Good Morning, Sunshine!

My goodness, it is HARD to get out of bed on Monday morning! I just couldn’t get my eyes open. It was hot, so I woke up feeling loggy (is that actually a word?) and stuffed up and just could not motivate myself to get moving. However, in keeping to my commitment to maintaining my morning practice, I rolled out of the bed (better late than never), stiff-walked into the bathroom and then straight into the yellow room. Fired up the computer & fed the cats while it turned itself on. Put in a 20 minute yoga DVD and rolled out my mat & put on my shorts & t-shirt while it set up. I yawned through practically the entire thing, but I did it and I was glad. 🙂 Had my cereal & banana for breakfast, grabbed my lunch (chili – see yesterday’s post) and got on my bike.
Oh, my – what a beautiful morning for a bike ride! Not a cloud in the sky. Birds singing. Breeze wafting. Just lovely! I had decided to wear a skirt to work today since the weather is so hot. I think that may have been a mistake, though, as the ride was very …. refreshing…as my skirt kept riding up my legs. At least I gave local traffic something to smile at, eh? LOL!

yoga & my crock pot

One of the things I learned in Weight Watchers was to pre-plan and prepare meals ahead of time. Now, while I always admired people who were organized enough to do that, it wasn’t something that I ever actually tried to do very often for myself. I was always too busy. Oh, sometimes I’d go through a phase but it never lasted beyond a week. But during the time that I was loosing that burdensome 60 pounds, it became an essential tool, and it worked very well. I was working 1/2 days and I had the afternoons to browse cook books and decide what I wanted to make. I would make big crock pots of stew or soup  I would get two suppers for us plus 5 lunches for me out of each crock-pot creation. Luckily, I am happy to eat the same thing several days in a row.  My crock pot soups were a staple in our diet. My weight loss journey, like my balance journey was moving forward, sometimes going gangbusters and sometimes wobbling a bit, but staying strong throughout – relying on new habits and tools – like crock pot chili and my new yoga practice.

If you’ll indulge me, I can relate this to my yoga practice.  Yes, I can! I think of this phase as being in Warrior II. Feet firmly rooted, legs strong. Arms long and reaching, chest open – powerful and grounded. Stable and steady. Knowing there was someplace to move forward towards. Moving forwards towards Warrior I. Hips square off to the front foot. Arms reach overhead. I’m a little wobbly at first, but soon begin to settle down and feel strong again. Relying on the strength of my core and my legs. Knowing that they were there for me because I had built the habit of my morning practice. Like the habit of pre-planning my meals, I could rely on that.

Then my 1/2 days ended and my job reverted to full-time. Okay – I knew that this was happening. I knew which day it was happening on. But somehow, I didn’t plan for it. The first day, Kelly and I looked at each other and said “what’s for supper?” Aaak! There was nothing pre-planned. So we had soup and sandwiches. And again the next day. And the next. We started to look at each other in panic every morning and I would say, “just take something out of the freezer and we’ll figure it out tonight.” I gained 8 of my lost discarded pounds back in what felt like over night. Because not pre-planning means more than settling for a hurried dinner, it means that when I walk through the door at the end of the day, I can’t rely on knowing that a nutritious, point-friendly meal is only minutes away. So I start to snack while I figure out what I’m going to cook for supper. That’s a meal-worth of snacking while I’m making dinner. It also means I don’t have lunches planned for the week. And that means dashing around in the morning, getting stressed because I don’t know what I’m taking for lunch. Making me late and grumpy.

Yes, something was seriously out of balance in the meal department. It took me until this morning to figure out what it was. So, this morning, I stood in my nightgown in my sun-filled kitchen and started chopping vegetables. I filled my crock pot with whatever I could find in my fridge and cupboards and I made a chili. This will be 2 suppers and 5 lunches for the week plus some for the freezer. Later today I will look in the freezer and decide what I need from the store to make another meal that will do for 3 more suppers for the week. I put the knife down and stand in mountain pose for a moment, feeling balance flood through me. Feeling okay for the week ahead.

Warrior III –  my standing leg is rooted deep into the earth as place my hands on my hips, lean forward and lift my back leg straight out from the hip, my flexed foot reaching through the heel. My hands stretch out to the sides, then forward. I am a plane, flying. I tip and wobble. I touch the wall for balance, I touch my toe back down for balance. I try again. How long can I hold the pose each time? I practice and keep trying. I know that I will eventually hold it strong and true. I have the tools. I have prepared for this moment. My heel reaches strong to the back – to the past. My standing leg is strongly rooted into the ground – into the present. My hands reach forward to the future.

Today’s chili happens to be vegan:
black beans (1 can)
diced tomatoes (2 cans)
chopped carrots (approx. 2 cups)
1 medium chopped zucchini
1 double handful chopped mushrooms
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
4  “use-today-or-throw-away” tomatoes found in the back of the fridge
2 T chili powder (I like my chili mild)

Put everything into a 15-quart crock pot. Cook on low most of the day. Don’t make it too liquidy because the vegetables will cook down and make their own juice. You can pretty much throw in whatever vegetables you have in the fridge – especially ones that need to get used up quickly (like my tomatoes). Serve with rice. If fact, do like I do and make a big pot of rice and store it in the fridge – reheating portions as needed during the week.


My home yoga practice

Another part of my balance journey is recognizing that I need to create balance and health in my mind, body & spirit. Toward this end, I am very proud to say that I have started a home yoga practice over the past several weeks and I feel quite devoted to it. I have always enjoyed yoga, and some time a month or so ago I decided to practice every day. I have taken classes off and on for many years and I have a small collection of DVDs that I would put on now and again. I read, and I work with “live” teachers when I have questions. Also, I have a lot of training in dance and dance instruction, which has resulted in good self-awareness & body knowledge. I know when something feels safe and when something doesn’t, so I’ve always felt okay to work with my DVDs on my own.

When we re-did the flooring in the house this month, I took the opportunity to re-vamp my sewing room, which I have always called the “yellow” room since we painted it several years ago, into a multi-purpose room. I packed the sewing machine & portable table to a place where it’s accessible to set up when I need to use it but otherwise out of the way. I mean, I don’t sew everyday. Or even every week. Or every month! I sew in spurts. When I’m not sewing, the machine can live elsewhere. I then sorted my stash of fat quarters into clear plastic containers according to colour family and put them on a bookshelf along with all my treasured books and DVDs. It’s so nice to see all my things so clearly!

 I cleared out the entire room so the floor is bare of all but the necessary furniture, and it looks very nice with the wood laminate floors. I hung pretty sheer curtains in the window and hung my favourite prints on the walls. The walls are bright sunshine yellow. I kept my rocking chair, so that I could sit in there and have a place to be alone. I also set my laptop up on the sideboard that I use for storage so that I have something to play my yoga & Pilates DVDs on. It is a very tiny room, but there is just enough space to roll out my yoga mat in front of the computer screen and that’s all I need.

Every morning I grumble my way out of bed and make my way down the hall to my yellow room, roll out the mat, fire up the computer and choose from my small collection of DVDs. While the DVD is loading, I feed my two very hungry cats (who start protesting their hunger the moment my feet hit the floor). Misty is on the chest, watching, in this photo.

Then I begin. I am always stiff in the morning –who isn’t! But as the days have gone on, I find that the stiffness leaves my body sooner than it used to do. I am now putting my palms on the floor after only the third standing forward bend. A small victory, but important and one I am grateful for.

Some mornings I do only 20 minutes. Other mornings I do 40 – 60 minutes. I’ve begun noticing how much better I feel during the day. I start my day with more energy and purpose. My muscles are a little sore, but not terribly – just enough so I know I’ve worked them. I rotate my DVDs so the practice is slightly different every day. Sometimes I add a Pilates or other different workout to my practice. This morning I did a 20 minute Pilates workout followed by a 20 minute yoga session and then I rode my bike to work. What a great way to start the week!