21 Day Yoga Challenge Day 10: Get Creative! #yogagirlchallenge

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I did it. I wrote a song! No I’m not sharing it. But I did it. Never been bold enough to sit down and write a song, but I’ve wanted to for years. Now that I’m checking items off my bucket list, this was my inspiration after yoga and meditation. Rachel asked us to listen to ourselves. This is what came out of my head, heart, and hands. It’s a love song. It’s imperfect just like me, and now that I have the first draft out, I can continue to work on it and other songs too! I have ideas for all kinds of songs.

It’s written in the key of C and uses the c, g, d, am, and c add9. I wrote a couple verses and a chorus.

If you’d like to see me play guitar and sing, here are a couple of links to my YouTube channel.

Blackbird

Short Blues

Good Riddance

Did Ashtanga vinyasa, sat in meditation, committed a random act of kindness (donated to a charity), drank lemon water, and was on time everywhere! So grateful for everything and every one.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 9: True Forgiveness #yogagirlchallenge

Forgiveness is today’s challenge, to let go of past grudges and hurts, to let go of blame, shame, and guilt. Forgiving others and ourselves is a powerful way of releasing negative energy and freeing ourselves from the clenches of the past. It’s a way of accepting things the way they are instead of being upset and wishing they were different.

Over the years, I feel that I’ve already done a lot of work in this area and have forgiven others who may have hurt me and have let go of any grudges I held against other people. I feel much more peaceful inside and willing to go with the flow of life. I’ve also forgiven myself for things I’ve done wrong and have stopped judging and criticizing myself.

Today, the person I need to forgive is myself-for eating foods that I know I can’t tolerate due to allergies/sensitivities.

These are dyshidrotic eczema blisters on my finger that I get as an allergic reaction to offending foods. They are painful, fluid filled blisters that itch intensely and pop open then crack and bleed as they split into fissures. This painful condition affects the feet and hands. I also get regular eczema (red, itchy patches) on my face, neck, and body as well as hives and a stomach ache for a while.

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This is what happens after just a few meals of no-no foods. If I continue to eat what I like it will get really bad. So I try every day every snack every meal to make the right choices. It’s a very restrictive diet (no grains, sugar, eggs, vinegar, nightshade vegetables) and most of the time I have a lot of self-discipline. But sometimes I mess up and then I pay the price for about a week or two. I won’t fall on the floor and die, but I will continue to get sicker and sicker if I don’t stop.

Click here to see more pictures and read an earlier post about my dyshidrotic eczema (before I changed my diet in may 2013. It used to be really bad!

It’s kind of a vicious cycle because I will eat really clean for a while and feel great. Then I will have a craving and think maybe I can handle a little bit. So I will eat something that’s off limits, and even though my mouth and my stomach are happy at the moment, the reaction happens every.single.time. You would think I would learn that no I can’t handle even a little bit!

I forgive myself for messing up a few times in the past week. It’s tough to have self discipline all the time every single day. My body is telling me it needs a clean diet to run properly. So I’m thankful I have figured out why I used to have so many symptoms and how to change my diet so I feel healthy and well. Just like falling off the Paddleboad during yoga class on the ocean, I will get back up and try again. Tomorrow’s a new day, and I can start again.

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I’m loving this challenge so far and trying to weave as many days together as possible. Did some yin yoga at home today as I felt super tired and needed some relaxation and restoration. I’ve been on time everywhere I’ve needed to go. Drank lemon water, walked my dogs, meditated before bed and in the morning. Cassidy’s educational fund grew even more, and I’ve been kind to everyone I’ve come into contact with.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 8: Manifesting Dreams #yogagirlchallenge

Now that we’ve practiced having an attitude of gratitude, today’s challenge was to share something about our dreams.

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I’m working on these three yoga poses: grasshopper, scorpion, and royal pidgeon. Rachel taught us how to access the arm and forearm balances so now I can incorporate them into my practice. One day, I will be able to do them.

I am working hard on my core and hope to have six pack abs one day. Not just because they look good, but also because core strength is such an important component of overall fitness, posture, and ability to advance athletic performance.

Thinking about my next tattoo and loving the idea of a lotus flower. Not necessarily this one, but this one is cool especially with the om symbol (the symbol of universal vibrations). The lotus flower grows in the muddy water and blooms when it reaches the light.

I’m keeping Aruba and the lessons I learned there in my heart and dreaming my way back there. Definitely plan to return as soon as possible.

I’m focusing my energies on gratitude, love, and being myself. The law of attraction says that we attract what we think about. So, I’m thinking positive. I’m thinking that life and love are pretty darn awesome.

Following my passion for math and taking calculus this fall after years of wanting and wishing. Never took it in college, took college algebra (pre-requisite) in 2007 and trigonometry (pre-requisite) spring 2014. Finally making it happen at 46 years old!

Have been keeping up with previous days of the challenge as much as I can. In addition to focusing on manifesting dreams today, I started my day with hot lemon water, did a long yoga class with meditation, spent some time outdoors being grateful for the lovely weather, was on time for yoga class, and walked my dogs.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 7: Thank You #yogagirlchallenge

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Rachel challenged us to express gratitude to the world around us, to the people in our lives, and to ourselves.

I try to be grateful every day. I really appreciate every thing and every one in my life.

Today I am super grateful for many things starting with another day of life on this beautiful earth. I feel my best when I’m connected with nature, whether it’s at the beach or my normal life in Texas. One of my favorite parts about living in Texas is seeing the incredible sunsets. The landscape is flat, so the sky is a large canvass every night. I love to look up and notice the sky both during the day and at night. It reminds me how small I am in the big picture.

I’m thankful that my kids are healthy and happy. They’re each in different stages of life (9, 14, and 21), and I cherish every moment with them. When I’m not with them, I am thankful knowing they are in good hands and are enjoying themselves. I want them to be happy above all else. They are on vacation with their dad this week, so I am missing them, but I am happy to see their smiling faces in the pictures. I’m thankful they are having those experiences.

I’m grateful that my life offers opportunities to rest and relax without judgement or guilt. I understand that listening to my body is important and that rest and sleep are just as important as regular exercise. It was healing to slow down and take a nap this afternoon. When I woke up, I felt like I had just given myself a gift.

My heart is full of gratitude for love in my life. Small surprises like colorful flowers on the doorstep make me smile and feel loved. Sharing a strong friendship and deep connection with another person is special, and I’m thankful for all the joy and peace that love brings.

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Keeping up with the other days as much as I can (except for getting up early). I’ve been meditating, doing yoga, drinking lemon water, and walking my dogs so far.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 6: Start a New Routine #yogagirlchallenge

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Today, I started my day drinking hot lemon water. I crave coffee first thing, but I made it a priority today to have hot lemon water first. Apparently, it’s healthier to have it on an empty stomach after a night of sleep. I can see that. It’s science. If it works, I will try it. And then I will have coffee haha!

Then, I took my doggies for a walk. Marley is a Boston Terrier (almost 7 years old), and Daisy is a Chihuaua/Hound mix (just turned 1, our rescue puppy). We walk the circle around the neighborhood and take in all the sights and sounds. I love walking my dogs. Sometimes I get lazy because I can open my back door and let them out. So I figure they can run around and take care of business.

I do think it’s better all around if we walk every day. I will try to start this as a new routine. Hot lemon water and a walk with the dogs. Let’s do this!

Thanks for reading this entry Peace out!!

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 3: Rise & Shine! #yogagirlchallenge

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For today’s challenge, Rachel challenged us to set the alarm an hour early, get up and use the time in a healing way of some kind. Incorporating yoga and meditation from days one and two were great ways to use the time. I just happened to need to get up at 5:00am that day, so it was perfect timing for me. I am not a morning person at all but have been working on going to bed earlier and getting up earlier for a few months now. I got up early, drank lemon water then coffee and had a quiet time at my house. After a little while when the sun was going to rise, I took my two dogs out for a walk in the neighborhood. The picture above is from that sunrise walk. It was refreshing to see the sunrise for a change. I usually savor sunsets here in Texas, in fact that day I got to see both the sunrise and the sunset. They were both beautiful.

When I returned home, I did pilates and sat in meditation for a while. It was a wonderful feeling to start the day that way. I was so tired during the day though! I had to take two naps. I don’t think I’ve caught up yet from all the travelling and all the late nights recently. After a week of doing yoga twice a day, I have been craving it in the morning and at night, so I like this idea of getting up a little early so you can get some things done before the day starts.

My kids are on vacation with their dad this week, so it’s an excellent time for me to catch up on my sleep. I keep setting my alarm early with the intention of taking this challenge from day to day, but so far I only did it that one day! Whenever I turn off my alarm and go back to sleep I get another couple hours, so I think my body needs it. I will try to incorporate this idea more in the future when I actually have to get up to get somewhere.

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 5: Get Rid of a Bad Habit #yogagirlchallenge

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I’m working on being early instead of running late. It was the perfect kind of morning for staying in bed and staying at home. It rained all night, and thunder woke me up in the morning. Heavy, loud thunder every few minutes with rain pouring on the house and down the street and flash flood warnings indicated it was not a great day to go outside and do anything. But, I love my yin yoga class on Sunday mornings, and since I’m doing Rachel Brathen’s challenge, I’m committed to doing yoga every day and incorporating as many of the daily challenges into my life. Yin yoga is mostly meditative, so it was a great mix of days one and two of the challenge. While I didn’t exactly wake up early (day three) I did get to class early.

Yoga classes at my gym, Lifetime Fitness, are not on island time. Class starts on time, and the door closes. If there is room in the class, they will open the door again after meditation at the beginning of class, but most of the time classes are full. Being late means missing the class. In fact, they advise getting there ten minutes early. Yogis line up at the door and wait to get a spot. Getting there early means extra meditation time at the beginning of class for me. I like to lie down on my mat, put a small towel over my eyes, and relax while I wait for class to start.

21 Day Yoga Girl challenge Day 4: Random Act of Kindness #yogagirlchallenge

For my random act of kindness, I raised another $100 for Cassidy Taber’s educational fund. Cassidy’s mom, Suzanne Shelton, and I grew up together going to both middle and high schools together. Tragically and unexpectedly, she died the night the Cassidy graduated from high school (she was put on life support for a few days and passed away June 26, 2014, but Suzanne as we knew her was gone). This picture was taken earlier that day.

After Suzanne died, I set up an educational fund on http://www.gofundme.com to help with all the costs that lie ahead in Cassidy’s adult life. In just over one month, people have donated almost $11,000, and the fund it still growing!  I know Cassidy would rather have her mom, but I wanted to do something to help her and to let her know that many people care and want to do something positive.  Cassidy starts at Longwood College in Virginia this fall, and her fund will remain open.

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I am super grateful I got to see Suzanne in January 2014 and in November 2013 when I was home in Virginia visiting. We had drinks and food and lots of laughter. She was really happy with her life at that time. She told me about her daughter, Cassidy, and that she was a senior in high school. Things were going well in her life. She was a proud mom and an excellent friend. I am smiling in her memory.
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Since I saw “Random Acts of Kindness” on the challenge three times, I’ve had it on my mind and have been looking for little ways to reach out to people. So far, I gave a homeless and hungry man some food, and I also took the time to encourage and high-five a guy next to me in yoga class the other day. He was a big, strong guy with tattoos all over. He looked like the kind of guy who could push a big truck around with no problem. But he had a little trouble doing yoga. It was the second time I’ve been next to him in class, and I’ve seen him struggling and resting in child pose when things get hard. I gave him a high-five and said good job today, way to work hard, keep at it! He looked at me with surprise like are you talking to me? He was a little hesitant and not very talkative, but he did high-five me. I hope he felt good knowing his efforts show. Yoga is hard, but the great thing about it is that you can start from wherever you are and modify it however you need to. It heals and transforms lives, so I think it’s great when I see people who are new to it and working hard at it.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 2: Meditate #yogagirlchallenge

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Elements of Meditation:
1. Closed eyes
2. Nostril breathing
3. Observation of bodily sensations
4. Letting go of thoughts

I first learned about meditation when I took a Buddhism class in college in 1988. We met for group meditation and tea in addition to classes. It was a little awkward and uncomfortable at first. It was hard to sit still with my eyes shut without feeling self-conscious.

Since then, I’ve mainly meditated during yoga classes. I also try to incorporate it into my life by doing lying down meditation before bed and taking advantage of the peace and quiet in the sauna and steam room at the gym to find some meditative moments.

Going along with this challenge and my experience at the yoga retreat in Aruba last week, I am working on keeping my morning yoga habit and ending it with seated meditation. It’s a peaceful, calming way to start the day.

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Buddha sat under a bodhi tree until he reached enlightenment.

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To do seated meditation, cross the legs and put the hands on the knees. Hands can be in an upward position for receiving or in a downward position for grounding. Or the hands can make a mudra or shape of some kind. Quiet the mind. Let go of thoughts without judgement. Bring attention to the breath. Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly. Repeat a mantra, count breaths, or think of nothing like still water. As thoughts enter the mind, let them go like ripples in the water until the water is still again. Or let thoughts go like clouds drifting across the sky. No judgements, just acknowledgement and detachment. Stay silent and still for a few minutes to start then increase over time.

There are many benefits of meditation. It calms the nervous system and helps develop a sense of inner peace. It helps balance our active lives and allows us to be present in the moment, not in the past, not worry about what’s happening next, fully present in the moment. Meditation connects us to the energy in the universe and allows us to open up chakras, energy centers, in our bodies.

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Thinking about not thinking is a paradoxical practice that leads to a healthy, happy , calm, zen mindset. Meditation helps us find our center and be grounded. It’s a useful exercise every day and prepares us to handle stress in our lives.

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Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 1: Yoga Every Damn Day #yogagirlchallenge

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Doing Yoga every day is the first challenge. I think I can do it! I’ve been doing a little bit of yoga every day for a while now. It doesn’t mean I make it to my mat or put on a dvd or attend class every day, but I do gentle stretches every day, and I think that counts!

I’ve been working on touching my toes to the back of my head in pidgeon pose. About a year ago, I was able to open to the side and grab my foot. Then I learned how to bind my hands putting my foot into my elbow. With the help of a strap, I’m arching my back and working toward bringing my toes to my head.

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A simple child’s pose and some gentle cat/cow stretches before bed help to calm the nervous system and to deepen the breath. Savasana, or corpse pose, even counts. Lying still and letting go of thoughts and bringing attention to the breath is doing yoga just as much as sweating it out in a hot vinyasa class is. They are just different. That’s one thing I love about yoga. I can modify and go as far as I want to with my practice on any given day. Some days, I feel like I want the 75 minute hot vinyasa class with sweat pouring out of my pores and every muscle exerted and challenged with the flows the teacher presents. Other days, I want the exact opposite: a slow, meditative, restorative yin yoga practice. Sometimes, I don’t make it to the yoga studio at my gym and I use DVDs at home to practice. Again, there is variety from back care yoga to core yoga, and ashtanga and vinyasa flows. In either case, there is stretching and strengthening in the body, a calm attention to the breath and connection to the universe in the mind and spirit. Sometimes I will stretch and do yoga poses in public. Whenever the mood hits me is a good time for yoga!

My Yin Yoga teacher taught the seven axioms of yoga in class:

1. You are exactly where you are supposed to be
2. Fear and pain are life’s greatest teachers
3. Laughter and play are the keys to the fountain of youth
4. Exercise and rest are the keys to vibrant health
5. Touch and intimacy are basic human needs
6. Everything is impermanent
7. Everything is connected

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2010/10/06/7-universal-truths/#ixzz3AgEu4hi3

There is a connection between mind, body, and spirit when we practice yoga. We learn to experience life to the fullest and let go of the past. We learn that we are all one and celebrate each day of life, to drop baggage and drama from our lives.

I took my first yoga class my freshman year of college in 1986. I’ve done it off and on over the years and plan to continue practicing for a long time.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!