Jul 31, 2012

New business, New blog!

Hey Everyone!  Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted here, and there have been a great many changes in my life.  I'm embarking on a new career teaching alignment to people, so I've got a new page that includes a new blog.  I'd love to see you over at www.livealigned.ca!

Feb 17, 2012

Every decision is different, so you can't always make the same choice. duh.

A few weeks ago I applied for a really cool  FREE 6 day business training program and got accepted!  It was awesome.  I had to write up this huge application, and then I went in for an interview where I had to give a 10 minute presentation about my business idea (opening a holistic/preventative health clinic).  I worked hard at it and enjoyed the process, but the whole time I was feeling really reticent about it.  I didn't actually think I'd get accepted, since my idea is still in it's early stages, but I guess I did a good enough job in the interview so it *seemed* like I had my shit together.

When I got the email early this week telling me I had been accepted for the first 3 days of training, I wasn't happy.  My first thought was "crap.  Now I have to do this."  That's not a good sign!!  I was thinking about how much driving and sitting in traffic I'd have to do.  Plus my mother is visiting on one of the days, so I'd have to miss a day of training, which basically ruins it.  I'd be concerned about how Myriam would deal without me for 3 days in a row.  I'd have to bring my pump and keep slipping away so that I wouldn't end up bursting out of my bra at the end of the day. 

None of this really felt like a problem to me, they were just minor inconveniences. What did feel like a problem was the fact that I was not ready to pursue this idea yet.  I'm excited about it, but right now my mind is focused on learning school material, writing seminars, and generally just thinking about working on my little one person business.  Having to plan for a business that will hire 6 people within 3 years is kind of out of my range of thought at the moment.  And I would feel really bad about taking a spot away from someone who's ready for training like this. 

I'm really thinking about long term plans, how to set myself up with a career for the rest of my life, where I can grow my business, how I can add new services, etc. but, as I've mentioned before, I...move...at....a........glacial......pace.  When it comes to making changes in my life, it's almost always been slow and steady, with lots of planning and testing the waters before I jump in.  Actually, if you've ever been swimming with me, you'd know that that's how I get into real water as well.  I'm not kidding, it takes me half an hour to get in.

I spent 2 days feeling lucky that I had such a great opportunity for learning, but feeling stressed about it and not actually wanting to go.  So I asked myself "hey asshole, if you really don't feel like doing this, why are you?"  I wondered why I was doing something on account of feeling like I should rather than becuase I actually wanted to.  I don't act on default.  I hate doing something for any other reason than because I really want to do it.  I called in backup in the form of my ever supportive spouse, and my ever supportive mother, and they totally agreed with me (that's what back up does, right? Backs you up?)  So I said shag it; I emailed them, apologized, and cancelled my business training. 

My motto for this year has been "If not now, then when?" (I got it off a friend's facebook status on New Year's day. clever, yes?)  The phrase has some kind of majical effect on me, and motivates me like nothing else.  So when I have to make a decision lately, I've just been going for everything, asking myself "well, if you don't do it now, when are you going to do it?".  It's helped me to make some really big decisions and I feel great about the choices I've made.  It's hard to draw the line though, and realise that sometimes I do have to step back and put something off.  With regards to the business training, I ask "if not now, then when?""  And I answer "Um, when I'm ready duh."  Then I hit myself for saying duh, because my other motto is "hit anyone that still says duh".  And my other motto is "only losers clap by themselves".  Then I high five myself for knowing how to be so smooth.

The point is, every decision has to be weighed on its own.  Just because you're feeling like a real go getter at a moment in time doesn't mean you have to try to go get everything at once.  Focus your efforts where they will benefit you the most.  Right now, focusing my efforts to go to the supermarket will benefit me the most, since there's nothing left in the house to eat besides wrinkled potatoes, lentils, and hoisin sauce....so, I'm off!!

Nov 15, 2011

If you think you know more than evolution, you're an idiot.

Has anyone ever heard the saying "the more I learn, the less I know" ?  That's just how I feel lately.  The incredible things that I've been learning over the past few years are showing me the fantastic intricacies of life, and the amazing interconnectedness of it all, all of which we're just beginning to understand.  I am ceaselessly astonished at how one factor can affect the whole of a being and have impact on a myriad of things that you would never EVER be able to guess without science.

I'll start small, so I don't blow your mind.  The direction in which you point your foot while it is weight bearing affects the height (or even the existence of) the arch in your foot.  But get this, the way you rotate your THIGH while weight bearing affects your arch too!  As soon as you straighten your feet, and then roll your knees outward, POP!  Up come your arches, which you thought you didn't have.

Here's another one.  You must know that the length of your hamstrings affects the angle of your pelvis.  Having short hamstrings makes you stand like a shitting dog.  Attractive, yes?  By stretching your hamstrings, you can tilt your pelvis back to where it's supposed to be, regaining a butt and a lumbar curve, and reducing back pain.  When I started stretching my hamstrings though, it reduced the pain in my neck.  The shortened muscles of my calves was hurting my NECK.  Madness.

Here's a crazy one.  The way a baby feeds literally determines the chemical make up of your breast milk, so allowing a baby to feed however and whenever they want means they are controlling their diet.  Not just the amount of milk made, but the amount of fat, water and protein they take in at each feed.  Lactating breasts respond to cues like fullness, length of time the baby spends on the breast, and the spacing between feedings.   That means that using any other method of feeding besides direct mouth to breast takes away the baby's ability to get exactly what they need. (No judgement, just stating fact here, friends!)

 I love those studies that go on about the dangers of sleeping with your baby.  Oh wait, did I say love?  Cause I meant hate.  Infant mother sleep interaction is fascinating.  A mother who is breastfeeding her baby has hormones to keep her alert enough to not roll over her baby.  Not only that, she'll wake up at the same time as the baby (not being woken by the baby, just waking simultaneously).  Not only that, she'll wake up if the baby has stopped breathing for longer than normal.  Not only that, the mother's breath on the baby's face literally teaches the baby how to breathe during a transition at 3 months, during which time babies are especially prone to SIDS.  Not only that, but when a mother and baby sleep in close proximity to one another, their EEG readouts will be almost the same as they drift into and out of different sleep stages at the same time.  That means their brains synchronize DURING SLEEP.  WTF!?  Anyone else totally amazed??

The tightness of your hands is related to how effectively you are able to breathe (how much oxygen you can take in). Skin to skin contact regulates a newborn's blood sugar!  Breasts heat up and cool down according to the baby's temperature that's resting upon them, to keep the baby at the perfect temperature.  Bending a certain way in the middle of your spine (thrusting your ribs outward) can literally give you cardiovascular disease.  Chewing your food mixes it with saliva, which starts the digestion process in your mouth, but it also keeps your teeth from falling out (given that it's something tough like raw food or something which puts pressure on the bones which causes them to regenerate).  Carrying your baby as opposed to using a sling or a stroller reduces the incidence of osteoporosis later in life.  Need I say more?  No seriously, somebody stop me before i start up on diet and health.  My head is gonna explode.

Please know that I'm not writing all this stuff to make anybody feel bad about the choices they've made in life, I'm not writing this to pass judgement or to boss everyone around like a stupid jerk.  No one needs to justify themselves to me! I'm just saying we must be aware that evolution always has something specific in mind, nothing is without rhyme or reason, and all things are connected in life.  The way you spend your time, the food you put in your mouth, the way you parent your children, all these things have an optimal approach that was perfected over millions of years.  Your choices now can affect something way down the road that you don't even know exists yet.  The point I'm trying to make is that we are ancient bodies living in modern times, and to make it into the future, it wouldn't hurt to think and act like our ancestors sometimes.

Nov 14, 2011

For my alignment friends!

Today I'm going to post about something a little different.  If you've been following my blog, you know I've begun a new alignment program and am slowly working toward becoming certified as a restorative exercise specialist.  I want to document my journey and do some posts about alignment, but I don't want to start a new blog just yet.  So, for now, I'll be doing the odd alignment post here on this blog.  I was going to do a video blog, but I'm too shy right now to put up the video I did, so I'll stick to writing for another little while. :) Without further adieu, here's my first official alignment post.

Starting out in this program is very overwhelming at first.  The further in I get, the more out of shape I realize I am!  At first I was all, "i have tight hamstrings.  I just have to stretch those a little and I'll be fine".  NOPE.  There is a lot that has to be fixed in this frame, more than just my tight hams. 

The first three things I've decided to work the hardest on while watching the lectures and dvds are:

1.) Hamstrings.  Biggest problem.  I can't get close to my toes unless I'm bent at both the hips AND the knees.  I can't do half the exercises on the dvds because I literally cannot untuck my pelvis unless I'm not bending at all at the hips, or bending a lot at the knees.  So yea, obviously that's the first thing that has to change.  It feels horrible at first, getting into a stretch, but I'm slowly getting used to it and working hard on increasing my stretching time.  Ideally I'd like to be doing it every hour or two, for several minutes at a time.  It is a totally realistic goal, but I keep forgetting to do it.  My favorite move for this one is the double calf stretch (either with or without the half dome, it kills me either way) because it allows me to kill 2 birds with one stone during my stretching, and work my second major trouble spot which is...

This is Katy Bowman, the creator of the course.  Check her out at www.katysays.com.

2.)  Hands.  Really?  Hands?  Yup.  Years of screen printing and typing and being a general claw fingered freak has left me unable to put my hands flat on the floor when I'm on my hands and knees.  Seriously, for years I've been just balling up my hands and using my knuckles to bear my weight because it hurts so much.  But no more!  I'm trying to get my fingers straight as fast as possible.  Last night was the first time I ever experienced straight fingers with my hands relaxed after stretching them for around 20 minutes.  It was divine.  I can't wait to do it again.  The crappy thing about being a claw hand is that it also means my wrists are terribly weak and mal-aligned (that's a word, right?).  I think if I stayed on my path of shittiness, my wrists would have been the first thing in my body to fail me.  So I stretch my fingers individually, as well as all at once with my fingers linked, palms out, arms straight.  When I do my double calf stretch it is the perfect opportunity to practise having straight fingers without putting too much weight on my wrists, which aren't flexible enough or strong enough at the moment to support me for long.

3.)  Pectoral muscles.  This will surprise those of you who aren't in the program, but the reason people's shoulder blades stick out in the back is because the muscles on the front of your chest are too tight.  When the muscles shorten, it causes you to compensate with your back, collapsing in the center and sticking your shoulder blades out so that your shoulders can look straight.  In fact, your shoulder blades should lie flat on your back, not stick out at odd angles.

Here's me.  Tucked pelvis, hyperkyphosis, and epic scapulae.

Considering I look like a pterodactyl, that's not good news for me.  I've been doing lots of floor angels, and just trying to generally be aware of the position of my shoulders.  It seems to be coming along quickly, and I'm happy for that. 

So that's it for my first alignment post.  Not incredibly interesting or informative, I know. It's just a post to document what my freaky body is doing at the moment, and what I'm starting off with to fix it.  Now I'm off to do my double calf stretch. 

Nov 3, 2011

Goal Digging.

I've really had my head stuck in the clouds for the past couple of weeks.  I'm daydreaming about the time that I'll be working as a restorative exercise specialist, helping people get their bodies back in alignment.  I've been picturing the layout of a clinic I'd like to open, I've been making notes for seminars I want to do.  I've set lots of goals over the years, both short and long term, and I'm at it again.  To help myself, and you as well, I've made a short list of 3 helpful handy hints when it comes to setting goals, or as I like to call it, "Goal Digging".

Tip number 1:  Dont' be afraid to take your time and look as far down the road as you'd like.

A wise man once said "He goin' make into a Benz out of that Datson.  He got that ambition baby, look in his eyes.  This week he moppin' floors, next week it's tha fries", and truly those are inspiring words we can all live by.  It's not about where you are now, it's about working toward your goals step by step. You're not going to reach your goal over night (unless your goal is eating an entire extra large pizza in one sitting.  In which case, shut the blinds so no one can see what a freak you are).  You've got a long life ahead of you, (unless you're eating extra large pizzas every day) so it's fine to take your time to really work hard to reach the goal you've set.  Take the clinic I want to open.  I only just started the first part of my alignment course.  I still have to master 17 DVDs worth of exercises, know them by heart, what they're for, who can do them, what the modifications are for those with injuries, etc.  Then I have to go down south to either Washington or California to get certified.  After that I'll have to work for a while to build up clients and money to open the clinic.  Plus Myriam will have to be in school because I can't take care of her and run a business like that full time...the point is, it's a long, LONG way off.  But that does not stop me from setting my goal, and taking baby steps toward it each and every day.

Tip number 2:  Don't let your life NOW get in the way of your life LATER.

This can apply to so many things!  Remember when you were 10 and you had to have a new bike because the one you were riding was grey and not a cool color and hurt your nether regions every time you landed a sweet jump?  Did you let your life (unemployed, broke, still in school) stop you from achieving your goals?  No!  You worked hard every day, always making time to bug the shit out of your parents to get you a new bike, and you succeeded!  Good job asshole, now your parents are going to be late with their mortgage payment this month, but you achieved your goal and that's what matters.

Maybe you'd like to train to be a graphic designer so you don't have to work at Tim Horton's when you're 40, but you have a 2 year old preventing you from going back to school full time.  Don't let that little brat stop you!  Think about going back part time, or if that's not an option, start doing some self learning (buying books, researching on the interwebs) so that you'll be really prepared when your crappy kid is finally in Kindergarten.  Go back to the first tip of not being afraid to make your goal a long term one.  Slowing down is ok, but you don't have to give up on your dreams just because you have an obstacle in your life right now.

Tip number 3:  Change the way you think about working toward a goal.

I'm sure we've all heard the old adage "Life is about the journey" or whatever it is they say, but it is true.  Don't discount the path you take from point A to point B.  I know it's going to take me several years to reach some of my goals (like getting a diamond studded golden grill for my teeth) but that doesn't mean I'm in limbo until I get there.  Use your time wisely in a way that makes you happy now and propels you ever closer to your goal.  If you go back to handy tip 2, and make sure you're not making excuses for not working toward your goal, hopefully you won't ever feel like you're just waiting around for all your magical dreams to come true.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to stretch my hamstrings.  My goal is to be able to touch my toes in 7 years, but I have to work on it now if I ever want that to happen.

Oct 24, 2011

What's my motivation?

I got a really neat email this morning from a girl developing an app to help people with weight loss.  I won't go too much into it, since it's her idea and I'm sure she doesn't want any of you filthy pirates robbing it, but in essence, it makes weight loss a fun game.  The idea is that some people are more motivated by a high score than they are by their current health and longevity.  I think the idea is great.  The concept of discovering what motivates people, and then channeling that to help them reach their goals.

So it got me to thinking about motivation in general, and what motivates people to do what they do.  Everyone knows you're supposed to eat plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, and that Pepsi melts nails (construction, not finger), that aspartame gives monkeys brain damage, etc. etc. but lots of people still eat crap, and don't make any effort to improve.  On the other hand, some people are right on the ball with their health.  I have a friend who actually only eats raw food.  EVER.  She is very motivated to take care of herself.  What about smokers?  That smoking causes cancer and other horrible diseases (like the dreaded "yellow finger") is common knowledge at this point.  So, are smokers motivated to smoke, or are they just not motivated to quit?

There seems to be an ebb and flow to motivation as well.  Personally, I find it really hard to get my motivation up and keep it there (it's called MD, "motivational dysfunction" hehe).  I guess that's why I have about 7 unfinished crochet projects scattered around the house, and I have a place mat scotch taped behind my sink for the DIY back splash I was planning on making, and why lettuce always goes bad in my fridge (no motivation to make a salad).

There are many different reasons to do things.  Money, appearance, fear, to gain something, to prevent something.  It seems to me, however, that the most effective motivator is passion (pronounced "PASHon", Antonio Banderas style).  If what I'm trying to do is a random passing idea, and isn't a manifestation of everything that I love in life, a way to realize all my hopes and dreams, chances are it isn't going to get done.  So, since a kitchen back splash doesn't give me goose bumps, keep me up at night, make me emotional because I feel so happy when I think about it, it looks like I'll be re-sticking the tape on that place mat for months, maybe even years to come. 

Luckily for me, I've actually found something that does make me feel like that, and it's probably not what you think it's gonna be.  You all think that I'm really into art, and I am, but not the way that I'm into...science.  I have enrolled in a program about full body alignment, and it's the most sciency thing I've ever done.  I'm learning about blood physics, skeletal mechanics, thoracic this and cervical that. I'm learning why wearing high heel shoes makes you lose bladder function.  I'm learning why poor posture leads to cardiovascular disease.  And yes, I do get emotional from time to time during lectures explaining all this jibber jabber.  After all my going on and on about what path to I'm on, what direction I'm supposed to take in life, it seems that I have found it.  I've never been so happy, or loved what I'm learning and doing so much.  And  I believe that is the motivation I need to keep me going for a long, long time.  :)

Oct 3, 2011

You see what you want to see.

I know I complain a lot about my kid, but mostly I'm just kidding.  The truth is, she's nothing more and nothing less than herself.  She needs to be picked up more often than other babies.  She has an unpredictable sleep schedule.  She may or may not eat when food is placed in front of her.  Sometimes she nurses 3 or 4 times at night.

She also does a lot of really cool stuff.  She usually asks for the potty (even at restaurants) when she has to pinch one off.  I can count on one hand the dirty diapers I change in a month.  She says a lot of words, always knows when it's her dad on the phone, recognizes pictures of her grandparents, and always knows to say "Bop" (pop) right after she says Nan.  When her Baby Einstein video says the word "friend", she looks at me and says "Mai?" because Mai is the little girl next door, her best friend.

So, high needs, low needs, mad skills, no skills, she just is what she is.  The hard part of my job is having the patience to deal with the times when her "flaws" seem the greatest.  That gets me to thinking about labels again (click), and how we tend to label benign traits according to how convenient or inconvenient they are for us.  For example, Myriam needs a great deal of attention and physical contact.  Some people call it needy, clingy, or say she's too dependant.  But you could also see this trait as securly attatched, bonded, or loving.  Another example is when we go out places, or have new people visit our home; she takes a while to relax and be at ease. She's really "sensitive".  Or shy.  Or a scaredy-cat. Or, as I would rather see it, she's very perceptive, and aware of her surroundings.  She's not a wimp, she has an analytical mind, and needs to figure things out before she's fully comfortable. 

See what I'm getting at here?  None of these traits are either negative or positive, but the words we attach to the traits give them a good or a bad value.  It's a classic glass half full, glass half empty scenario.  Personally, when describing my daughter, and life in general, I'd much rather be going around with my glass half full.  And when there's only a drop left in the bottom, I want to exclaim "Sweet!  There's still a drop left in here!".