spotlight

A Year Ago Today

Year_ago_today

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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Life Lately - A New Home and LOTS of Yoga!

Newhomeyoga
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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My Introduction to Hot Yoga

Hot_yoga

It's been almost 3 months since I got back into yoga, hooray!  It's been great so far and I really wish I didn't wait so long to get started again.  Today I wanted to specifically talk about Hot Yoga which I started back on Friday, April 21st.  I mentioned in my previous post that the idea of "Hot Yoga" freaked me out.  I hate the heat! I don't like Summer! I'm clumsy, I'll probably slip on my own sweat and break my face. But Firefly Yoga in Fishkill is sooooo close to home.  I wanted to include more Vinyasa into my practice because I missed that flow movement and  it feels like a full body workout. 

I talked about signing up for a Power Vinyasa class, taking the class, and hating the class because I thought I was going to die from the heat, I was thinking negative thoughts about myself the whole time, but I couldn't stop thinking about the class afterward.  I've been back every Friday since - I went this morning!  It is just one hour but it is the most difficult hour I put my body through. 

I learned my lesson after the first class. I need to hydrate starting the day before, not just that morning.  Thursdays I am drinking water all day and peeing a lot.  When I went back the following week, I was better prepared for the heat and the mind games that may happen.  This time was better. I still took breaks when needed but I kept my mind on my breath and in each pose as I mentally cheered myself on instead of being self deprecating.  I was still super wiped out afterward but felt good.

In the weeks following, I can see a difference in my body.  Poses I struggled with the previous week were more solid the following week.  I know there will be weeks where my body will still struggle but these Hot Yoga classes have been more mentally challenging than physical - don't get me wrong, they are REALLY intense physically and sometimes my lower back just doesn't want to have it, but I see it as a real mind over matter practice. Plus my teacher, Noelle, is super sweet, it's hard to hate her lol!

Now I feel like I've turned into one of those Crossfit people who never shut up about doing Crossfit, except it's Hot Yoga.  I'm just so excited to have a regular practice and exercise routine again!

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RANT: Who Are These People?!?!

Rant

Recently I was watching footage of Trump's "Please love me because I'm a pathetic piece of shit" rally commemorating his first 100 days of being a pretty horrible President. I'm looking at all the people sitting behind him cheering him on.  First thing I always do is look for any minorities, you'll find one or two, and the token Muslim woman wearing the Hijab strategically placed at eye level. Next thing I do of is think, "How???" How can these people support this idiot? Do you hate diversity? Do you not want someone like me moving into your neighborhood just because of my last name? Do you want to go back to a time where women and other marginalized groups were not seen as equals to white men? 

It can't be, right? I know there's more to it.  You're hurting financially.  You're losing your job or home or your guns (Listen!!!! You're not losing your stupid guns!!!).  I keep reading articles trying really hard to explain to me who Trump voters are.  I know there's a difference between Trump Voter and Trump Supporter.  There are people who voted for him because it wasn't Bernie Sanders - which I think is a really dumb reason.  I understand you don't like Hillary Clinton, neither do I, #feelthebern didn't burn enough, stop whining and THINK!  But they didn't and instead threw a temper tantrum in the voting booth by voting for a misogynist, ignorant, immature, man-child.

It's only been a few months and while I'm not talking (writing) about it as much, I'm still pretty angry at these people. I'm sorry! I'm trying to understand your position but I can't get past all the ugliness he displays constantly and people are willing to overlook it.You have a problem with Stephen Colbert saying "Cock Holster" but not Trump talking about grabbing women by the pussy???  Not to mention the illogical executive orders, the discontinuing of programs that HELP people, how can you be okay with these things?  Have you felt left out? Forgotten? Do these feelings make you feel uncomfortable? Guess what, that's how many of us have felt for an incredibly long time. 

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Being A Yoga Beginner...Again

Yoga_begin

Let's talk about really being into something and good at it, then stopping for many years, and then starting it again and discovering that you can't just pick up where you left off. 

Years ago, I was crazy about Yoga and practiced several times a week when I was still working in the city and living closer to NYC.  It was great, I was doing a bunch of crazy stuff and feeling confident in my practice.  Then I moved to Fishkill and my daily commute became a killer.  It sucked the life out of me and my yoga practice died off. I was always tired and just hating my situation.  

I neglected yoga for years! Even after I left my job, I didn't start up my practice. I had surgery, I got older, I gained weight, I tried jogging and other ways to get in shape, I wasn't driving yet so I couldn't get to a yoga studio even if I wanted to.  I've been driving for a little over a year and I'm feeling more comfortable behind the wheel.  I started thinking about yoga earlier this year but whenever I thought about going to a place, my insecurities would kick in - the same ol' nagging voice that's been sleeping for so many years: You're too fat for this, you're body is not the same anymore, you're gonna look stupid. Yes, I have gained weight and my body is definitely different than it was 8 years ago, more aches and pains, more cracks and pops but I don't want to accept this.

I learned about Two Trees Yoga in Beacon through A Little Beacon Blog and they have a lovely website.  I liked their brand of "simple, honest yoga" and being a place for "anyone who is living with movement limitations, body and joint stiffness, physical disabilities, chronic illness, pain and fatigue." I fit in there somewhere. I went to a morning Gentle Yoga class and felt right at home. I signed up for an Unlimited membership that same day.  I've been going to Gentle Yoga class twice a week and it has helped a great deal to get reacquainted with the mat and muscles that haven't been used in years. 

However, I wanted to push myself a little more. I missed that vinyasa flow of yoga, that good sweat where you feel like your'e cleaning the bad stuff out.  There is a studio very close to home, Firefly Yoga, but they do Baptiste Yoga which physically demanding and very hot, not "Bikram Yoga" hot, but still pretty damn hot.  

Hot Yoga always scared me. The last thing I want to do is pass out during a class, so I stayed away.  I've taken classes where I sweated my ass off but it's not the same. For weeks I kept looking at Firefly's website and their Facebook page and debating whether I should sign up for a class - a Friday morning to start off my weekend.

I was greeted by the instructor who was super sweet and welcoming. I stepped in the studio and it was already SO hot! I hope I was hydrated enough (I wasn't).  I was hating the class and thinking "This ain't for me. I'm not coming back. You tried and you suck." I took many breaks and internally kicked myself every time, I was disappointed that I couldn't hang like I used to, and was struggling to hold the most basic poses. I felt like my body gave up on me, defeated.  Finally came time for Savasana - it's over!! I laid there and thought "Yay! You did it!!"  I'm gonna write a separate post just on my introduction to Hot Yoga because it's pretty crazy.

I totally feel like I'm starting over again. I get frustrated when I am unable to do a pose I used to be able to.  While I "know" yoga in my head, my body doesn't anymore and I need to respect that. Some people say it will come back sooner than I think. I need to be patient with my practice.  This Hot Yoga class was a reminder that yoga is not just the poses (asanas) but also a mental practice which can be harder than the poses.

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Be Gentle With Yourself

Gentle

It took a few months but I dropped my 2-post per week goal for the year ha ha! It's okay, I won't beat myself up over it.  How have you been?

Now that I'm practicing yoga again, I've been going back and looking through my old issues of Yoga Journal. They're from several years ago but it's all still relevant today. I was reading an article that quoted Indra Devi which I titled this blog post after. The article was about trying to do TOO much all the time. The author, who had a super busy career, was going on a retreat only to find they were trying to do ALL THE THINGS instead of just relaxing. That's always been my problem.

I recently had to step down from an activist group I had just joined.  It was just way more involved than I thought it was going to be and I just couldn't bring myself to give them the type of commitment required. A Little Beacon Blog is getting busier and busier and I really need time for yoga and a day off every week, that's all I ask. I really burnt myself out following all the politics and craziness going on. I was hesitant to step down, I am super organized, why can't I handle this??? I hate saying I'll do something and then go back and flake out, because it makes me feel like a flake. But it was just too much. Once again, I had to say "no" to additional work

I like to help! I want to do my part! I want to be involved with things - this is especially important when you work from home, you start to feel disconnected from the world and the internet can only give you so much.  I think that's one of the reasons I've dove back into yoga as much as I have with possibly taking three classes a week.  While these classes aren't exactly a social call, it's a chance for me to say "Yes" to myself and allow myself to be out and just experience life outside of my four walls.

Do you overcommit? How do you keep yourself in check?

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Maybe Ignorance Is Bliss Sometimes

Bliss

I remember South Park once parodied one of the kid's mom being glued to the television for days after September 11th. She was laying on the couch watching 24 hour news for days - you just couldn't stop watching the coverage.  Hurricane Katrina had a similar impact, I know I watched A LOT of cable news. I didn't want to miss any updates of what was turning into Mad Max coming to life in Louisiana.  For the last few months, I found myself, once again, glued to current events but this time it was mostly on the internet.

As I have gotten more involved in politics and activism, the amount of information out there can be so overwhelming.  The number of local Facebook groups that I have joined is ridiculous.  But like all things, too much of something can wear you down. Keeping up with politics is no different, especially if so much of it is upsetting.  45 is signing Executive Orders faster than I can find out what they actually are about.  There was one day where my crazy busy brain just messed me up and I became really upset.  "Defeated" is a better word, my stomach remained in knots. It sucked. I can't keep feeling this way, do I throw in the towel? As luck would have it, I read Depressed by Politics? Just let it go, it was perfect timing. Yes, it was starting to depress me and I don't need that in my life.  

I'm learning how to manage the amount of time I spend keeping up-to-date with the news. My Pro-Wrestling podcast listening has been neglected because of this stupid President lol!  It's okay to check in on Facebook and other groups once a day.  I don't have to read the NY Times and Politico every single day (sometimes checking more than once). I spend time on Netflix and Amazon looking for something new to watch, it usually involves Bigfoot. I think this is another reason I started up yoga again - besides the physical benefits, it's an hour and 15 minutes twice a week where I am not thinking about any of those things and it's just me treating myself to something awesome. 

Have you been feeling overwhelmed with politics?  How do you shift your gears mentally?

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Where Is Your American Pride?

Where Is Your American Pride?Is America great again yet? It's only been two months but is it safe to ask this question?  I've been reading a lot about the rise of Nationalism in Europe since November, it's no coincidence.  Many say it started with Brexit vote last Summer. The latest is an article from The New York Times, How a Sleepy German Suburb Explains Europe's Rising Far-Right Movements.  This resonated with me because it kind of reminded me of where I live now, not my town specifically but in the mid-Hudson Valley.  

Growing up in New York City and then moving to a suburb is quite a change and has broaden my perspective.  The Hudson Valley has a history of artsy, liberal-minded "River Towns" with lots of older hippies who want to protect the Hudson River, the environment, shutting down Indian Point, and are down to protest just about anything related to the environment.  I get it. But there's another history not talked about much that involves the KKK....but they're gone now, I think??  I had no idea until I moved to Dutchess County that there was a thing going on in Putnam County up until the 80s with the KKK, whoa.

So, come 2016 and I was surprised at how many Trump bumper stickers and lawn signs I would see.  Where the hell am I?? I had a discussion with a friend who moved out of NYC a few years ago and is now living some place that is less liberal-minded, not a total shift, but it gives you perspective, a broader perspective.  When people think of "New York", they think of this: 

New York City Skyline

This is just a very, very small (although heavily populated) snippet of New York state. New York has 62 counties, NYC is only 5 of them.  New York is also suburbs, picturesque small towns, mountains, rural farmlands, blue-collar towns, college towns, and straight up "Country."   It is so easy to live in a big city and think that since you are exposed to so much diversity, this is something that the rest of the country will welcome and is okay with.  Nope.  There is so much to New York that is not "Blue."  Our State Senate isn't even Blue, it may be on paper, but there is a thing called the Independent Democratic Conference kind of throwing a monkey wrench in things.  There are a few New Yorkers who want to set this country back 50 years and they're not even old enough to remember how it was the first time!

To bring this back around, I started writing this with the idea of Nationalism in this country. 45 was really pushing that message that we need to make America a country to be proud of again.  This is happening in other countries but it's being depicted as a bad thing. It's being seen as anti-Muslim, anti-foreigners.  Are Europeans talking about the rise of Nationalism in the United States and saying the same?   You are less likely to see USA pride in NYC.  You'll see Puerto Rican pride, Italian pride, Irish pride, Ethiopian pride, you get my drift.  You'll see more American flags displayed outside of houses the more outside the city you go.  

This country is not perfect, it's got a lot of messed up history it may not want to acknowledge and it still has problems with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and a bunch of isms and phobias. This country also has a serious problem keeping religion and state separate (someone forgot to tell them about that.) I would still rather live here than anywhere else.  I can write this blog, criticize the President, and not have to worry about someone knocking on my door (yet..maybe.). I can go out by myself where other countries require a man to be with you, I can drive a car by myself, I can wear whatever I want.  I'm fortunate to live here but I'm still aware enough to know that there are others, who live in the same country, that may not feel as comfortable, and that sucks. I'm not proud of that.  The last administration tried very hard to get us all past that and I'd hate to see all of that get erased.  I don't have a problem with national pride as long as it includes everyone who chooses to live there, even if they came from somewhere else. 

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Know Your History, Don't be a Tree Without Roots

Roots

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
Marcus Garvey

I came across this quote and it stuck with me. There is so much concern of history repeating itself with this current administration.  While there is more information available for everyone, there seems to be less education.  All this nonsense about "fake news" and "alternative facts."  Can history be made up? No, it happened, look it up!  Deny history as much as you want, it will bite you in the ass sooner or later.  The Holocaust happened!  Protesting can change things! Slaves were not immigrants who came here by choice!  

There's so much spinning, it's hard not to get dizzy.  I've been revisiting U.S and Global History.   I grew up in the New York public school system in the 80s and early 90s and honestly, I didn't learn much about our history (cue What a Wonderful World).  It was very safe - Lincoln freed the slaves, the US freed the Jews from Germany and got us out of the Depression, Blacks had to drink from different water fountains in the South until Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came along, uh...there was a war Vietnam. It's embarrassing now that I look back.  I don't entirely blame my schools, I'm pretty sure I spaced out a lot during history. I remember taking a history class in high school which was all about Europe from like the 1500-1600s, I don't remember shit.

Now I love history, I want to absorb as much as possible - mostly in the form of documentaries.  I love what people like Ken Burns and Tom Hanks are doing to keep history alive and interesting in this world of super short attention spans (guilty). Oliver Stone has a great documentary series on Netflix, The Untold History of the United States, worth checking out.  I can understand why World War II isn't covered much because it was pretty fucking huge.  Vietnam War was a cluster fuck which made the U.S. look really, really bad so let's just gloss over that. I wish they talked more about WWII and Vietnam because I knew (from movies, of course) just how bad and ugly it was and felt it was important to learn more about.   I'm curious about what schools are teaching now about 9/11 and the never ending war in Afghanistan.  

I hope schools are more open and honest about how U.S. History is taught. It's not all great and moral and the bad stuff didn't only happen centuries ago. I know there are concerns about parents getting butt hurt worried about brainwashing their kids. Whatever. Maybe I'll save that for another time.  Is that what college is for?

J_belushi_college

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Isn't Everyday International Women's Day?

IWD

Yesterday was International Women's Day, did you do anything?  I must admit I didn't do much, except work - yes I worked.  Honestly, it was not a date I had engraved in my mind as a plan of action, it never was.  I shared some tweets, that's about it.  It's not that I don't care, of course I do!  There are just SO many calls to action now, my head is spinning.  It's kind of like "Earth Day", I don't need a day to remind me that the planet is changing and we all need to do our part to take care of it, it's a part of who I am.  

I do want to acknowledge those of you who did take a stand, marched, wore red, and made a statement. It's great to see the momentum of the Women's March still going strong.  It's important to keep pushing for equality for women and non-binary people in the workforce, education, and right to life.   I guess my problem is wishing we didn't need annual dates as a reminder to be better people, you know?   But I get it, some people are hard to educate or they'll say something stupid like "When is International Men's Day?"  Ignorant people can try to blow it off as fluff, but they can't ignore the issue forever.

So the answer to my question in this blog post is - no, not every day is International Women's Day. We need dates like International Women's Day as a reminder, a history lesson in progress and a measuring stick of how far we still need to go.

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