Have you ever had a change in mood and not know what triggered the change? Or maybe something is making you feel anxious or nauseous, and you cannot pin down the source. In reference to the title of this post, “Wakin’ Up” isn’t about wake up time or morning rituals. It’s about awareness. In particular, self-awareness. With the way society has rolled, at least in my lifetime, our brains default to automatic, a lot. Look it up – it’s biology and also psychology. More resources are available in our brain when things go automatic. For example – do you remember what you had to eat this week at every meal? Unless you keep a food diary, probably not. Or, if you drive to work, do you remember details from the drive? The point to all of this is being aware makes us more connected to what’s happening.
The last few years, especially, I feel like I slid backwards. My energy levels, appetite, and even social interests completely changed. Based on psychology class discussions and readings, if I better understand, then it will be easier to maintain and improve health. It’s also good for personal growth. The top three items that have helped push me in the personal growth direction are as follows:
When I began participating in yoga classes, I didn’t know exactly what that meant. I mean, I knew they were different than most gym classes, and the more I did yoga, the more I liked doing yoga. Plus, some days I know I need it.
My experience widened from a gym to a local yoga studio a couple of years ago. I learned more about types of yoga and hours of certification and how many people liked recovery type classes. I feel like I’ve been in recovery for “something” for a long time. Maybe I have been and maybe it’s multiple reasons. Yoga gives time for me and to slow things down for an hour. If I’m lucky, that time helps me to heal.
At the moment, my favorite class is a Friday night heated vinyasa. When I first started going a few months ago, I would get there and really “sink” into my mat cause I was exhausted from the week. The class has opened things up – less aches are good since inflammation seems to be a root cause of many health problems. Plus, there’s something about that group at that time making the transition to the weekend. Also, the instructor’s focus (which many there do) on cues and creating an awareness so we observe within – differences, aches, everything. I had a personal trainer who would do that – describe what I should feel and where. Otherwise, how are you supposed to know what is correct? Since we practice in a heated room, the heat stays with me and keeps me warm and happy until I am at home and fall asleep.
Sometimes in yoga the instructors refer to meditation. Plus, as Eastern culture penetrates more of Western society, it’s easy to find meditation references related to health, whether in schools or something that is trending. What is meditation, though? I mean, if we cannot remember what we ate this morning or anything about the route we drove to work, how do we connect through meditation? And is meditation really for anybody?
One of my friends happened to mention this book by journalist Dan Harris, “10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story.” After an on air panic attack, Harris began to unravel the real problem – the voice in his head (that we all have) – and take the reader with him on his journey to tame that voice. The journey includes a meditation retreat, and Harris describes his experience in details. The phrases people express about meditation, such as “clarity,” make more sense after reading Harris’ story. The reader learns as Harris learns. Plus, Harris is a cool (acceptable) guy to teach a reader not initially into meditation or anything similar.
Feedback from Others
Years ago, sometimes a member of my Toastmasters club would challenge a speaker to immediately redo a speech after everyone’s feedback. I accepted that challenge, too. For Toastmasters, feedback is expected, and the Club meeting is considered a safe environment. What if it’s more random and in the wild – as far as you don’t know in what form or the timing you may receive it?
Referring again to psychology classes and discussions – without feedback, needed change would be slow, if at all. So when I get picked on for mumbling or speaking too softly (which I know I do), the feedback is aversive enough where I want to change (and I want to be heard). Yes, the group picking on me might make it feel like we’re on the playground as 5th graders instead of at a meeting with adults. It works, and they’ve done it enough that I have become more aware of how often and when it happens and therefore I have a better chance of improving my life. In fact, I’ve told the people who provide the most feedback that I don’t want it sugar coated. I just want to know. Wow, has some of it been a wake up call, too. Feedback is also two way, so I hope what I provide helps others. What you do with the feedback you receive is a choice. Always consider it, then use it or push it aside.
The combination of reading the Dan Harris book, yoga, and feedback, plus my intentions, have helped me. I love that I feel more awake and energetic lately. I am grateful for these practices and experience. What are yours?
Have you ever been on the edge of something and could not quite grasp it? Maybe the name of a person when you recognize the face, or a tidbit you heard. It is frustrating, right? What if what you are normally good at, which might be remembering names and not just faces, feels blocked? Communication, instead of flowing freely, is more jagged in the same way glass might crack. In other words, what you are trying to say, if it reaches the intended audience, becomes distorted while traveling. The distortion means that for the communication to redirect, it takes work, and everyone involved must be willing to try. Does this sound like truth or weirdness?
I have noticed this phenomena in my own life and in particular during the last year. Part of noticing at all is through the attempt to increase self-awareness. Being self-aware is an ongoing journey and the more I learn the more I realize there is still a long way to go. What I have noticed is that actions and communications in one environment are sometimes taken differently in another environment. This is not true one hundred percent of the time or with one hundred percent of the people. Sometimes others involved do not try or will crack those jagged lines further and it makes it hard to patch things up.
One of my interests includes learning more about leaders and leadership and how an organization can be effected. Since an organization is made up of people, that means there are emotional effects. Organizations are alive, in a sense. It’s more than the communication or the name at the tip of your tongue. If the person in charge has certain attitudes and emotions, anyone around is likely to “catch” and possibly reflect those same attitudes and emotions. I mean, if the person in charge is doing it, and that person is seen as having a high quality of character and worthy of the position, then it makes sense some would intentionally mirror that person. The leader in this case is being considered someone worthy to follow, from mannerisms to habits to attitude. We learn by example and many times it may be intentional. Did you ever play house and have a role as a parent and mimic your own parent, for example? It also means there are others who may not realize why a good day has turned sour. It is similar to driving to work and not remembering what route you took. Another version is that you can be aware of that change and pinpoint the source of the reaction, or, while in route, you enjoyed the scenery.
The last point has been challenging. First, not everyone is or tries to be self-aware. I have been working on increasing self-awareness for over ten years. It works if you’re intentional about it. When an area you are not used to being “off” is hit hard, the immediate instinct is to react. Kind of like the “fight or flight or freeze” that we hear about. This is where yoga and the self-awareness journey have helped me – they have taught me to pause, and then react to the situation, not my emotions to the situation. Reacting with that initial instinct usually causes unneeded trouble. If someone told me I had to fight it out on the playground at recess, I wouldn’t be surprised. Other times, it could be junior high and a constant “Mean Girls” (boys, too!) movie on repeat.
The part that really gets me about the communication is that many times I have had the skills or the interest where creativity will flow. In the jagged glass environment, all of those skills and interests are like the name that can’t quite be remembered. Eventually I am reminded and realize that. What it feels like is a wall or some barrier pushing down while the “correct” answer is being coerced (sometimes nicely) to the front. Is this related to controlling by fear and the automatic reactions that have been programmed into our lives?
I bring up this topic to try to figure it out and to return to the topic of community. Funny thing is, others in the same community are immune because they have a different focus. For example, I have observed one person with a project and another person who wanted to learn the same topic ending up in the same room. They verbally agreed to work on the project together towards both of their goals. I have seen this several times. It has to be the correct mix of people, though, and it probably depends on the approach and the project. I have tried the same thing and have received more attitude than support from the idea. I find it all as interesting as it is nauseating. What keeps me hooked is that I have had enough of the times I have enjoyed to keep returning. The question is – which part will last?
Thanks for reading!
Although I have been writing, it’s mostly been for classes or work related. In fact, I have been so busy doing things that my internal schedule is off and I cannot sleep. Lucky you, or better yet, lucky me to take the time to write and maybe be able to rest after.
This weekend is homecoming. The last few years I have been participating in the 5k as a runner. For this event and other running events, I usually see friends participating. In the past, I have either been part of a group making plans to participate, or I have shared and asked on Facebook. I’ve even had friends come specifically to cheer (I have done the same) as their participation, which has even meant standing out in the cold waiting with me for the race to start, and trying to keep warm or find me to take pictures while I am on the course. Most of these friends are still around and participating in events. I usually find out because of a Facebook post after the fact or because we run into each other after the end of the race. For this weekend’s event, I decided to do it anyways, even though my training barely worked. I was on a roll with the c25k (couch to 5k) app for a few weeks, practicing all 3 days. After that, I went once a week a few more times, and the last time I walked most of the time. I am changing the goal I had of running the entire course to enjoying the event and running as much as possible (it’s faster and warmer). I think it’ll work..
Classes have been what I have been up to the most. I only have two and they keep me hopping. I am a part of an undergraduate research lab and a writing creative non-fiction class. Both require a lot of reading on top of any writing. I don’t mind the work, though, because the material is great. I want to be there. In fact, the last time I had a semester like this it was in the fall semester just before finishing the MBA program. Both those classes had big impacts, and I believe these will, too. They are pushing me forward.
What about everything else? I have felt at a crossroads for a while. In fact, when I read the blog posts for my job I can usually identify with the topic, and many times they seem to match what is happening in my life. It’s almost freaky, err, magical. Others must feel that way, too, since there are lots of conversations and special products tend to sell out. This post here resonated with me even more than usual cause I know I am in a place of crossroads, and it is a matter of the direction I choose (or not) as to what happens.
One direction I chose to go was west, all the way to California, to attend #SGSoCAL. I love Startup Grind conferences, and this gave me a chance to attend and also support the HQ team. Having the chance to interact, even a little bit, and also mingle with the attendees, was inspiring. The inspiration helps me. There is a lot of energy and things moving because people are putting their all into their business passion. It makes you want to help them and it makes you want to move, too. Plus, the week in Los Angeles was like returning to mid-summer. The temperature even topped 100 degrees F one day. It was worth the heat and especially the sunshine, and I made new friends, besides seeing some current friends. I have barely returned for a week and that week in Los Angeles already seems a long time ago.
Right before I left for Los Angeles, I kicked off the day with one of my yoga instructors and one of her friends at an event called Soul Pose, a yoga party. I love yoga and all the things that they added to the event, so it was a great kickoff for me. I even had a chance in Los Angeles to do yoga on the beach. In September! That doesn’t happen in Michigan except on a fluke.
And then there was Disneyland. The first and last time I was ever in the Los Angeles area I went with my grandmother (Bubbi) shortly after I turned 16 years old. It was the first time I had ever been on a plane and the first time to California. I don’t remember a lot about it except that we did NOT go to Disneyland. I believe we went to Universal Studios and CBS Studios. Plus, a couple of teens around the same age had moved from my block to live with their grandmother out there and we went to the Pacific Ocean. No Disneyland, though. Maybe it was too expensive or far away. I’m not sure, other than it did not happen.
When two of my friends at Startup Grind found out that I was coming to #SGSoCAL, they each separately told me that I HAD to go to Disneyland (one even made it a “last request” before he left). It’s not that they really needed to twist my arm as much as that they were even trying to. I found out at the conference that they were tag teaming me and discussing what to write while sitting next to each other and sending me separate messages. In the end, they may have both been more excited than I was that I got to go. Neither of them are at HQ anymore, so the effort to keep in touch will be different.
Thanks for reading to the end! Time to run.
I’m not really sure what it is about this summer that has been different. It’s been really weird – at least socially. I mentioned this before, since it has been a thing I have noticed all year. The summer has seemed extra long, though. What I have been excited about is yoga on the beach. I went a couple of times in July, with different instructors. One of them I have known longer than the other and she is also the first yoga instructor I ever went to, around four or five years ago. We ended up being the only two in the car and had a nice chat, plus a great class and lunch with the other ladies. On top of that, the rain held off until we were paying our lunch bills. Perfect timing!
The last time I went to yoga on the beach I rode with two instructors. It was another great day for yoga, with the lake in front of us, and the lighthouse to the right. After class, I asked if there was time to walk to the lighthouse on the pier. It turned out that both instructors wanted to join in on the walk. The trek across the beach towards the pier was normal – dodging kids and frisbees and smooshing any sand castles. Once on the pier, though, it was like a bonus class utilizing the architecture that was there. Although I did participate, I watched more than anything. Sometimes, my participation was a suggestion. If I thought I could do the pose, then I did try. It still felt uplifting just to be a part of what started as a request to walk to the pier. By the time we returned to our original “classroom,” the sky had become more overcast. We ended up leaving after we heard thunder a couple of times. Credit to the guy by the concession stand near the bathrooms who turned out to be more accurate than the weather forecast. His friend was creating sidewalk art that he claimed would be washed away within an hour. I hope she took some pictures before that happened!
Yoga on the beach has been a great summer activity (thank you, if any of my instructors are reading this!). What I have really missed is seeing friends who I am used to hanging out with throughout the month, again, probably because it is summer. I was really glad when one of them decided to celebrate his birthday at a baseball game and it ended up being a group of 12. It was fun to celebrate with the birthday friend AND see people who I knew, too. The forecast and the skies threatened rain. Luckily, that didn’t happen last night.
I loved waking up to the sound of the rain today and hoped that it would stay all day. The rain is such a relief from the humidity. That didn’t happen, and I felt stir crazy in my apartment. Since the bus runs on Saturday, I decided to go to the grocery store for a few things. As I was getting ready, one of my friends messaged me. I thought she was at home. It turned out that she was at the same store I was heading to, and she also rides the bus! We found each other in person for a minute, did our shopping, then met again on our way out to ride the bus back together. Funny thing – she doesn’t usually go to that particular store location, and we both ended up there. We chatted for a little bit after we both made it home, then I decided to be productive. Well…here’s proof of my attempt at productivity. Yes, it is a Saturday night. I don’t mind that writing (and listening to music) and possibly reading are how I will end the evening, as far as I know. What’s up with you?
This post is going to be a bit of an experiment. The experiment comes with the topic. As mentioned in The Bicycle Ride and Dancing it Out, motivation has been low lately. I think some of it comes from not feeling well. Even more than that, in this case, there has been an uncertainty, an unknown. Unknowns can be exciting, as one of my friends recently pointed out. As true as that can be, there is another side. The topic I am referring to is how women age. I don’t know where the models are supposed to be if they are not in your own family, so like a new parent might, if something seems weird, I make an appointment to see the doctor. Where is the community, similar to the mom groups, to help figure these things out? It’s one of the topics I dreamed about discussing when developing Hacker Gals. It never made it that far. It’s a topic that I thought would be expanded more for a “Psychology of Aging” class I took in the spring. Not much beyond “a change in hormone levels” included. Yeah, I knew that much already.
I remember a couple of women I worked with who experienced hot flashes, a lot. They would be dripping in sweat while the rest of us were all bundled up from being cold. I don’t know how long that was supposed to last, and it hasn’t been my experience at all.
When it comes to puberty and pregnancy, the information is all over the place. I feel like I am looked at by the medical staff like I am supposed to have these aging answers. If I had the answers then this post and my experience would be much different. Instead, I am taking the risk of sharing my uncertainty with the world.
Men, you can answer this, too. I find it interesting who comments on my posts, written or verbal. In trying to find connections, they come from unexpected sources sometimes, and that is ok.
So, as you might have noticed, my mood is slightly different than the last post. I did go to yoga on Tuesday and I plan on going at least one or two more times this week. As other answers surface, that will help me, too. If this sounds cryptic, it is meant to. I mean, this IS the internet.
It hasn’t happened in a long time where I have lost my motivation. I’m pretty much self-driven with a lot of things, including exercise, at least in the realms that I like. Lately, I haven’t wanted to run, and even though I am on a summer unlimited pass, I haven’t been to yoga since the middle of last week. Whether or not this seems weird to you, it definitely seems weird to me.
My homework this weekend was fitting for these thoughts. I started an online Holistic Living class. Since it is summer, that also means double time, and that technically I am already two weeks in with the four lessons. One of the topics discussed the continuum of balance that we are on which goes between chaos and stagnation. Those on the chaos end feel overwhelmed and those on the stagnate end get bored. Or, maybe unmotivated? What helps me with staying motivated are the social interactions and the support that comes from it, which has been minimal lately. Maybe we’re all at extremes, trying to come back towards the middle, and missing each other in the process. Or, maybe my circle of friends is such that I’m not part of the closest circle, and have to really assert myself or be willing to be by myself. Luckily, the air temperature has been cool enough that my apartment is comfortable without a fan on or extra windows open. I was happy enough to be doing my homework and I was able to take a dinner break out with a friend on Saturday. All good, right?
The other part I have noticed is that I don’t know what pictures I want in the frames on my wall. A few years ago, it was a no-brainer since there were several groups of friends who were special to me. Some people I saw regularly, others were from groups I used to see all the time, including classmates from high school. The classmate pictures were from interim reunion pictures. Those pages are now in an album. I’m not sure if the replacements will be people or scenes. Right now, I have blank frames.
On the flip side, Zumba is one class that I have been returning to lately at the gym. The instructor I like keeps us moving and plays more than the traditional Latin songs. There is usually one or two I can sing to because I have heard them on the radio, such as Cheap Thrills by Sia’. One of my favorites!
My Zumba instructor also talks about our energy helping to give her energy, and that sometimes you have to “Dance it out.” Dancing had been something else that I had not been motivated to do much until I was in Chicago. Shortly after that trip, I returned to Zumba and more dancing. I have loved dancing in that class and was super excited the first day back. Sometimes it is a challenge to keep up, yet I was able to the entire time, and have returned a couple of more times. What fun!
After being in my apartment for the majority of the weekend, I decided that I needed to get out once I finished my homework. Since it is a holiday, my choices were limited by what was open. Transportation was limited to walking or biking. I decided to bike ride, and I made it a challenge, too. Other than a hill that I chose to walk my bike up, I bicycled to a coffee shop more than 2.5 miles away. It’s pretty quiet, as expected. Still, it is a place to be interactive. Plus, I can treat myself to food and a tea. Changing perspectives always seems to be a good thing. Sometimes an inversion is a good choice. Tonight, the bike ride was a great choice!
The “Year of Yoga” is continuing through the summer. I purchased an unlimited package that is good through the end of August and have already registered for all of the 6am classes. The cool part about going to classes is getting the benefit of the background the instructors bring, besides the yoga (or any type of group class). One of my instructors is a therapist. The instructor uses the therapy background in how she talks to the class and what she has us think about. Many times, there is a theme. The theme of the past week was “chaos.” She basically stated that chaos is supposed to be in our life, and what if we accepted it. The urge is to fix or avoid chaos. Instead, she asked us to acknowledge it, and stop there. I have to say that I love these life lesson thoughts early in the day and it gave me something to think about while walking home. When I arrived home and opened my apartment door I felt welcomed by my chaos. It was a comfortable and familiar feeling, which seemed like a good thing, to me.
Although the lesson came after, I thought about the Startup Grind event I hosted a couple of days earlier. My challenge was carrying all the stuff needed. I opted to take the bus and be at least a little bit closer to the final destination. Even though what I carried fit with what is usually seen on the bus, I still found it a little bit funny. You’ll get the idea if you look at the featured photo. What I carried included a banner, a tripod, a couple of cloth Meijer bags, and I wore a backpack. Someone on the bus was nice enough to get up so I could have easy access to two seats by myself. Once off the bus, I had about 3 blocks to walk, and an elevator to ride.
When it comes to the event chaos, I’m getting better at managing it. The chaos comes because it is a mixture of people bringing their own challenges and chaos. I try to arrive early enough to take care of what I need to and then be fully focused on assisting everyone else. It is actually a fun challenge. Even someone who had bought a ticket ahead and knew he’d be late was able to be taken care of because I had that information. I plan to continue that practice and cannot wait for the next “lesson.” Welcome to my chaos! What is yours?
In my last blog post, I mentioned “taking back my space,” and I have made a great deal of progress. On Friday, the Salvation Army picked up just about everything I had ready to donate, including the chair, futon and filing cabinet. What I really find interesting is that it feels like I moved. I didn’t change locations at all. In fact, one of my friends asked if I was moving, and another friend noticed my answer, so maybe it was a question that multiple people had. I am not planning on moving. Part of the purpose for downsizing is to have items left that I can move myself. Mostly, though, the donation is to be able to enjoy more of the space in my apartment. I live in a studio, and I have accumulated a lifetime of stuff, some of which I definitely do not need anymore. Getting rid of bigger chunks, such as the futon, gives room to work on going through the rest. And, just space to work or rest better. It is great!
The other part I find interesting in this experience is that I am reminded of my first apartment from over seven years ago. I had a lot more stuff and it was a one bedroom with a living room and a kitchen and a fairly big full-size bathroom. When I originally moved in, I did not have a bed or even a futon, since both were bought later. I slept in my sleeping bag, which was on top of an exercise mat. The floor had carpeting, too. After I had been there around a month, one of my friends lent me an air mattress until I had a regular bed. Since that time, I have lived in three different houses (all four of those were also with my cat). Although it is inside of a house, the studio apartment is the first time I am back to an apartment (no cat). I am also back to sleeping on the floor, this time on purpose. It is actually really nice. I stuffed a couple of blankets with throw pillows and wrapped my sleeping bag around all of that to shape it, then put another blanket and bed spread on top. After sleeping on a mattress in my last place, I don’t mind being low to the ground. I like that the space is mobile – I don’t have to stick with the area I chose for my “bedroom.”
My favorite part, though? The wall space to do the inversions I learned in Yoga 🙂
One of the first things noted this morning in my head, and then out loud by my yoga instructor, was that the birds were chirping. Yay! A genuine sign of spring! As I type this, it is warm and sunny outside, very similar to when I was in California a few weeks ago. The difference is that I heard thunderstorms are expected later. Actually, that is typical for a Michigan spring.
Now that the weather description is over, the topic I have been thinking about was the discussion on social relationships during one of today’s classes. Probably the most interesting part is the hierarchy mapping with three concentric circles. In this diagram, you are in the center, your closest family and friends are in the closest circle to you, then friends who are not quite as close, and the outer circle contains people you know and who are usually acquaintances. We did an in class activity to look at a list of who we would put in the different circles, and where those people might put us, and this was also related to who we tell secrets to, who takes care of us when we are sick, and some other questions Those questions were also flipped around, as far as who we take care of when sick and who tells us secrets. Part of the point was to see what relationships are reciprocal. Someone with a significant other, for example, probably has that person in the inner most circle, and vice versa. Another point about taking care of people had to do with the attitude. In other words, there is a difference between feeling obligated to take care of someone when that person is sick versus wanting to take care of that person. Perception and attitudes are part of what may effect our overall health, too.
In my case, I used to have more people, including a spouse, within that first circle. The only reason I wouldn’t put as many friends there now is because our discussions may be deep yet most of the reciprocity is with those who are the closest in physical distance. We split between the two closest circles, if anything. Plus, I tend to take care of myself and use externals – sign up for classes so the instructors knows to look for me, set-up meetings where someone is expecting me, regularly visit the coffee shop for food as much as being in the community, and I make doctor’s appointments so there is a record and a relationship there, too. As much as I am glad to be capable of all of this, there are two reasons why I wish more people were closer friends: 1. It makes me busier and sometimes it makes me more isolated 2. I like the feeling of helping to take care of somebody more when I know they would help me for the same reason – that they care – as opposed to an obligation.
I realize that people do move on, or maybe “out” to the furthest circle. Maybe that is a part of making room in our lives for new and closer friends. According to the discussion, as we grow older, we have more friends who are closer and less friends overall because that is what becomes most important. I can definitely relate to that right now. Seeing a ton of people for my birthday, for example, can be a great thing. Knowing some of those people would want more than the general social relationship that I would also want is priceless. What do you think?
Thanks for reading!
One of the things consistently stated by different yoga instructors is to “let go what doesn’t serve you.” Another way of stating the same idea is to determine if an activity is moving you in the direction you want to go. It does seem that we sometimes take the long road to get to a destination. When that happens, did we really know what our destination was supposed to be?
Personally, for the first idea, I weigh the activity against the goals. Is it helping, even a little bit, or is it a distraction? Sometimes it is tough to tell and sometimes I want to do it anyways, and then usually regret that I did. Once in a while, I even ask others, and proceed based on the answers, and usually have varying results. What people say and what people end up doing, intentionally or not, can be completely different. All I know is that I end up returning to that original question, and this time I may answer it myself. If the Scarecrow is pointing in two directions, that’s not serving me, or anybody, and it is most likely time to click my heels and go home.
Thanks for reading!