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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Starting week 3 of ChiRunning

Last Wednesday I went for my run in the morning and felt great. And then I got sick. I have had an intestinal blech for a week now. It is still hanging on, but Thursday and Friday it was accompanied by fever and some cramping, so I didn't run Friday. I also didn't run Saturday but I went out Monday for my Long Slow Distance run. I ran for 42 minutes and went about 2.3 miles, which is darn awesome. I ran Zombies Run! Mission 22. There is one more left to Season One after this.

Today I got back on my regular schedule and did a training run. I was working on my lean today while running. I think I'm really starting to get it. My hips are a bit tight right now but my knee feels pretty good. This was 2 minute walks and 3 minute runs. The last run... My body did not want to go there. But I made it!

Also, I knitted a knee cozy because my knee feels better if it is warm.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

ChiRunning Day 3: Long Slow Distance Run

Today was my very first "Long Slow Distance" run... and instead of doing 2 minutes walking 2 minutes running, I just ran, in 'first gear' as they say in ChiRunning.  This means virtually no lean--just what you need to move forward, no more.  I spent the whole time focusing on my posture--keeping my feet aligned, keeping my C-shape (pelvis level and chin down!) and my core strong.  I jogged for 1.6 miles around the local middle school's track (it was dark! because we turned the clocks back!  And so this morning I woke up 'early' and was early to work and I still had a great night's sleep and it was light when I awoke, which is a darn good thing in my book!  But it was definitely too dark for running on the street--though actually the street is better lit than this track.  Sigh.  I shall find a solution.  It will probably be running earlier).

So, the knee is doing okay and the rest of my body feels good and I can eat whatever I darn well please tonight.

And this morning I got this out of the back of my closet:

a shirt I haven't worn in five years or more!!! And it fits really well!  And there was a jacket too.

After work (you can see my messy office in the background) I went to Panache Coffee in Framingham to meet up with a bunch of other knitters and drink coffee.  I called the blueberry scone I ate 'lunch' and it was really good even though it wasn't terribly nutritious.  It isn't often I have a chance to get together with a bunch of knitters and just knit.  This was a good thing!

But I'll try to run earlier next week.   Seriously.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

ChiRunning Day 3, and New Shoes!

Today was another rest day, but yesterday was not, and I did my workout.

I did things differently.  First of all, instead of running for 35-40 minutes as fast as I could endure, I walked 9/10 of it and I only went for 22 minutes (partly because that's all I had budgeted, but also because I'm trying so very hard to not hurt myself.  I practiced walking Very Fast and sometimes that became running. But sometimes it was still walking Very Fast.  And I did not wear a brace or tape, and I still didn't hurt myself.  I feel okay today and I tried to stay conscious all day today of my posture, etc.  There's a bit of stiffness, but that's okay--on Wednesday night it was hurting.

I'm still trying and trying to remember to keep my posture good all day.  My butt still likes to stick out and my chin still likes to come up, and I've just been trying hard to gently put myself back when I sense I have gone out of alignment.  Not judging myself--that's a rough one.  Rough!  And here's something else.  Shayla Morrigan posted this on Facebook today and I think I will look at it daily and make it my mantra, because I know that my stress directs itself straight to my hips and legs (and to my shoulders, though not as bad).

"Be productive yet calm.  If I could just incorporate this one thing into my life I'd be better off!  And if I could remember to *just breathe! and *let go of what I can't control... wow, I'd make a huge turnaround.

So today I went out and bought myself a new pair of running shoes.  This is because in reading ChiRunning I read the bit about shoes which went something like this: Are your shoes over four months old? (mine are 6).  Examine the soles for wear-and-tear.  Discard the shoes if there are places where the top and part of the middle layers of the soles are worn off.  Yeah.  They are binned, because they were flat.  According to the book, this can account for leg pain.  Hmmmm.  So I went to REI and I bought a brand new pair that look like this:

Which, if you think they look familiar, is because they are identical to the pair I bought last spring!  But they were on clearance for $44! SCORE!  The new model of this shoe costs $99.

I also ordered a new pair of winter boots because I have none that make my feet happy.  But I had to get them online because the pair I wanted was not in the store.

Oh, I've just caught myself slouching.  Gotta stop that.  Also, gotta not judge myself for it!  Heavens, this is hard work.  I'm going to go work on this:

It keeps growing!  Must finish it soonish!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

ChiRunning Day 2: Rest Day

Yesterday was a rest day.  It was also Halloween, so it was good I rested.

Today is also a rest day, because really I should've done Tuesday's workout yesterday. But this worked better, so I am happy.

I killed my knee yesterday.  Not running.  Nope, walking around.  Trick-or-Treating with my nieces (my son having gone out with his friends, being that age.  He was a Creeper from Minecraft and he wore a suit and carried a briefcase, which was incredibly cute, honestly!  I helped him wrap the box he used in green wrapping paper but otherwise he made the whole thing himself.  We have transported ourselves into a new era of Halloween Costuming.  Also, one of his friends said, "You know, you can buy one of those for like $20, and we said, "Ha! we spent $2.99 for some wrapping paper!"  There is a real triumph in being cheap.  I mean, frugal. :-D)

So, I may never ever wear shoes that are not Very Very Flat.  Ever again.  Because that's what I did yesterday, and now, OW.  And I also may never take the dog trick-or-treating on a short leash again, because he pulls on me--just a little, but he does--and that makes me put undue pressure on my knees, reining him in.  Bah.  I do not like pain.

So today on my rest day I will go shopping, which will include a trip to the mall, and I will be spending my entire shopping trip being extremely careful of my knee placement and body alignment.  I have reconfigured these slippers by removing the leather soles that aren't in the picture because I put them on after this, and sewing leather bits to the bottoms so they don't stretch the shoes out.  So now I don't have to scuff around to keep them on.  Much awesome!  Comfy for house wear!

Tomorrow if it still hurts I will do Very Careful Walking for my exercise session.  Because though I don't seem to hurt myself running, I definitely don't want this to get worse.  This is at 'kneecap feels kinda wobbly' stage and that truly worries me.  Kneecaps should not feel wobbly.  But I am determined to keep exercising because not exercising means a whole bunch of things I don't want.  Like, today? I passed the 20lbs mark in my weight-loss progress!  WHEE!!  And exercise has contributed terrifically to the fact that I look and feel... terrific!  Imagine what I'll look like 20 more pounds down the road!

Wish me luck.  Wish me healthy knees.  Wish me pain-free.  Here I go, doing laundry and then going on my weekly shopping-for-work trip! exciting life I lead, eh? :-D

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

ChiRunning Day 1

I got the ChiRunning people to reset my start date to today and I redid workout 1.  I used the Zombies, Run! C25K app; its timing is a bit off from the ChiRunning one but not too much, and mostly I just made sure my core was strong throughout the workout.  I actually walked part of it, but what I feel as a 'running' gait is actually more comfortable for me.  I'm doing my best to get my full foot strike down, and I think I had it at least a bit of the time.  I tried shortening my stride and going faster, and there were a few moments when that even worked.

It was raining the whole time (thanks, Hurricane Sandy!) and I came in looking slightly drowned-rat-esque, and my knee still hurts but it isn't worse.  I'll take not worse for now.

I tense up my lower legs when I run. Bet that adds to the leg pain.  I'm going to research the Body Looseners in the book and see what they have for lower legs.

Running Remix

Well, hello.  It has been a while, hasn't it?  According to my ticker I am down 19 pounds (really 18.8 but the ticker doesn't do decimals) and that's, just huge.

I am still attempting to run, but of course the moment I finished up with my calf injury, I hurt my knee.  Well, re-initiated a wonderful injury from long ago, really: I've been wrestling with knee stuff since my late 20s, and I weigh a couple more pounds than I did then (even with having lost 19 pounds, yep).

And work started up.  I'm still managing to get out to run several times a week but it isn't as consistent as it was during the summer. So, I have been reading ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer.  I'd read ChiWalking years ago, and I absolutely remembered some of it and applied what I remembered--but.  First of all, the walking and running bits are different, and second of all? I didn't remember it all.  So, time to go back to the drawing board.  I've been running while applying some of what I'm learning, but it isn't enough--I have to go all the way back, starting now, and start over, because the way I'm running is causing injury.  I have to relearn moving.  I have to relearn standing.  I have to relearn sitting and walking.  And then I have to relearn running too.  The whole kit and caboodle has to start from scratch.

I registered for a training session on with the goal of eventually running 5K.  And I have kept reading (I've read the section on injuries twice now).  I have a run coming up today according to the training session.  Of course, I've been impatient.  I want to keep going far and fast (I've been doing 2 miles in 37 minutes which isn't superfast but it's considerably faster than I was running before).  I want to keep up with the C25K training I was doing.  I want to keep up with Zombies, Run!

But I have to stop.  I have to back off.  I have to start over.

So, I'm starting with the self-evaluation in the book.  And then I'm starting with the very first workout and Form Focus and I'll do it as long and as often as I need to to master the first Form Focus.  Doing it again is not an issue.  Keeping my knee from hurting is totally an issue.

Physical Assessment

1. Are you currently nursing any injuries, aches, or pains? Yes.  My right kneecap and the muscles to the inside of my knee are painful and I have hip pain (that hasn't been bothering me when I run, though) and general tension throughout my body. I have also suffered from Plantar Fasciitis in the past though it has not recurred as a result of running so far.
2. Do you have any physical conditions that would warrant a doctor's approval or consultation before beginning a running program? At this time I'm going to say no, though if the knee doesn't improve I will have to take it to a doctor.
3. What is the maximum number of miles or minutes you could comfortably run today? Without knee injury--just thinking about my cardio capacity, etc., I have comfortably run 40 minutes/about 2 miles at a slow pace and I could probably go farther at the slow pace.  With the knee injury... it kinda depends.  
4. Are you overweight? Do you use running for weight management? Yes, and yes.

I don't yet know my resting heart rate.  I'll document that at a different time.

Mental Assessment: Thinking/Feeling

1. How much a part of your life do you want running to occupy? I would like it to be a regular recreation practice.  I'm not at this time planning to enter marathons or have running become the core of my being, but I'd love to run a 5K for charity once in a while.
2. Why do you run? Because it's fun (especially with Zombies!) and because it burns calories at a higher rate than walking.  Also, it has helped me with some of my leg cramping issues and it just plain feels good.
3. What do you want from running? Weight loss, health, a feeling of well-being and also of triumph!
4. Do you feel better training with a group? Alone? with a partner? Unapologetically, I like to run alone.  I'd love to get to a point where my dog could come with me, but otherwise, me and the road.  Partly this is because I'm still really slow, and when other runners are with me I feel competitive.
5. How good are you at being self-motivated/staying with a training program? Um. Not the best.  But my MFP friends are keeping me going and so is doing this blog publicly. 
6. Would you like to achieve a certain distance or pace? I would like to run a 5K sometime soon--I'm more motivated to do it in the springtime! but maybe go someplace warm and do one over the winter. :-D
7. Is there a specific race you'd like to train for? not at the moment... there are a couple in the springtime I've been looking at.  I was thinking about a Turkey Trot but I think my knee needs to heal before I try.
8. What are your fears around running? being the last person across the finish line/being the object of pity; hurting myself.

Pre-Assessment of Chi-Running Techniques

I haven't been through the lessons in Chapter 5 yet, but I have already started to notice how this technique is going to be hard (and also which parts will be easy).  So I thought I'd start with where I am now and just note...

The Big Thing I need to start with is my C-shape.  I habitually stick my butt out in back and my chin out in front--I've noticed it a lot.  I think once I get this down--once it becomes habitual for me, all day, to level my pelvis and strengthen my core--the rest will fall into place.

I also notice that 1) the parts of my body that are supposed to be loose are tense.  and 2) my right foot splays out just slightly, which according to the book contributes strongly to knee issues.  It happens less when I run than in normal life.

There's all sorts of other bits--I'm not leaning right, I'm not peeling my feet up right... but I have to start with my C-shape until when I check in with myself throughout the day I find that I'm not all weird-postured.

I'm working on getting my dates changed in the ChiRunning site because I signed up for a training program... I'll either run today or tomorrow, not sure which... and all I'm going to focus on is my C-shape.

I'll let you know how it goes.  Meanwhile, knitting pictures! Because we all know we need those!

"Smoke Before Flame" oven-dyed yarn

"Blue Dog Yarn"--gradient dyed in the crockpot

Beaded choker...lovely phone picture.

D's new socks!


Socks for a Faerie Queen

Monday, September 3, 2012

Down for the count...

Dang it dang it dang it.

Saturday on my run? Another owie.

Not as bad as the first Owie a few weeks ago, but it has the feel of wanting to become that bad. I am not going to let it!  I am applying liberal amounts of ShaylaMyst's Arnica Salve, using  lots of Advil, and using a couple of Ancient Torture Devices to beat my muscles into submission.

I am itching to run.

I do not want to hurt myself again.

It is a Conundrum.

I am contemplating trying a C25K regimen, especially as I have only a few Zombie runs left to do before I finish the season.  I'd like to work my speed up.  I definitely will have to wrap my calf muscles before running from now on, once this stops hurting.  Gah.  With all the bits of me I thought would hurt, I never thought about my silly calf muscles.  It is quite upsetting.

I'm very glad Labor Day weekend is over.  I have been, perhaps, injudicious in my food consumption, and because of my silly calf, I have not exercised.  Tomorrow I can get back to normal, even if normal is slowish walking instead of the thing I usually do, which is still slow, but faster than this.

And work, which means not sitting home snacking.  Yay work!

Meetings this week in the evening and on the weekend should keep me to my diet, right? :-D  Yeah, maybe.

Want a gratuitous knitting picture?  I finished some socks for my nieces.  The smaller pair doesn't fit, darn it. I have to make another pair, and these were torture the first time.  Maybe they'll go better the next time just because I'm used to them now.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Zombies are Coming!!!

So, hi.

Long time no blog.

Here's where I am.  D is in 5th grade, as of this past Wednesday.  I'm starting my second year as DRE at a wonderful congregation nearby, where I am surrounded by a warm fuzzy feeling of love and acceptance like a nice warm blanket.  My sweetheart has become the Sole Proprietor of his business, which has its very good things and its not so good things.  There has been some stress, but I think some has also been alleviated: the kind that comes of not being able to control your own destiny, as it were.  He's also chair of the board of our church (not the one I work at) and that's been interesting. I'm hoping things settle down as the church year gets started and people have things to do.

And at the beginning of this past summer, having completed a successful (in the main) year coordinating RE classes for my church, I looked in the mirror and at the scale and went, yeah. Eew.

Fortunately at the same time, a few dear friends from the House Cup also looked at their scales and went "Eew."  And we all went over to MyFitnessPal and started cheering each other on.  This has helped me more than anything, ever... and I am down 15 pounds!  Well, it was 15 yesterday and 14 today, but close enough.

The other thing is, I started doing this thing that isn't walking.  It isn't running, mind you.  Running implies going faster than other people can walk.  But it also isn't walking.  My knees are lifting and my feet are leaving the ground much more determinedly than they would be if I were walking. And I'm working up a much bigger sweat than I would if I were just walking. My speed has increased over the summer, too, though I'm still blasted slow for someone who isn't walking. :-D  Darned short legs.

I always thought running was out of the question for me.  I have had knee problems, ankle problems, hip problems.  I huff and puff and get exhausted, and then when I'm done I've hurt every bit of me and then I can't move the next day (or week, or, you know, lifetime).  But a couple of years ago my friend Elizabeth clued me in to the concept of Barefoot Running, which at the time sounded like approximately the stupidest thing you could do ever.  Run barefoot? Huh? But everybody knows our feet need cushioning and padding and arch support or our legs won't do the things they're supposed to do, right?

Wait.  We're not born with shoes.  And runners from Africa have been showing us in our own marathons that actually, bare feet work just perfectly, thank you very much.  And as to the thing that freaked me out worst: stepping on a piece of broken glass and incapacitating myself forever?

This is the second pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes I've owned.  The first pair is a plain black pair with no treads.  I find them basically uncomfortable, the black ones.  They're too tight and the thing that comes up over my heel cuts into the back of my heel and hurts, and the drawstring tends to cut off my circulation even when I wear it loose.  And unless my toenails are trimmed all the way to the quick, the shoes press against my toes funny and then I start hurting.  And the soles aren't thick enough and so every rock drives into the bottom of my feet unless I'm really careful about where I step.  

So, I thought, okay, they must be too small.  So I went to REI (where you can now try on Vibrams! which is brilliant!) and tried on this pair (which was on clearance! Also brilliant!) and they felt bigger and lighter and didn't cut me in funny ways, and they have little treads on the bottoms that prevent me from stepping on rocks and really hurting myself.  And I bought them and wore them around and they are great! And I checked the size, and they are the same size as the other pair (Eur 41) but they are 1/2 inch longer.  'Tis a mystery, I tell you.

But just owning the shoes isn't enough.  The other thing I was still doing with Vibrams which was making things not good was running and walking in a way that is really bad for your hips, knees, and ankles.  All the padding on the bottoms of our shoes has made us think that it's okay to come down on the heel of your foot when you run (or walk fast! this is how I got Plantar Fasciitis a couple of years back!) and then stretch your feet out in front of you to make your stride wider in order to go faster.  Seriously, this is not good for your body, or at least, it's not good for mine.  As my friends are fond of saying, YMMV. (That's Your Mileage May Vary... yes, it took me a long time to figure that out). But this whole re-thinking how I run (and stand! and walk!) has made a world of difference for me and I can't figure out a down side.

So.  Then my friend Dan pointed me at this article.    I have this pinned in Pinterest, I've posted it in Rav and on Facebook, and I go back to it at least a few times a month.  It includes a link to this video which doesn't seem to be a YouTube one and therefore I can't embed.  But it's worth it! So the article is about HG George's Hundred-Up exercises.  It's all about proper form for running, and it's an exercise you can do anywhere!! that will help prepare you for running without injury.  I applied some, and hips, knees, and ankles--and the plantar fasciitis--all were happy and quiescent.

And then on August 11, I was out running Mission 19 of Zombies, Run! (another amazing, wonderful source of running motivation for those who love Zombies! I have a hard time not running when Sam says, "They're coming, Five! RUN!") with my dog.  Which means, heaven love him, that because I was concentrating on what my beagle was doing, I was not concentrating on what my body was doing.  Form flew out the window, and my calf muscle (right leg) started to ache during my mission.  I'd had some minor calf flare-ups before, and generally running through them and then resting and using Tiger Balm helped and I was able to go back in a day or maybe two.  But when I stopped to pick up the bag of poop I'd left at the beginning of my trip and then started up again, I felt a 'pop!' and then it hurt to walk.  

I spent a whole week hobbling around, using an ace bandage and even a cane if I had to go too far.  Much ice and Tiger Balm and Alina Shea Creations Arnica Salve were applied, and I was Oh! so careful.  And it started to feel better and last weekend I was able to take the dog out for a walk and even do a little tiny bit of running.  I've upped the running and my speed all week; my last workout was day before yesterday and I was able to jog for a full mile and then I had to walk a bit, and then jog a bit more and then walk.  So I'm hoping to be back to 2 miles by my next workout or the one after, and then start increasing.

I'm paying intense attention to form.  There's a difference between keeping elbows in to your sides and driving them straight back (good!) and letting them flop out to the sides a little (bad)... if I'm in the right form, just with my arms! then the rest of me is okay.  Also, my knees are coming up higher than they ever did--I'm really doing the Hundred-Ups form, which I wasn't before my injury.  I'm being careful about keeping my back straight and not leaning too far forward (which stretches my calf muscles in unpleasant ways).

I'm heading to REI today to buy some self-massage tools my friends have clued me in on... that should help too.  Even using my hands to massage my muscles helped work out the calf kinks, so using a tool is bound to be better.

Running.  Who'd a thunk? But I am doing it!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WIP Wednesday!

It's not often I actually work on a WIP on a Wednesday, but I've decided my list of WIPs is too long, so today's daytime crafting time went toward finishing a Work in Progress that was near completion.

Last summer, when we were up on Bailey Island, we went to a fabulous town-wide garage sale that Bailey and Orr put on every year.  One of the deals was that you could pay $5 and get a box, and put everything that would fit inside the box.

I didn't need too much stuff, but one of the things I found was a bag full of yarn--mostly cones of cotton, plus one really nice spool of pretty red crochet thread, either Aunt Lydia's or maybe DNC.  And then a little bit later, I found an old wind-up Timex watch without a band, and with a big scratch on the face.  I wound it up and darned if the thing doesn't work perfectly.  So I thought, I could crochet a watch band!  At the craft store I got some plastic rings, and began crocheting around them, crocheting them together... adding on a clasp.

I started it in August but then the new Term started so I put it aside.  I took it out once somewhere in the middle and crocheted a few more rings, but then the Gotta Do knitting took over.

I still have Gotta Do knitting: my OWL and my Phoenix are not where I want them.  But I had 8 WIPs yesterday.  Today I have only 6, because I finished the Barbie dress, which I shall show off momentarily.  So I've now finished two projects in two days.  Next Wednesday I'm going after the Galaxy socks, because I would really like one more pair of hand-knit socks for my wardrobe.  Meanwhile, I have a watch to wear.  Hooray!

And Barbie, of whom I'm insanely proud at the moment:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Feast, Day 4, 5, and 6... and 7... and 8...

I suppose I should not be treating the Winter Feast for the Soul as a study in all the various ways I should and should not meditate. But, my little Ravenclaw heart cannot help itself.  The opportunity for research shall not be forsaken!

Day 4... was a total miss.  It just... didn't happen.  But the good news is, Day 5 I didn't just let it go.  I climbed back on the Meditation Wagon and tried again.

Day 5 has been one of my favorites so far.  Day 5: I meditated with my prayer beads.

The Unitarian Universalist Association has helpfully, in their Tapestry of Faith curricula, published this helpful post on developing a prayer bead practice.  I made my prayer beads years ago, before Tapestry ever existed.  They were purple, white, and green, with some lovely hematite moons and a real pearl from my grandmother's necklace (which broke years ago--I didn't break the string to get the pearl) and the end piece was a cloisonne six-pointed star earring (I have its companion moon as an earring even now).  Tragically, the string took a ride through my washer and dryer.  I managed to find a few of the beads sitting under the dryer vent in my yard, but most were gone, including the pearl.  The star never even left the dryer, and there were some mother-of-pearl peace doves that also apparently couldn't fit through the filter.  I harvested what I could and went to buy more beads.  I got malachite and purple tiger's eye, and some rose quartz, and a few white and purple pearls.  I made the strand on stretchy thread thinking it would be less likely to break.  They look like this:

Prayer Beads 2.0
 And today (day 8) I re-strung them on very much less stretchy jewelry thread, and I used my new crimping tool to fasten it so I don't need the clasp.  It looks a whole lot like the picture above, except I turned the doves right side up.  And I didn't even lose a single bead! I was rather proud of myself.

For my bead practice, I hold one bead between my fingers, and breathe in, saying "As I breathe in, I breathe in peace."  Then I move to the next bead and say, "As I breathe out, I breathe out love."  I go around the strand either once or twice, focusing on my breath and giving myself a bead to ground me to the moment.  I have now done this practice twice as part of The Winter Feast, and it is extremely satisfying.  It does not take me an entire trip around the strand to move into a meditative state, and there's none of the mental fussing and fidgeting I get when I just try to sit.

Knitting as meditation,  on the other hand, does not work for me.  My brain is too engaged, even in straightforward knitting, to make this a meditative practice.  One of my wonderful friends, ShaylaMyst, says she uses her spinning wheel as a sort of meditation--and I can see how that would work for me, except that I don't have a wheel.  Spindle spinning is far less meditative and, for me anyway, involves quite a bit more swearing than one would expect in a meditation practice.  So I think I'm going to have to give Mindful Crafting a miss as meditation for the remainder of my spinning-wheel-free time on Earth, despite my deep desire to have it work.  It just doesn't.  Gotta let it go.

I'm learning some things about myself in this practice.  In Savor, Thich Nhat Hanh talks about 'knots' our psyches develop knots of frustration and anger if we don't allow ourselves to experience, identify, and work through our less pleasurable feelings.  I'm very sure I have psychological knots.  But I also have two very real physical knots--one in my shoulderblade, which may or may not be bursitis, and the other in my--I think of it as my hip, but it really isn't.  It's deep within the muscles that surround the place where my leg sits inside my hip bone, and therefore it's basically in my rear end, and it causes me daily pain.  When I read the passage about knots, this is what spoke to me: that my physical knots are the manifestation of psychological pain.  I have, I believe, identified the shoulder knot.  It is my perfectionism.  It gets tense when things aren't going the way I planned them.  I have been poking at this knot quite a bit, both with a tennis ball against a wall, and by seeing my way inside it with my mind's eye.

The knot still hurts.  But I think I will be able to deal with it.

I don't know the name of the other knot, but I know it gets me out of physical (and probably emotional) balance.  I don't stand with equal weight on my right leg or sit with equal weight on my right sit-bone.  I am going to keep exploring this knot to see if I can get to the bottom of it.

Last, I'd like to leave you with this blog post, which is simply wonderful... so very YES! I want to do yoga with other Fat Girls too.

And, I learned tatting this month.  Look, it doesn't suck! And this was a brand new and very not-comfortable thing to learn, but I stuck with it, and now I have snowflakes!

And, I made an owl.  The owl is extremely cute, but I don't know if he's a match for SadieLou's Dread Pirate Roberts owl.

I think he's a little quizzical, don't you?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter Feast for the Soul Days 2 & 3

Tonight I completed Day 3 of Winter Feast for the Soul meditation practice.  Tonight I put on my Plum Village Meditations audiobook and actually sat for 15 minutes.  It was a fairly good practice for me... I was gratified to find that although I'm a bit stiff and sore and inflexible, I wasn't that fidgety.  My brain, of course, did a fair amount of twiddling, as always, but it wasn't frustrating twiddling, if you know what I mean.  I noticed that I was thinking, and then I tried, at least for a few minutes, to think of my breath instead, or the bell sound.  And then my brain would go off again and I would gently redirect it to the breath. But I didn't feel that sense of failure to do this!! that I used to get when I was younger.  I'm guessing this is a sign of maturity.  I can sit still.

I did my Gratefulness journaling as well tonight.  I was still a little fuzzy-headed from the sitting--perhaps I should have journaled first?--and so I kept sort-of nodding off as I wrote.  But I'm taking that as being in a meditative state, not simply an exhausted one.  I listed about 40 things before my allotted time ran out... and I think I really would have fallen asleep if I'd continued.  I really am grateful for a lot of things in my life.  I have no idea why I wrote number 19, "I am grateful for cheese" but I know exactly why I wrote "I am grateful for fondue." Fondue and all it symbolizes.  I wonder if others would think it odd how many of the things on my list are people I've never met... I forgot to write "I am grateful for Jayannell" but I will go add her now, because without my Accountability Partner I would never have done this exercise in the first place.  Is it strange that I am grateful for Peck, my Wee Tiny Owl, who in real life is a pompom animal wearing a bow tie, and in The Tower is a Spirit Guide who hides under my hair and gives me strength and courage?  The semi-fictional life of Ravenclaw Tower is a remarkable and real place to me... listening to Talk of the Nation today, there was a story about the blog "Tuesdays with Dorie," which is a baking thing... Dorie Greenspan, a cookbook writer, told of her experience of a group of bloggers who wanted to cook their way through her entire book.

She said, "But what's been so interesting is how kind and generous and wonderful. I got really lucky with "Tuesdays with Dorie." They're a wonderful group of people, and they formed a real community. Real friendships have been formed through this group. People had helped one another. Careers have changed. It's been a remarkable journey and one that - as I said, I never could have imagined this would happen."  This, of course, resonated with me--my career has changed , I have formed real friendships, as a result of Ravelry and the House Cup.  And then she added, 

I've watched hundreds of bakers go from being scaredy cats to becoming really, really good bakers with confidence in your skills. 
And the letters that I've gotten from people who've said that learning to bake, which was something that's frightened them, that they did kind of - you know, with self-improvement. You said a New Year's resolution, but many people do take up baking as a - at New Year's - when they're not dieting. But I think that people who started without the skills had become so confident of what they can do, and it's gone to other areas of their lives, that this has really given them - I think of this as the power of baking, the power of community. It's really given them the confidence to do other things. It's been so exciting.
And again--this resonates for me.  Learning to knit really well, to be fearless in just one thing, has led to some fearlessness in some other areas of my life, and ultimately to a career change.  I still have fears... but so many fewer than I did a year ago, let alone 2 1/2 years ago when I joined the House Cup.  So... being grateful for it and all its imagined and half-imagined population and locales makes perfect sense.

Today on the radio I heard this, which I think will be my next journal exercise.  Reclaiming my Personal Story... I think that sounds very therapeutic, don't you?

Last night, on Day 2, I did a lot of mindful knitting... which maybe wasn't as mindful as sitting or journaling, but was still more mindful than when I watch a video or listen to an audiobook while knitting.  I got a lot done on my OWL (talk about developing fearlessness--I'm designing this one, and if all goes right, it'll be a project in a book of designs I want to write.  If you'd told me a year ago that this would be in my personal cards, I'd have said you were nuts.

Exercise: not so much today.  The time I had planned for exercise went to a work phone call.  But it is all good.  Tomorrow I am stuck at home all day with no car as my car gets a check-up, so I will plug in the Xbox then.

Hmmm... knitting pictures...

I didn't get to show these off before because the Barbie was a gift.  She's wearing a dress made of hand-dyed yarn... which I dyed with ice cubes, mind you, just because I had to try it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter Feast, Day 1

Last night I started my Winter Feast for the Soul practice by journaling for 40 minutes.  I wrote 3 pages (handwritten in a book).  I thought about ending with a five-minute sitting practice, but I chickened out.  I have sat before; I don't know why, exactly, I am so hesitant to do it.  I think tonight I'll set my Plum Village meditation for 15 minutes on my iPod and sit.

Writing for that long went by quickly.  I admit I was surprised.  Later in the evening I read some more of Thich Nhat Hahn's book Savor, about Mindful Eating.  This is the thing I most wish to do... and yet I resist it as well. I just had some crackers and hummus.  I ate while sitting at the computer.  I can barely remember them.

The book talks about all the seeds in our consciousness, and how we can encourage the ones that are healthful and good to grow and stop watering the harmful ones.  We can tend the seeds for courage and mindfulness and love, and let the drama and malcontent seeds wither and die.  I think many people--including me--water the harmful seeds much more than the helpful ones.  I am not entirely sure why that is, though I do have ideas.

Tonight my writing practice will include listing the things in my life I'm grateful for.  I tend to resist this kind of practice, because... I don't know.  Do I think it's trite?  Probably.  Yet I know people for whom this simple practice is powerful and moving.  I think I'd like to be that sort of person.

I made slippers to keep my feet warm. They have bees.