Because when we don’t follow through with them – it registers in our mind as a failure. At least in my mind it does. Which is why I was kicking myself up the arse all night on New Year’s Eve when I realized the  New Year’s Day “Commitment 5k” that I’d registered myself and my children for was a potential failure for the very first day of the year.  I’d been watching the weather – the very cheery weather woman (just what do we call these people??) stated it would be “brrrr! a very cold New Year’s Day!!! Temps will drop to zero!”. She said it with all the enthusiasm of a woman riding a high of chocolate ecstasy  Seriously, wtf is so cheery about freezing temps?? I googled ‘frostbite’ and discovered children should not be out in temps below 13 (that’s  -10c which sounds downright arctic).

That began my dilemma. Forego the 5k and start off the year with a ‘failure’ or be a potentially bad parent and drag my children to the event. After telling my children that I thought we were going to have to cancel (cheers from the oldest), I changed my mind (yes, can’t have a child happy enough to cheer in this house), and we decided frostbite, blizzards, Yeti’s, whatever the world could throw at us – we were going.

7 a.m. the next morning: Oldest is dry heaving and moaning as if in the midst of his final death throes. (Insert deep breath). My greatest obstacle: obstinate children. I grabbed the other one (the more agreeable one) and we threw on enough clothes to survive a REAL apocalypse and headed to the race.

I’m not necessarily one of those over-happy people – you know the ones you secretly think of mowing over in your car while yelling, “take that you over-happy motherfucker!!”. But, I can say my daughter might be the grumpiest. There were really only 2 times during the run that I seriously thought about ditching her and her 1001 complaints.

“My foot hurts!! owowowowowowow!!”

“My legs are itchy!! Mylegsareitchy! Mylegsareitchy… I’m dying!”

“Mom!! (insert seething tone) stop doing Gangnam dance or I’m going to die!” – how can you not do that dance when they play the song?? geez.

“ohmygod I’m dying….” – which was followed by either, “my head is on fire”, “my hands are sweating”, or “I’m dying”.

I will say that there are a few tactics that work on motivating little people. Pointing out a smaller child of the same sex and saying, “Oh wow! look at her go!! I think she’s even younger than you!!”. Umm… not a good way to go. This only resulted in my own child stopping in the middle of the road, arms crossed, glaring at me and yelling, “YOU HATE ME!”. (watch for a future blog titled: when your children are smarter than you).

Oh my god. The drama…. it’s only 3.2 miles FFS.

As we approached the finish line, I looked at her and said, “We have to run. It’s the law. You have to run across the finish line”. And took off running – if she wanted to argue my point she’d have to catch me first. Amazingly, it worked brilliantly and as I reached out to tap her head in a “Yay!!” type of way, as we both cross the finish line, she turns and yells, “YOU HIT ME!!”.

Gah. Happy Fucking New Year.

It was the right thing to do – I’ll accept a challenge over a failure any day and after the race I took her out for breakfast and after she’d refueled on: hot chocolate (sugar), french toast with some amazing buttery cinnamon syrup (sugar), and bacon (food of the gods) – she was my sweet little bunny again. I even got a hug and a big thank you for taking her to the race.

So far – one day down…. 364 to go. Seize this year by the motherfucking balls and make it your bitch. That’s my motto for this year.

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I was sitting outside today, feeling the wind blow through my hair, when I realized it had been a really long time since I’d waxed or shaved my legs.

I began my rebellion of shaving my legs a few months ago when my skin, also began a rebellion of it’s own.  After spending a business trip in San Francisco trying to scratch the epidermis down to the bone with no relief I realized that shaving was possibly a thing of the past.

Not a big deal you say? To someone who’d been shaving their legs everyday since they were 12 it was. Well, actually that first time I shaved my legs, my arms, my stomach, my face and would’ve tried to shave the dog if I’d been able to get it to hold still long enough – shaving was a sort of magical power. That was, until my mother, in horror of viewing the ‘Cousin It’ that was left in the bathroom, pointed out that shaving any thing other than my legs would potentially result in  “prickly stubble”. She stabbed her point home (yes, puns are sometimes intended) by showing me her own prickly legs. I’d seen less sinister spines on the creatures in “Jurassic Park”, so, heeding her warning, I stuck to shaving only my legs (and occasionally strips of skin…. holyhell that hurts).

I, recently, managed to make it about 2 weeks without shaving my legs, screaming into pillows to avoid the maddening itch of it, and gingerly stepping into my running pants to avoid shredding them to pieces (I eventually avoided this by canceling all future workouts) until I decided waxing might be the answer.

I’d only seen one other person get their legs waxed and thought she was, quite possibly, being tortured to death. But, the great thing about watching a friend almost die from something is that we secretly feel we are tougher and could ‘almost die’ a bit less (certainly with less screaming). So, I perused the aisles at Target for their selection of leg waxing options. I settled on ‘Veet’ strips and headed home. No reason for everyone in a salon to hear me screaming.

Now for any of you that know me – you know I’m fascinated by anything that is somewhat gross. Waxing my legs was going to be right up my alley (and apparently my daughter’s). After applying first some baby powder, I warmed the strips (under the bum works better than rubbing them between your fingers – especially if your fingers are a step above icicles on any given day), and carefully applied them to my legs to avoid cutting myself. And pull. Oh for the love of jellybeans and buttered toast – ouch. But! the skin was smooth and the wax strip held an interesting type of science experiment of some indiscernible mammal. Perfect!

So after repeating that same procedure and getting (most) of the hair from the legs – who sees the backs of my legs anyway?? I am hooked. No more crazy itching from shaving and no more daily ritual of shaving, wasting water, time, and skin in a never-ending battle against Cactus Legs. Who cares if I’ve got wax strips stuck to every surface of my home 😉

My recommendation? Wax or embrace your inner Yeti.

What? You’re a man? Ok… well, maybe just shake hands with your inner tough girl (yes, to your horror she’s probably in there somewhere) and don’t make direct eye contact 😉

I’ve heard so many stories about women having out and out battles with their inner… errr… umm…. (said in a hushed tone… bitch). My inner B and myself are good friends although, she does, have a propensity for wanting to kick someone’s arse.

I’ve tried hard to tame her with ‘Oms’ and meditation (wow, nothing sets her off more than being forced to sit for a mere 5 minutes while I try to better our mind and body), we do a lot of yoga (as a yoga teacher, that’s not really that shocking). I’ve stopped eating gluten, dairy, shellfish, sugar and have even incorporated an herbal coffee. However, she has become aware of that and there was much toe tapping and crossed arms this morning so we’ll probably have to go back to regular coffee (wink wink). We exercise, we’ve taken combat classes, we blast loud music (here I’ll add a shout out to my girl Rosemary) and will sometimes finally give in and just let her have her moment of fury.

Please keep in mind that her moment of fury usually involves typing and deleting and typing and deleting and typing and finally deleting a post on Facebook or imagining really letting someone have it… sometimes I’ll even let her write a nasty letter then while she’s off getting another tattoo, I delete it.

Yet, in all her fierceness, she is only trying to protect me. She protects me better than any man I’ve ever known (besides my brothers). She’s the one that reminds me to stand up taller, to always walk with confidence even when I’m scared, to make direct eye contact, and be aware of my surroundings. She’s the one that researches how to “survive a bear attack”:http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/how-to-survive-a-bear-attack on our hikes, she’s the one that says, “you will not yield, you will never quit”. She builds me up and when I need her… she is there without hesitation. She never calls me a wimp or criticizes me for crying or feeling weak although, she will often hand me a small gift wrapped in tiny gold box – I don’t get these often but when I open it I hear her say, “Get up. Dry your tears. You’re strong”. I always appreciate those little gifts.

However, it hasn’t all been lovely “holding hand time”. My Inner B and I used to be arch enemies. She was constantly undermining me at every turn. I would practice peace and love and she would point out why no one deserved love and peace was over-rated. Then, as if the world was at her mercy – something would happen and her point would be proven.
But one day, after she’d shown me that people can be rude and mean that they can hurt you and then laugh about it…. I turned to her while she said in a rage “SEE?? I told you so!!”. I gently (and quite cautiously) wrapped my arms around her and gave her a hug. “Who cares what they do” I whispered in her ear.

And that is how we finally became fast friends. Because in the end, it’s just not worth getting all worked up over. Even though she is my Inner B and it is expected of her to get a bit wild-eyed at times, it’s always good to remember that all of that “fight” and in her case “more fight” (as opposed to fight / flight) only hurts us.

We’ve decided we are saving up all that energy for a bear – ok that’s a total lie. I will scream until the bear’s ears bleed and will most likely end up spraying myself with the bear spray. Anyone that knows me this is the most likely outcome 😉

 

 

 

The Accidental Run

02/27/2012

I wasn’t always a runner.  I was on the track team in grade school but spent a lot of my time tying my shoes.  I hate to admit that I really hate to run except when I’m actually doing it and then I love it.

As a child, running was something I did naturally and was quite fast.  I could run barefoot and out run most anyone that I knew.  I wanted to be on the Olympic team and race around the track barefoot just like Zola Budd.  As with most things in my life, I excel at them easily until it becomes something I must do and then it becomes a chore and generally something I will begin to loathe.  And, so began my love and love to hate relationship with running.

I grew up in an area known as BFE.  There were a lot of cornfields and dirt roads and running in almost any direction would certainly get you chased by a dog (or 5).  We had two kinds of dogs where I grew up:  mean and meaner.  The farmer’s dog up the road was a huge, mangy looking Cujo, only he was lightening fast.  He may not have been that fast it may have simply been that as soon as he jumped from the bushes my shoes would turn to lead and although I could look down and see my legs working harder than any cartoon, I would swear they were going in reverse. He wasn’t the scariest dog…. just the biggest.  Nooo… the scariest dog in our neighborhood lived on the other side of the lake.  I preferred running in that direction because the road would open up towards the railroad tracks and a larger road, whereas, heading in the direction of scary, mange dog led me deeper into the country and in my mind, possibly more dogs where they could eat me for dinner and no one would ever hear my screams.  Have I mentioned that I had an over-active imagination?  The scariest dog in the neighborhood was named ‘Brownie’ or ‘Chocolate’ or maybe it was ‘Tiramisu’ I can’t remember although I’d scream it enough as I ran away in terror.  It seemed like all dogs at that time had names of desserts.  We had a Shar-Pei named Mai Ren which is not any kind of dessert as far as I know.  For fun, we will call that little bi… ahem, that dog, my favorite dessert Key Lime Pie.  One of two things would happen when you were running by Key Lime Pie’s house.  Either Key Lime Pie was already waiting by the road (if this happened, it was best just to turn around promptly and take another route) or Key Lime Pie was up near the house and wouldn’t have time to get to your ankles… oh?  didn’t I mention that the scariest dog on the PLANET is a cocker spaniel?  no?  stop laughing, she was really very scary!  and she had spittle!!  All of the scariest dogs (like Cujo) have spittle that flies through the air and crazy eyes.  Key Lime Pie definitely had spittle and crazy eyes.  I used to wish she’d trip on those long ears but she never did.

Eventually, I moved away from there and was able to live on my own in a place that did not have any scary dogs.  I went to college and joined the track team.  I continued to run (off and on) for the next few years, running alone, running in the rain, running in the cold until my legs itched so bad I couldn’t stand it.  I ran while pushing my son in the baby jogger (which was ok until he turned 9 and then he was just way too heavy…whew).

When I was thirty something I got tired of running and decided that utilizing the equipment at the gym was much more fun since I could read my book AND burn calories.  Sure I would sometimes give running a try but something happens to the body when you haven’t run in awhile.  It’s almost like parts of your body have solidified and your legs find running about as natural as wrapping around behind the head (but at least you could sit down to attempt this).  It was during this time that my dear dear friend who found much glee in torturing me (she was also my personal trainer) asked me to run a 5k with her.  I’d never run a 5k and 3.2 miles certainly didn’t seem like very far so I agreed.

I was so excited about the run that I was the very first one there. You think I’m joking… I’m not.  It was still dark out and freezing.  I called Kara to find out if she was on her way…. she was still sleeping.

I knew I only had a limited amount of time to run the race because I had to teach a yoga class across town immediately after.  I was ready to go at the start and we took off.  I was running so fast and it felt like I might die.  Trying to keep up with Kara proved to be harder than I thought and I took a slower pace and told her to go on and I’d catch her on the way back.  I settled into my pace and kept a look out for Kara.  It seemed as though a lot of time was passing and I still hadn’t seen Kara.  I did see a number of people coming back around and knew that I must be close to the “end”.  I wasn’t.  In fact, I ended up running my first 10k that day.  How might one go to a race to run a 5k and end up running a 10k?  Well, you see, you would have to miss this GIANT white billboard that says “5K TURN AROUND”.  I think if it had maybe said, “yes, you!!” that I might have realized it was for me.  But I didn’t and so I ran on and on and on until I got to the turn around point for the 10k (by that time, I was just thrilled to be turning around).  Stopping wasn’t an option because I had to teach my class.  As I was running back towards the finish line (the last 3.2 of my 10k) I was considering how one misses a turn around sign when an 80 year old man with an oxygen tank passed me.  He was in fantastic shape… like ‘Iron Man’ shape (this is what I have told myself since that day so please do not question my little piece of fiction).

After that day, I couldn’t deny to myself that when I pushed myself that I could do it.  Whatever “it” was, I knew I had it inside myself to succeed and that felt really great.  Who cares if a few old people with oxygen tanks pass me up…. sheesh!  There are worse things… like Key Lime Pie. 😉

When I was little(r), there were three things that I wanted to be when I grew up, well, 4 if you count ‘brain surgeon’ but that was only because Doug P.  said he wanted to be one and it sounded really cool.  I mean operating on brains to a 5th grader sounds extremely awesome (ok, well, I was a little odd… ).  Besides the ‘brain surgeon’ there was, 1) a Pirate or Detective (these 2 were interchangeable in my mind), 2) a smurf or,  3) a vet.  There was certainly a lacking in pirate occupations, at that time, but it did have the possibility of being a lucrative position, the dress code was cool (minus the peg leg), and I would never have to brush my teeth! Perfect!  However, I was informed, by my mother, that this wasn’t something they offered at college.  College is like this ‘holy grail’ we hold over our children… get straight ‘As’ and you can go to….. COLLEGE.  Yeah, what they neglect to tell you is that you will continue to do basically the same thing you’ve been doing (and hating) for the past 17 years.  Plus, they don’t tell you that even if you do a half-assed job of it… you can still go to college.  However, do not tell this to my own children as I’m following in my mother’s footsteps and using the “holy grail” script (although, I myself did not finish college and am doing just fine). “But you could be doing better…” she would say.

My mother.  Mother.  Does not like me to speak about her in any way or fashion, so after you read this you will need to delete this blog post from your memory or… ummm… I don’t know… aliens will probe your bum.  Hmm… seriously, why in the world, would an alien probe the ‘bum’ area, sorry, “anal probing” is the correct term, I believe.  Why would they go to that particular orifice?  And, have you seen their fingers?  3 long… barely functioning fingers (according to some movie directors).  I hardly believe they can do much with those.  Perhaps they are trying to light us up (from the bum) like a light-bulb… or, maybe a firefly!  Fireflies are pretty.  Who knows… in either case, do not speak of this blog to my mother or bum probing might be the least of your worries, it will definitely be the least of mine.

I have always loved animals.  Always. Always.  And, almost equally always been terrified of them.  Cats… yikes, very scary with their long claws and their sneaky way of acting like they love it when you rub their belly just so they can latch on to your hand with those dagger-like claws and then bite you.  Yeah, those animals are very scary.  But, if I was a vet, I was positive, I would suddenly possess the power of someone like ‘the dog whisperer’ and all animals would love me.  Ok, yeah, you are correct, in my mind it was more like Cinderella or Snow White, but, either way, I was sure animals would love me.  Now dogs, were equally terrifying to me with their big teeth.  Our neighbor had Dobermans and they would chase us and eat the bunnies in our yard (no amount of resuscitation would bring them back).  We had a number of dogs growing up, my least favorite, was Max.  My parents had gone to get a dog from this breeder of some fluffy kind of dog and realized they couldn’t afford the puppies, but, were then introduced to this reject dog that they couldn’t give away.  Sold!  Max, I’m fairly certain had some impairment.  Whatever he shouldn’t be doing… he did.  He would run into traffic and he would also only poop a little so he could then run around and smear it on anything and everything.  I never knew what to do with Max, but, at least he never bit me… so maybe that makes him my favorite.  Anyway.  Rabbits were surely different creatures from cats and dogs… umm… no.  I got a rabbit as a gift when I was in highschool.  His name was ‘Foopy’ and he was the meanest rabbit I’ve ever seen.  He would chase me and bite my legs and feet and bark at me… I didn’t even know something so cute and fluffy could act so evil.  Birds…. no they peck at you.  Fish… does anyone actually bring a fish to the vet??  More like a ceremonious trip down the mouth of the porcelain god.

My mother would mention my fear of animals to give me pause when considering a career choice, at the old age of 10.  But then, she threw me a lifeline!  Some vets only work on farm animals and visit them at their homes!  Oh yes!! I could definitely do that!!  However…. horses are awfully big with big snuffly nostrils and, yep, big teeth.  Cows… they looked slow but I was certain that they were hiding behind some kind of rouse.  Geese?  nope, been chased and bit by one of them too and that (expletive) hurts! I’d also made the terrible mistake, around this very same time, of watching “Wild Kingdom”.  We only got 3 channels where I lived and that show was on Sundays, after the Disney movie, and really the highlight of my television viewing.  That nights episode was about the savannah.  It showed lions laying around, as usual, while their women did all the work.  It showed some antelope and then, zebras.  It wasn’t just any episode about zebras…. it was about mating zebras.  Here is where my desire to become a vet died suddenly and thoroughly (even though I knew a zebra would never come to the office).  I sat there… feeling as if I was watching a porn movie.  The male zebras… ahem… private part was so large that it nearly touched the ground…. many many (MANY) years later, I still cannot erase that memory from my brain.  So, at that moment in my life (of 10 years) I decided to become a nun because I was pretty positive that being a smurf wasn’t an option.

*Being a nun didn’t really work out either…. I look terrible in black.

**I should add that I did overcome my fear of dogs and cats… as I now have a zoo for a family.  Dogs, cat, tortoise, frogs… and a partridge in a pear tree.

I was on my third mile on the treadmill at the gym.  Pound. Pound. Pound.  I was pushing myself to run harder than normal… I find running to be a good stress reliever.  Even if I really hate it.  I’ve noticed that if I chose a treadmill in front of the 12 or so t.v’s that are mounted on the wall, that the time seems to go a little faster.  I was dividing my attention between ‘Top Chef’ (it was a rerun and I already knew the outcome), a cartoon about a little boy who had a talking ball as a friend? I couldn’t quite make out what that was all about and then an infomercial on a new kind of bra for women (well, I suppose they must have bras for men somewhere too).  These women would come out in their robes (quite a few are generously sized women) wearing their usual bras and then were sent backstage to put on this new bra (which for the life of me I can’t remember the name of).

I like to run in a pack (I find I actually push myself harder when I’m competing) so I was ‘competing’ with the guy on the treadmill next to me (he was, of course oblivious).  I was just hoping he wasn’t going to start sprinting at a 10 because all anyone would see of me then, is me flying off the treadmill, backwards, at warp speed.  I would probably then get up and scowl at him leaving him to wonder why women are so crazy.  So, I decided to focus more on the infomercial.  Out walks the first victim… wearing her usual bra.  She opens her robe to reveal… viola! her exposed self.  Now, of course, they want to make sure that everyone can clearly see how badly her bra fits so 1/2 of her breast is hanging out beneath her bra.  I laughed out loud. Loudly.  The guy next to me was suddenly not so oblivious to my presence so I scowled at the tv.  His gaze followed mine and soon he was scowling too.

We continue to watch the infomercial, me and my new nameless, sweaty friend.  It was sort of like watching a train wreck… neither of us could tear our eyes away (all the while I knew that Tre was being sent home on Top chef and the little boy with the weird talking ball was jumping from train to train – seriously, where are this kids parents??).  They continue to parade a number of women out in their old bras (one poor women spent her life having her boobs smashed down to her belly… yikes).  Doesn’t nature do that naturally for us?  Anyway, back to the infomercial… so out comes victim #1 in her NEW bra.  I laugh out loud. Loudly.  In fact, I think I might have snort – laughed but I was listening to ‘Rage Against the Machine’ (how else do you think I can run on the treadmill??) and couldn’t hear myself.  The new bra looks a bit like an oversized, padded, sports bra.  I must admit it is nice not to see 1/2 her breast hanging out the underneath side.  But, it really reminds me of that bra episode from Seinfeld.  What was it called?  the manfro? the mangina? mankini? brobra?  I can’t remember… but, I think Seinfeld might actually own the rights to that bra.  Pound. Pound. Pound.  The bra has lost my interest… I’ll keep it in mind for when I’m 80.

At this point, I’m hoping the guy next to me is getting off the treadmill soon… I have this thing about wanting to seem a bit tougher than I am and visions of me flying backwards, off the treadmill fly through my mind.  I stop.  No reason to make him snort – laugh too.

There isn’t really a point to this blog… we aren’t going to be doing anything ‘with or without’… unless you choose to go without your bra and then, that’s all on you.  I won’t be held responsible for smashed up cars and unnecessary fondling on the bus or the fact that your breasts reach the floor before you do when you bend over.  Nope.  Wear your damn bra… seriously.

Pay Attention!

10/26/2011

I was sitting, petting my not-so-little puppy this morning and started to wonder if she gets enough love and attention.  I have been busy the past 2 weeks and don’t feel like she’s been given the attention (or training) that I promised when I got her.  I then started to think about my children.  If I felt my puppy might not be getting enough attention then certainly my children weren’t either (as I spend a great amount more time with the pup).  And, that thought led to wondering about other people in my life and how I can sometimes be self-focused.  Other thoughts then arrived along with questions.  And the realization that I frequently say, “I’m too busy” for more things than I should.

I am quite fortunate in that my friends frequently email, call or text me to see how my life is.  They leave little notes on my Facebook wall or text letting me know that they are thinking about me.  They make time for me.  But, do I make time for them?  And how often when I am with them, am I thinking about the 100 other things that I need to do?  I have one friend, in particular, who is so great about texting me to say ‘hi’, to wish me a happy Wednesday or Friday or Tuesday or whenever.  I tried to think back to when I might have done something similar for her without provocation.  I couldn’t come up with more than a few times and I would consider myself a fairly thoughtful person.  But am I really?

How many times have we told someone we’ll ‘talk to them later’ or given our children, who want nothing more than a hug, a brush off… stating that we are too busy or worse… giving them a half second hug in return, as if their own love and thoughtfulness wasn’t appreciated.  I am definitely guilty of doing this on occasion.

So, the next week (yes, starting at the middle of a week and the end for some people!) try to offer the people in your life your full attention.  Listen to or spend quality (uninterrupted, unconditional) time with your friends, your family, your little people might be trying to say to you.  Listen with patience, try and put anything else you might be dealing with, out of your mind, turn the t.v. off, step away from the computer… whatever it is for you.  It can be so difficult especially when lives seem to be overstuffed with responsibilities and activities.  When we are trying to juggle chores, meals, work, and time for ourselves, but, what you are offering someone, when you give them your full attention, is a gift that is priceless.  You are letting that person know that they are important.  That you care about them… that they mean something to you. It might be the only time in their day where they get a chance to feel this way.

Maybe I am more guilty of this than most 🙂  But, I already know what a difference this will make with the people in my own life.   As for my puppy, she’s probably ok… we often eat our meals together, sleep in the same room (omg she is a snorer!!),  and she sent me out in a foot of snow, in my pajamas, to help her find her missing bouncy ball.  Thankfully I was paying attention or I would never have known where it was  🙂

Autumn… Epic FAIL

09/21/2011

Or a fail of epic proportions… So, I stated that I was going to be giving up sugar for one week starting a few days ago.  I have this fantastic detox plan that I was going to do and share with all of you in case you wanted to participate.  However, pretty much as soon as I published the blog post stating that I was giving up sugar… I went to have 1/2 a cookie… I then went back to eat a few more 1/2 cookies.  Even as I sit here, right this very minute, my fingers are sticky with these delicious “organic energy chews” called ‘Honey Stingers’ in fruit punch flavor.  Excuse me while I grab yet another (now I’m squeezing the package to make sure it’s actually empty… sad).  It’s nearly 6 p.m. so the very last thing that I need right now is energy.

Normally, when I begin to remove sugar from my diet I will look on the package for the “Nutritional Facts” and scan down until I find “Sugars”.  I will limit the amount of sugar (that I will consume) to any one item to 5 or less grams.  Would you like to know how many grams of sugar are in these honey chews?  27!  OMG.  If I’d known that I would have had them for breakfast too… I could have really used some energy this morning.

So, sugar….honeybear, sweet cheeks, gumdrop… I think I shall abstain from using these words and stick with names like:  Beef jerky or maybe Protein shake or Filet Mignon (that sort of sounds like “filet of my own” if you slur the words a little).  Sadly, images of the Marlboro man come to mind… he was certainly a bit ‘beef jerky’.

As I’ve completely blown my low / no sugar quest so far this week, I’m going to…. (I so badly want to say, QUIT) but I don’t like to quit anything and love a good challenge.  I had no idea sugar would be such a worthy opponent 😉  Tomorrow I will try again (and tonight I’m going to eat a 5lb bag of sugar) 🙂

If you are struggling with this too, I can tell you what I have been told.  1) That quitting sugar has been likened to quitting heroin (I’ve never tried any other drug… besides sugar so I can’t verify this), 2) that if you can stop or lower your sugar intake considerably for 1 week then your cravings will diminish significantly and 3) I’m sick and tired of everything that I love to eat being bad for me. (Yes, I’m pouting)

I think I will tape together this detox form I had been working towards (I’d, in a fury, cut it up into the tiniest pieces ever  – think ‘Edward Scissorhands’)… that should give me something to do with all this “energy” that I now have.  And, then, I will stomp off to the kitchen to find something… omg… dare I say it…. green.  Gummy bears come in green don’t they?? 😉

I was working out the other day.  I like to lift weights… yes, I’m a real She-Ra.  Okay, not really… but anyway, that’s not the point here… stop looking at me!  I was in the free-weight section and it’s mostly populated by men (no, of course that’s not why I go to that area! lol) and I started looking around… and something occurred to me.  People that workout look constipated.

You think I’m joking, but, I’m not.  Next time you see someone running down the road or at your gym or wherever you go to workout, look at the expressions on people’s faces.  They look constipated (and maybe a little bit mean… but being constipated might make you feel mean… anyway).  Which is ironic because when you workout, your body releases endorphins which are supposed to make you feel happy.  So, maybe people really are constipated… I have no idea.

But then I had an idea… well, it was more like an idea for an experiment because I love to experiment.  I started smiling at people when they would look at me.  Normally, I do smile a lot and I like to smile at strangers, most of the time people will smile back, however, at the gym this is what happens:  Me:  Walking towards a constipated man.  We make eye contact.  I smile at him.  He: Stops dead in his tracks.  The constipated look falls off his face.  Which is replaced by a scowl (and beady eyes).  Me: (okay I made up the part about the beady eyes) Take 2 giant steps to the left and let Mr. Constipated pass.  Luckily, I do have a friend there that smiles nearly as much as I do (Gabe) but he’s getting paid to be there and I’m paying some crazy amount… aha! now I know why people there look constipated. 😉

Can smiling change your life?  Absolutely it can!  Now that is something to smile about for sure 🙂

Once, in one of my yoga classes… it was packed with about 60 people.  And, they looked a little grouchy too, so, I’d heard that Thich Nhat Hanh had tried this (don’t quote me on that) and decided I would like to try it too (and yes, I was a bit terrified).  All you had to do was take your hands to the sides of your body… and tickle yourself.  So, of course, at first no one laughs (and my anxiety sky rockets), then, suddenly, I see smiles and hear giggles and then laughter.  Then, the entire class was laughing (except for someone in the back who I believe truly was constipated).

So, what are some solid reasons we should smile?

1.  It will make you more attractive.  Seriously.  Haven’t you ever seen a person smiling and felt drawn to them?  You want to know why they are happy… just seeing their smile makes you smile, which brings us to,

2.  Smiling Is Contagious.  When one person smiles it can make other people smile… you can brighten a whole room.  You can be the sunshine that everyone is drawn to.  Smile.

3.  Smiling can make you look younger.  It strengthens the muscles of the face and makes you appear younger.   You will feel younger, you will have more confidence, and these are all things that help keep us looking and feeling youthful (I think 3 is a perfect age for me).

4.  Smiling can make you HAPPY.  Yep, when you are sad or mad or hurting…. maybe you feel like crying… you just smile.  And, all of a sudden you feel like smiling.  You feel happy.  It can’t be a fake smile… that will never work!  But, the muscles in your face work because your brain tells them to.  So, if you make the muscles work… then, maybe it tricks our brains into thinking we are happy.  Try this test:  Smile.  Now think of something negative without losing your smile.  It’s really hard to do!  We want to be happy 🙂  It’s natural for us (well, most of us anyway).

5.  Smiling: lowers blood pressure, releases endorphins (yeah, those same things working out is supposed to do), relieves stress, releases serotonin.  Smiling is a natural drug.  And, it stimulates your parasympathetic system (this among many many other functions, helps us to relax, slows our heartbeat… LOL… relaxes the sphincter muscles… omg… I think I peed myself.)

Your challenge this week?  Smile. Smile. Smile. 🙂

If you are really at a loss and have no idea how to smile then this article on “How To Smile” will be perfect for you:

http://www.wikihow.com/Smile

And, a warning:  Hmmm… it was a little more difficult to think of a warning that someone might need with this ‘challenge’, but, I can definitely say smiling while riding a motorcycle… big no no.  Big, bug teeth… not attractive.  Ack.  Actually, I thought of another one.  There was some cop show on at the gym and this officer had this little 2 year old… an apparent hardened criminal, in handcuffs.  I guess this little… candy burglar had snuck some candy… without paying!  Shocking.  Everything was going fine until… the kid smiled at the officer.  That’s when he actually got cuffed.  The officer said, “I knew when that kid grinned… I had to take him down hard”.  Okay, that’s not exactly what he said, but, I can’t be expected to remember everything!  And, maybe the kid was more like… 14 and maybe it was more like a smirk… 😉   The point is… don’t smile at an officer while being arrested for stealing candy! ~Toodles

Dr. Goulston once said, “I have become convinced that our skin has a memory separate from our minds – of good touch, bad touch and no touch.  There is not enough good touch in the world, and too many people walk around settling for no touch, in an effort to avoid bad touch.”

Teaching yoga has taught me quite a bit about reading people.  Sometimes when I walk over to offer a gentle adjustment to a student I can feel them pull away before I even touch them.  They are shying away from the touch and sometimes I won’t push the issue with them, but, offer spoken support instead, but, most of the time, I will continue with offering the adjustment and gentle touch.  I can usually feel this amazing amount of stress and tension initially and then, feel it melt away from them.  They realize that I’m not there to hurt them and that having the support of a teacher can be really nice.  And, a safe place to be.  I’ve even had students come up to me after class, in tears, thanking me because they haven’t been “touched” in a very long time.

We are all connected.  I can feel your stress even if you are trying very hard to hide it and I think a lot of other people can too.  Maybe you don’t realize what you are feeling is someone else’s stress… maybe the stress of another country that is suffering… but, we can and we do.

So, to counteract some of the negativity going on in the world today, I thought it might be good to work on something we all could use more of… HUGS! (I love hugs)

Health.com (http://www.health.com/health/) has a great article on hugging it out and I will include their suggestions in this blog 🙂  There is so much research on hugging and what happens and even shirts that you can buy that will simulate hugging!  I haven’t tried it myself, I’m not sure I want my shirt to be that tight.  I’d hate to get the urge to get away from the ‘hugging shirt’ in the middle of the mall.  News Flash:  “Crazy Women Strips Down to Her Bra While Stomping On Shirt Yelling ‘NO MORE HUGGING!!’.”  Yeah…..

Getting a hug from someone you care about (even a little) feels good 🙂  It releases cortisol and lowers blood pressure.  Fights anxiety and encourages happiness and a sense of calm.  So, just what can a hug or gentle touch do for you, let’s find out 🙂

Get a rubdown
Anyone who’s ever gotten a massage — even a quickie at a mall kiosk — knows that it helps you unwind. That’s not just a mental sensation: Getting massaged causes muscles to unclench, a racing heart rate to slow, heightened blood pressure to fall, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol to drop. In that relaxed state, your body is able to regroup and recharge. One happy result: a more robust immune system.
“Cortisol suppresses the immune response,” explains Roberta Lee, MD, vice chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. “Anything that increases the relaxation response triggers the restoration of your immune response.”
Recently, researchers measured immune function in healthy adults who got either a 45-minute Swedish massage or 45 minutes of lighter touch. The massaged group had substantially more white blood cells — including natural killer cells, which help the body fight viruses and other pathogens — and fewer types of inflammatory cytokines associated with autoimmune diseases.

Hug it out
The act of embracing floods our bodies with oxytocin, a “bonding hormone” that makes people feel secure and trusting toward each other, lowers cortisol levels, and reduces stress. Women who get more hugs from their partners have higher levels of oxytocin and lower blood pressure and heart rates, according to research done at the University of North Carolina.
But a hug from anyone you’re close to works, too. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison tested that when they analyzed stress levels among volunteers giving a presentation. Afterward, participants who got hugs from their moms saw decreases in cortisol levels an hour after the presentation.

Hold hands with your honey
Twining your fingers together with your one-and-only is enormously calming. James Coan, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, discovered this when he administered functional MRIs to 16 married women while telling them they might experience a mild shock.
The resulting anxiety caused the images of their brain activity to light up like Christmas trees. But when the women held hands with one of the experimenters, that stress response subsided — and when they held hands with their husbands, it really quieted down. “There was a qualitative shift in the number of regions in the brain that just weren’t reacting anymore to the threat cue,” Coan says.
Even more intriguing: When you’re in a happy relationship, clasping hands reduces stress-related activity in a brain area called the hypothalamus — which lowers the levels of cortisol coursing through your system — as well as in the part of the brain that registers pain, which actually helps keep you from feeling it as much.

Have sex
No surprise — after all, lovemaking involves total-body contact. All that skin-to-skin stroking (not to mention orgasm!) floods us with oxytocin and feel-good endorphins that do wondrous things for our emotional well-being.
Regular sex also does the physical body good, possibly even preventing us from getting sick as often. People who had sex once or twice a week had 30 percent more infection-fighting immunoglobulin A (IgA) in their saliva than those who didn’t do the deed as often, according to a study done at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Not partnered up? Solo sex counts, too: At least one study links masturbation with lower risk of depression.

Cuddle up with your pet
If you’re a pet owner, you’ve no doubt noticed you’re less tense when scratching your animal behind the ears. In fact, research shows that people’s blood pressure drops when they pet dogs, particularly if it’s a dog they know and love. Dog petting has also been shown to improve immune function and ease pain, or at least the perception of it.
“You’re focusing on the animal, not on you, so your mind isn’t able to ruminate about the pain,” explains Brad Lichtenstein, a naturopathic physician and assistant professor in the counseling and health psychology department at Bastyr University in Seattle. (Experts say snuggling with any furry pet should be just as soothing.)
So don’t resist when your pet curls up with you — spending quality time together may be just what the doctor ordered.

*And, as always a word of warning:  If you are trying to hug someone and they are beating at you furiously or dialing 911… please let go.  Let’s stick to hugging and touching people we know who we know who might even give you one back 🙂

For More on Hugging:

Psychology Today ‘The Art of Hugging’:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/debunking-myths-the-mind/201007/the-art-hugging

How To Hug:  http://www.wikihow.com/Hug

NYTimes ‘For Teenagers, Hello Means “How About a Hug”:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/28/style/28hugs.html