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

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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Revisiting the Rabbit (previously known as Daringly Doing the Rabbit)

In honor of Easter, I’m revisiting my post on the Rabbit pose from a couple of weeks ago!  I’m also working on migrating to a new blog: http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com

I’ll be posting in both blogs for the next couple of months. By the end of the summer I’ll be posting only in the Yoga Princess blog!

“Argue for your limitations and they’re yours.” ~Richard Bach

I’ve had a habit, over the past eleven months of my Bikram practice, of saying variations of the following: “I can’t do that pose.” “That pose isn’t for me.” “My body is too big to do THAT.” I’ve made these declarations to myself, to others, to my instructor………But, you wanna know a secret? Those limitations exist only in my mind. I create them. When I declare I can’t do a pose, I make that my truth.

Earlier in the week I made some statement about not liking rabbit pose. I don’t remember the exact wording, but I’m sure it had something to do with not being able to do the pose. Well, there’s some truth to that. In this present moment I can’t do the idealized version of the pose, but I can benefit from doing the pose to the best of my ability.

The question to then ask myself: how does the body benefit from rabbit? and how can I work the pose to achieve that benefit. Bikram describes Rabbit Pose as “the most radical forward-bending and spinal compression” posture in his sequence. How then do I adjust the pose to achieve that effect? I concentrate on rounding my back and on not putting too much pressure on my neck. When I started doing rabbit I’d put way too much pressure on my neck—not a good thing.

I’ve learned over time then to work at, really work at rounding my back. Each time I go into the pose I try a new little adjustment, knowing my body will tell me when it’s ready to go further. Sometimes that means I push where I’m not sure I’ll go. That allows me to discover new space. Most often I discover I can go further than I imagined. I’m learning to love and revel in the new spaces.

I’m also learning to listen to myself more and more. If I listened to everybody who ever told me someone of my size couldn’t do yoga, couldn’t do this, couldn’t do that—well then, I’d probably be dead from inactivity. Anyone of any size, any ability, any anything can do yoga. If you can breathe you can yoga.

Argue for your limitations and they’re yours. Accept your limitlessness and an unknown infinite world of possibilities awaits!!!! Which will you choose?

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http://youtu.be/LDxJKJ0gvWg

Facing Fears in Fixed Firm

It’s time to make a change. It’s time to become more of who I am. In the next couple of months I’ll be migrating over to http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com/. By the end of the summer I’ll have completed the move. Until then all my musings will be posted here and on the other blog. In this way, I’ll have time to make sure everyone who looks for me here will be able to find my new location! In the meantime, here’s a blog on my Bikram Yoga Practice!

Some of the poses in Bikram Yoga I have trouble with because of my current body shape; with others it’s my mind; and, with all poses difficulties arise from a combination of body and mind.

Fixed Firm has always stood out for me as a pose I aspire to achieve. Yet, paradoxically, I’ve also always felt I never would be able to achieve it, at least not until I had a skinnier body. But I’ve been around long enough to know that EACH AND EVERY TIME I utter the words “I’m not skinny enough to do that” or “I’m too fat to do that” it’s my brain working diligently at limiting me.

You see, my mind, left to its own devices would have me devouring sugary fatty foods to the point of emotional oblivion. My sneaky devious mind would have me believe there are so so so many things I can’t do, when the truth is just the opposite—I can do anything! I might have to work for it, but, if I put my mind to work, the possibilities are limitless.

Fixed Firm brings a whole new dimension to the mental, emotional and physical healing aspects of yoga. In addition to the struggles my body might have in fulfilling the ideal logistics of the posture, Fixed Firm drudges up the fears of the past, fears I can’t quite explain without telling you a story, a simple story.

I think I might have been 8 or 9 or some age therein. I happened to be at a gathering in Big Bear, in someone’s house. I found myself rocking back and forth in a recliner when suddenly it tipped all the way back, scaring me.  I cried out to the adults around me for help getting up, but they just laughed and told me I got into this myself, so I could figure out how to get out of it myself.

Somehow I did manage to get back up, but ever since that time I have had a fear of falling backward. I can be in the chair getting my hair done, and if the chair moves back too quickly I find myself feeling startled, and, normally, I’ll jump. I’ve been working on conquering this fear I have of falling backward, and I’ve gotten much better, but…….

When I’m in fixed firm, when I find my way to the fullest expression possible at this moment I have to fight the fear, the fear of not being able to get up, the fear of being stuck somewhere without help……it’s just fear.

Paradoxically, when my body finds its way into the pose, I also feel elation! Sheer JOY! My heart sings for my body is finding and exploring new places, and every time my body finds a new place my soul soars.

In that very real sense, fixed firm, my yoga, heals me in ways nothing else can for each time I enter the fear and fight through it to experience the joy I inch closer to my goal of self-realized love anchored on the inside.

I am pasting four pictures: the first pic is a then and now, showing 2014 and 2013; the last pic shows me doing Fixed Firm in the summer of 2013. The other two pictures, with me in the pink outfit, were taken on April 11, 2014 by Leila Brewster of Leila Brewster Photography: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leila-Brewster-Photography/117192441646596. My yoga instructor, Loren Jay Cherrstrom assisted with the poses. You can find him on Twitter @sweatwithloren.

To read more about Fixed Firm, please click on the following link:

http://www.bikramyogales.com/bikram-yoga/bikram-26-postures/20-fixed-firm-pose/

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Fixed Firm April 2014 and July 2013

Fixed Firm April 2014 and July 2013

Fixed Firm

Me in Fixed Firm April 11th, 2014

Fixed Firm 2

Loren Helping with Adjustments–Curve the Back Higher and Then Go Back Down!

Fixed Firm July 20th, 2013

Fixed Firm July 20th, 2013