Anxiety and Me

Here’s what my anxiety looks like:

  • It’s the hyped up, heart racing jittery rush of being over caffeinated. It’s as if I consumed a half dozen expressos, a couple of candy bars and few handfuls of PopRocks. My breath feels short, I’m sweating and I have a stress headache.

    I'm so disappointed...

    I’m so disappointed…

  • There is a nagging feeling I have forgotten something, something really important. It’s a “I’ve left the oven on in Patrick Stewart’s condo and it’s going to burn down if I don’t turn it off soon.” kind of feeling. (You can pick any celebrity here, or anyone from whom it would be devastating to hear the words “I’m not angry, I’m just really disappointed in you.”) The problem is, I don’t actually know what it is I have forgotten. Truth is, I haven’t forgotten anything, but that reality doesn’t change how I feel.
  • I’m distracted, irritable and frustrated. I react too quickly. I want to punch the coworker who stands to close, sneer at the woman wearing that obnoxious shade of purple and scream at basically everyone on the road at the same time I am. While this is happening, I am perfectly aware that it is all me, so I try to be nice, I try to be calm. (It isn’t easy.)
  • At the exact same time, I am fragile. I am afraid of offending or hurting someone – particularly the people I care about.
  • I have a hard time settling down. I’m thinking about everything… and nothing all at once. My brain latches onto a thought and I run it around and around in circles in my brain, gnawing at it, until the thought becomes completely abstract. It loses meaning. Then another thought pops in.
  • I rush through things I should enjoy. I can’t relax in the garden, I have to hurry through it… though I don’t know why. I go for a walk on a beautiful morning, but I don’t enjoy it. All I can think about is getting back home, even though there is no reason to hurry.

The good news is that my anxiety isn’t debilitating. I can go to work and function just fine. At most, my coworkers might notice that I am a bit more quiet and considerate. I am aware of when anxiety is getting to me, so I take special care not to say, or do, anything I will regret. However fortunate I am that I can still work and take care of what I need to, it’s still hard.

The last couple of days I have been struggling with this. I went to boxing class last night hoping that I could work some of it off. Boxing is so intense that I was hoping I could release some of this uncomfortable energy. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as I had hoped.

To start with, there is a reason why boxing is called “the sweet science.” It isn’t about just flailing away at something as hard as you can. There is a level of concentration required in how you hit. If you aren’t being deliberate, the bag will start to spin. As my instructor said, “Now you are hitting him in the back of the head… that isn’t so bad for street fighting, but it’s not allowed in boxing.” The class was a good distraction, (it’s hard to think about anything but the class,) but it didn’t give me quite what I was looking for.

The other problem was that I tired. My whole body was exhausted. I think the SUP class I took earlier in the week was harder on me than I realized. I didn’t feel as strong in the class as I usually do, and at the end I was completely exhausted – but not in that giddy “I left it all on the floor” kind of way that I usually do.

In fact, the best moment of the evening was when I was riding my bike back home from class. I was tired, but it was a beautiful night and the ride felt great. As I neared home, I decided to go an extra block and take the long way around, just for fun. I found out that the street leading to mine is one long, slow downward hill. I had this beautiful moment of sailing down the road at my top speed – wheeeee! Plus I knew that my house was at the bottom and I didn’t have to go back up! (Which is what I’m usually thinking about when I am coasting down a hill!)

So, I am just going to take care of myself this weekend and try to relax and remind myself of this quote by TS Elliot:

quote-T.-S.-Eliot

 

 

Life Changing Thoughts

For the last couple of weeks I have been trying to write a post on therapy and how that is going. It’s hard though, really hard. Talking about my physical fitness adventures is a lot more fun! It also seems a lot less private. But let’s give it a go again and see if I can get one out of the draft box and into the published space, shall we?

Bravery

I’m going to start with a revelation I had while biking. That might be easier – I like writing about biking! I wrote about taking my bike up to the cottage a couple of weekend ago. While riding, I figured out something very important. It’s completely changed how I look at my life.

Spotted on the rail trail. (Yes, that's a pun!)

Spotted on the rail trail. (Yes, that’s a pun!)

A Little Background:

The week before I went to the cottage I had read a blog post by a woman who competes in triathlons. She was struggling with the bike portion – she wasn’t enjoying riding with certain groups, but at the same time, said she was afraid to ride alone. We’re talking about serious racing and long distances, not just little neighborhood jaunts or rides in the park like I do. I empathized with her dilemma.

Fast forward to the weekend at the cottage:

I’m tooling around on my one speed cruiser and meandered my way to the ice cream parlor. I thought it was going to be a fairly decent ride, but had grossly underestimated the distance. It took me… eight minutes. I had my ice cream, but the plan had been to take a nice long ride and then get ice cream. I felt a little cheated, and not quite ready to pedal home, so instead I went over to the nearby rail trail. It was nice. It was gorgeous going through the woods, wildflowers were in bloom everywhere. At first, I saw other people pretty regularly, but the further I got, the fewer I saw. Then I heard it -

The unmistakeable sound of a gun being fired.

This rail trail goes through some pretty rural country. You are on the backsides of farms and pretty rustic homes. A gun going off isn’t really that surprising. There are hunting ranges nearby and undoubtably a fair amount of target practice going on. I was dressed brightly and I was mostly sure that no one would fire a gun towards the trail, but still, it gave me pause. If I got into a jam, there is really no one I can call. It’s not like I can call my dog and have him come pick me up, (he’s a terrible driver and I don’t let him have a cell phone.) I have the phone number of one neighbor by the cottage, but how could she even get to me? I was pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Let’s put aside the shot for a moment, what happened if I got a flat tire or hit a root and fell off my bike? What do I do?

And that is when I remembered the blog about why the triathlete doesn’t like riding alone. I thought about it as I rode. I didn’t feel particularly scared, just a little cautious, and suddenly this thought floated across my brain….

You are brave.

This is something I have been struggling with. If you have been following this blog at all you know that I am really excited about all this fitness stuff that I’ve been doing, and one of the great things about it is that it makes me feel brave. I do things now that I never would have done a few years ago. Part of the reason this has been so important to me is because I haven’t been feeling very brave. But in that moment, with that one thought, everything changed.

I thought about it all the way back to my cabin, and then was so caught up in the idea that grabbed an old notebook and went to sit on the picnic table to write and think about it some more. There are a couple of big things that happened in the last 15 years or so that really kicked the snot out of my concept of bravery. They’ve stuck with me and made me feel out of control and sad, but as I sat writing at the picnic table that night, brave things started popping up. There are things I’ve done that are brave. 

  • I flew cross the country to meet my father’s long lost cousins, on my own, barely knowing anyone. I had met one of the cousins once, for about an hour, but when she invited me to come out and stay a week with her and her family, I just got up and went.
  • I own my house (which is a rental unit, so I am a landlord,) and my cabin. I take care of both these somewhat complicated properties on my own.
  • I got married.
  • I got divorced. (Both were acts of bravery.)
  • I regularly give seminars in front of large groups of people. I fly all over the country, by myself, to teach.
  • I stepped out of the familiar and decided to lose weight for the first time ever.
  • I started lifting weights.
  • and so on…

As I wrote, more and more acts of bravery started pouring out of my head. Even things I had earlier classified as decisions made on fear, I was able to turn around and see the brave acts within them. It completely changed my perspective on my life – in particular those parts that hurt.

I also realized that I have been struggling to regain my sense of bravery, and that a lot of my work over the last year has been trying to get back into my old groove – to feel like myself again. These rail trail bike thoughts helped enormously. I’ve got some decisions to make coming up, and it is hard to choose the right path when you are hamstrung with anxiety. Recovering my sense of strength is a step on the right path.

Flooded Heart trail

Yet Another Fitness Adventure!

Guess what I tried? Stand Up Paddleboarding!

If you are wondering what we are all looking at, the instructor is in the middle giving a safety lesson. Yay paddleboards!

If you are wondering what we are all looking at, the instructor is in the middle giving a safety lesson. Yay paddleboards!

Yep, it was another adventure! My boxing/fitness studio offered the class. The owner said that in summer fewer people go to the gym, so the studio offers some speciality programs to keep people motivated. Sometimes it’s high intensity classes in the studio and sometimes it’s one-off classes like this.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. The studio emailed us about the class back in June. At that time I assumed that by late July it would be hot. You know, the way late summer usually is. However, this has been a particularly cool summer here in the Midwest. How cool? Well, that morning when I got up, it was 58 degrees. We also had a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms that night. On top of weather concerns, I had “first class” jitters. You know what I mean – those silly butterflies that say things like:

  • You are going to fall in the lake many, many times, and unlike when you fail at other things, everyone will be staring at you.
  • You do not have balance. You do not know what you are doing. Why are you taking this class?
  • You do not know how to dress for this. The email said to bring layers… but you are on a board on a lake, what does that even mean???
  • It is going to storm.
  • The lake will be cold.
  • You will fall in, then lightening will strike your head.

(Okay, maybe I wasn’t really worried about that last one.)

But you know… I had said I would go. Plus there was a nonrefundable equipment rental fee. And the thunderstorm warnings were moved until later that night. So, I packed a bag with everything I could think of (two towels, water bottle, sweatshirt, spare shoes, etc.) and after work, headed to the lake.

I didn’t need worry. Standup Paddleboards are a lot more stable than they look. In fact, the only time I got wet was carrying my board out of the water to the shore. I never fell in, and even if I had, everyone was super supportive of the folks that took a swim. As one gal said, “Once you fall in, it stops being scary. What’s going to happen? I’ll get more wet?”

This class was awesome on a number of levels. First of all, one of my goals with fitness is to try everything. I am so, so new at all this. I hated sports as a kid and for most of my life, I was not athletic. I’m still learning what I like, and what I don’t. I figure that the best way to learn that is just to try everything. That’s also why I took Pilates the other day – it’s all about new experiences.

I’m trying to be anti-fragile. Nerd Fitness has a great article about that here: Becoming Antifragile: How to Prepare Yourself for Chaos. If I am going to make fitness a way of life, I don’t want to be locked into anything. I know myself, I can become obsessed. Then, if something goes wrong, I have a tendency to drop it like a hot potato. I don’t want that to derail me. Having a huge list of things that help me keep active that I love is much better than being obsessed with just one thing.

Another great thing? I got out on a new lake! This particular lake is really close to my house, but I have never had the opportunity to get out on it. We didn’t go all that far around, but even still I got to see the lake in a whole new way. I love that.

To my surprise, I was fairly decent at it. For most of my life I’ve been the slow one, the uncoordinated one, the one who didn’t understand the rules, the one who sat on the sidelines. Being picked last for kickball – after the kid with the leg braces – can be really hard on your kiddo self esteem. As an adult, I don’t mind it as much. I’m much better at accepting that I have a higher learning curve when it comes to physical fitness than others. I spent most of my life in my head, wrapped up in books and art, this fitness thing is all new to me. I can accept that and be comfortable with the notion that I can get better with practice. However, in this SUP class, I felt like I held my own. I wasn’t in the front of the pack, but I also wasn’t in the back. I’d say, front of the middle. At the end when we held a relay race, I did my part and felt great about it (there were some who were too scared to try.)

Which brings up another thing – I did it! Like I said, I was nervous about it, but I did it. (And I would go again in a heartbeat.) All this fitness stuff has given me a confidence in myself that I’ve never had before. I always knew I could trust my brain to get me through most situations, but I have never had that kind of faith in my body. SUP requires your whole body – from toes to head – and I felt good about it.

When I called Julian after the class he answered the phone with, “Hello Adventurer!” It was the best thing he could have said.

How to Take a New Fitness Class (Being 40 Helps.)

Pilates class

Do not make any mistake, this is hard.

Last Wednesday I took a Pilates class. (…yeah, I know. I don’t know when I became this gal either!) Since Hermes is still on crate rest and we can’t go on our long walks, I’m doing all sorts of things to keep active. I had a free hour that night, but I thought it was going to rain, so all my regular activities (biking, running, hiking) went out the window. I’ve decided to purchase a three month unlimited membership to the studio where I take my boxing classes, so I checked the website for classes. My options that night were something called “Inferno” and Pilates.

Inferno (whatever that is) seemed a little intense, so I went with the Pilates class. I knew almost nothing about Pilates when I walked in. Here was the sum of my knowledge:

  • It consists of isometric and body weight exercises
  • It was super popular about 10 years ago
  • It uses props – like balls and things
  • When I met with the head trainer at the studio and told her I was looking to increase my strength, it was the first class she recommended

When I got to the class, the first thing I did was walk up to the instructor and say, “Hi! I’m LongView Hill. I’m new!” (Note: so far as I can tell, instructors love new people.) She smiled, introduced herself and asked if I was just new to this class or Pilates in general.

“Nope! Never taken a class! I know nothing!” I quipped. (This included not knowing that Pilates, like yoga is done on a mat. I didn’t have one with me. Fortunately the studio has some that I could borrow.) She handed me a ball and told me to have fun and do what I could do.

There were about 7 other gals in the room with me. I put my mat in the center of the room saying something like, “Since I’m NEW, I’ll just put my mat here in the center so I can watch all of you, okay?” There was a chorus of nervous titters.

I couldn’t actually be in the middle though, there were eight of us, but only two of them arranged their mats towards the front of the room, everyone else was in the back. I chose the best spot I could, front center with a good view of the instructor. Like everyone else, I set my mat up yoga style – short end facing the instructor.

After the first 30 seconds or so, I realized that wasn’t going to work. We were moving into Bridge positions and with my head at the back of the mat I couldn’t see what the instructor was doing. (Pilates reminds me of yoga, but with more movement.)  I needed to see what was going on, so I stopped, grabbed my mat and flipped it sideways, so I was now parallel to the instructor. Then I could mimic her movements much easier – and see simply by turning my head.

I was glad I told her that I was new, throughout the class she checked in on me, and offered a few modifications for moves I couldn’t quite do. It went really well. The class was only 45 minutes, which was good because Pilates is hard – really hard.

Anyway, after we were done and packing up, one of the younger gals from the back of the room pops up and says this was her first class. Then another one did, and another, and another… it turns out there were six brand new students in the class! No wonder they giggled nervously when I said I would watch them!

I remember being in my 20s and being unable to admit I was new at something, or that didn’t know what I was doing. I remember being in college and thinking it was weird how the older adult returning students always sat at the front of the room – and how they always asked questions (too many, in my young opinion.) Now, I am that student. And you know what? It is great! I love having the confidence to say, “I’m new, but I’m ready to learn!” It makes classes a lot more fun.

 

Photo credit: Robert Bejil on flickr

 

 

Biking Adventures

Pure summer, right here in this photo.

Pure summer, right here in this photo.

My little hound dog is on the mend. The meds the vet gave him help and he is a much perkier pooch. He’s still on restrictions though, so no walks for a couple weeks. I took him up to the cabin last weekend. There, I have a big open lot where I can put him out on a tie-out and he can get fresh air without a walk. It also has the advantage of not having any stairs to climb, so it was a good spot for recuperation.

In fact, it was good for both of us. The cabin is the perfect place to relax, but there are also a ton of options for outdoor activities. Maybe I can’t walk my dog on the trails, I can still bike them! I went out on the kayak several times a day and even went for a run one morning. Cabins aren’t all R&R though, they are still another house that needs maintaining. I spent a couple hours each day raking, picking up sticks and cleaning out the gutters. It might not be pretty, but it is definitely a work out!

Being able to take my bike up was glorious! It’s the first time I’ve been able to do that. There is a rail trail near the cabin, which is perfect for me. It’s fairly flat, which suits my one speed cruiser to a t, and as the photo suggests… it wasn’t all about fitness! There was plenty of “life by the lake” downtime as well.

I stayed through Monday, (an early morning kayak ride is the perfect way to start a week, by the way, so much better than meetings.) With some newly acquired bike time under my belt, I decided to try something else new on Tuesday – I biked to the studio! Now, the boxing studio is not that far away, I knew I could ride there. What was holding me back was traffic. I just got my bike last summer and I haven’t really ridden a bike since I was 16. I’m still getting my feet under me. There are bike lanes part of the way, which are super nice, but still, it is a little intimidating.

That is why I did my practice run at 7:00 in the morning. There was some traffic, of course, but it was early enough that it wasn’t crazy. The ride went fine. There was only one spot that I was a little unsure about – one large intersection where the bike lanes get really confusing. Fortunately, a woman many years my senior smoked passed me and flew through it ahead of me. I got to see how she handled it. Yay for older gals on fast bikes teaching this gal on her slow bike how to ride! (In retrospect it was perfectly obvious, but for a newbie like me, it was a little intimidating. That woman passed me at the perfect time, I am very grateful to her, and I am sure she has no idea.)

Now that I have done it once, I know I could ride to the studio for a class. I’d have to pack my water bottle and boxing gloves in a backpack (I don’t have a basket for the bike yet) but it seems fairly easy. It would be nice on weekends or if I decide to swing in for the 5:30AM Monday morning class (yeah, I know) to be able to peddle over. I’m looking forward to it.

What Do You Do When Your Trainer is Sick?

Hermes in his crate

This sucks.

This is my little buddy. He’s having some problems with his back and his vet has ordered him on crate rest for a few weeks: no walks, no playing, no stairs.

As you can see, he has a pretty cushy recovery pad. I’ve put a soft blanket in the bottom and another favorite blanket over the top to help him rest. He has company, his favorite stuffed rabbit is in there with him, and he even has a treat. It doesn’t matter though – he hates it. Even in this photo when he is too drugged up on pain killers to really care, he hates it.

I don’t blame him, I hate it too.

If you’ve followed my blog for awhile you know this is far from the first health problem my little guy has had.  In fact, considering some of his other issues, this is pretty minor. I’ll pamper him for awhile, give him some meds to help with pain, and we’ll get through this. But what Hermes and I love the most is to walk, and he can’t until the doc gives the okay.

I spend so much time walking Hermes that it feels wrong not to walk him. I mean, I know that this is just temporary and it has the goal of helping him heal, but walking is our way of being healthy. It’s as though someone told you the best solution for your broken leg was to eat a bunch of chocolate. In this case I know it is the right thing to do, it just feels strange.

During the week, I typically walk Hermes for roughly an hour a day. On the weekends we usually greet the morning with an hour walk and take another half hour one at night. In other words, we cover a lot of miles. Now I am going to have to do it without him. And that is the question…

Am I going to get the same amount of exercise without my pooch? I didn’t walk him this morning, since I could tell he was hurting. Instead, I did some weight lifting and worked in the garden while waiting for it to be time to go to the vet. This afternoon I walked for an hour on my lunch hour. I feel like I have today covered. But what about next week? It feels strange to think that I don’t have to get up at 6:30AM to walk. I honestly don’t know right now if I will try walking solo, take a morning bike ride, sign up for some morning classes, or just sleep in. It could be a strange couple of weeks.

Making it Work – Roof Rack Love

Guess who bought herself a new present?roof rack

This is my new roof rack. It can hold a bike and a kayak! I can’t tell you how excited I am!

Last summer a friend gave me a bike, and while I loved riding it, it was difficult to take places without a rack. I could put it in my hatchback and leave the back open, but that just didn’t seem very safe. On top of that, there are some great riding trails up by my cabin, but if I took my bike, I couldn’t take my dog. (I am not going to attempt to transport my dog in a car with an open hatch. He’d probably be fine, but I am not taking that risk.)

Likewise, I have a kayak at my cabin. However, it’s 10 feet long – it definitely won’t fit inside my car. And while I enjoy paddling around the lake by my cabin, I’ve been itching to take it elsewhere – even just down the road a half a mile to a pretty woodland inland lake.

So, I had a bike at the house I wanted to bring to the cabin and a kayak at the cabin I wanted to bring home occasionally, and this week, I made it all possible! Hooray!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my fitness goals. I’m doing a lot of things that at first glance seem pretty different: yoga, strength training, boxing, walking, running, biking, kayaking… and so on. Really, anything that catches my eye is fair game. So, what am I trying to do?

1) I’m looking to find fitness that is fun for me. I was at boxing class the other night and chatting with an older fella that always seems to be there. When I asked him how he was doing, he said, “Oh, you know… I’m unmotivated. I always feel that way before class. But, (siiiighhhhh,) I make myself get out and do it…” He was the Eeyore of boxing. I thought, “What the heck? Someone actually dreads this class? This class is awesome!” Of course I realize it isn’t for everyone, but then why come? Why not do something else?

If I am going to stay active for the next 40 – 50 years, I am going to do it by finding things that are fun for me. Even running, (which is probably my least favorite of all the stuff I do,) has benefits I love. I make it even better by running in parks and beautiful places. It may not be my forte’, but I never dread it.

2) I want to be a superhero. That is the best way I have of describing it. I want a whole bag of tricks at my disposal. I want to be strong, but also able to run. I want to be able to throw a punch, and also twirl a hoop. Actually, Steve at Nerd Fitness wrote a great post that totally fits in with how I feel: Becoming AntiFragile: How to Prepare Yourself for Chaos.

3) I’m still figuring stuff out. Up until one year ago, I would have laughed if you had told me that I’d be running or working out at fitness studio. I’m still figuring out what this new life is all about. The more things I try and say “Yes” to, the more I learn about myself. It’s a good place to be.

How to Get Better at Boxing

boxingI mentioned that I am ambivalent about hot yoga, I am not ambivalent about boxing. I love my boxing class.

This last class I had an interesting experience. It is a circuit class – they have 10 heavy bags and a maximum of 20 students. The students pair up and one takes the bag while the other does floor work. The first two times I paired up with women. The first class the instructor asked a kind woman to help me out. She would give me tips as we passed back and forth. The second time a little older gal asked if I needed a partner and I was glad to accept. I don’t think she was new, but she may have had health problems, since she did a lot of modifications on the floor work.

This time I paired up with a guy. He was fit. In fact, he looked like my idea of a boxer – powerful. He picked a much heavier bag than the ladies, which I ended up loving. A bag that doesn’t swing as easily is a lot more fun to hit. He was also a workhorse on the floor work. There were no mini breaks for this guy. Now, except for the bag choice, it shouldn’t matter who you pair up with. Even though you are “partnered” you spend the whole class with your backs to each other. One is at the bags on one side of the room, the other is on the floor facing the mirrors on the opposite side. The only time you see each other is between rounds. I say it shouldn’t matter – but it did.

When I partnered with the gal doing modifications, I took more breaks. I felt less able to complete each set. Yet, when I left that night, I knew I still had energy in the tank. I hadn’t given it my all, and isn’t that why I am there? Of course, it make sense to take breaks or do modifications if that’s what you need to do. But if I walk out of there knowing I took shortcuts when I didn’t need to, I’m just cheating myself.

When I partnered with the guy, it was different. While I couldn’t see him exactly, I could hear him pounding away at the bag. When we switched, I could sense that he kept moving through the whole round on the floor work. There were no breaks. It made me work a lot harder myself. And when we passed and he fist bumped my glove and said “way to go” I felt like a million bucks! That night when I left the studio, I was a puddle. I had given it my all – and maybe a little more.

So, I learned my lesson. When I get to class, I’m going to move to the back of the room (where the heavier bags are.) Then I am going to look for someone in better shape than I am to partner with. The harder they work, the harder I work.

Thoughts on Therapy

I saw a little guy like this in my garden the other day. It is sheer joy to watch them.

I saw a little guy like this in my garden the other day. It is sheer joy to watch them.

Therapy… I want to write about it, but I am not sure what to say. Let’s start with some basics. It took me a few calls and a fair amount of time on my insurance company’s website to find someone. I’m delighted that my insurance covered it. The last time I saw a therapist, (during my divorce,) they didn’t, and I had to pay out of pocket. It’s pretty pricey that way, worth it, but pricey.

That first time I saw a therapist, the center was in an old converted Victorian home. The waiting room was the former dining room and it still had the chandelier and an oak dining table. My therapist’s office was in the den. It had bookshelves, a fireplace, heavy, thick furniture and hunting pictures on the walls. Her big wooden desk was in a bay window that overlooked a cherry tree. In short, it was exactly what movies lead you to think a therapist’s office should look like.

This time it’s a little different. This facility feels much more like a doctor’s office, and for good reason – they offer a lot more than counseling. They do occupational and physical therapy, sleep studies, neurological testing… all sorts of things. So, their waiting room is just like any doctor’s office waiting room. Perhaps it is a little more modern, but it’s your basic “chairs and magazines” set up.

My therapist is a woman. I like her well enough. We’ve met twice now. The first time, her office was in a doctor’s exam room, except that instead of a table she had chairs. The second time she had moved offices. Now she has a suite with a big window, actual art on the walls and comfortable seating. It turns out that the first office was temporary while the other was undergoing renovations.

Does it matter? To me, yes. I’ve mentioned many times that I do freelance work. That work is in theatre. And to me, set decoration, props… they all matter. If I am seeing a therapist, I want it to feel like I am seeing a therapist, not like I am getting a physical! (I was effusive in complimenting her on her new location.)

I feel like we have gotten a good start. We talked about what I’ve been feeling and she asked some good questions. She’s given me some techniques to try when I’m feeling anxious and some things to think about.

What I am dealing with is – I feel walled in. Normally, I’m a fiercely independent and confident woman, but I feel like circumstances have got me in a rut. I think that is what is causing anxiety. The hard part is that I know the steps to take to get out of the rut, (or at least some of them) but I can’t seem to find it in myself to take them. I’m hoping she’ll help me figure out what’s holding me back.

Here’s the thing about therapy – it doesn’t “fix” you. How I think about it is this: Anxiety feels like a giant pile of rocks sitting on my chest. Therapy does not remove any of those rocks, but it does loosen them a little. And a huge pile of slightly loose rocks is a lot more manageable than a giant pile of rocks cemented together. If even one rock loosens, it feels like there is hope. There is a solution somewhere. As long as the cement holds though, it’s almost impossible to imagine change. I don’t expect my therapist to have all the answers. What I hope is that she’ll poke at a few of the “absolutes” and turn the impossibles into merely “really difficult.” Really difficult I can handle.

 

Photo credit: Kevin Cole via flickr

The Hot Yoga Report:

Cats and Cows I can do... after that things get a lot trickier.

Cats and Cows I can do… after that, things get a lot dicier. (Since none of these people look drenched, this is obviously not a hot yoga class.) 

I think I am in a rare group – I am completely ambivalent about hot yoga. It seems like there are two camps – those that love it, and those that think it is one of the levels of hell in Dante’s Inferno, (the level for those especially bendy.)

I don’t mind the heat as much as I thought I would. It’s over 95 degrees in there and they really work you. (This is not the soft-voice-pose-and-hold yoga that I took 10 years ago.) The sweat pours off you in buckets making the matt so slick it’s hard to even hold a downward facing dog without ending up on your face. When we are done, we all look like we just got out of the pool – our hair is soaked, our yoga clothes are dripping and beads of sweat cover our arms. It sounds fairly gross, but it isn’t. Everyone is in the same damp, drippy, humid boat.

Yoga is hard for me. I am definitely not bendy. For forty years I lived completely in my head, it’s only in the last year I have even attempted anything physical. I don’t know my body. What I do know is that I am stiff. I can hold a plank like anyone’s business, but when it comes to tying up in a pretzel knot, my limbs resist. The heat helps with that, of course, but there is only so much it can do. (Seriously, I struggle with siting flat on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me. As for being able to touch my toes… not happening.)

There is, however, a release in being really bad at something. The fact that my triangle looks more like an octagon doesn’t bother me. There is no competition, and if there was, I know where I’d rank. I am totally okay with that. That doesn’t mean I don’t try, I try really hard. But the beauty of being at the bottom is that there is so much room for improvement. If I can get “my sit bones a little higher” or “turn my heart in” a bit more, I’m happy.

What I love about yoga is being with my sister. We crack jokes beforehand and afterwards when she gives me a ride home. (I walk there, but there is no way Ms. Drippy Mc Dripperson is going to walk her sweaty butt home.) We text about it during the week. We’ve had 3 classes so far, and we were both sad when we realized our Groupon only had 2 more classes left on it. (We’ve already talked about finding another studio offering a beginner’s special – this place is too expensive for regular practice.)

If my sister wasn’t going with me, or I didn’t have a good deal through Groupon – would I go? Probably not. I like learning the yoga, but there are a lot of other options, even right in my neighborhood, that are more in my price range. The heat doesn’t bother me, but I’m not in love with it either. So, we’ll finish up these two next classes over the next two weeks and then see what other fitness adventure we can explore!

 

Photo credit: GoToVan on flickr