented in the parade.  Check out my Instagram pics below (scroll right!)

Early in the parade you see the politicians shaking hands and waving flags, then you have civil rights and other protest groups making their statements.  Once all this passes, the corporate sponsor floats appear with the dance music thumping and everyone gets into party mode. The corporate sponsorship was a bit much but they do give away lot of freebies...

Maybe it's part of that bubble I feel like I live in and sometimes get defensive about, but I was really happy to see people come together and celebrate this way. I wish to see this more.  I love that I live in a state that supports the LGBT community and that I live in such close proximity to NYC.  Not all of New York state is like this which is frustrating, I don't get it.  I don't understand why there are still people who feel the need to preach hate against this group, or any group that's different from what they know. When your only reference to speak out against homosexuals is biblical, I'm sorry, that just doesn't sit well with me.  Unfortunately, I don't see that going away completely any time soon but I'll try to keep doing my part as an ally and speak out for equal and gender rights. 

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