Letting the light in

Christmas morning, 2012. I’m house- and pet-sitting Mango. It’s going to be a quiet day of solitude — I accidentally left my phone at my trailer last night. So be it. Today it can wait.

My family is gathering on the 27th, when more of us are able to gather. Hospitals are open every day of the year and someone has to care for those sick people, and children of divorced parents usually split their holidays, and sometimes people move over the holidays. I am grateful to have a family to connect with at all.

Last night I attended a warm, lovely Christmas Eve potluck and jam session in a friend’s magical backyard. Sitting outside watching the waxing, near-full moon behind a big, ever-changing, cloud-studded sky, a few stars playing peekaboo, was quite enjoyable.

So much of this season is about darkness and light. It must have been a mystery to our ancestors, especially in the far northern latitudes of Europe where mine lived for so long, to observe the days growing shorter and shorter, the life-giving light and heat of the sun retreating while the cold and dark established themselves firmly. Would the sun return? Was this the end? The warmth of family and community gathering in spite of the backdrop of long, cold nights must have been especially meaningful in the face of this big cold mystery. It was to me, last night.

This must have been mysterious enough that ancient investigators began to measure changes in day length and discovered a pattern that included the winter solstice, the turning point in which the days begin to grow long again, that happened year after year. The predictability must have lent considerable order to chaos and thus been worthy of great celebrations, once they figured it out.

No wonder this time of year is celebrated by so many cultures, that the birth of God’s son was moved to this powerful time of year.

I had an urge this Christmas morning to open all the blinds at the house where I’m staying, to let as much light in as possible.

Today the skies are partly cloudy, here in Austin, TX, where winter exists but only in spurts. Today the sunshine comes and goes. The bare branches of the deciduous trees appear silhouetted against that sky.

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I’ve always appreciated winter for the way it strips away the leaves, exposing the bone structure of trees. Perhaps that’s a reason I’m drawn to giving massage — to feel through the soft tissues to the solid bone within — or to investigating and appreciating the power of the season.

The wind is blowing. The branches are waving, the remaining leaves fluttering and quivering. Hello.

I’m having a breakfast of cooked quinoa with currants, a little ghee, and honey, along with a new favorite, a delicious three-ginger tea (ginger, galangal, and turmeric from Pukka, a British purveyor of organic and Ayurvedic herbal products), a clementine and grapefruit juice. I forgot to buy special food for Christmas morning, and I’m not missing it. Oh, I’ll indulge in tamales and eggnog and sweets for a few more days and then gladly clean up my diet again. January is good for that.

Mango has been offered a bit of sockeye salmon roasted in butter, which he turned down in favor of cat treats. Go figure. Maybe we’ll sit in the sun or snuggle in a Christmas nap together later. And later I will go out, to offer chair massage to the staff at the hospital where my daughter is working, then off to another potluck and jam session with friends.

I enjoy the connections and celebrations of the season, but the most special part of this holiday to me is waking up knowing it’s Christmas, knowing it’s a holy day, a special day unlike any other, and feeling the joy of that.

Even without a gift given or received, without the feasting, without the camaraderie of my beloved family and friends, without church, music, lights, and all the traditions of the season, it’s truly just a day to be awake and to marvel in this big mystery, to be filled with gratitude and wonder for this amazing life.

As is every day!

Looking back on a year full of changes

This past year held a lot of change for me. The previous year, 2010, was a year of sitting in meditation daily, and I very nearly accomplished that. It was a year of contemplation, exploring my identity, waking up, and getting clear.

The changes in 2011 helped my external life — how I live in the world — match up better with how my energy and identity had changed after all that meditation.

Changes to the blog

This blog had gotten 5,000 views in January and is ending the year with nearly 27,000. Readership really accelerated. I felt like I hit my stride in the second year, and I want to keep getting better. I currently have 156 followers, which includes WordPress and email subscribers as well as Twitter followers.

I redesigned and renamed the blog (from The Zafu Report) at the beginning of 2011 and stuck with the same template, albeit changing the photo often, for the entire year. I broadened the topics from mostly posting about meditation and yoga to posting about wellness and aliveness. I began including posts about healthy eating and reviews of movies that I’ve found inspiring and expansive.

My intent for 2012 is to be more personal in my writing. I noticed that those are the posts that get the most views, likes, and comments, not the reposts. I will still share the juicy information I come across, but I’ll also tell you why it’s meaningful to me. I’d love to have more comments from you.

Selling my house and moving into a trailer

My house was on the market in January 2011, and I closed and moved out in late February. I immediately bought the vintage Spartan Carousel that I’d had my eye on online for months. I put household stuff in storage (what remained after paring down) and moved in with dear friends until I could get the trailer here.

I found my trailer park in March.

First, I waited to get a title from the state of Washington, and then I waited for flood waters to recede so the trailer could be loaded on a trailer and hauled here. That finally happened in June. We got it set up, repaired, installed cork flooring and an HVAC unit, and I moved in in August. A friend donated a washer and dryer, and I got them set up in my shed in October.

Trailer life is good! I am enjoying living here a lot, and it’s great to have a paid-for, portable, recycled, streamlined, vintage home. I’ve had friends do two house blessings here, and I’ve done some landscaping. I’ve seen deer and a fox in the park, as well as lots of birds. My neighbors have been very unobtrusive.

The only sad part is that my cat, Mango, did not adapt well to trailer park life, and he went back to live with my former roommates, who love him, and we all have joint custody. I see him every week, and he still loves me.

It’s also been a bit of an adjustment, moving from the center of the city to the edge. I do more driving. I listen to music and NLP CDs a lot now while I drive.

My intent for 2012 is to install more window coverings, have a deck built, and get a chimenea and some bird-feeders for viewing pleasure. I look forward to doing more landscaping and gardening. I’ll see what my budget allows in terms of further improvements.

Teaching and studying yoga

I taught restorative yoga weekly through July at an acupuncture clinic. Although the class size was small, that teaching experience was invaluable. I worked with private students and substituted at a lunchtime yoga class — the one I took when I was working — and taught a restorative class in a studio for Free Day of Yoga. Did restorative yoga by invitation on a friend’s moving day.

I did two workshops in 2011 with nationally known teachers, Shiva Rea in January and Judith Hanson Lasater in February. In the summer, I began taking classes from Anusara teachers and later picked up a sweaty vinyasa flow class for a more challenging workout. I love working with accomplished teachers — I’m there to learn more about teaching as well as about yoga.

I’m signed up to take Yoga Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff in January 2012.  I’d love to combine my love of yoga with my love of massage to work on yogis and help prevent and heal yoga injuries.

Practicing changework

I started this year serving as an assistant for NLP master practitioner training by Tom Best of Best Resources/Texas Institute of NLP. That ended in April. I served as program director for the Austin NLP meet-up for a few months and later co-taught an NLP class to women in prison. I attended Metaphors of Money, a workshop with Charles Faulkner, in the fall.

I offered NLP changework sessions this past year, and some of my clients had some wonderful outcomes, reaching major milestones and fulfilling long-time dreams. The sessions played a role in their success, which is pleasing, of course, and my clients already had a lot of resources when I worked with them. It was fun.

I attended two weekend sessions with Byron Katie in which she demonstrated The Work. I use her method of inquiry on myself often and with clients.

I did a lot of reading and personal experimentation with two healing practices, the trauma releasing exercises of David Berceli and shaking medicine taught by Bradford Keeney. Each has tremendous value.

I practiced the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) every day in January as I waited for my house to sell and found it helped keep me calm and centered. I’ve since taught it to others.

Going to massage school

In April, I learned about hands-on healing from giving it, and that steered me toward massage school rather than acupuncture school (although never say never). I began studying at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School in late June (the same day my trailer arrived!) and finished my academic work in early December. I’m currently working in the student clinic, gaining the required 50 hours of internship to get my license.

Meanwhile, I’ve worked on about 30 friends and family members and about 25 of my fellow students.

Besides my regular classes, I took a workshop on cranio-sacral therapy. I’ve gotten massages from my teachers as a way of learning, and I’ve been fortunate enough to trade Swedish massage for lomi lomi and reflexology sessions. The learning will always continue.

Once I’m licensed, probably in February, I’ll officially start my practice, although I’ve been doing bodywork/changework sessions for gratis for several months.

Continuing my own healing

I continued to do acupuncture with Patrice Sullivan and did my usual spring and fall cleanses, which I’ve posted about before. This year I finally cleared my liver and gallbladder of stones!

I continued receiving applied kinesiology sessions from Chandler Collins and hands-on bodywork sessions from Bo Boatwright to free up even  more health into my body and life.

I began working with Fran Bell, who gave my walk a makeover. I had been walking as if I was still injured long after my injuries had healed. Sometimes it takes help to change habitual patterns. Now when I walk, my body feels good and has energy.

Also in the past year, I resumed my practice of ecstatic dance, which I fell in love with in 1995. My ecstatic dancing was on hiatus for the past three or so years. My body craved yoga and more silence, stillness, and solitude. It’s good to be back. I feel like I’ve found a good community, Ecstatic Dance of Austin.

In May I had the initial assessment for brainwave optimization, and in June I did 10 sessions with NeuroBeginnings. The benefits continue to show up for months afterward. I feel more centered, myself, and content. I imagine 2012 will bring even more health and healing into my life.

Working 

I started the year jobless, living on my savings. When I realized I had no idea how long it might take to sell my house, I decided to do contract technical writing. The day I posted my resume, I was contacted by a recruiter. I worked at 3M for 3 months.

I’ve done some freelance work writing and editing website copy.

I’m holding a space for a part-time job in 2012 for financial security while I get my practice established.

Spiritual direction

In the spring, I joined my friend Thomas in watching a group of Tibetan monks destroy a sand painting they had constructed painstakingly and then walk in procession to release the sand into Lady Bird Lake. Very moving, a reminder of impermanence.

On the fall equinox, I realized that I felt as if I had finally fully arrived, or one might say, as if I fully occupied myself, as though I became fully present. Gratified. It’s hard to know that is even a goal until you experience it.

I joined a book group in the fall, studying the 4th way Gurdjieffian path as taught by E.J. Gold. I plan to continue with that in 2012.

I also began dating someone this fall after four years of not dating. I don’t know the future, but it totally feels very sweet and lovely to be in a relationship at this time with this man!!

My second Saturn return occurred in December. My astrologer said that for Aquarians like me, rather than age, I “youth”. So far, so good!

So that wraps up 2011, the year of big changes. I don’t do resolutions, but I check in with my intentions, many of which I’ve shared here.

Wishing you all many blessings in 2012.

A changework and bodywork session

One evening this past week, I received a special honor. I got to do changework and bodywork with someone who has done changework and bodywork with me. I’m not going to provide any identifying information out of respect for her privacy. Think of this as a case study: it really happened, but you will never be able to tell whose experience it was, and in any case, it doesn’t really matter.

I’m writing this session up to illustrate what I am offering in my private practice: changework combined with bodywork.

Most everyone is at least familiar with what bodywork and massage are. Changework is less known. You can think of it as a kind of coaching, with applications for managing stress, becoming more relaxed, changing your stories, shelving beliefs that no longer apply, clarifying, removing obstacles, getting unstuck, achieving goals, knowing yourself, expanding, transforming emotions, and more.

I have some training and experience I can draw on, but mostly I listen to understand and offer support for a client to explore and find movement toward resolution. Sometimes just being really listened to makes a huge difference. Sometimes a client just needs another point of view. Sometimes a question or two can open up a whole new direction. Sometimes a technique can help.

When a positive shift has occurred, we move into the bodywork part of a session — to literally embody the change.

My client had overdone it with some physical activity and then made a ducking, twisting movement — and her back started spasming. After several days, the spasms were entirely gone and she went back to work…and they returned. She understood then that the spasms were probably tied to something else.

She had already done significant work on this before we met. She examined what had been happening emotionally before the injury occurred — especially in regard to work, because the spasms resumed when she went back to work.

She had been feeling irritated about some of her clients not taking care of themselves despite all she had put into their sessions. (This experience is pretty universal among health care providers.) She was just being with this awareness, not knowing what she was going to do about it, when she overdid it and started having back spasms. She put resolving this issue on hold.

Once she identified the unresolved issue, bringing it into the light, she made some changes in her work, and a deeper level of healing began.

She was still feeling like more exploration was needed when she came to me.

I asked how I could help, and she said maybe we could do a little tapping — EFT, the Emotional Freedom Technique. I shared with her a version I like, and she tapped away as we talked.

With EFT, you identify what you are feeling. Behind the irritability, she recognized that she felt sad about not being able to help.

I asked if she could really know that she wasn’t helping these clients, and she said no.

Sometimes people have to step in the hole again (or a thousand times; see Groundhog Day, one of my favorite movies) before they walk around it.

When someone finally makes a decision (or the decision makes itself) to walk around the hole, changing has become more attractive than not changing. Her clients’ experiences of her own healthy vibrancy, her work, and her commitment to well-being are of course part of the force-field that makes changing to healthier habits more attractive. It just might take them awhile to really be ready, though.

On her own, she came up with an inspiring course to take — if some of her clients are choosing the shadow over the light, and she’s resisting them doing that, then maybe now is a great time for her to examine her own shadow side.

Brilliant. Perfect for the season, too, as the nights get longer.

Then she got on the table, and I gave her a deep massage, which she had not previously experienced. She loved 9 points (TLC people, if you’re reading this, you’ll know what I mean). I reached some back muscle tenderness and melted into it.

She blissed out on the table, and I finished working on her, and we talked a little more, and she slipped away into the night — until we meet again.

Being blessed

I feel a little guilty for not posting much recently. All is well! I am loving my life in so many ways, let me begin to count them.

I love being a massage therapy student, learning, practicing, integrating. I’m friends with several massage therapists and bodyworkers. It is so cool to hang out and talk shop with them now!

It’s wonderful to work on my friends, too. Even when I’m massaging them along with a video, I thank them for their patience, because every time I practice, I integrate more. My hands are becoming antennas!

Today it occurred to me that my trailer is like a really fun playhouse for a grownup. I didn’t have a playhouse when I was a little girl, and I’m enjoying the heck out of living in this trailer. My visitors yesterday, Katie and her dad, Don, noticed that it is just my size, and it does feel spacious enough to me at 5′ 1″ tall. Living here makes me smile. 

I’m still working on window covering decisions/installation and the sliding glass door/front deck entrance. I’m also testing 5 kinds of weatherstripping before settling on the best and longest-lasting. That’ll be a weekend chore to get done before the first cold front.

I was looking online today at chimeneas, imagining how awesome will it be, when it gets cold, to sit in my living room and watch a fire burning in a chimenea on my deck without the mess of having firewood, ash, or smoke inside. Looking forward to that fire trance…

The kale, chard, and collards I planted in September have grown large enough to start eating. The two inches of rain in Austin a couple of weekends ago was awesome. Plants love rainwater so much more than tap water.

There’s a mockingbird who lives near me who sings his heart out every day. I’m training my cat Mango to be an inside cat because he doesn’t behave well sometimes when I let him out. The monarchs are passing through.

I spent time last week updating my resume and making sure the same version appears on STCaustin.com, monster.com, LinkedIn, and so on. In other words, I got serious about sending a clear, consistent message out. The next morning, I got a call from a recruiter about a part-time technical writing job (very rare) at a really good company. I interviewed first (first or last are the best slots). By no means do I have the job, but it’s incredibly heartening to put my intent out there and get such a positive result so promptly. This has happened before. It’s almost scary.

I danced this morning at Ecstatic Dance of Austin. After several years of being away from dance, earlier this year I discovered this new group, whose energy feels clean, spacious, and not overshadowed by personalities competing for dominance. I feel that the bodywork, energy work, and awareness work I’ve been doing really shows up when I dance for over an hour with presence, pleasure, and skill.

My friend and fellow dancer Lakshmi Jackman says:

There is a shortcut to ecstasy. It’s called dancing.

Amen, sister!

I am feeling so grateful, lucky, and blessed to be connecting with some awesome people. New friends, old friends, family. People are showing me their awesomeness all the time now. Stunning, amazing awesomeness!

Is it because I’m in school learning how to do work I love?

Is it because the world is my mirror, and my happiness is being reflected back to me?

Is it because I’m finally getting the hang of managing my own life with skill?

Have I become more powerful than I believe I am?

I don’t know, but I am definitely feeling in love with my life.

Dare I wish for a couple of private yoga students? I love teaching, especially beginners, and miss it.

So that’s the news from Lake … hmm. Lake Well-Being. Thanks for reading. Blessings to you too.

Livin’ in the suburbs, drivin’ a rental

My posting has been infrequent lately because (1) I’m working full-time on a three-month technical writing contract and (2) I just moved after selling my home of 10 years.

I thought I got rid of a lot of stuff when I got the house ready to list back in November, but when it came time to pack and move all but some basic necessities into a storage unit, I discovered that I still have way too much stuff. Gonna need another weeding when I move into my trailer.

Moving has been disorienting. I lost my little red Canon camera some time between Saturday afternoon, when I had someone take a photo of Judith Lasater and me (she created restorative yoga, would have loved to put that on my yoga page) and Wednesday morning, when I wanted to photograph some spectacular clouds and discovered my camera was not in my purse.

I’ve contacted Yoga Yoga and looked under the car seats and in the most obvious places. It will probably show up at some point. (Apparently the police found my laptop that was stolen in December! Will get that back next week!)

I also can’t find a box with my supplements in it. I take most of the supplements recommended in the book Buddha’s Brain. I’m glad I posted about them, because I may need to go buy replacements, and that book is deep in a box in storage.

Yesterday I completely forgot the PIN for my debit card. Proof that nourishing those neurotransmitters makes a tangible difference!

Adding to my feelings of disorientation and insecurity, I’ve been having car problems since Dec. 23. I took it back to the shop twice for problems; then when it overheated, I took it to a different shop, and that shop discovered it had a blown head gasket, which none of the previous shops had discovered.

I’m ready for my car to be fixed completely! And I hear myself whining and know that I created this. Well, maybe not all of it, but I wanted a change. And here I am. Livin’ in the suburbs, drivin’ a rental, camera-less and supplement-less. Oh well!

A couple of positive notes: Mango handled the move really well. This was our first move together. I bought him a top-loading cat carrier — much easier to get him into it. I moved him with the last load, and he meowed most of the way. He’s been super affectionate and hasn’t even tried to go outside yet.

And…he’s been behaving in a frisky manner! Running and jumping up on furniture with a goofy look on his face! I think he likes this place — a big house with three people to give him attention.

The other note: Saturday, in the midst of moving, I took a restorative yoga workshop with Judith Lasater, who created restorative yoga. I’m so glad I  did. I’ll post about that separately.

Anyway, here I am living in Wells Branch with Katie and Keith and Mango, while I work on this contract job and purchase, get transported, and set up my next home, a vintage trailer. Stay tuned for more adventures!

Welcome to the Chronic Stress and Trauma Recovery Challenge!

Good morning! It’s a lovely 18 degrees F. here in Austin, TX, with rolling blackouts occurring around the state as I write this due to the extreme demand for electricity. My old house is chill, and I’m lucky to be bi-powered, with gas and electricity.

If you don’t have the book, The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process: Transcend Your Toughest Times, or the video, or if you’re completely lost about this work,check out these videos on YouTube:

  • Trauma & Tension Releasing Exercises, 1:37. This silent video first shows a captured polar bear trembling to release shock and stress from its body, and then it shows several people doing the same in a deliberately induced process (because we humans have mostly forgotten how to do this). You can get a sense from seeing the variety of ways that people tremble, shake, and rock that there’s not a “right way” to do it. Your body finds its own way to release stress and trauma, and that can look a bit different from person to person. If your body does something else, just surrender (but please keep yourself safe.)
  • Trauma Releasing Exercises, 3:58. This video shows a group of women at a workshop testifying about their experience, as well as some bits showing them doing the exercises. If you haven’t done them before, check out what the trembling can look like. Really clears out energy blocks in the lower chakras!
  • There are also a series of six videos, interviews with David Berceli, author of the book above, who developed these exercises. I haven’t seen them all yet.

I’m getting out my book and turning to page 144. Here goes!

Ahh. I stopped after 30 minutes so I could finish this post before my chiropractor appointment. Had a sense I could have gone for 5 more minutes.

Noticings:

  • I have been holding off on doing these, noticing stress in my body and wanting to really be ready to do these exercises for this challenge!
  • The floor was cold, even on a yoga mat, so I spread yoga blankets on it.
  • I do Version B of Exercises 2 and 3. What do you do?
  • I have to do Exercise 2 longer to feel stress in my calf. But then I can squat with flat feet, so my calves are pretty stretched out. Do you find that you need to do more of any exercise to feel the stress in your muscles?
  • I believe that Exercise 6 is really the tough core of the process. Today the trembling started just before I went into the third minute. I hung in there for five minutes! (I wonder if you were in a hurry and just did this one exercise, would your legs begin trembling? I will probably check that out at some point!)
  • Exercise 7 is the release! Whee! Today, mostly my legs trembled, but my hands shook at times as well, and when the trembling stopped, my body began to rock. I alternated, trembling and rocking, for 15 minutes.
  • My cat Mango curled up next to my side while I was on the floor trembling. Cats are very sensitive to good energy! Thank you, Mango!

All in all, today was a good start.

If anyone reading this in Austin, TX, is interested in doing these with me, please get in touch. I’d love to teach you or do these with you. If enough people are interested, I will look for a place to teach these for free or very low cost.

Meanwhile, until Feb. 26, there’s my house!

Since I’m doing these on even-numbered days in February, until Friday! (It may be an everything-closed-because-of-snow-and-ice day here in Austin, Texas!)

Day 18: The Work, moving with Mango, T-Mobile

Last night I saw a demonstration of Byron Katie doing The Work, which is basically a set of four questions designed to help people move away from the suffering of  the ego and toward openness of life as it is.

I am grateful for the opportunity to witness a master at work, in person.

She worked with two people last night. The first was a man who had driven 12 hours with his younger son because he believed his older son was no good and was destroying the family. He blamed his high blood pressure and other health issues on all the trouble this son had caused.

Yet from the inquiry process, we learn that although this son moved out right before high school graduation, he graduated with honors. We hear that he tells people with no idea it would get back to his dad how great his upbringing was. He kisses his father on the head when his father extends his hand for a shake. This young man is responsible — he works and takes care of his bride.

So this father underwent a transformation, understanding that his thinking distorted reality. He had a fine son. It was him who needed to respect himself and respect his son. That’s the turnaround.

The other demo subject was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). She felt afraid and panicky sometimes. Byron Katie just laughed and said, “Haven’t we all? Isn’t life a terminal illness?” She proceeded to illustrate that even being paralyzed and unable to move a muscle, it’s still thoughts that make one unhappy.

I’m looking forward to more today — from 10 to 5.

~~~

I’m grateful to Val at dinner last night for giving me some advice about moving Mango, my cat. He’s accustomed to this neighborhood and the cats on my block. The move will take him from what he knows, except for me and some of my stuff. His world is small and personal. He doesn’t have the internet or a cell phone to stay in touch with his friend Stinky next door (even though they fight).

I’ll need to keep him inside for a while after I move, so he’ll be safe and secure, and I can start now getting him used to being in and sleeping in the cat carrier.

~~~

I am grateful to T-Mobile for letting me change my cell phone plan and apply it retroactively. Because of all the calls from realtors and calls about work and in general an increase in call volume since I have not been working, I had gone way over my allotment of minutes. Snapped to when I saw how much had been drafted from my checking account to auto-pay the bill…

I found it very kind and flexible of them to allow me to switch to a plan with more minutes and to make the change retroactive for this billing period. I was facing a bill of over $400! Now it will be more like $60.

Thank you, T-Mobile.

Day 10: Tim Ferriss and The 4-Hour Body. I love teaching yoga. YES!

The three things I’m grateful for today (day 10 of 21) are: Tim Ferriss, teaching yoga, and the word YES.

If you don’t know Tim Ferriss, you should. He wrote a groundbreaking book called The 4-Hour Work Week, which was a huge bestseller. He shared how people can get out of the rat race of working long hours for someone else and find a new lifestyle where the work is mostly remote and delegated.

Tim chose to travel, learn tango, compete in martial arts contests, and write a bestseller after setting up a health supplement company that practically ran on autopilot, which allowed him the time and income to do those things.

I haven’t followed his formula, but it inspired me to come up with a business idea that I could do anywhere I have access to a phone for a few hours a day, with fairly low start-up costs. I may do it yet, so it’s a secret!

What I love about Tim is his plain ol’ brashness. He’s incredibly curious and likes to find out for himself. He’s a pioneer, an explorer, an adventurer, a seeker, a finder, and a sharer. He’s got the energy of a barrel of laughing monkeys. What’s not to like?

He blogs about his experiments in lifestyle design, too.

Tim is back with a new book, The 4-Hour Body. I’ve just started reading it, and I can tell you now, I will learn a lot from it. With access to doctors, scientists, elite athletes, and state-of-the-art measuring equipment for his own personal experimentation, Tim has hacked the secrets to losing weight, gaining muscle, sleeping well, increasing testosterone and sperm count, running faster, reversing “permanent” injuries, and having 15-minute orgasms. So the cover says, anyway!

He shows you how to make tiny changes, starting from where you are now, that are the most effective changes. His key question is:

For all things physical, what are the tiniest changes that produce the biggest results?

(No wonder this appeals to me: It’s a Maximizer strategy. See my earlier post about finding your strengths.)

I love key questions and will blog about them in the future.

I peeked ahead to see how to lose 20 lbs in 30 days. His formula is:

  • Avoid “white” carbohydrates (or anything that can be white).
  • Eat the same few meals over and over again.
  • Don’t drink calories.
  • Don’t eat fruit.
  • Take one day off per week and go nuts.

And then he gives the fine points.

(Can’t wait until he hacks enlightenment in his next book, The 4-Hour Brain. You listening, Tim?)

Another thing I’m grateful for is that I finally took yoga teacher training and am teaching yoga. It is so gratifying to help motivated people find their way into yoga. Whether they are beginners who want one-on-one personal attention and instruction as they learn, or just want to unwind from stress and experience some deep relaxation, I’m enjoying teaching.

At present, I have one class on Sunday evenings, a restorative class in Oak Hill, and I have a private student who comes to my home after work one evening each week. (Bonus: My cat Mango curled up on top of her during savasana this week! He knows where the good juicy energy is.)

I’d like to teach more. My rates are very reasonable. Private classes are $25 an hour now, and group classes are $10 for 60 minutes, $15 for 90 minutes. If you want a trial session, call me.

You can read more on my Yoga offerings page on this blog.

I am grateful for the word YES. I’ve been getting some very nice YESes in my life lately. Two offers on my house this week, one of which I am getting ready to say YES to — and some folks who were looking at it last night loved it too. Affirmation!

Oh, and according to Patrice,

No is just another way of saying Yes.

So basically, it’s all Yes!

On the third day of gratitude…health, a car wreck, and the best novel ever

I am grateful for my health. I know that is a “typical” thing to be grateful for, and that people often compare themselves to those who are having serious health struggles, so they feel grateful and somewhat guilty.

I like comparing present to past in my own life, since health struggles are inevitable, seeing that we are all mortal. It’s more useful.

In my past I’ve neglected my health terribly and suffered from it. Smoking, drinking, eating crappy processed stale food, shorting myself on sleep, being stressed for prolonged periods of time, not exercising, being depressed or resentful or numb.

Mostly that was due to my own ignorance about how to improve and maintain my health.

I lacked awareness that what holds us in life are chemicals and electricity operating within a narrow bandwidth, and when our bodymindheartspirit systems go outside that bandwidth, life fails and we die.

To be truly healthy means attending to and nourishing our bodies with the food we eat and the water we drink, using our bodies with physical activity, and letting our emotions become trusted messengers doing their jobs, helping us make decisions and connect with others and fulfill our destinies, no more and no less.

I woke up this morning feeling really great. My bodymindheartspirit feels flexible, fierce, capable, loving, playful, and resilient. I loved on Mango, my cat, who has been feeling a little under the weather the last few days, keeping quietly to himself. He loved receiving a long, gentle massage. My health overflows, and I am grateful.

I am grateful for a car wreck that I had in 1996 that changed my life. I know it seems like an odd thing to say, and I wasn’t grateful for a long time afterwards. I felt like a victim (and technically, I was driving completely appropriately, hit by someone who was driving inappropriately, speeding, drinking, and passing on the right as I made a right turn, who left the scene, never to be held accountable by law or insurance — luckily I had uninsured motorist coverage). I had to give that up to God and focus on my recovery. God has taken care of it.

In hindsight, what that car wreck did for me was set me on the path to health. I had to set some new boundaries based on my limitations. I started seeking relief from the damage to my body, which outside of a few stitches on my head, was soft tissue damage — my musculo-skeletal system was seriously out of whack, stretched this way and that by the impacts.

Healing has taken years and money, and in the process I’ve learned of other long-standing health issues and worked through them.

I got serious about doing yoga. I experienced chiropractic of several kinds, myofascial release work, and so much more. I got a fabulous first-hand education, and now I am moving in the direction of becoming a healer myself.

Today I also feel grateful for Michael Malone, whom I have never met, but whose novel Handling Sin is the most entertaining novel-reading experience I’ve ever had. Thanks to Cate Radebaugh for recommending it. I trust your discernment about fiction, Cate!

I tell you, this guy is a born storyteller who has crafted a fabulous tale about the responsible misfit in a large Southern family from the small town of Thermopylae, NC, accompanying him on an incredibly improbable and hilarious roadtrip, meeting colorful characters that will make you laugh and weep (in fact, one character, a tiny aged Jewish career criminal, is named Weeper Berg) as you and the hero recognize truths about human nature.

Michael Malone has me in the palm of his hand, and I’m grateful for everything it took for this book to be written and published and get into my hands.

Gratitude, day one: Mango, my house, the Internet

Today I start the 21 days of gratitude challenge by writing three things I’m grateful for and why.

Here goes.

Today I feel grateful for Mango, my cat. I feel grateful for him for many reasons. First, he was a neighborhood cat who adopted me — a pet in search of an owner. He began coming over to my house to be petted when I was outside, and I’d give him massages, which he loved. He was so adorable, seeming to ask permission before he jumped into my lap, that I began feeding him and later took him to the vet, sealing the deal. He is a true gentleman of a cat with very good people skills, and I appreciate that very much.

At this time in my life, I am the only human being in my household, and Mango is the first other being I encounter in the mornings and the last I see at night. I miss him when he decides to spend the night outside. He loves snuggling — next to me in bed, on my belly when I’m lying on the sofa reading a book — and he often curls up next to me when I’m writing. He’s family — a true familiar in the old sense of the word — and a cherished companion.

Today I feel grateful for my house. I am not working outside my home much these days, so I spend a lot of time here at home, soaking in the ambiance, while I wait for it to sell.

I appreciate the feeling of spaciousness since I decluttered it. It is a major luxury in my life to have so much space to myself, 1130 square feet, to be exact, with 9.5 foot ceilings. I appreciate the long Victorian windows letting in the winter light and giving me views of bare branches and gray clouds and the moon, the hardwood floors, the symmetries of the rooms.

Today I feel grateful for the Internet. It provides me with a way of connecting with so many people (the 4,299 views of my blog, 405 Facebook friends, 64 followers on Twitter), an outlet for my thoughts and questions and experiments and yearnings, and access to unbelievable realms of information, all available at my fingertips.

It is an amazing web of interconnectivity. Having grown up long before it was developed, I see how it has changed people and society. We are so much more connected now, for better or worse. And I can do so much more on the fly — find an address instead of needing a large paper map, for just one example.

And I need to do that right now — look up an address and go there! Bye till tomorrow!