Burrs

What a mess!

My thoughts:

“It’s a beautiful day and I have the time… I need to get out and clean those burrs out of Karmel’s mane, forelock and tail. I’ve avoided the work long enough, and who knows when I’ll find time again. I…hate…BURRS!”

Off to the pasture I go…

As I’m working to clean the burrs out of Karmel’s mane I’m feeling very smart and Zen like because I’m thinking I’m so connected to the process. “Where am I?” I think to myself, “I’m here. Now.” I’m feeling pretty satisfied with myself.

Karmel suddenly stomps his left front hoof on the ground and then puts his nose to his hoof.

I stop and look… No bugs… I shrug and I’m back to my work and the thoughts that go with it. “So meditative! This is a great exercise I should do this more often, I love these active meditations… Maybe I should write something… What a good old horse… I wonder if we are going hiking this weekend…?”

Maybe 30 seconds later another stomp and the nose… again I shrug it off, “random fly”.

*More thoughts*

He does it again and I only half notice because my mind is babbling along again about how meditative this activity is and how present I feel.

Suddenly a big horse head bumps into me and I take a half step back. My mind stops… then one word “Ground”! It’s as if Karmel actually spoke it to me even though I know it was merely me becoming present for the first time all day.

After the head bump I’m awake and present. Finally, REALLY present.

I realize he’s been letting me know that I’ve been in my head and not at all with him this whole time. I take a deep breath and start to ground.

I feel my feet firmly on the ground next to his big, beautiful hooves. I note there’s a lot of weight in my toes, tension in my quads pulling on my kneecaps, my hips pushed forward and my hands feverishly working on his mane as if getting him clean were a race.

I stop, take another deep breath and correct my body alignment; moving my weight to my heels, relaxing my quads, and overall becoming aware from the tips of my toes to the top of my head.

Karmel takes a big deep breath, rolling his nose as he exhales (If you can imagine a big inhale followed by a low cat purr sound, that’s what he did).

I follow his lead and take a deep refreshing breath (without the purring) and become instantly present with him.

I slow my pace as I remove the burrs from his mane.

My eyes relax and I notice a pattern to removing the burrs. I can see what’s connected where and how best to remove one burr and then the next. I realize I’m cleaning him at a faster pace, but with slower physical motions. The resistance is gone…

Every now and again my horse teacher takes a big deep breath and I follow suit.

CleanThe thoughts, I didn’t even realize were taking over, subside.

Karmel is noticing my energy, as my mind wanders, and he keeps redirecting my attention over and over.

What a kind, patient teacher.

And then I’m done. He’s clean. And we are here. Now. At least for a moment.

Thank you for the lesson.

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No… really, I am!

Sometimes it doesn’t come across that way. Friends and close introvertacquaintances often assume I am an extrovert.   This is a fair assumption because I’m very playful and outgoing and express extroverted quality in 2 main areas of my life.   The first is with those I am really close to. I’m playful in a very physical and childlike manner. I like to jump and dance and move and get other people to do it with me. Once you know me, and we find common ground I allow my authentic side to emerge.

The other area where I appear extroverted is when I’m in a leadership role. When I feel very comfortable in an environment or I’m running an event, I open up and work very hard to include everyone and make him or her feel at home.

You see, as an introvert, when I’m new to a situation or I’m the student I sit back, I observe and I attempt to be fairly invisible (although animals still feel my playfulness and want it to come out, but that’s another story). Being an introvert I know what it feels like to be outside looking in, to feel alone in a crowd, to feel lost and overwhelmed.  So when I am the leader I make sure to engage and make everyone feel at home, and help them feel safe, heard and connected.

That said, when an event or my “playtime” is done, I just need quiet. I need to shut down and recharge. I don’t want to go out all night; I definitely don’t want to be in environments where I have to yell to communicate. This is mainly because I’m physically incapable of the yelling part. My voice goes up an octave in pitch, but the volume is consistent.   Also, I love a deep conversation, and I find that talking and listening is difficult in a loud environment and this leaves the topics of conversation to general for my taste. Not to mention, if I’ve been going all day I’m physically and mentally done by evening. Nothing personal, it’s just the way it is.

So, for those that know me and even for those that are just meeting me, I know that I come across, quite often as extroverted. I’m high energy and a very positive person but I still need to recharge now and then. You may see me one day acting very quiet, contemplative and passive. Don’t worry, more then likely I’m not sad and nothing is wrong. I’m probably very happy, it’s just that I need some down time. I need to observe and listen and not bounce. Why?

Well…. because I really am an introvert!

newparadigmIt’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything and that’s mostly do to the self re-evaluations I’ve been up to.  I’ve finally slowed my role and I’m now interested in writing up what I’ve been working on and what I’ve been learning.  So the next few posts will be dedicated to this self discovery and experimentation.

Recently I read the book Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall. This book tells two stories. One is a WWII story about how Cretan rebels and British officers kidnapped a Nazi General off of the, Nazi occupied, island of Crete. The second is an interlaced story about the importance of natural movements, like the ones the Cretans practiced and what made the kidnapping possible, and how modern exercise has lost it’s usefulness.

The books emphasizes the importance of the bodies ability to burn fat for fuel and in the later chapters I was fascinated by the idea of rewiring my body to burn fat instead of carbs as my main source of fuel.   The book and my curiosity led me to the Maffetone, 2-week carbohydrate intolerance, Test.

I’ve always stated that I NEED carbs. If I don’t get them my body feels weak and lethargic and I easily get low blood sugar and become a grouchy monster. So when I read that this TEST required me to drop carbs for 2 weeks I was skeptical, and I worried for my families sanity and safety. As I read more about the test and the method I became intrigued because the list of Carb intolerance symptoms were as follows:

Carbohydrate Intolerance Health Survey. (Some Common Signs and Symptoms):

  • Poor concentration or sleepiness after meals.
  • Increased intestinal gas or bloating after meals.
  • Frequently hungry.
  • Increasing abdominal fat or facial fat (especially cheeks).
  • Frequently fatigued or low energy.
  • Insomnia or sleep apnea.
  • Waist size increasing with age.
  • Fingers swollen/feeling “tight” after exercise.
  • Personal or family history of diabetes, kidney or gall stones, gout, high blood pressure, high cholesterol/low HDL, high triglycerides, heart disease, stroke, breast cancer.
  • Low meat, fish or egg intake.
  • Frequent cravings for sweets or caffeine.
  • Polycystic ovary (ovarian cysts) for women.

My first thought when reading this was, “whoa, wait!  This isn’t what I’m suppose to feel like after eating?” For me, these symptoms, were my normal relationship with food.  Well, with the exception of the cysts and part about diabetes and such.

I’ve never been one to play around with fad diets or extreme restrictions but I love the fact that Maffetone makes it very clear that the carbohydrate intolerance test is just that, A TEST! A person shouldn’t continue the restricted diet for more then 14 days and then after that each individual needs to pay attention to their body to create a healthy relationship with the level of carbs they can tolerate.  Maffetone also makes if very clear that the foods are restricted but a person should never let themselves be hungry.  If you’re hungry eat!

SIDE NOTE:  My mom is currently taking this test and she is having trouble letting go of our societies current model that one must be hungry and monitoring calories to be eating right and not over-indulging.

I’m all for experiential experiments so I chose a date and took the test. As of today, I finished the test and I’m in my first follow up week where I’m slowly adding carbs back into my diet.

 

Results:

OUTSTANDING!

With the exception of Day 2 (lightheaded when I would stand up) and day 3 (felt like I had lead weights in my shoes), where I was withdrawing from carbs I’ve felt amazing! Here is what I noticed:

  • I lost 5 total pounds in 2 weeks , some is water weight some is fat. I’m not a heavy person and I mostly carry vanity weight; the weight that is healthy but hides the great 6pack abs everyone wants.  I was pleasantly surprise at the change in my body composition
  • I’ve had a ton of energy that was and is consistent all day
  • No mood swings and no feelings of low blood sugar
  • No headaches, stomach cramps, or bloating
  • I was never hungry. I ate when I wanted and then didn’t think about food most of the day.

 

Downside for me:

  • Since the test removes processed foods completely there is a lot of cooking and cleanup. I’ve always been one that when I want food I want it now! My go to foods that are quick were gone (even my fruit snacks). I did find some quick foods though: cucumber, almonds, cashew, carrots, and cheese.
  • Can’t really eat out without breaking the test in some way.
  • A lot more shopping.   Fresh food means buying what you will eat within a few days
  • I wasn’t super creative with my meals so I got a bit bored with the foods and would stare at my sons cereal box longingly
  • One day I had crazy cravings for something sweet.  At one point I was eyeing my son’s Frosted Mini Wheats as if my life depended on eating them.  I held strong though.  If you have the option it’s helpful to clean out any food you can’t have.

 

What I’m learning:

That’s for next time…

 

If you are interesting in the idea of burning fat as fuel go to http://philmaffetone.com/what-is-the-maffetone-method/

There is a lot of information including fitness suggestions, recipes (for after the test) and the MAF TEST.

Or google “fat for fuel” and you will find a ton of triathlete sites that suggest this style.

I definitely recommend the test for anyone. The fact that it’s so short and simple (but not easy) to follow makes it a worthwhile reset for the body.

 

Unitl next time…

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Weather

Posted: February 28, 2015 in Life
Tags: , ,
Stormy beach

Wild beach day

For the last day or 2 we have been having on again off again snow. I love snowstorms, especially when there are huge snowflakes. I love all wild weather! I’m not quite sure why I love this weather but I always have. Perhaps because my spirit is somewhat chaotic and the wild weather is something I connect with. I love to walk, and be out in heavy snow

storms. When I’m on the beach I love when the weather is overcast and rainy. I revel in waves and uneasy surf. When Colorado had its 500-year flood I was out and about driving and exploring the chaos. You can read more about that adventure here.

I may have gotten this love of wild weather from my mother. We always go out together and explore. I remember when I was a teenager we, my mother and I, were watching it rain the heaviest rain I had ever seen. We were both gazing out of the window fascinated by the power and we were imagining that there was a tornado somewhere. Sometime later we received a phone call from one of my aunts asking if we were safe. She told us that a tornado did touch down in our town and hit the cemetery. We were out the door to explore almost instantly. We love it. In another life we may have been storm chasers as a profession.

I remember another time when I was a young child that we had a huge blizzard maybe the Colorado blizzard of ’82. No, that was over Christmas. I think that year we powered through the blizzard on Christmas day to go to my aunts house for our traditional get together (just the 2 families). No storm ever stopped my family. On another occasion, maybe ’83, after the storm had passed we went out and built snow forts and my uncle came over with his 3 wheeler and we powered through the snow and he would run into drifts and stop then he would throw me into the snow drift and watch me disappear. We played this game for, what seemed to me, most of the day. I would have kept going but at some point he decided I was frozen and we went home. We may have gone back out, but I don’t remember.

As I write all of these events I’m starting to realize my draw to this kind of weather. For my family it’s always been fun and a way to connect. We have always been happy in this type of weather and it has always been a powerful feeling to be out. When the weather was sending others in, we were always headed out. Love, connection, playfulness, and adventure, that’s what I feel in this weather.

Snow play

What are you doing

During the Colorado flood in 2013 my son was with my mom and me as we powered around. At the time he was 3 and now and then he talks about “the big water”. I don’t think it scared him, since it didn’t scare us and we were having a great time trying to find a road that wasn’t closed so we could go home. He may have gotten bored as we spent hours out driving around. He was such a trooper.

As I sit here writing this post the snow has subsided. It’s still snowing but the flakes are small again, not as powerful as before. I still love the beautiful stillness but it doesn’t call me out the way more extreme weather does. As time goes on I hope that I’m able to pass this love of wild weather onto my son. At this point I think it’s very possible since my husband isn’t dissuaded by weather either.

As a family, our motto seems to be:

Big snow? Let’s hit the slopes!

OR

Bad weather?   Well the office will be quiet and I should get a lot done.

Not much stops us from getting out and living. The more chaotic the weather the more we seem to do.

What does it mean to be fit?  If I were to poll a group of people would it be based on endurance, strength, asthetics?  My guess is that fitness would be directly linked to exercise, but it doesn’t have to be.  I would like to propose another way to think about fitness.

This is an experiential proposal.  Take a ride with me and see what you connect with and how it makes you feel.

Over the last year I have seen a few commercials that hint at fitness and I thought I would throw my perspective at them in the hopes that people may take a step back and re-evaluate their beliefs around fitness.

This first commercial has nothing to do with fitness but I was drawn in by the initial statement “Look at them.  Making moves that would put an adult in the emergency room.”  This off handed comment is stated as cold, hard fact.  It screams, “When you are an adult you can no longer play.  Deal with it. You are weak and fragile!”  After 5 seconds this commercial had lost me and I was stomping around my living room arguing with the t.v.  “People don’t believe this do they?” Are you kidding me?  What is this world coming to?!”  Later, I was still disturbed by the commercial but when I tried to find it I couldn’t remember what it was for. Turns out, it was a Cadillac car commercial.  They definitely weren’t marketing to me.

This next commercial I first saw on ESPN and to tell the truth, I think it’s great.  I found it Laugh Out Loud funny and although the focus is on exercise, the commercials presentation hits at our competitive spirit and might get people out the door and moving.  Still, for me, it’s message is exercise and that doesn’t quite resonate.

Props for the great satire, as I still laugh when I watch it.

The last of the commercials I want to present is a 180° turn from the first video.  It speaks to our child spirit.  The commercial talks about toys, building forts, playing on playground, staying out until after dark all the while showing pictures of adults climbing mountains, kayaking, and playing soccer.  It speaks to the need for movement and fitness in the form of play and usefulness.  This commercial sings to my heart and it makes me want to get out of my house and move.  Not for exercise. Not for competition. But for my mind, body and spirit.  In my opinion, this is why we have the ability to move.  We move so we can explore, create and enjoy our world.

Video  —  Posted: October 1, 2014 in Life, Movement
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Work or play

Work? Play? … Yes!

For a good portion of my life, work and play have been on opposite ends of the spectrum. Either I was doing productive, necessary work or I was free and playing; but never were they combined. How could they be? In my mind they were opposites.

Which isn’t surprising since even the definitions for these words put them at odds.

Work:

  1. Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.
  2. Mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.

Play:

  1. Activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, esp. by children.
  2. The conducting of an athletic match or contest.

Now, however, the idea that work and play are opposites doesn’t fly for me. The change occurred when I had my son and he started going to a Montessori school at 7 months old.  My son was doing sitting work and block stacking work. At one point he spent months doing container work which involved opening and closing containers that have different types of tops. In Montessori the children are curious and they are driven by their enjoyment of exploration and discovery. It’s also very purposeful because this exploration is how children discover their world, and how they perfect skills such as motor coordination, executive functions, troubleshooting, personal responsibility, and socialization. Every activity they engage in is very much their work. This is where my personal definitions of work and play changed. I now see the words this way: Work has a purpose or result that is external in nature and play is about our inner passion and enjoyment.

So here is my question: When did we as a society decide that work should be divorced from enjoyment, curiosity, and personal expression?

 In David Elkind’s article “The Values of Outdoor Play” he postulates that the requirements for a full happy and productive life consist of 3 things: Play, Love and Work.

“Play, love, and work are the innate drives that power human thought and action throughout the life cycle. Play is the drive to transform the world to meet our personal needs. Love is the drive to express our desires, feelings, and emotions. Work is the drive to adapt to the demands of the physical and social world. “–David Elkind

He goes on to categorize activities from this perspective:

  • Love is something one undertakes of their own initiative.
  • Play encompasses personal expression of the activity
  • Work comprises the products produced that are both original and useful to all.

With this new information let us re-evaluate what it means to play and to work. Our priorities get confused when we separate the two. At some point we decided that earning money at a job is a high priority, but taking care of our physical body is optional. We started to see being busy, stressed and always on the move as success. While relaxation, enjoyment and mental calm we regard as unproductive. It’s time to turn our work into play and our play into work. Or stated slightly differently: Our work should be enjoyable and fulfilling and our play should be honored for how purposeful it truly is. Our play is of the highest importance for our well-being and creative spirit. Embrace it and activate your highest potential. No more Work vs. Play. Let’s make it Work + Play … + Love.

Combine them, embrace them and live a full, happy and productive life!

horsesMy alarm seemed to go off very early this morning so I hit snooze.  Shortly there after my phone rang.  Turns out my horses decided that today would be the perfect morning to escape their field and storm around the countryside.

As I hurried out to collect them it occurred to me that whenever I spend time with my horses I learn something new about myself. Today, it was the knowledge that when I move with purpose, I move very easily.  In this particular case I had to run down the horses before they disappeared over the horizon!  I bounded over wood fences, dove under barbed-wire fences and sprinted across fields.    All the skills I practice in the park, and all the time I spend playing on the floor with my son has had the intended effect.  When I need a skill in the moment my body is prepared, fluid and capable.  Even more so then I sometimes realize.

When I finally caught up with my very winded herd, they looked at me and seemed to say “See! You CAN run like the wind!” This morning’s adventure made me so happy, it energized my day and gave me a new perspective on my skills and abilities. I so love my herd for that!