missroserose: (Warrior III)
aaaaaaaaaaaa

^^The feels I'm having when I've literally just finished my internship and my studio manager emails me saying "hey, we've got a C2 opening up in September Mondays at 7:30 PM, do you want it? It's plenty of time to get you ready to teach C2s, and I'd love to have you in another prime time slot."

I mean, yeah, without a deadline I'll probably never push myself to get there, so I'm not going to say no. Breanne's not going to leave me hanging on training, and she wouldn't have offered it if she didn't think I'd be up for the challenge. And this is a huge compliment - Monday nights are super-prime-time for attendance. But whoa, that's...a little high-stakes, relatively speaking.

Good thing it's just yoga. :)

(aaaaaaaaaaaaa)

(feels)
missroserose: (Warrior III)
I'm just over halfway through my internship, and picked up enough substitute classes to shave off more than a month (it's been less than two months, as opposed to the three-and-a-half it would have taken if I'd only taught my single regular weekly class). I've successfully dealt with a couple of unexpected issues mid-class - including, one memorable week, a confused-seeming woman bursting in through the emergency exit door (!) in the middle of a class, saying something about wanting her free week. (We have signs in the window advertising a free first week; she had found the front door locked and gone around to the side, where apparently I hadn't pulled the door all the way shut after airing out the studio. I gently-but-firmly explained to her that she'd need to come back before a class, through the front. Fortunately she left without incident; it was disconcerting, but happened at a convenient stopping point and I just skipped ahead to the next section of class.)

As with any performative skill, I have a hard time measuring objectively how I'm doing - whenever anyone asks how my internship is going, I say something like "Well, I haven't killed anyone yet, so I guess it's going well!" That said, I do feel like I'm settling into a rhythm of sorts. I'm more confident, at least within the confines of the format. I'm getting better at the more conversational parts, too, although I usually do some journaling and occasionally practicing in the shower to make sure I can convey my point in the limited time window. Somewhat entertainingly, Dominika (my two-levels-up supervisor/former anatomy teacher/friend/person I greatly admire, who also has taught at CorePower for years and knows basically everyone in the community) came to one of my classes...and of course it was the morning that I'd forgotten I was subbing an earlier class and was mildly hungover. Oops. I got out there and taught as well as I could; I knew I wasn't running at 100%, but past that, I couldn't really tell how I'd come off. So I braced myself for some honest feedback...and then Dominika came out and unhesitatingly told me I was already a better teacher than people she knew who'd been teaching for ten years. o.O Well, I wasn't going to look that gift horse in the mouth, even if I felt a little undeserving, heh. Still, that combined with the fact that I regularly have students inquire what classes I teach on the schedule tells me I'm doing something right.

Making playlists remains one of my favorite parts of the job; this week's, however, was giving me trouble. I'd challenged myself to make something more instrumental-focused, since I'd noticed that it was easier to teach when I wasn't having to compete vocally with singers. And I discovered that figuring out instrumental tracks is a lot more time-consuming - it's harder for me to bring a song's hook to mind without a chorus to hum. I ended up working on that one right down to the wire, convinced that it wasn't one of my stronger efforts...and discovered in situ that it actually was one of my best in terms of mood and timing. (Gift horse number 2!) I also had multiple people comment how much they liked it after the three classes I taught yesterday and today; that marks the first time anyone's commented on the music specifically. Combined with the positive feedback I've seen other teachers get on mostly-instrumental playlists, that seems like a strong indicator...I guess I'm going to have to get better at remembering song hooks and start listening to more instrumental music.

So that's the first half done! I suspect the second may take a bit longer, as I have a vacation coming up and also some visitors, but we'll see. The weather has been mostly excellent, so between teaching at Lincoln Square and Uptown and Sauganash, I've been biking all over the far north side of Chicago; I've been packing my little rechargeable Bluetooth carabiner speaker and having a complete blast listening to the Awesome Mix as I pedal against the wind. My thighs are going to be massive by the end of summer.
missroserose: (Warrior III)
After years of dismissing it as "yoga for masochists" or "yoga class in hell", I finally took a Yoga Sculpt class Monday - a couple friends of mine are in teacher training and I wanted to support them. The format is sort of a yoga/boot camp fusion - you do some poses to warm up, and then you add free weights and start using the various poses as bases from which to work various muscle groups. And believe me, they work you *hard* - I thought I hated horse pose before, but horse pose in a regular yoga class is nothing compared to horse pose + reps for five times the length.

Needless to say, that was pretty much the longest hour of my life. Afterwards, I almost felt drunk on the endorphins - my balance was off and I was super friendly towards basically everyone. (Not quite to the point of slinging an arm over people's shoulders and slurring "I love you, man!", but close.) Definitely type II fun, heh.

Now, a couple of days later, I'm still sore but considering doing the teacher training for it - making playlists is one of my favorite aspects of yoga teaching, and unsurprisingly, the playlist is a big part of keeping the energy going. I already have roughly a zillion ideas - what about a Awesome Mix class? Or a Broadway musical themed class? ("My Shot" is sort of a gimme, but I'm laughing out loud just thinking about using Book of Mormon's "Man Up" for the last big push at the end when everyone's dying.)

Whether or not I do the training, I'm trying to decide whether I want to start doing Sculpt classes regularly - it's a real challenge, and I admit I'm a little nervous about the potential for injury. But on the other hand, I feel like now's a good time in my life for anything physical - I'm more active than I've ever been, I don't have any significant physical limitations, and frankly, that won't last forever. I don't have any particular fitness goals - I'm not trying to get ripped, or get a six-pack, or run a marathon or GoRuck event - but I like the feeling that I can do more now than I've ever been able to in the past; I've reached the point physically where the standard yoga classes are great for maintenance but aren't really a challenge. It feels like it might be worth the investment to push a little harder, just to see what I'm capable of.
missroserose: (Default)
On the more liberal side of the current tug-of-war over basic workers' rights, one concept that's seen some experimentation is the idea of the six-hour workday, wherein the traditional workday time is cut by a quarter. The idea is that, especially in white-collar brain-intensive jobs, studies have shown that six hours gives you the best ratio between availability and reasonable productivity, before fatigue sets in and workers start making more mistakes and/or seeing deleterious long-term health effects - so we should take advantage of that and hopefully reap savings in terms of less stressed-out workers.

Interestingly, however, over the past few weeks I've been having almost the reverse issue. Most of my workdays over that time have been only a couple of hours at most - a massage appointment here, a yoga class there, a shift at the spa a couple days a week. And yet I've been discovering the hidden cost to going for weeks without a break, even when the bulk of any given day seems like it should be fine for relaxing.

For one thing, a massage appointment isn't just a massage appointment, especially working out of my home. If someone's coming over, I need to make sure the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and hallway are clean; the furniture is moved; and the table is set up. Depending on how messy the house was before and whether Brian helps (which, dear man, he often makes himself available to do), that's often a two-to-three hour job before I even get to the appointment itself. (Although, on the upside, the house stays a lot cleaner when I have regular clients than it does otherwise.)

For another, although yoga teaching doesn't require any cleaning, there's the transportation time to consider. When I'm teaching at Uptown or Lincoln Square that's maybe ten or fifteen minutes each way on my bike or the bus; however, my regular class is at Sauganash, which is either a 35-minute bike ride or a 45-minute transit ride away, depending on my energy and the weather. For an eight- (or even six-) hour workday, an hour and a half round trip isn't a huge deal, but the proportion compared to a single two-hour shift is, unsurprisingly, much higher.

And that's not even taking into account the mental effects of going weeks without a proper day off. I constantly remind my clients that relaxation isn't what happens in between everything else you do; it's a conscious choice that requires active practice. Needless to say, it's much easier to make that choice when you're not likely to have to suddenly get up and dash - i.e. when you've got that full day off.

I'm not complaining, exactly - I made the choice to take on the workload I did, for various reasons. (Income is helpful! Practice at my trades are good. Feeling useful and productive is nice, too.) And in a lot of ways, I'm privileged - I don't have to take on less-than-ideal schedules if I don't want to, for fear of not making rent or running out of grocery money. But I cannot even articulate how relieved I am to have a couple of full, real, genuine days off on my schedule tomorrow and Wednesday. And while I understood intellectually why a yoga teacher friend of mine would occasionally cancel plans with "I'm sorry, I need to stay home and eat cheese," I grok that mindset in a much more real and immediate way now.

New growth

Apr. 18th, 2017 11:24 am
missroserose: (Show Your Magic)
Yoga teaching continues to go well. Yesterday was my second weekly class at Sauganash, and the first time I was so focused on someone's form that I completely blanked out on a cue - in the Sun A part of the sequence, which normally I can teach in my sleep. :P Luckily one of the students was a little more on the ball than I was, offering up "...mountain pose?" when I trailed off, and I laughed and thanked her and found the rhythm again. Appropriately enough, I had just set the intention: new growth, and remembering that new growth comes directly from old growth, so if your practice doesn't turn out how you want it to in this cycle, rather than feeling like you've wasted your effort, remember that it'll help your next cycle be better. Way to give myself an opportunity to practice what I preach, haha.

I think it went over pretty well, especially given the glorious spring weather. There was at least one repeat student from last week, and one new-to-yoga student who was enthusiastic about my teaching. Another girl was clearly not new, and clearly working hard in her practice, even though her body wasn't as limber as she clearly wanted. I gave her a lot of assists and she seemed to find them useful; afterward, she came by the desk and was all "I wanted to give you a hug..." She got a big hug, and I hope she comes back.

I remember, when I had been coming to CorePower for a few months, one of my favorite teachers telling me "I love it when you come to class, because you always try." It seemed a little odd to me - doesn't everyone try? - but I think I have a better idea what she meant now; there's a distinct difference between the students who are there just to move and stretch and the ones who are actively working to improve. (And I'm sure it can change from day to day; God knows there are times when I'm just not up for the sort of painstaking body awareness that improvement requires, and there are teachers for whom specific anatomical cueing is just not their skill.) But it makes me happy to see those students in my class, and it makes me want to be a better teacher so I can help them continue to improve. To that end, I have a sub tonight and one tomorrow as well - lots of practice to continue that new growth.
missroserose: (Warrior III)
Almost exactly six months after I began teacher training, I have completed my first day of paid teaching. It's official - I'm a professional yoga teacher now!

It's been a long journey, filled with a lot of work, a lot of anxiety, a lot of learning about community, a lot of growth, and a lot of realizing exactly how much I have grown but hadn't discovered it yet. And now I'm here. Which is really only a brief stopping point - I have so much yet to learn. But it's still a point worth celebrating, I think.

I got this card to send to a dear friend, but hopefully he won't mind me using a picture of it here, as it's perfect to the moment:



Here's to learning, and growing, and doing difficult things we want to do in spite of our anxiety about them.
missroserose: (Default)
As of this morning, I have completed all paperwork, meetings, studio walkthroughs, and desk shifts required...and as of Monday, I'll be teaching my first yoga class! (My first two yoga classes, actually, since I picked up a sub that evening.) Earlier in the week, I was anxious bordering on terrified; after some breathing and journaling and other anxiety-acceptance measures, I'm feeling at least a little more sanguine about it. The manager at the studio has been super chill and supportive, including responding promptly and positively to my numerous emails about questions and small administrative details. And no matter how badly I screw up, I know I'm not going to be as bad as The Worst C1. (I don't think I ever wrote about it here; suffice it to say, the girl barely moved from the back of the classroom the whole time, she didn't touch anyone, she spoke in a soft near-monotone that sounded for all the world like she was reciting a memorized script, and her whole playlist was atonal noise rock, including savasana (?!). At the very least, I know I have a better playlist.) But there's still a lot of anxiety for me in getting up and being open (and thus, to a degree, vulnerable) with a whole group of people, for a whole class. Which, I suppose, is a sign it'll be a good learning experience, too.

Anyway, onto the book stuff!

What I've just finished reading

*hangs head* I have not finished anything this week, either. I strongly suspect I'm letting my anxiety occupy too many emotional cycles; I've noticed that I tend toward obsessive behaviors when it gets going - refreshing social media, occupying myself with ticky administrative details, looking over my calendar repeatedly, etc. (Why, yes, I do have a family history of obsessive-compulsive disorder, how did you guess?) It's surprising, how much time and energy it takes to be anxious. Anyway, I'm working on it.

What I'm reading now

The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon. Dialect or no, I've been finding myself wishing that I was reading a physical copy of this book; Peter Riegert is turning in a perfectly decent performance, but there are so many wonderful descriptions and delightful turns of phrase that I really want to savor but that just go by too quickly. I finally have taken to using a combination of Audible's "bookmark" feature and (for ones I think Brian will enjoy) transcribing and texting them to preserve their ephemerality: "the sudden awareness, like an inverse satori, that he has made a grave, if not fatal error...his jaws snap together, making each tooth ring out with its own pure tone as the impact of his ass against the ground conducts its Newtonian business with the rest of his skeleton." "The winter sky in southeastern Alaska is a Talmud of grey, an inexhaustible commentary on a Torah of rain clouds and dying light." "They all looked shocked; even Gould, who could have happily read a comic book by the light of a burning man."

For all the lighthearted metaphor, there's a very real atmosphere of melancholy and uncertainty in this story; not grief, precisely, but the recognition of opportunities missed, the sense of having taken a wrong turn somewhere without knowing precisely what it was. Perhaps this is appropriate to a tale of Jewish culture, even alternate-universe Jewish culture; I know it probably resonates with me more now, at this point in American history, than it likely would have even a year or two ago.

I'm a bit torn on the worldbuilding; there are hints of a broader global alt-history stemming from the decision to relocate Jews to Southeast Alaska instead of Israel, but whether due to my personal ignorance of world/Jewish history or simply to the fact that it all goes by a bit too quickly in audio format, I'm having trouble piecing together exactly what's different from our more recent history. That said, the tensions and troubles and cliques and feuds and foibles of this particular group in this time that never existed are beautifully rendered. The plot is mostly pretty standard religious-political-conspiracy stuff, and it moves a bit slowly, but one gets the feeling it's more of an excuse to spend time in this world and with these characters, and said characters are entertaining and well-drawn enough to be worth the investment. I'm wondering how it'll wrap up; the themes don't point for a truly happy ending, and neither does the alt-history-noir setup, but given the effort they're putting in to untangling this mess, I suspect Landsman and Berko will pull at least "bittersweet".

all about love, by bell hooks. This week's chapter is on community, and the importance thereof in giving us a place to practice love, especially for those of us raised in unloving and dysfunctional family situations. I've long been a proponent of making community connections a bigger part of our lives - it's something that doesn't get a lot of emphasis in our mainstream culture, with its deleterious emphasis on the nuclear family as the social unit uber alles - but I'm not sure I agree with her framing. She seems to come from a place of fundamental certainty that everyone participates in a community in good faith; thus, she believes that, while distancing is sometimes necessary, there is no reason to ever cut ties with a person; everyone can and will change for the better when presented with evidence of the hurtfulness of their actions. She cites one friend in particular whose family was incredibly hurtful towards her when she came out as a lesbian; apparently after some years, their attitudes changed and they were able to have a worthwhile relationship.

Obviously, I have a lot of issues with this paradigm. I'm all for giving people the benefit of the doubt; we're all human, we all make mistakes. But she seems to be falling headlong into several common social fallacies; the fact is, there are drama queens, and missing stairs, and other individuals that a community is better off without. Setting boundaries with these people, and actively limiting your social interactions with them, is a net social positive - not only because it increases your happiness, but because limited options due to social censure is its own lesson. I'm more torn on the question of whether they can learn; presumably, we need to give people the benefit of the doubt in order for them to learn, but based on my past experiences, I have a very difficult time trusting that someone with an established pattern of behavior will have any desire to change, let alone gain the self-awareness to do so. I'm sure it can happen, but I have a hard time trusting that it is what's going on in any given situation - especially when it's so much easier to claim you're trying to change without actually, y'know, doing any of the work. Maybe this is a reflection on me and my trust issues more than on anything inherent to humanity, I don't know.

What I plan to read next

Back before I put a moratorium on new book-buying, I had pre-ordered Cherie Priest's new book Brimstone, which just arrived in the mail. I have a feeling my to-read shelf is going to go neglected in my next selection...
missroserose: (Default)
Weird experience of the day: halfway through a yoga class, my brain just shut down and was like "nope, no more." It's been a busy week, and I've definitely suffered fatigue from overwork before, but what really made this one stand out was the separation between physical and mental. I know my body pretty well, and it was tired but could have gone on for some time; mentally, though, I was just noping right the hell out. So child's pose it was for a few minutes; afterward I went home and bailed on evening plans so I could spend the rest of the day napping and otherwise recharging. (Brian, dear man that he is, brought me pie from the locally- and justifiably-renowned Bang Bang Pie shop. Pie is excellent for recharging one's spoons.)

So that's my excuse for why this is late. :) On to the reading!

What I've just finished reading

Nothing, I'm afraid. Which seems extra surprising given that I took last week off from the spa for tattoo healing - you'd think that'd be prime reading time. But what with splitting my attentions between three books, and all the other stuff - private clients, prep work for the new yoga job, anxiety about starting said job in April - that's been taking up my mental space, I haven't finished anything this week.

What I'm currently reading

The Black Count, by Tom Reiss. Having garnered many accolades for turning around the Army of the Alps and singlehandedly conquering space that was thought unconquerable, General Dumas has been reassigned to the Army of Italy, which has until recently been in similar straits. A similarly talented general of a very recognizable name is in charge of another division, and has made great progress in driving out the Austrians - and even greater progress in squandering the goodwill this has generated amongst the Italians by eschewing the complicated logistics of supply lines in favor of plundering the countryside. Dumas, a man of honor, does not wish to directly challenge his colleague Buonaparte; he nonetheless has taken to countermanding the worst of the abuses where he sees them, and notifying the other general using the time-honored tactic of "I'm sure you couldn't have known what your men are up to, but..." With the clarity of historical hindsight, I suspect we're beginning to see where his downfall will stem from. (Also, if Lin-Manuel Miranda wants to write another multiethnic historical musical, this would be an excellent source - I suspect Dumas and Napoleon could easily fit in the Hamilton/Burr dichotomy of man of honor/man of opportunity.)

all about love, by bell hooks. This week's chapter was on greed, the way in which our culture's lionization of it prevents us from expressing and experiencing love, and the way we attempt (unsuccessfully) to use it to fulfill our longing for connection. Again, lots that I agreed with. This passage in particular jumped out at me, especially given current events:
 
Our prisons are full of people whose crimes were motivated by greed, usually the lust for money.  While this lust is the natural response of anyone who has totally embraced the values of consumerism, when these individuals harm others in their pursuit of wealth we are encouraged to see their behavior as aberrant.  We are all encouraged to believe they are not like us, yet studies show that many people are willing to lie to gain monetary advantage.  

It's often struck me as odd that we punish behavior that's a natural extension of our expressed social values.  Stories like The Wolf of Wall Street demonstrate the paradox nicely -- Jordan Belfort was so admired for his wealth, despite the fact that he made it by cheating people out of their income, so that even a hatchet job by the press only made job seekers come hounding for a chance to work with him.  

As with most philosophy books, there are parts where the author generalizes; she paints a picture of the sixties, for instance, as a golden time of radical action and hope for change.  Which is perhaps true so far as it goes, but it also elides the very real uncertainty and fear that pervaded those years, something that Mad Men does an excellent job demonstrating.  Yes, change was (and still is) needed, but change always brings discomfort, which gives rise to backlash movements - something that we seem to be experiencing at an elevated pace lately.  In this way, the book feels firmly set in the economically prosperous nineties, and not just because the worst thing hooks seems to be able to say about the President is that he lied to the American public about an affair.

There's one other passage I want to quote.  I don't really have anything to say about it, but it haunts me.

When I interviewed popular rap artist Lil' Kim, I found it fascinating that she had no interest in love.  While she spoke articulately about the lack of love in her life, the topic that most galvanized her attention was making money.  I came away from our discussion awed by the reality that a young black female from a broken home, with less than a high school education, could struggle against all manner of barriers and accumulate material riches yet be without hope that she could overcome the barriers blocking her from knowing how to give and receive love.

Meditations From The Mat, by Rolf Gates.  I feel like I've been dissing on Gates' philosophy a lot, so I wanted to post a quote I really liked.  For instance, this one, discussing tapas, the niyama governing spiritual discipline:  "We will have good days and bad days, days when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, and days when the opposite is the case.  Years of consistent practice are not built on rigid self-discipline; they are built on the desire to know more."  This dovetails nicely with something I've been ruminating on for a while now; we all talk about how we want to eat better and exercise more, but "wanting to be healthier" clearly isn't a strong enough motivator to overcome the lack of desire (and, not to get sidetracked into a discussion of privilege, but also the lack of opportunity) to eat well and move more.  Finding a form of exercise you genuinely enjoy is a good first step, as is figuring out healthier foods that you like; even better, however, is realizing how much better you feel when you're employing these practices, and giving yourself permission to be that happier person - which requires compassion for your flaws and mistakes as well as curiosity about what more you can do.

Of course, Gates then goes on to talk about how he attended a talk by a disabled and socially underprivileged person who had a spiritual awakening while in prison, and proceeds to completely skip over any of the details of the man's experience and simply go on about how inspiring it was and how universal the themes of his journey, which feels more than a little...dehumanizing and exploitative?  Maybe I'm reading too much into a single paragraph. Or maybe I'm afraid that in my love of pattern-seeking and big-picture stuff I sometimes do the same thing.

What I plan to read next

Still TBD - I suspect I'm going to continue to be busy with these for a while.  But watch this space...
missroserose: (Default)
After years of attending classes, working on their cleaning staff, getting to know the teachers and managers, not to mention paying for and attending Teacher Training and Extensions, filling out applications, and getting my CPR certification...I've been invited to audition for a yoga teaching slot at CorePower.

Obviously I'm pleased about this. But it's turning out to be a bit more nerve-wracking than I anticipated. The grapevine has it that 75 people applied to the Uptown studio alone; presumably not all of them are auditioning, but chances are there'll be a lot of people looking to fill just a few available spots. This has always been my concern with CorePower's business model; they market teacher training heavily because it's a big moneymaker for them, but as the local yoga market has reached saturation and their regular teachers settle into their grooves, the number of classes they need taught has shrunk significantly even as their potential supply has grown commensurately larger. I feel like I have some advantages versus the crowd: I've been attending for years and know a lot of folks in the community, I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule, plus I'm already on their payroll, albeit in a very minor capacity. (Cleaning staff are paid minimum wage plus a half-price membership in exchange for at least 1.5 hours of work per week.) But on the other hand, if the rest of the TT groups this go-round were anything like mine, we're going to have a serious glut of talented, capable teachers looking for a spot.

Upon reflection, I suspect what I'm feeling is that sense of insecurity that comes from having put most of your eggs in one basket. I'm not a joiner by nature; I tend to spread myself out, preferring to build minor connections in multiple communities rather than become a central figure in a single community and thus beholden to its failings and dysfunctions. So this whole "being a recognizable face in a large group" thing is new to me. And...it's a little anxiety-inducing, realizing that I've invested a not-inconsiderable amount of time, effort, money, and social capital in a community that may or may not return my investment, whether due to a lack of affection or simply a lack of availability.

None of which is to say it'll be the end of the world if I don't make the cut. It'll mean some changes in my focus, which are always uncomfortable when you've gotten into a habit. But they'll also be opportunities for growth, just in a different direction than the ones I'll face if I do teach for them.

I suppose we'll see which of my patron Five Gods deities shows up on audition day - the Mother of Summer, or the Bastard...
missroserose: (Default)
Right now I'm in the middle of Extensions - that's the follow-up class to CorePower's Teacher Training, where they give you more instruction on stuff like playlist- and sequence-building, environmental settings, and assists/adjustments, as well as polishing your cueing and timing and other minor stuff like that. I admit I went into it with low expectations; they market TT heavily but never mention Extensions (or the additional tuition, or that it's mandatory to get hired) until you're actually in training. So I was expecting it to be a lot of "this is how we do it at CorePower because we're the best!" puffery with maybe some useful bits thrown in. To my pleasant surprise, it's actually turned out to be quite useful; there's definitely some stuff that's CPY-specific, but a lot of it is more generally applicable, and it's been refreshingly puffery-free.

In any case, I went to a C2 class today just before Extensions; we had a lecture scheduled (as opposed to a physical practice) so I figured it'd be okay if I was a little tired. And I was more or less okay, but realized afterward that I'd missed dinner, so at break time I hopped next door to the Subway to nab a sandwich. Much to my surprise, the cooler full of bottles of soda looked super appealing to me. This almost never happens; I'm not a big soda drinker, and I rarely indulge (given that pure glucose is kind of awful for my wonky blood sugar issues). However, it struck me that I could use the caffeine, so I reached in and grabbed a Diet Coke, paid for it and the sandwich, and went back to the studio.

Weirdly, though, the soda didn't taste anywhere near as good as I thought it would. It wasn't the aspartame, which I'm plenty familiar with; there's a definite rush I get when my body's really craving something, and it wasn't happening. I was halfway through the bottle (and the sandwich) before it hit me - the reason the soda had looked so appetizing was because it was full of sugar, and my carbohydrate stores were probably depleted from the workout. Needless to say, the diet version wasn't scratching that itch in the least. And with the fiber/protein/fat in the sandwich, I could've drunk it without any blood sugar trouble, either. Exercise brain is not always great at logical reasoning, heh.

But now I'm home and treating myself to a ginger beer, with bitters and a squeeze of lime. So that's not nothing.
missroserose: (Default)
It's been a weird couple of months.

Contrary to my hopes, the anxiety roller coaster continues. Sometimes I'm fine, content with my place in the world and the sheer good luck I've had to have the life that I do. Sometimes I'm...not depressed, although in some ways it resembles depression. Scattered. Inward-turned. Uninterested in making social plans (although usually if someone invites me, I have a good time). Unable to talk to people as easily as I usually can. Sullen. Brooding.

Some weeks ago, a Facebook acquaintance pointed me at the connection between panic attacks and hypoglycemia. Short version, adrenaline is a sort of ugly hack ([livejournal.com profile] thewronghands's on-the-nose description) when your blood sugar is low; not only does the resulting rush warn you that something's not right with your body, but it also signals your liver to release its emergency-stored glucose, which brings your blood sugar levels back up temporarily. Kinda neat biologically, but not particularly pleasant to experience.

Since discovering this, I've been making a concerted effort to be extra careful with my food intake, keeping simple carbs to a minimum and eating lots of protein and whole grains. It's helped some; certainly my incidences of adrenaline-fueled acute anxiety attacks are down. But, strangely, there are times when I get the mental effects of such attacks (obsessive thoughts, feeling of impending doom, withdrawn and sullen affect) despite lacking the actual adrenal involvement. It's almost like my body's conditioned to respond that way to stress now, despite my knowing that it's not a good coping strategy. (Which would jibe with Brian's observation that at times it looks like I'm intentionally looking for things to be anxious about.) Frustrating.

I'm not sure what to do about this. My profound (and, I think, justified) aversion to our screwed-up physical and mental healthcare system has kept me from seeing a doctor about any of this so far, but if I can't figure out a way to get myself more stable, that may be the next step. Writing or talking about it helps, but that's tougher when I'm in the middle of an episode, since one of the most obvious symptoms is how I suddenly lose interest in either. Breathing and mindfulness exercises may help in the moment. Past that...well, we'll see. One thing I noticed about massage school and yoga both was how, while I was actively learning new things, anxiety attacks were rare. With that partially in mind, I signed up for CorePower's teacher training for this fall. (I still have the same reservations about their corporate culture and business model that I did before, but it wouldn't hurt to have an additional less-physically-intense income stream to supplement massage, and the knowledge crossover and reinforcement is a very real plus, and the community involvement and journaling it'll require both seem likely to be beneficial. And it's not like I have to stick with CorePower exclusively - I'm looking at working for them as a starting point rather than an end goal.)

As an aside, I was recently laughing in rueful recognition at [livejournal.com profile] thewronghands's description of physical fitness as a constantly moving target; as my life has gotten busier and my yoga attendance has dropped, I've gained back a good ten pounds compared to my peak fitness there. Uncomfortably, I'm beginning to realize mental health is much the same. I mean, I thought I had this whole anxiety thing sorted out, and it turns out, nope, that was just temporary. I guess I could be frustrated about that, but I'm going to try and think of it as an opportunity to expand my toolkit instead. Just as soon as I'm done reading this article about the election and how we're all doomed.
missroserose: (Default)
I've written quite a bit about my struggles with anxiety and depression, both in terms of how they feel and how they manifest in my behavior. Yesterday, however, a friend linked to an article that resonated quite a bit: Living With High-Functioning Anxiety.

My experience is somewhat different from the writer's. For one thing, mine tends to move in cycles; there are times when I can't stop the stream of internal criticism, and other times when I feel perfectly normal and happy. For another, even when I'm in an anxious phase, my symptoms aren't usually that severe. But I feel firsthand so much of what she's written. The perfectionism. The need to constantly be busy while avoiding important or high-stakes tasks. The inability to ask for help, because that means admitting you're not capable of handling things on your own. The vacillating between "everyone has it together but you, what's wrong with you" and "other people have things so much worse, what are you complaining about".

Those of you who've been around the past couple years have probably noticed my increasing focus on self-care, mostly through increased physical activity and better diet. (I know that, to some people and in some circumstances, I've come across as more than a little evangelist on this point; to those people, I owe an apology. Yoga and self-care have been quite literally life-changing for me, but I suspect in my exhortations I was ignoring the twin contributions of a move to a much better-for-me environment and a significant socioeconomic boost that came about at the same time.) This has done a lot to stretch out the periods of feeling happier and more balanced. But these past several months, I've been feeling the anxiety creep up on me even with those efforts; this latest bout has lasted some weeks.

Another link from a friend, Life Hacks of the Poor and Aimless, has shed some light on what's been going on in my subconscious. Laurie Penny posits that my demographic's obsession with self-care isn't in spite of the scary events going on in the rest of the world, but is in fact a reaction to that very sense of helplessness. We can't refill the Ogallala aquifer, or stop ourselves hurtling past the carbon emission point of no return, or fix a broken political system, or avert any number of other disasters that seem to loom over the horizon. So we turn our focus selfward instead, and convince ourselves that by practicing "radical self-love" we can find happiness - and, on this philosophy's darker side, feel as if we're insufficient when our self-care practice fails to adequately substitute for a stable and functioning social contract.

And yet, the answer can't be to give up self-care entirely. One of my favorite yoga teachers would probably fit Penny's description of an "Instagram happiness guru", or at least an aspiring one. But I go to her classes regularly, because she makes a real effort to make them a safe place, where we can work on self-improvement without judgment. When it feels like the world is falling apart around us, where there's no good answer or right thing we can do to stop things hurtling toward a horrible conclusion, there's a real value in that sort of centering, in exercising that little bit of control we do still have. I always leave her classes feeling more hopeful, more able to focus on the positive aspects of my life. It doesn't always overcome the overall sense of helplessness, but it provides a bulwark, a small protection for my sanity that helps me keep a more even outlook.

And let's not kid ourselves - outlook is important. It's a lot easier to focus on the positives, to work towards making the world a better place in those hundreds of small ways that seem insignificant but are far more likely to ripple out into something lasting, if we're feeling energized and stable and hopeful for the future. Zeitgeist matters; the more we become convinced that the world is headed for disaster, the more likely it is that we will bring that disaster on ourselves. No single one of us can prevent it, no, but by each doing what we can to help raise each others' spirits, perhaps we can improve our collective future.

That's what I feel in my more hopeful moments, anyway. During those times when the anxiety starts to build, when (to paraphrase Brian) I spend more and more time either absorbed in news articles or staring off into the distance, I start to think that this is what my friends and family felt like during the Cold War. Those awful moments of hope mixed with increasing dread, that encroaching certainty that the worst will happen, it was just a question of how and when. It's not a fun feeling; I especially hate how it robs me of the ability to enjoy things in my life here and now, when the worst (whatever that might be) hasn't yet happened, and may not at all.

I've been thinking, too, about my earlier post on paradox, and how essential it is to our existence, even though it's uncomfortable and difficult for us to accept. Perhaps this is how humans get into these destructive spirals in the first place: we don't like uncertainty, we want things to be good or bad. And if things stay uncertain enough for long enough, if the constructive future feels too difficult or too far away, eventually we pick the bad option, just for the relief of knowing the uncertainty is over. Perhaps this is why it's so important to practice holding our paradoxes: that anxiety and depression are challenges to overcome and perfectly reasonable reactions to an increasingly scary world; that we need to focus on taking care of ourselves and fighting for a better society; that we can contribute meaningfully to our collective future and we're dependent on other people to help us build that future.

My head is not the happiest place, of late. But I hope getting these thoughts out in the open will help, if only in the sense of lancing the wound. And to everyone whom I owe letters, or a phone call, or words of comfort - I'm sorry I've been so unresponsive lately. Hopefully this will go some measure towards explaining why.
missroserose: (Default)
On the one hand, going two-weeks-plus without a day off from physical activity (power yoga or massaging or both) was probably not the greatest idea that I've had. It would certainly explain why my quick nap a few days ago turned into a four-hour rest, as well as why, come Saturday, I woke up after a full night's sleep and an hour later wanted desperately to go back to bed. (I cancelled my yoga plans and instead booked myself a massage, and am consequently feeling much better today.)

On the other hand, just now I took a moment to really look at my arms in the mirror, and...damn. Maybe I should go on workout benders more often.
missroserose: (Default)
I really like Allison, the teacher who does the Tuesday night C2 class, but man, she goes for the hyper-athletic, push-your-limits style. Which is good, don't get me wrong - I was getting a bit complacent for a while, having memorized most of the more common sequences. But still. Wow.

Anyway, after today's class, I was typically endorphin-floaty, but also felt surprisingly sleepy. I told myself I just had to go run this one errand at the Target next door, and then I could go home. Went into Target, grab the two things I had wandered in for, walked past the candy display that I usually ignore completely, saw a "5 for $5!" sale sign, and...fell upon it like a starved wolf. After tossing four different items in my basket thinking how good each and every one of them would taste, my eye fell upon a box of Swedish Fish, I flashed back to [profile] thewronghands' posts on exercise-brain, and it finally occurred to me that maybe my blood sugar was a bit low. Heh.

Half a package of Butterfinger Bites later, I made it home without endangering myself or anyone on the road, where I proceeded to eat a couple of pickles and guzzle down a litre of water. And now, tea and bed.
missroserose: (Warrior III)
Me, thinking to myself on the mat before class starts: "Man. I'm still wiped from travel. And this is only my second class after getting back. I hope we're doing an easy sequence tonight."

Instructor, two minutes later: "Wake up, everybody! We've got a lot of work to do. Time to burn off all those Thanksgiving calories!"

Me: {long string of silent profanities}

{Class ensues. Which, somehow, our intrepid heroine not only manages to make it through, but put in a halfway-decent showing for. After class:}

Instructor: "How was class?"

Me: "I want so badly to hate you right now but I'm way too euphoric. Ask me again tomorrow."



Wheeeeeeeeeeeee...
missroserose: (Warrior III)
Two facts:

1.) This morning, I spent about 80% of my yoga class mentally considering the problem of human trafficking in middle-class America, the socioeconomic inequalities that give rise to it, and what (barring the unlikely elimination of worldwide poverty) we can do to mitigate it.

2.) My performance in said class, as measured by sense of focus, alignment, and flow, was probably in the 90th percentile of my (many) past classes.

I'm not really sure what this says about me. But if it's a subject that interests you, there are far worse places to start than this article.

Passing by

Sep. 11th, 2014 08:28 am
missroserose: (After the Storm)
Tuesday night I was In A Mood. Not for any particular reason; just the culmination of a lot of little things. One of my teeth feels like it's about to split apart if I bite down on it the wrong way, and my dentist can't see me until Friday (and that's after I'd already called twice about cancellations). I'd made a thoughtless comment on a friend's Facebook page and gotten called out for it. Brian's been fighting off a cold and I hadn't been sleeping well as a result. Stuff like that.

Yesterday, none of that had really changed, but I at least got to sleep in a little. And I went to yoga (for real this time) with Megan, who invariably cheers me up when I'm grumpy. (Honestly, I wish we could hang out more; she's witty and intelligent and a compassionate and retentive listener, and doesn't seem to mind my weird mood swings. But I certainly can't blame her for having a full social schedule. Compassionate listeners are in high demand.) It was a high-level, crowded and rapid-fire class, and at the third balancing series I had to tap out due to dizziness, but a minute or so in child's pose and I was better, and by the end of it (and dinner and conversation after) I was feeling pretty great. It probably helped that the temperature had finally dropped to something within range of what feels normal to my Alaska-native senses - mid sixties, with a nice breeze.

Brian's still coughing, and my tooth is still in dire need of attention, but on the whole I feel much much better. It's good, sometimes, to remember that for all they color our perceptions so strongly, emotions and moods are passing things. And I'm grateful for friends who are good at helping scurry the negative ones along.
missroserose: (Warrior III)
Growing up in the Second Golden Era of Disney, I spent most of my elementary school years wishing I were a mermaid. Well, now I have been - albeit briefly, with the help of a trapeze. Sadly, I have no pictures of myself. I sort of wish I did, if only because then I could have some idea how my form looked - the alignment felt all right, but there weren't any mirrors to see.

I'm rather glad I went to Aloft's taster class now, as opposed to when I was first looking into it (holy crap, has it really been almost a year?). Core strength is a big big part of aerials, and if I'd tried it in the shape I was in last winter I probably would've gotten discouraged quickly. As it is, after a couple of months of CorePower, I was able to do the fundaments without any trouble. In fact, it was a fun process of discovery - I can hang from the trapeze and kick my feet all the way up over my head! Who knew? Still, though, I've got a long way to go, in both strength and technique-building. I'd been noticing in the mirror how I've actually got some muscle on my limbs now, and was feeling pretty smug about that, but after seeing the the women who were teaching us, I was feeling distinctly like the "before" drawing in a Charles Atlas ad. Note to self: never get into a wrestling match with an aerialist.

I want very much to go back, and their next round of courses starts on the 8th, but I'm not sure now's the time - we've just had a couple good-sized unexpected expenses. I could try the place that's closer by sometime over the next eight weeks, although their $22 first-time-registration fee plus more-expensive classes is a bit of a turn-off. But it might be worth it not to have to spend an hour on the bus each way, especially if I like the instructors. Hrmm.
missroserose: (Warrior III)
Things continue to go well at CorePower. Better than well, actually - they called and offered me a shift for the yoga-for-trade program. So assuming all goes well at my training this Saturday, I may not have to depend on my mother's largesse for my mood-regulating activities! Woo! The only hitch is that I have to figure out what to do for the 18th, since I'll be out of town...but I mentioned that in my email response, and they still said "Come out for training", so I assume we'll be able to work something out.

Physically, I'm very pleased with how I'm continuing to improve. I had sort of expected to plateau at some point, and it's true that progress hasn't been quite as quick as it was when I first started, but my balance and strength are still growing noticeably. And then there's the aforementioned mood-evening effects. There's a video making the rounds claiming that the best thing you can possibly do for your health is spend at least twenty minutes per day doing something active; just walking or whatever didn't seem to be doing a lot to help my mental state, but an hour of power-yoga four or five times a week is having a really noticeable effect. I sleep better, I spend less time depressed and moody, I feel better about my life in general. (I even wrote a story! Did I mention that?) I'm hoping that this turns out to be a continuous thing and not "a couple weeks from now you adjust and then you're back to your usual mood-swingy self"...fingers crossed.

On a more entertaining note, yesterday a friend and I were going to go to another class at a different studio, which I was a bit excited about - the teacher there is supposed to be really excellent, and also teaches an aerial yoga class that I'd potentially be quite interested in. But due to a scheduling mix-up, we ended up not getting out there in time. (The class was at 6, she had thought it was at 6:30, so there was a stretch of about twenty minutes or so where I was getting more and more anxious waiting for her, and she was thinking "hey, we have plenty of time..." and then we realized what the mix-up was and had a good laugh about it. I was all "I'm so glad you don't think me ridiculously uptight!") We figured we'd go to the CorePower class at 7, hung out and chatted for a bit, and then I went to double-check the schedule and make sure I hadn't been confused on the time...and as it happened, the class had been canceled. So instead we hung around in our yoga pants and chatted with Brian and ordered take-out and celebrated International Gin Week. When we dropped her off, she was all "Wow, this was the best yoga class ever! I feel so flexible!" Maybe I should start a new school...?
missroserose: (Warrior III)
I had a very thought-provoking conversation with my mother the other night, talking about all the career and motivation and identity stuff that I've been struggling with. I have a lot of thoughts on that, but they're still a bit muddled, so I think I'm going to hold off on writing about them for now. Instead, I want to relate this one bit in particular, which makes me giggle in retrospect:

Mum: "So let's see if we can't find something for you to do where your liabilities are a positive! Don't you remember that old Star Trek episode--"

Me: "--where the deaf-mute diplomat has his telepathic chorus blaster-fried, and decides to mediate the planet's dispute by teaching both sides the sign language he uses, which would give them something in common, thus turning a disadvantage into an advantage. Yes, you've quoted that bit to me roughly 40,000 times over the course of my growing up."

Mum: *laughing* "Well, it's a great episode!"

The good news is, I've been feeling a lot better since then. Talking to my mother always cheers me up. It also didn't hurt that she bought me another month of yoga. (I swear, my insurance plan should cover at least part of it. It's preventative maintenance, and way way cheaper than antidepressants.) And there's a new teacher doing the Sunday-morning 1.5-level class whom I really dig. I might start going to her classes regularly; that works out nicely since I usually go to Erika's Monday-night class and take Tuesday off.

On the subject of CorePower, I'm thinking seriously about doing their teacher-training program sometime in the next year. It's not a small investment: $2750 and eight weeks of time, though if I'm a member at the time I get 20% off the price (and it says right on the website that they're committed to working with individual financial situations to ensure your presence in the class, so maybe if I can get a couple of the teachers to vouch for my candidacy I can get further discounts - I know a lot of them have seemed really happy to have me back). But yoga is one of the things I've managed to stick with long-term and still really enjoy, possibly because it's so personal and low-stakes (if there's competitive yoga, I've never heard of it). And teaching it is something I think I'd be good at and could do anywhere. And it would help with that lack-of-a-sense-of-identity issue I've been struggling with; yoga teaching isn't precisely high-social-status, but it does help people, which is something I feel like I don't do enough of. Plus, if I could get hired by CorePower, I'd have my membership fees covered, so it feels like a win all around.

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