Without My Father

Father’s Day 2014: my first Father’s Day without my dad. It’s more than just Father’s Day though. I remember Father’s Day 2013 like it was yesterday. I woke up and took a quick shower before heading over to my parents’ house, a mere 4 miles away.

I arrived to find my father in his bed, where he’d been for almost two days. He’d fallen on the Friday before Father’s Day and we’d taken him to the local Urgent Care, but they didn’t diagnose him correctly. They fixed up the massive scrapes on his arm. My mom had called me on Friday afternoon to say they were on the way to Urgent Care, so I ended up meeting them there.

Somehow I think I knew even then. When he left Urgent Care that day I had to help him get into his truck. He couldn’t bend his leg, so I had to gingerly help him somehow maneuver his leg so the door could shut.

I followed my mom and dad home and helped him into the house. I don’t remember too much after that. At some point I went home, knowing but not knowing.

The next day I spent some time with him and then went to a party. Yes, this un party animal actually went to a party. I’m rather shy so I didn’t say too much to anybody at the party, and at some point I went outside and that’s when my phone rang. My mom told me my dad couldn’t get out of bed but they wanted to wait until Sunday morning (Father’s Day) to call 911. To this day, I don’t know how I drove home that night. I know I didn’t sleep much.

When I arrived at my parents’ house, no one had called 911, so that duty fell to me. I had never called 911 before. I don’t remember much of what I said. I’m just grateful that the firemen and paramedics treated my dad with such kind dignity and humor. They arrived at the house in no time and had him to the hospital fairly quickly.

Once there reality began to sink in. It turns out my father broke his back and his knee when he fell two days prior. My heart stopped when I heard that. Grief welled up inside of me like I’d never felt before. I tried to hide it from him, but I really couldn’t. I thought he’d die that day. Surgery wasn’t an option because of his heart. He’d had a massive heart attack 12 years prior and also suffered from Parkinson’s.

I thought he would die that day, and that terrified me. I spent as much time as I could that day sitting by his bedside. At one point he turned to me and said “I’m sorry I’m keeping you from your plans.” I looked at him and spoke from my heart “I wouldn’t be anywhere else.” And I wouldn’t have made any other choice. That day, one year ago, belonged to me and my dad.

He didn’t die that day. He lived almost two more months. They ended up sending him to rehab with a back brace to try and heal him that way. In so many ways the summer of 2013 proved to be the most hauntingly sad and sublime summer of my life. I still cherish and am so grateful that I had so many moments just watching my dad breathe in rehab. I think I spent almost every night there, just sitting with him, watching him breathe, somehow knowing how precious those moments would be.

I loved him so much and I still do. I carry him in my heart always.

I survived that summer because I had found and discovered my new passion: Bikram Yoga. I never skipped a beat. I took care of myself so I could be there for him. I spent a lot of time telling him about my yoga, about the people I met, about the drive to the Marina. He loved hearing about my life, and I loved telling him about it.

I miss him more than I can express here, and I’ve been crying the whole time I’ve been writing this, but I don’t wish for him to be back. His time had come. He was ready. More than ready.

I’ll be okay. For him and for myself. He loved seeing me happy, so I’m going to spend Father’s Day 2014 working on my own happiness. I’ll go hiking in the morning to the spot where I released his ashes. I’ll spend as much time there as I need and then I’ll go and do some of the things that I used to do with him, things that made me happy, things that will bring me smiles through any tears that form. In this way I’ll be spending this Father’s Day with him too.

Love you Dad!  I carry you in my heart always! 

The Last Picture Taken of Me and My Dad: 

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Changes!

Greetings Friends and Blog Followers! 

I am making the switch to my new blog sooner than anticipated. You will now find all new blog entries at 

http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com

You can also find me on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaYogaPrincess

Thank you for continuing to join me on my journey! 

Nancy aka Yoga Princess

Adventures in Juicing

Please note that as of the end of summer 2014, I will be moving my blog to the following link (until that time all blog posts will be duplicated in both locations): http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com

Yoga isn’t just about being in the hot room, not for me anyways. I’m always searching for ways to improve my health, to eat cleaner. For my birthday in April my mom bought me a juicer, an Omega 8005 to be exact. It arrived on my doorstep before my birthday, but stayed within the confines of its box for a month. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t open it, but I didn’t, until one day in May…….

I decided the time had come. Probably because I started to tire of spending $8 or more on a bottle of fresh pressed juice. Most people would probably look up recipes online or buy a book, but not me! Whole Foods sells a beet juice that tastes out of this world to me. Something about the combo of flavors hits every taste bud, so I looked at the ingredients and did my best to imitate it.

Kale, beets, carrots and green apple: those ingredients comprised my first juicing experiment. I didn’t really know how much to include, so I guesstimated. A couple of medium sized beets, a couple of carrots, one green apple, and a handful of kale.  It equaled absolute yumminess!!!!

I’ve also been craving ginger A LOT, so I decided to add some ginger the next time I made juice and WOW!!!  Just the perfect zing. By the way, a little ginger goes a long way.

I did peel the beets before juicing. Juicing is work, but I’m worth it, and I’d rather do this kind of work than the kind of work it takes to get better when one falls ill.

This past Sunday my mom came over to have her first juice from my juicer. The first question out of her mouth was “will this make me f*rt and sh*t all day?” I love my mom.  The answer to her question is no. But there’s more to this discussion. Since I started juicing about a week ago, I’ve had on average one juice a day and I have experienced side effects—clean side effects. Pardon anyone’s sensibilities, but since I started juicing my movements (if you know what I mean) have been super clean and easy. You can tell so much about health through poop.

That Sunday I also had a hankering to try orange ginger juice, so I made my mom and I a small orange ginger cocktail (no alcohol involved) and it proved to be tasty too!

I’ve heard some people complain that they gained weight when juicing. Well, that may be true, but I imagine it depends on what one consumes overall. How much are you drinking? How much are you consuming? I’m learning to listen to my body. It tells me when I’ve had enough. it’s not always an easy task, but I’m getting there. Sometimes when I’m hungry, it’s more about needing water. Juicing won’t make me gain weight. Emotional dependency on food and relying on its false gratification will.

Oh and cleaning up the juicer=super easy as well. As quick as fast food? Probably not. But the real problem with fast food is that once it enters your body it takes a loooooooonnnnnggggg time to leave it.

I’m looking forward to continuing to play with my juicer and seeing what health adventures it takes me on. Find your health. Find what works for you. Find what your body wants and feed it.

If you have any favorite juicing recipes, please share them! I’d love to hear them!

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Reflections on One Year of Bikram Yoga

Please note that as of the end of summer 2014, I will be moving my blog to the following link (until that time all blog posts will be duplicated in both locations): http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com

365 Days. 278 Classes. 25,020 Minutes. 417 Hours. Once I did 4 classes in one day. Once I did 57 classes in 29 days.

April 29th, 2013: at approximately 7:10a.m. I walked into Bikram Yoga Marina Del Rey for the first time. In the time I’d done yoga, I never imagined myself going to Bikram. Doing yoga in 105 degree rooms with high humidity—that’s crazy making; that’s insane; that would kill me.  Well that’s what I always thought, but earlier in April I had a conversation with someone important to me. I was not at a good point in my life. So much emotional chaos surrounded me, including, but not limited to, my father’s decline. I needed some help. I needed a way to clear my head.

My friend suggested I hang out more with my friend MK.  She had a good sense of a healthy lifestyle and body image, he said.  I wasted no time in texting MK and telling her she had a new job—hanging out more with me!  She readily accepted (probably didn’t realize exactly what she was getting into;-)). The first thing she suggested was Bikram Yoga. I still thought the idea of hot yoga was a bit nutty, but I felt desperate at the time. We set a date, but when I didn’t hear from  her for a few days, I thought maybe she’d forgotten.  As it turns out she hadn’t, and I heard from her the night before.

When I arrived that morning, 6:45a.m. for a 7:30a.m. class, MK wasn’t there yet, so I waited in the parking lot until 7:10. When she still hadn’t arrived, I went in alone. I never would have done this in the past, but somehow I felt driven. I also wanted to make sure I got a spot in the back of the room. I wanted to hide as much as possible. She finally did arrive at 7:17a.m. and thought I had backed out because she didn’t see me in the parking lot. Ha!  I fooled her and myself by taking that first step.

That first day I felt nervous for several reasons: first and foremost, based on previous experiences, I had an inkling I’d be judged for my size, by the instructor, by my fellow practitioners, but, strangely enough, the instructor—I don’t recall his name (just kidding!!!!)—Loren Jay Cherrstrom didn’t really give me a second glance. I thought that was pretty odd!  Why wasn’t I being judged? Surely he’d be surprised someone my size wanted to practice that hot yoga! But, nope.  No judgment. Not from him. Not from others on that day.

I don’t remember much about the actual class itself. I didn’t die. I know that! I think I managed to do most of the postures. Who knows what my poses looked like, but I had to start somewhere! I do clearly recall the yoga stoned feeling I experienced after that first class. I floated on such a high. I felt giddy with life.

It’s that very feeling that instilled in me the desire to go back by myself later that week. I started out going twice a week and quickly graduated to three times a week. Then one day in June I decided to try a double. I figured if I’m already at the studio why not stay? I not only survived, but I thrived doing a double, so I made them my new habit. Three days a week I do doubles. Nowadays, I only do singles when I have a friend in town and when I’m on the road.

So much of my life has changed this past year. I’ve learned so much about myself. I know I wouldn’t have survived the death of my father without my practice. I don’t mean to imply I would have died, but on days I would have just fallen apart in despair I found the strength to get to yoga. I made the effort to go to class the day after he died. If I hadn’t gone I would have wallowed in despair. I don’t mean that I denied my grief. I’ve never done that. I wanted to work through it. I still am working through it. My yoga helps me work through it.

I’ve become a much stronger person, which is saying something because I’ve never really been a weakling. I’ve become more confident. About a month and a half into my practice, I decided to move from my safety net in the back corner to the front of the room and that’s where you’ll find me most of the time. Front and Center. I’m pretty sure the front of the room is supposed to be for seasoned practitioners, but I almost always make the effort to do my best, so I figure that counts for something!

When I started doing Bikram, I dressed to hide my body. I soon realized the insane blasphemy of this sartorial attitude. It’s pretty hot in there!  So, really, the fewer items of clothing you wear the better! Sometime in July, I found the courage to start practicing in bike shorts and a sports bra. I started to really look at my body and not judge it. And I’d always judged it prior to that. Fat. Lumpy. Unattractive. Negative adjectives you’ve all likely heard before. I saw myself the way ignorant others had seen me.

Not too long after practicing in my new attire, I discovered a new appreciation for being able to see how my body, how my muscles, how my bones moved in the poses. I had a clearer discernment for adjusting alignment. My body has become more toned. I’m much stronger in my core than I ever used to be.

But it wasn’t just in the yoga room that I changed. The yoga room really serves as the catalyst for appreciating who I really am, finding out who I really am. I’m learning to have a deeper appreciation for Nancy. I’m learning to listen to my soul. I’m learning that when things and people and situations don’t feel right, my body won’t tolerate them because my soul wants to find a way to thrive.

And that’s what this blog, my new website, my Facebook page, and YouTube channel are really about—finding positive ways for my soul to thrive. I want to share my journey with others, so that they too can see that Yoga really is for EVERY BODY TYPE. I’m very open with my practice with my emotional journey. This year of Bikram has given me that strength. It will give you that strength too, if you give it a chance. And if it doesn’t work for you, that’s okay too. Find your passion. The Bikram is my passion. It continues to give me undreamed of gifts, gifts I work for.

There’s so much more to my Bikram history, my emotional growth. That will come in future blog entries. Thank you for listening and being a part of this experience with me. The support I continue to receive gives me strength in ways I can’t explain.

 

Namaste!

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Standing Up to Standing Bow

Please note that as of the end of summer 2014, I will be moving my blog to the following link (until that time all blog posts will be duplicated in both locations): http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog about my struggles with Standing Bow https://confessionsofahawaiianprincess.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/strength-through-vulnerability-nancy-does-standing-bow/

Today I share with you my evolving thoughts about the posture. On April 11th Leila Brewster of Leila Brewster Photography http://www.leilabrewsterphotography.com took photos of me doing yoga poses. She captured perfectly how I’m aiming to work on my Standing Bow. The series of pictures, located on my website:  http://www.confessionsofayogaprincess.com/#!standingbow/c12ob show how my instructor helps me into the pose. You can see how Loren helps me grab my foot and then reach the full extent of the posture.

When I’m in the class, he does things differently. Loren helps me grab my foot. Then it’s up to me to find my balance. Some days I have it. Some days I don’t. Some days I have the strength to attempt the full expression of the pose. Some days I don’t.

When I struggle for balance, there’s almost always one key factor that leads me to lose my balance: I stop breathing. It’s as though my body, or my mind, feels as though I can more easily retain balance if I stop breathing. I have no idea how I developed that logic, but somehow I did. I’m finding it difficult to retrain my self, retrain my thinking. What is it about the fighting for balance that makes me want to hold my breath?

Thinking about that question makes me wonder if I hold my breath through all of life’s uneasy situations.  I don’t mean this literally, of course. But inaction could, in a way be akin to holding my breath. When there is something I need to say to someone, but I’m not sure what or how to say it I put it off, sometimes. Not as much as I used to. Is there a small decision I want to make but I don’t? I’ve been a people pleaser all my life. It’s only been recently that I’ve been making choices for me, so there are literally times where I’ll think about whether or not people will be upset when I make choices just for me. I have to let go of that.

Struggling for balance, fighting for breath in Standing Bow teaches me that. I have to live in the now for me, and if people really love me they’ll be happy with whatever choice I make.

See? Yoga isn’t just about yoga. Yoga really is life. Love. Self-love.

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Limitless (Un)Defined

I’m in the process of moving my blog to http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com/

Until the process is complete, end of summer 2014, I’ll be posting duplicate entries in both blogs.

I am limitless. You are limitless. I spend a lot of time thinking about limitlessness and what it means to be limitless.

I often push my limits physically and am surprised by the results. This past Wednesday I challenged myself in a new way. I went to a spinning class before my usual double Bikram session. I’ve done spinning before at my local 24 Hour Fitness, but I’d never been to a place that specializes in spinning (Soul Cycle).

From the get go I knew this experience would be different. My yoga instructor speaks quite highly of the spinning instructor, MB, so I rightly figured the workout would be challenging, and I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge.

I’m kind of all over the place with this blog entry, but here’s the deal: I sweated from pores I didn’t know I had in that class. The pores on my scalp and forehead cried tears of sweat into my eyes. Parts of my nether regions spoke to me in ways I’d never heard before. My mind and emotions raged out of control, bringing up depths of “stuff” I’d rather not have felt, but I didn’t stop moving my legs—not once did I stop.

I made every effort to keep up with the movements. I had trouble pulsing my torso as my legs spun round and round but I made the best effort I could. Imagine doing wall push-ups while furiously cycling and you’ll have an inkling of my experience. When it came time to bring out the weights I could have feigned exhaustion and not reached for them, but I didn’t. I grabbed my weights and kept up as best I could.

By the time the class ended my body dripped with sweat. I felt a certain numbing bliss. I also felt strange uncomfortable emotions brewing. On her bio MB says “exercise is therapy” and she’s right. Loren’s also said many times “yoga heals” and he’s right too. Our bodies, my body teaches me so much about the type of person I want to be, the type of person my soul longs to be.

But I’m not at the part about limitlessness yet. After the spin class I went and nourished my body with some juice before my double Bikram classes. When the day began I didn’t know how I’d make it through a spin class and two Bikram classes, but I’m also the woman who once did four Bikram classes in one day.

I surprised myself that night by the lessons the physical exertion taught me. As I neared the end of the first Bikram class I gave up on the final twisting pose and Loren asked me if the problem was in the body or the head, and I told him the truth (‘cause I can’t, and wouldn’t  lie to him)—my head, so he said get up and do the pose. And I did.

That moment, along with the second Bikram class that night taught me some valuable lessons about limitlessness, my limitlessness. When I decided to sit out that pose, my mind wanted to limit me. My mind said, “you’re too sweaty, too slippery, too tired for that pose. That pose doesn’t matter. Just rest.” My body had the ability to work, to attempt the pose.

I realized in that moment that my mind really works diligently at limiting my actions, in the sweat room and outside the sweat room. Sure, there are times when I need to sit out a pose, but I know when I do that I really need to check in with myself and see if it’s my mind or my body.

The same holds true outside the room. I spend too much time thinking, overthinking and that’s my mind limiting my joy. How can I be joyful if I’m not in the moment? I know me well enough to know that if I’m thinking I’m not in the moment.

I experienced so many profound realizations about myself on Wednesday. I can do anything if I push my mind out of the way. That includes the art of just being. I need to make a greater effort just to be.

I owe so much of my recent transformations to time I spend in the hot room, and so many of those transformations can’t be seen, for they aren’t physical. I used to have the hardest time just speaking my mind about the simplest of things and now when some situation doesn’t feel right to me my body and soul speak to me and give the courage to speak my mind. I hold my self back much less than I used to. I express my self more, even when it’s difficult. I’m learning I can do absolutely anything.

It may not always be easy, but these days it’s always better because I’m learning the art of being me, of being with me and of being okay with me, and that’s something I can’t put a price tag on.

I’m limitless. So are you. To believe otherwise is to let the madness of the ego-mind win. I’m not going to let my mind win anymore. Don’t let yours win either!

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This IS Love

I’m in the process of moving my blog to http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com/

Until the process is complete, end of summer 2014, I’ll be posting duplicate entries in both blogs.

Driving home from an Easter morning with friends, I found myself craving potato chips for dinner. Ruffles potato chips. Full-fat potato chips. Potato chips I could dip into some onion soup dip mix.  I imagined myself sitting on my lovely red couch with a bag of chips and a container of dip while watching some tv. There’s not much on tv these days, so have no idea what I’d watch, but it really wouldn’t matter because I’d have my potato chips.

The morning had started off well enough. I’d dressed in my pretty and springy size 20 Ralph Lauren dress. I’d put on just a smidge of make-up. I looked pretty. Then I arrived at my destination and started to feel overwhelmed with sadness. I couldn’t stop crying.  I can’t explain it.  Maybe I can actually.

It’s my first Easter without my dad. My mom went to Arizona to see her sister. I have dear friends in my life who love me, but somehow, without my dad, I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. I’m not sure that’s rational or makes sense, but that’s how I feel. Without my dad, I don’t have my anchor.

I don’t mean to imply my relationship with dad was perfect—it wasn’t, but we bonded and healed and loved during those last months of his life. I couldn’t have written a better fairy tale ending. Nor do I wish to imply I want him back. His time had come.  The night before he died he said “I wish I’d have a heart attack and it would just be over.”

I think I’m digressing here, but I wanted to explain that part of my story. It might sound like an extreme metaphor, but I feel like a ship floating at sea, searching for a safe harbor to drop anchor.

Potato chips=a safe harbor, but not one I want to drop anchor in anymore.

It’s not potato chips I really want. It’s love. It’s the love that comes from inside. The love of self. The love that doesn’t depend on others. That’s the real treasure—and it doesn’t come from a bag of Ruffles. But dang it, driving home that’s what my monkey mind wanted to go buy! I even tried to manipulate myself into saying I could just go buy a small bag at the store. It would have two servings likely, but I’d still consume the whole bag!  That’s at least 400-500 calories! And empty ones at that!

The conversation in my head lasted forever. Finally, I told myself “go home. Take a nap. If you still feel like potato chips, then you can go get some.” That trick usually works because once I’m home I rarely want to go out again.  I also worked at turning the dialogue around. I talked to myself about all the effort I place into my Bikram practice, to my fitness efforts. If I eat the potato chips it’ll affect my efforts in the “hot” room. One bad eating moment also leads to another bad eating moment.

This is the dialogue. This is the self-talk it took to get me to the point where I’d decide I could love myself with healthy food. After I rested for a bit, I made myself a bowl of blackberries, sliced strawberries, and bananas. Then I drizzled some chocolate balsamic vinegar over the top.  I also sliced some raw cheddar cheese and made myself a cup of tea.

I wish I could tell you I felt happy now. I don’t, but I do feel so immensely grateful that I avoided the potato chips. I’d like to think I’d feel happy if simple things didn’t feel like such battles. But I won this battle, which means I’m geared up to win the next one.

That matters. I have goals. Dreams. Aspirations. Big aspirations. I have utmost faith that I will achieve them, one battle at a time. And along the way I’ll keep learning that loving myself in the small ways, means I’ll love myself in all the ways that matter. Ways that have nothing to do with potato chips.

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