Throwback Thursday: AKA traumatic stories from high school, and why I need a new summer project.

Well, I’m looking for a new summer project. I know, life isn’t crazy busy enough… like I really have time to put something else on my plate… but I do find that I am the happiest and the healthiest when working towards an attainable goal, and I need to be doing something creative… Up to this point my summer project has been training for the Wine Country Half Marathon. And then two weeks ago I accidentally broke my toe while watering the garden. Bummer.  This of course put training on hold, which has put the 13.1 mile race on hold until next year. Wah Wah…. I’m pretty sad. This would have been my second half marathon, and I was actually getting pretty pumped to run the 13.1 miles. (I even talked my two best friends into training with me… so yeah, have fun guys… I will drop you off and pick you up…)

After I ran my first in 2010 I decided that I didn’t really need to do another one, but as time went on and things in my life once more drastically shifted (the last time I trained for a half marathon I was dealing with not getting into graduate school, and trying to figure out next steps etc.) I found myself running a bit more. In January I was broken hearted, unemployed, and had a remarkable amount of free time, and frustration so I began running again. A few miles here an there, turned into 3+ miles consistently multiple times a week, and as I dealt with trying to find a job, and the frustrations of unemployment hearings, I started adding on miles. One day, I just randomly went for a seven mile run, um what? Who am I? So I took the motivation, and signed up for the half marathon again.  Yay summer project, yay pushing myself! And then the toe thing happened…

It’s actually somewhat humorous that I’m kind of turning into a runner (ok that is maybe pushing it… I’m not really a runner. I still have to talk myself into it, and quite frankly, I trot. Maybe I’m a trotter, or a jogger or something… but I certainly wouldn’t call myself a runner yet… I am a person who goes running. There are days when I’m out there training and I think “Wait… I’m actually paying $100 so I can run 13.1 miles… what the hell is wrong with me?” but those moments pass. ) Without a doubt, the most traumatic experience of my high school years was having to run the mile in gym class my sophomore year. (This is saying a lot, because once I accidentally farted on the bus at like 6AM on the way to a Speech and Debate meet, and my friend Stephen made a cheer, and then told everyone on the bus, and practically everyone at the meet that I ripped one on the bus. Literally the cheer was “Tayler Brisbin, Ripped one!” and then there were two farting noises afterwards…  and he was prancing up and down the bus, yelling this., and by the end of the day, I’m pretty sure that every Speech and Debate member from high schools across the state were referring to me as the farting girl…And yet, the running incident was somehow more traumatic for me personally… Maybe even back then I knew that  farting on a bus would make for a really good blog tangent someday.)

Anyway, flash back to 10th grade. I had been home-schooled up to this point, and so my “version” of PE was essentially going to ballet class twice a week, and jumping on a trampoline, and occasionally running away from Moose. I wasn’t out of shape, but I most certainly wasn’t a runner. I was at an extreme disadvantage, because every other person in the public school system had been running “the mile” once a year since like 5th grade, and they knew what they were getting themselves into.  I, however did not. So there we are, in PE and it’s the girls day to run the mile, and come to find out to be on par with our age group or whatever, we are supposed to run a mile in 9 minutes or under…. UM WTF? Yes, as teenagers we are supposed to be young and spry, and full of bountiful pep and energy… but jesus a 9 minute mile? Let me just clarify, that to this day, I do not run a 9 minute mile. I am a person who runs, and a person who runs multiple times a week… and even though I’ve been training for a half marathon for over 6 months, and am living at what, maybe 500 ft above sea level? I still don’t run a 9 minute mile! (yes, I realize I’m slow, and this is maybe pathetic. I’ve come to terms with is, so should you.) Let me also just tell you that the elevation of my home town is 5,555 ft above sea level. (no joke. There is a sign telling you the elevation as you drive into the town) That is a lot of ft above sea level, in case you were wondering, and yes the air is a little bit thinner up there in the mountains.

I’m not sure how “the mile” works at other schools, but at my tiny high school, the boy s and girls ran it separately even though we had a co-ed gym class. Therefore when the girls ran the mile, we each had one of the boys from the class assigned to us to count our laps. I guess this was so we didn’t have to keep track/ couldn’t cheat… which, full discloser/ spoiler alert, I totally did.

I’m not exactly sure what lap I was on when I decided that I was going to die, but I’m pretty sure it was about lap 15 (20 laps around the gym for the mile). I will fully admit that now, as an adult, I have a bit of a gift for melodrama… but at the time, I was just pretty quiet, shy, and misunderstood. I was not the scene causing type of girl… Hello wallflower. So when I started to tell the PE teacher that I couldn’t breath, I wasn’t trying to draw attention to myself. I had never been that short of breath before ever, and I started to get a little panicky.  (of course at the time it never occurred to me to just stop and walk… though come to think of it, I’m not sure that was an option since we were being timed, and there was that 9 minute standard we were all being held against… again, who runs a 9 minute mile at 5555 ft? Olympians?) I was gasping for air, and kind of flopping around, and like “Um… I…. can’t…. breath…. Something…. Is …. Wrong….” And for reals, I was worried about passing out.  Just keep running but all the while freaking out a little bit, and being a little vocal about the fact that I was worried for my wellbeing. Of course at this point most of the boys were thinking this was hysterical, and none of the other girls seemed to be having a problem, and they all seemed put out that I was making a scene… but come on, not being able to breath is kind of scary!  Anyway, I’m not sure at what point most of the other girls lapped me, but it happened. They were all one lap ahead, and I was one behind… and all I knew for sure was that I was going to die.  And so, as most of them finished their final lap I also stopped running. I looked my  assigned counter in the eye, and I either gave him a look of “you will die if you rat me out” or I was so pathetic and floppy and red faced, that he genuinely felt bad for me.  Maybe it was both… I was pretty socially awkward back then, and mostly I was just shy because everyone else gave me a homeschooling complex, but this was just interpreted as me being a bitch… so I kind of just went with it.  Either way, everyone else knew that I was only on lap 19, but the gym teacher looked at him, and asked if that was my final lap, and he lied through his teeth and said that I was done running.  (Seth, in case you didn’t know, you are kind of my hero. Or at least you were at that moment) Unfortunately, my BFF at the time also had one lap left… she was doing much better than me, but everyone had lapped her as well, and so when everyone else finished, she still had one lap to go.  She would have of course finished running the mile before I did, but I cheated and stopped at lap 19, so at the end of the day, she was labeled with the slowest mile time in our grade. My bad.   Lets just say, she was not happy…  (this might have been the beginning of the end of our friendship, who even knows… girls are petty)  But I was too busy gulping for air and flopping around to really care.  Clearly, I feel bad about it now, but at the time I was just happy to be alive and vowed to hate running for the rest of my days.

It might not sound THAT traumatic… and come to think of it, I’m actually surprised that the farting incident didn’t scar me nearly as bad as my semester in PE… then again, this happened when I was a lowly sophomore and still adjusting to the ways of public school… Clearly the event stuck with me, because I’m pretty sure I even wrote a paper during my Freshman Year of college about how much I loathed running.  What? Who writes college level papers about that? (the whole graduate school rejection is maybe making more sense…) I’m that girl, and it makes me cringe a little.  Thankfully, times have changed, and I got over it. Look at me, training for half marathons and things…

It’s kind of like the time a baby sitter made me sit at the table and eat pizza even though I wasn’t hungry, and everyone else got to go watch the Wizard of OZ, and then for the next 13 years or so I hated pizza. I was a nightmare to have at birthday parties, because I wouldn’t eat pizza, and all the moms would have to order other food for the “picky eater.” For the longest time my parent’s thought I just didn’t like cheese, which is probably the biggest tragedy of my childhood… As far as I’m concerned, cheese is gods gift to us, and the more cheese the better.  I often wonder about how much cheese I missed out on in those thirteen years because people just assumed my aversion to pizza was actually an aversion to cheese… why did they think this? Obviously I ate the nachos that had to be special ordered for me at birthday parties because I didn’t eat pizza… but then again, as a child, I was also a vegetarian, and so it probably made perfect sense to everyone that I didn’t “like” cheese. False. I just didn’t like pizza. Clearly, I got over it. (liking pizza that is… obviously, I’m still a little sad about the mistaken cheese deprivation.) Its kind of ironic that the child who hated pizza is now the front of house manager at an establishment that is know for its woodfire pizzas, and I eat pizza at least 3 times a week…. Shoot, good thing I also got over my hatred of running… Fact: you don’t have to run as much if you hate pizza.

But, I got over my hatred of running, and my hatred of pizza…  really all this is to say, that now I need a new summer project, because training for a half marathon and a broken toe are not two things that go together, but thanks for hanging in there through the awkward/ traumatic throwbacks to high school.

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Personal Weekend Rules, and how I always manage to break them.

Firstly, let me apologize for my falling off the blogging earth. My computer died, like completely is without power with no hope of turning it back on sort of dead, and so my internet access is limited to my cell phone, and brief moments at work when I’m sending official e-mails and updating the company facebook page. I contemplated blogging from my phone for a good 2.5 seconds, and then decided typing a blog post on that tiny key board just wasn’t worth it. I still don’t have a computer (I had to pay a hefty sum to the US & State government…. how does that work exactly?) so it will still be a few paychecks until I get fully back into the tec world, but in the meantime I finally borrowed my Dad’s teeny tiny laptop… and by teeny tiny, I mean, this is just a step up from typing on a cell phone keyboard… please excuse the multiple typos that I’m sure will follow.)
I’m just finishing up two glorious days off of work…days wich, of course, were not nearly as productive as I would have liked them to be, but what can you do? I really only have four set “rules” for my days away from work, and they are as follows: Excercise, put on real person clothes, cook myself something, and socialize with other humans. These rules are so basid they probably don’t really need to be stated out loud…These are kind of common sense things, that arguably most people do… then again, have you read the warning labels on a hair dryer lately?  Most people probably wouldn’t get in the a tub while operating a hair dryer, and yet they put the warning lable on there anyway for the poor saps who can’t quite figure it out. It’s for their own protection. I am not a poor sap… and mostly I do not struggle with these four things, but sometimes it is nice to state them outloud, to put them out into the universe, and to know that the rules are put into place for my own protection. That being said, rules are often meant to br broken.
I usually do really good with these rules on my first day off and this week was no exception. I ran 7.1 miles (and let me tell you, the last time I ran 7.1 miles was in Septemer of 2010… this is kind of a big deal for me!) I curled my hair, put on a dress,made a healthy breakfast, met up with some old friends… Tuesday I was all about my day off rules, and I even upped the anty by doing a few loads of laundry, gardening, and taking myeslf out to lunch. Go me.
Wednesday, was of course a horse of a different color… (who even came up with that metaphore, and what really does it mean? Just now I flashed back to this weird Howie Mendel educational computer game  I had growning up that was all about life on the farm, and of course there were rainbow horses that popped up and said “I’m a horse of a different color!” needless to say, this did not help clarify anything.) Wednesday, my alarm went off, and already I’m starting to make bargains with myself. I still really want to get up and excercise, but my tendonitis is flairing up, and so already I’m thinking to myself ” well I am teaching two yoga classes today… that mostly counts as excercise.” FALSE. Teaching yoga, and taking yoga are two very different things,but at 7AM, its pretty easy to justify it as you push the snooze button. The same logic applies to getting dressed. “Well I have to teach two classes today, I should probably just stay in my yoga pants all day.” and the practical side of me cannot argue with this… who wants to make 3+ wardrobe changes in a day? Not this girl… already, two of my grown up life rules out the window minutes after getting out of bed. Rules were made to be broken!
In my defense, I did actually attempt to go for a run… I made it 1 mile before the tendonitis took over my life…looks like I pushed a little too hard with the 7.1… but lately my mantra has been “you’ll only get out as much as you put in.” Full disclosure… I came up with this mantra because i was finding it ridiculously difficult to wash my face before going to bed. I realize this post makes me sound increddibly lazy/ unmotivated about life as I’m having to use little gimics to get me to put on real clothes etc… but sometimes I really feel that as a women, getting ready for bed takes a lot of work. The makeup has to come off the face washed, moisturizer applied, teeth flossed and brushed, contacts removed… and often pores are examined, eye brows tweezed… and sometimes putting in the effort to get through all of that is hard… Shit, maybe I am just really lazy… anyway, since I started working in a restaurant my skin has been flairing up a little more… and I would stare down my giant zits and remind myself that if I wanted normal adult skin, I had to act like an adult and wash my face every night, or stop caring… a mindblowing breakthrough to have at age 27… And really the same goes for just about everything in life. excercise, diets, relationships, work… if you want to see the results you have to put in the effort. (except on the occasional Wednesday when you really just want to wear yoga pants to the grocery store… and even then, I think its actually safer not to put on normal clothes to go to the grocery… have you seen the types of things that people are buying? today the guy in front of my was purchasing 30+ fitness waters, about 6 boxes of snackwells, 10 frozen dinners, 3 boxes of waffles… yes indeed, you get out of it what you put into it… and at this rate I think it is probably safe to say, I’m not going to meet my soul mate at the bargain grocery store…)
This is getting awfuly rambly, especially since I’m basically blogging about being lazy/ unmotivated to be a real person…this could perhaps be a clue as to why I am single… or maybe its just a little dash of realism that makes me relatable?

Hello Hamstrings: a basic intro to Supta Padangusthasana

I have really tight hamstrings… me and every other person in America (or so it seems). As a yoga teacher one of the things I hear about the most is tight hamstrings… which is why one of my favorite poses to do in class is Supta Padangusthasana ( or reclining big toe pose). If you have ever taken a class from me there is a very good chance this pose was visited… I do not preach in my classes (at least I don’t think I do) but I know I have told pretty much every one of my students that life would be better if we practiced this particular stretch in our daily lives.

Of course I have been saying this for years… and thus far I have never managed to get into a routine of doing this stretch at home… but I do teach it at least twice a week (if not more). But here I am, virtually unemployed, with a plethora of free time, and a lot of motivation, so I’m pledging to do this stretch every day for one week, and see if it actually makes a difference in my life. Who is with me? I’ll do a follow up post after a week of consistent stretching, and I’d love to have your comments & personal feedback (feel free to comment here or on the facebook page).

I’m not expecting any profound epiphanies, but I do know that since I have been running more this year, my hamstrings are even tighter than normal, and though this is certainly not the only good hamstring stretch (and maybe not even the absolute best one) it is by far my favorite.

There are a ton of other great benefits about this pose as well. It’s great for lower back pain, it stretches the calves and inner thighs, helps strengthen the core, it can help with sciatica, it can even help you reduce stress.  Denise Benitez says in an article for the Yoga Journal that “You may never become a model for the loose hamstring calendar, but the benefits of Supta Padangusthasana will enrich your life in many ways. Your pelvis will enjoy more of its full movement through space (great for Latin dancing!), all your yoga poses will benefit, and your spirit will be soothed by the gentle release of the often overworked muscles on the back side of your body.”

Do I really need to keep listing reasons why almost everyone would benefit from a daily dose of this pose?  Hamstrings can be tricky, and stretching them takes time (I’ve heard 20-30 minutes a day of un-loaded stretching) And we might not all have that kind of time to devote to opening these key muscles, but even two minutes a day is better than none.

This stretch is usually done with a  yoga strap, but if you are trying it at home a belt or long sleeved tee-shirt should do the trick.

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Bulldog is optional. =)  but he does add a little complexity to the pose when he starts nibbling on your ears/ face.

Start by lying on your back (supine) with knees bent. Place the strap (or whatever prop you are using) over the ball of the right foot and begin to extend the right leg up towards the sky. (keeping a slight bend in the knee is a-ok. First and foremost, listen to your body).  Starting out I’d recommend keeping the left knee bent with the foot on the floor, but if you are feeling a little more open, and don’t have any lower back considerations, you might want to extend the left leg out onto the floor, keeping a strong flex to both feet.

Trying to pull evenly through both sides of the strap, invite your shoulders to relax. (you might even anchor your elbows on the floor so you encourage the arms to relax). I like to engage my core while in this pose, by simply drawing my belly button in and up… offering support to the lower back.

You might gently let the right leg rock back and forth in this pose, getting a little bit of movement in the hip joint (because motion is lotion).

After spending at least 1 minute with the leg up towards the sky, transfer both sides of the strap/prop into the right hand. Invite you left hand to help anchor your left hip to the ground. (if you left knee is still bent, you can slightly let the knee open towards the left to act as a counter balance, which will help keep the hip rooted down). Very slowly, perhaps to the count of 10, invite your right leg open to the right side. Keeping the flex in the foot, you might even encourage the toes to inch a little bit in the direction of your right shoulder.  This is usually about the time I have to remind myself about what my core is doing, (keep zipping up!). Holding here for several breaths (or several minutes, you know your body best), then slowly begin to engage the secondary muscles in your right leg. Trying to use the strength of the leg rather than the pull on the strap to slowly (SLOWLY! Work through the resistance, you’ll gain more benefits if you help strengthen while you stretch! It’s not just about momentum!) lift your leg back up towards the sky. Hold here for a few more breaths before slowly releasing the strap, and lowering your leg.

Take a moment, and notice if you feel a difference between your right and left leg (right leg might feel just a little bit longer! Progress!).  As you are ready, bend both knees, and get ready to stretch out the left leg!

Helpful hints:

Try to stretch for the same amount of time on each side. How you track is up to you, you might just be able to “feel” when you are even. But you might count the breaths spent in each part of the pose, listen to a set amount of songs, or maybe even set a timer.

I love stretching in the morning, but you might try this stretch at the end of the day, and see if you notice a difference in flexibility from morning to evening. We tend to be a little more warmed up at the end of the day because we have been up and moving around a bit and your hamstrings might be a little less resistant.

You might also experiment with trying this stretch at the beginning/ end of a yoga practice, and see if you notice a difference. This stretch is a great way to warm up for a variety of standing poses, but it’s also a great way to end a practice after your muscles are already warm and have been working a little bit.

* I should probably put a disclaimer in here that yes, I am an RYT, but stretching/ exercising at home can have risks. PLEASE BE CAREFUL! For further and more detailed instructions, you might visit the Yoga Journal website

Sitting is the new Smoking? I guess it’s time to wiggle around.

I just did a dance around my living room… as I was taking laundry to the washing machine I made sure to wiggle around, and as I’m sitting on my couch typing this, out I may or may not be doing the in-flight blood clot reducing exercises you see on the trans-Atlantic flights… In my yoga class today we started talking about how “Sitting is the new smoking” which is a concept that everyone else in the class seemed to be familiar with… I was in the ignorance is bliss category, and of course as soon as I came home started doing a little research. Sure enough, sitting is a lethal activity according to The New York Times among others (Go ahead, Google it “Sitting is the new smoking”). So yeah, I’ve been wiggling my person around a little extra today.

Generally speaking, I am an active person… I teach two yoga classes a week, I take a lot of yoga during the week, and I can honestly say that I have been running more this month than I went running in all of 2012. I like walking places, and mostly I like to think I move around quite a bit… but in the past month I know I’ve also been sitting a whole lot more than I used to…

I mean it’s all relative… I’m not spending nearly as much time in my car, as I no longer have a 20 minute commute to work, and am not driving 40 miles every other day to see ex-boyfriend. I’m also no longer sitting at a desk… but I am sitting on my couch… a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I sit here all day, but I’m still adjusting to my life in the unemployed sector, and so I sit a lot. I search online for jobs, I do a lot of reading, I look for new recipes, I’m writing more, and yes, ok, I’m watching A LOT of The West Wing…

I’m here trying to justify things, but the reality is, even when I was working full time, I didn’t spend a ton of time at my desk… sure, I spent my fair share of time at the computer writing newsletters, updating social media, working on advertising, printing contracts, doing research. But I also spent a fair amount of time walking between my office and the retail shop, or the office and the tasting room… Some days it felt like I spent more time walking back and forth than I did at the desk. I would take breaks and walk Toby through the lavender fields, I would walk through the nursery on my lunch break, and I was constantly up and about taking pictures around the property, walking through the olive groves and grape vines… So yeah, I’m driving a lot less than I was, and I’m running quite a bit more, and I’m even taking more yoga, but I’m still sure that I’m also sitting a lot more than I used to… (BRB as I need to get up and move around, and maybe you should do the same! )

…..

Alright, I’m back…Is anyone else suddenly inspired to go invest in a pedometer? The statistics are a little terrifying… I mean obviously we know that sitting around watching tv all day isn’t good for you, but the idea that every hour spent in front of the TV gives you an 11% higher death rate? You’d think it would have to be the same for reading a book right? Every hour I spend reading a book, or sitting at my computer writing, is an hour closer to death. (Which I suppose is true of any hour spend doing anything… but you know what I mean) If you need me today, I’ll be bopping around my house…