A Little Bit of Purpose

When was the last time you….

gave someone encouraging words and actually meant it?

Someone once told me that people can tell if you’re sincere or not. Since I work in a rehab setting, where productivity and minutes matter, I’d often finish with a patient, tell them to have a good day, and leave. After hearing that, I decided to look them in the eye and mean it. The results are self explanatory.

distinguished yourself from everyone else?

Our pastor recently gave us some excerpts from a book he read. He summarized that a large scale study found that Christians were only more likely to give to a religious organization than other individuals. They were just as likely to lie, steal, or cheat on their spouses.

We segue-wayed into our church mission statement, “Build a community, to reach a community.” This really got my husband and I thinking. If Jesus & our church calls us to pray, give, serve, and participate in order to build a community, we are failing. I’ve always said I don’t like kids. I want my own, but I don’t want to volunteer in the nursery. A year or so earlier, I’d read “The Purpose Driven Life” and was left feeling even more confused. However, this time, we had some ideas. We immediately gave some money to a couple that had unforeseen medical bills. It wasn’t a grand total. We actually had felt convicted to give it several months prior, but we pushed it aside with excuses, “We just had a baby”, “I’m on maternity leave and not making an income”…

Next, I donated breast milk to a woman that cannot produce enough on her own.

Lastly, my husband just decided that we should sell our car (AKA give via an extremely low exchange of money) to a woman we are only acquainted to who is recovering her life.

didn’t generalize?

I don’t have a fun story for you here where I did, “the right thing”.

I saw a comment today on a news thread. The story had nothing to do with a comment that said something to the extent of, Crazy Republicans always full of hate. I was taken aback because the story was about some teens getting kicked out of a school dance. Nothing political.

That’s all. Short, so that hopefully I can publish before boy-boy wakes up.

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An Unlikely Yogi

If someone would have asked me six years ago, if I would be a practicing yogi and loving it, I would have emphatically said “NO!” I would have responded that it seemed like a weird cultish thing, that I wasn’t flexible enough, and that I workout to WORK OUT, not to stretch.

Where did I start?

I have this incredible best friend for which yoga basically changed her life. Without getting too much into her story, yoga helped balance personal life issues as well as physical. She was a college track athlete like me, but got involved with a program and dove in headfirst. I was still a little more skeptical, but I was in somewhat of a fitness rut. I’d done the college track thing, I’d done the half marathon and full-marathon thing, and I’d found that while I will work out religiously it’s NOT at a gym. Love her or hate her, I bought Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown. While seasoned yogis may scoff at Jillian being an initial yoga inspiration, it’s true. She played a role. Anyway, I did Level 1 with my friend, who we’ll call Ashley. Now, Ashley & I have always had our individual strengths and weaknesses, but I’ve always been better at push-ups. However, Ashley absolutely schooled me in this workout. After the push-ups circuit, there’s some sun salutations, a dolphin circuit, and I’m pretty sure I was either shaking uncontrollably at the finish, or I just dropped down onto my stomach right before the end, then felt mad at myself for giving up. I think I periodically put this workout into rotation, but it always kicked my butt because I lacked the strength, and eventually I shelved it, never even trying Level 2 because Level 1 was so bad. It got me thinking though; if I’m supposedly “better” than Ashley at push-ups, how did she just destroy me in that workout? Or how can she hold those crazy handstand poses? I mean, it’s core strength, and I’ve got a freaking 6-pack, so why can’t I do that?

Fast-forward again. Ashley talked me into doing p90x because like I said, I was looking for the next “thing”. P90x was hard, and yoga took FOREVER. We’re talking 90 minutes here. However, I was religiously completing the program, and somewhere probably four or five weeks in, I realized I was able to do all of the push-ups and was able keep my arms from shaking or just Crowdropping them completely during the isometric poses. Tony Horton helped make yoga seem tough, fun, and do-able to the average Jane. This began what I would call my STRENGTH loving phase of becoming a yogi. I fell in love with the empowerment of holding a 30-second warrior two or holy smokes, being able to do crow pose for a minute. I also got a taste of what would come: which I’ll call my RESTORATIVE and BODY AWARENESS phases. It was mainly strength, but at the end of those 90 minutes, I realized I was a lot more flexible and relaxed than when I started. I felt like I could keep lying in savasana for forever.

Where have I gone with yoga?

I first took yoga back into my running. I ran another half marathon and read Ashley’s book The Runner’s Guide to Yoga: A Practical Approach to Building Strength and Flexibility for Better Running by: Sage Roundtree. There are these little “tests” throughout the book for runners, and I failed every one of them. I’ve never had a serious running injury, but I’ve had those little tweaks. I began using yoga to RESTORE on my off days. It helped to prevent injury and decrease pain.

By the way, somewhere in there, I totally destroyed that Level 1 Jillian and then realized Level 2 was just different, not any harder.

I’m been able to take it into my work. As a speech-language pathologist, it’s been helpful for me to practice yoga because of the BODY AWARENESS. Before getting into yoga, I’d ask my patients to take a deep breath and model it myself; however, I’d usually do the stereotypical open mouth, shoulders raised, & clavicular breath. This all would be done of course while telling a patient to breathe from the diaphragm. During vocal function exercises, to a casual observer, it basically looks like my patients are yelling or screaming. I’m asking them to be relaxed while being as loud as they can. Screaming isn’t what we’re doing at all; it’s actually very dangerous and damaging to the vocal folds. The point is that the breath and respiratory system (lungs and muscles that support respiration) are actually doing the work, and yoga helped me better teach this.

Yoga BODY AWARENESS, aside from fine tuning within my actual practice, helped a lot at work while leaning over patients, bending down to put on wheelchair footrests, and working out the kinks of being a traveling SLP trapped in a car a lot.

Where am I now?

As my readers may know, I’m pregnant. I was rocking this whole pregnancy weight deal, and then I gained like 10 pounds in a week (literally, in an earlier blog, I bragged that I hadn’t gained any weight yet). I’ve never carried an extra 10 pounds on my belly (10 pounds plus like seven more at the present point in time). BAM! Literally, within a week, my back was miserable. That clever Ashley works at a new yoga studio in town called Mojo Fit, which offers PRENATAL classes. I was hooked immediately. The environment is amazing: great smells, lighting, and a community of moms-to-be. The actual classes leave me relaxed, worked (on a lesser scale than I’m used to, but appropriate for pregnancy), and free of back pain! Halleluiah! I still get tweaks and kinks, but I pretty much do yoga five times a week now and each time, my body feels rejuvenated and the pain/tension is not chronic. Plus, it keeps the arms toned and from looking flabby, preserving some shred of bodily pride.

Additionally, yoga has helped me feel confident and less frightened of labor. I’m not going to lie to myself and say that it won’t be miserable. However, I recently took Lamaze (which was great for my hubby and great to do with him), but I felt like I didn’t learn much-NOT because the teacher or program was bad, but because I’ve already struck upon the principles of breath and relaxation in yoga.

Caution: yoga may not preserve your hairstyle

Caution: yoga may not preserve your hairstyle

I’m not “there” yet with yoga. I can do some cool stuff, but there’s also A LOT I cannot do. I don’t know all the cool Sanskrit names for poses, but I know a few. That’s kind of the point though, as I hope I have shown through my “journey”.

Yoga is not a cult like I once thought. I’ve had some friends and friends of friends tell me that it’s satanic, and that I’m opening my body up for demon possession. I’ve prayed to Jesus while meditating. It’s been a process of building STRENGTH, RESTORING my body, building BODY AWARENESS, and now helping me through this PRENATAL time in my life.

Halfway to the Finish

In my family, babies are CELEBRATED. As long as I can remember, my Mom has made adorable baby blankets by hand. She/my family then gives them to literally anyone we know Baby!having a baby. I’d been stockpiling cute ones I wanted for my own kids for years. I can also remember just showing up at the hospital when my first nephew was born, except we weren’t even sure he was born. We just hadn’t heard any news (that was over 18 years ago by the way!).

Now it’s my turn. I think if circumstances had been a little different, I might actually have enjoyed pregnancy, but I hate it (I love baby!). I have had a super easy pregnancy actually. Morning sickness present early on but only once every day or two, gone as quick as it came and ending right when the pregnancy books said it would. Funny side story about that later. I even crave fruits and vegetables (I’m a chocoholic/sweet tooth at baseline though so that’s still there too). Why I hate pregnancy? I’m a nervous wreck although it’s getting better.

After we decided to try, we got pregnant super easy. I was ecstatically pregnant for all of like two days before I had a miscarriage. In hindsight, an early miscarriage is the best one to have. There’s no d&c, hormones/body go back to normal quickly, and even though I really wanted that baby, I hadn’t really bonded yet. After a miscarriage or something goes wrong during pregnancy, the rest of the world seemed to reproduce like mad. Someone from home had their 10th kid (they’re an awesome family), some 13 year old got pregnant, some young dad shook his newborn or the mom who put her newborn in the washer on the spin cycle while on drugs (true news story), and pro-life activists sent out pictures of what aborted  babies looked like at 19 weeks, 30 weeks, etc. Not exactly what I needed at the moment! I had a lot of friends who were so at peace with their losses. ME? I was like, “Oh, so God decided the chick who’s had nine other abortions is more deserving than me,  a stable non-smoker, financially able to support a baby?” Not to mention basically every friend and acquaintance ever known got pregnant and had a healthy baby. I was happy for them while also bitter.

Here’s my funny morning sickness side story. Since we knew we wanted to try having a baby and the Mom is not allowed to clean the litter box, we began toilet training our cats. Let me tell you, if you’re not quite sure you’re going to puke but head to the toilet anyway, the deal is sealed when you bend down and see that the cat has recently made a deposit. Another cat related story-we had three cats for awhile during this pregnancy process. They all loved to gather round and watch me pray to the porcelain God. “Polly” via Matt said one day, “Damn, she sure does have a lot of hairballs lately.”

20weeksAnyway, onward! After much frustration, we finally got pregnant again, this time it taking longer. Being a pessimist anyway, I was not holding my breath. However, here I am at 20 weeks. My husband came home with a full-sized man football at about 11 weeks. He’s the practical no-impulse buying accountant. When I asked him, “What if it’s a girl?” His response was that he’d still need someone to play catch with. Usually, it’s the stereotypical excited first-time mom that breaks down and buys a frilly pink dress, but not me. I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I’m not into hokey sentimental stuff. As I said though, babies Cupcakeare so celebrated, and I wanted to do something special since I’ve practically grown up with all of my nieces and nephews. So, my awesome friend Ashley who is my better half at crafts/baking helped me make gender reveal cupcakes.

Grandma ConnieAs I expected, my family was thrilled. We slipped an ultrasound picture into an envelope at Christmas. My Mom had only ever had one ultrasound for her total of six kids so actually had no clue what she was looking at, and my brother Dean had to interpret. Matt’s family all told us about time! This is my Mom aka Grandma finding out what baby is a few weeks ago.

By the way, this is my first impulse buy from about a week or Sockstwo ago. My best friend from high school is an ultrasound tech, and we hooked up about a month ago. She told me without a doubt the gender and said everything looked good. It was great having a friend do it to put me at ease and take extra time,  especially since baby didn’t cooperate well at his official ultrasound this last week, and they’re not supposed to tell what’s going on anyway. Everything looked good again although they’re going to try to redo a few shots in a month. My husband thinks he’s Clark Kent so we’re going with a Superman/Superhero nursery, and I got little socks for those feet that are reminding me via kicks that everything is going OK.

Recent Related Book:

The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy: Or Everything Your Doctor Won’t Tell You by: Vicki Iovine

A friend of mine got this for me for Christmas. The book comically while quite honestly reviews the major physical and emotional changes during pregnancy, things to do, and more all from a “girlfriend’s perspective”.

The books takes some criticism for the author’s lack of medical experience and use of anecdotal evidence, but that was the whole point of the book. I mostly found it less stodgy and judgmental than so many of the pregnancy books out there. I disagreed with a few of the points of view of the author, but that was also why I enjoyed the book because the author’s “girlfriends” often had differing views which she also discussed.