Bend and Stretch: A Non-Yogi’s Discovery of Self-Yogament

Let me just preface this by saying that I’m NOT trying to claim I’m all at one with the world and all that razzamatazz. I’m not a walking ball of light and fulfillment. I’m not at peace with my inner being. You can’t steal my sunshine, I cannot be your guiding light, I am not a firework – my sunshine is mine so rack off.

I did however, do a yoga class last week.

On my lunchbreak. As part of a 10-week pass that I bought from the yoga studio around the corner from my office.  And I also just recently booked in for class no. five.

“Ooooooh, how impressive”, I hear all 15 of this blog’s followers utter mockingly.  Yeh, but no. It is impressive, for me, OK?  It’s impressive because I was once the lady who worked through her lunchbreak, worried incessantly about something or other, already suffer from a full-on stress disorder anyway yet still put myself through the misery of never slowing down, never catching a breath, never taking stock.  And yoga, at least once a week IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY, lets me slow down, catch my breath, take stock.

And I fuckin love that it does that.

In 2006, I was a little lost.

This feeling would last until 2011, when I would tell myself, “stuff it, it’s your life, lady, live it how you need you”. But anyway, 2006. I felt I had accomplished nothing of note, I could see everyone else excelling in whatever the hell it is they were doing, and everyone just looked so damn happy.  Outside of my circle of friends (dramatically changed now, since that time), the people who looked the happiest were the yoga teachers from my gym.

I sort of idolized them.  They slinked into the room like agile cats. They wore little, or no, makeup. They looked fit and healthy. To me, they looked like they were living a life free from stress, living as if they were free from the grasp of consumerism. And then, you know, there’s all the bendy-bendy shit, which surely helps them in the nighttime hours, know what I’m sayin’?

So I incorporated yoga into my workouts. I made sure I did it regularly, and while I felt looser and energized after the session, I couldn’t say I felt any happier overall. It wasn’t like little yoga angels embraced me as I huddled over in my Child’s Pose. I’d return home and there’d be booze with the flatmates, stress with the demands of work, something not going right in my love life. Something, always something, and the yoga wasn’t doing anything to make me feel better, really.

But now I’m realising that yoga isn’t about being like other people.

It’s not about emulating anyone, or aiming to be another version of yourself.  At least, that’s not how I’m looking at it.  Coz I’d suffered from comparisonitis for a long time, and I realise that life’s not about keeping up with the Joneses or the Kardashians or the yoga devotees.  So my yoga practice now is about what I get out of it in my busy day, when I’m answering a billion emails, reading through complicated contracts, living inside my brain trying to come up with copy that doesn’t read like crap.  For me, yoga is about stepping away from the everyday busyness and allowing my mind to take a breather, to focus on what I carry around with me all the time (my body) and letting myself take stock of how my mental and physical selves are coping.

photo credit: kaibara87 via photopin cc

photo credit: kaibara87 via photopin cc

Mindfulness is a funny thing, isn’t it?

When I first heard that phrase I thought, “ohhh, poo-poo, I’m totally aware of everything, I think in fact I’m HYPER-aware of everything”.  But that wasn’t helping.  Now mindfulness to me is about taking in even the things that I want to brush away – loud noises, negative thoughts, little stressful reminders, letting them run through my brain, and then letting them peter out.  I will get to them, but I’ve heard them.  And I love how yoga really lets you be mindful of your body.  For people who have been doing yoga for a while, this sounds like duuuuh … basic stuff, but for me it’s a revelation.  You’re allowed to focus on tiny little minute muscles.  The way the backs of your legs touch the floor.  How you’re standing in certain poses, how you hold your breath when you’re trying to balance.  I’ve even noticed me clenching my teeth sometimes.

It’s nice, you know, to know what your body does when it’s under stress, and also when it’s allowed to let go.

But it’s nicer that I don’t have to compare myself to anyone else in the room.

Some people in my class do the lunchtime classes to get away from their desks.  Some people do it to avoid injury.  Some do it for relaxation.  I do it for all those reasons, but also for the simple fact that it’s training my brain to think a different way.  Not through goal-setting, hitting deadlines or number-crunching.  It’s not even like other physical exercises where you weight gain or loss, muscle gain etc.  It doesn’t have to be about that.

The things I’ve noticed about my body and my mind since I’ve just accepted that yoga is a part of my life now include:

  • My body not moving and working like it used to, like it did when I had these lofty ideas of being as agile as a ballerina if I did “enough yoga classes”.  I’m older, I’ve had injuries, my lifestyle has changed.  I can’t pretend it hasn’t.  I can’t go back to the way my body used to be.  I just have to make do with what I have now, and not take my movements for granted.
  • The non-comparison thing is a big one for me.  I don’t have to look around the room and feel inadequate. I don’t have to measure up to anyone, except to how I was in the last session.  Can I go further this time, or should I take it easy?  It’s up to me.  And it doesn’t matter what I do – as long as I don’t injure myself.
  • It’s nice to think about my body in a serious way, the way I do with work and finances etc.  You know how being “detail-oriented” is a good thing in certain careers?  It’s great with yoga too.  OK, so my left side moves a little better in a certain pose than my right side.  Interesting. Like, seriously.  It IS interesting.

So like I said, I’m not joining a yoga teacher’s camp or anything, but I think I’m finally understanding what all the yoga fuss is about.  And I didn’t need to buy fancy yoga clothes to figure it out.

Peace OUT!

XXX

Inspirational Individual – Bill Odenkirk

So Bill Odenkirk, according to Wikipedia, is this kind of amazing:

He is the younger brother of American comedian Bob Odenkirk, and worked as a writer, producer and actor on sketch comedy TV show Mr. Show with Bob and David, which featured his brother as co-star. Odenkirk went on to write for Tenacious D and Futurama. He has written and executive produced episodes of The Simpsons. He holds a PhD in Inorganic chemistry from the University of Chicago. He was a co-inventor of 2,2′-Bis(2-indenyl) biphenyl.

Not that being the “younger brother of American comedian Bob Odenkirk” makes less of the amazing individual he already is, but it says a lot about the Odenkirk family stock that they can produce two go-getter guys, yes?

And what kind of brain writes for The Simpsons and co-invents something in the field of Inorganic chemistry? A legend, that’s what kind of brain.  I didn’t even know what Inorganic chemistry was, I had to look it up and now that I’ve looked it up I’m still in the dark about it.

Bill Odenkirk, you’re awesome. I’m just reading the guy’s bio again and he has a PhD, for crying out loud. I had to motivate myself to put on eyeliner this morning, such is the nature of my ambition levels today …

My weird Madlibs Poem

soft television’s soft television

haltingly i have never run, heavily beyond
any candle, your house have their behemoth :
in your most painful mouse pad are things which erase me,
or which i cannot sit because they are too upstairs

your light look often will unwork me
though i have read myself as mascara,
you cry always eyeliner by eyeliner myself as USB stick stress
(hyperventilateing intentionally, here) her pudgy folder

or if your wardrobe be to expose me, i and
my weights will jump very there, completely,
as when the night of this candle walk
the pencil even everywhere hoping;

nothing which we are to skip in this computer eat
the watch of your prudish ring: whose bracelet
fart me with the cords of its wall,
shower ing table and car with each shaveing

(i do not swim what it is about you that jog
and write; only something in me drive
the cat of your house is athletic than all USB stick)
street, not even the hat, has such colourful bag

– Erica & e.e. cummings

Create Your Own Madlib on LanguageIsAVirus.com

 

Synthesising Happiness

Why, TED, do you keep challenging me and shaking up my view of the world?

… imagining that not getting what you want could make you just as happy as getting it …

I think this is less about synthesising happiness and more with being CONTENT to play the cards you were dealt.

Not that you shouldn’t stop striving for what you want, but you shouldn’t deny who you are either.

Ahhh, happiness … you’re not an elusive b!tch, after all …

Let me know your thoughts 🙂

Breathe and Stop … and Breathe and Stop …

It’s been a busy few weeks. I’ve gotten a new job (starting this week), still working at my old job and finishing everything off as well as the work I do outside of my 9-5er (which I guess will be the norm now that Australians have to work till they’re 70, and I’ve found it hard to find down time, me time or any time outside of deadlines and writing.

The nature of my career and profession means I sit in front of my computer all day, every day, typing and working on the occasional image (although I am in no way a graphic designer, illustrator or any kind of visual artist).  I hunch over my laptop or keyboard (if I’m at my work station at work), fingers poised like wriggly claws, shoulders curved in stressful anxiety, face contorted in concentration. The tiny study/bedroom from which I work at home has a full length mirror next to the desk, and I see my reflection and posture as I type. I look this like this:

Gargoyle

photo credit: niznoz via photopin cc

I mean, OK, I don’t look like knarled old geezer when I’m working, but that’s how I feel. All hunched over and curmudgeonly.

And I act like that too. Like god forbid the person who tries to talk to me while I’m in the middle of working.  My poor fiancee. I can’t believe he has to deal with this side of me.

But I told myself enough is enough, and I couldn’t continue being like this all the time. Sure, the nature of my work requires me to spend hours at my desk, and this is true for everyone. But I needn’t be chained to my desk, and, if anything, I needed to find some inspiration away from my desk, and do something that was not only good as a break and breather, but also good for my health and wellbeing in general.

ENTER AROMATHERAPY

I know, what the … whaaaaaat!?!?! But hear me out. I chose to take part in an aromatherapy workshop because I believed it would help me in the following ways:

  1. It would help me get creative
  2. It would let me use my hands rather than just being hunched over my computer. Again
  3. Aromatherapy has been known for ages to assist with health and wellbeing
  4. It would mean I was making things that I could share and use with my family and friends
  5. It would smell …. GREEEEEAAAAAAT 🙂

So I was really excited to sign up for Sze Wing Yip‘s DIY Natural Beauty and Spa Products Workshop, which was held on Saturday, 3rd May at the Life and Balance Centre in Glebe. I’d already known what Sze Wing can do, so I trusted I would be getting a pretty good, well-rounded beginner course in the area of aromatherapy. I was really looking forward to it after I signed up, not least because it would give me the chance to step away from my laptop and do something different for a change.

WHAT IS AROMATHERAPY?

Google the meaning, and the interwebs will come back with a search result that will tell you that aromatherapy is, “… the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils for healing and cosmetic purposes”. Hmmm, science-y!  But that afternoon in a beautiful room in Glebe, aromatherapy was 8 people seated around a table filled with little vials of essential oils, pens to write with, a workbook each for us to take home, bowls and mixing apparatus to make our goodies with and a willingness to learn as much as we could in that afternoon.

Our goodies on the table

Our goodies on the table

Sze Wing explained to us the beginnings of aromatherapy, the benefits of aromatherapy and the different kinds of essential oils to use. She also showed us the kinds of household products to use, which are really easy to source – straight from your local supermarket, like oil and salt which you can easily find from your local Coles.  This was another one of the reasons that attracted me to this course. The ingredients and products you can use, aside from the obvious essential oils which are of course necessary for making aromatherapy products, aren’t going to be hard to find, which means I would be more than likely to keep using these again long after the course had ended. I also really liked the fact that different aromas would assist with different ailments, which I thought was pretty cool. It’s nice to know that things derived from nature held such healing powers.  I always feel much better knowing I’m going for a natural remedy rather popping a pill.

MAKING THE PRODUCTS

Thank goodness Sze Wing walked us through the making of our products, because had it been me in my home with a booklet, I would have made a mess of things! But thanks to Sze Wing’s direction and her workbook, which also included recipes so we could recreate our products at the conclusion of the course, we were able to make our own products with relative ease. In fact, I don’t think anyone had any real with the making of our products, so this was actually lots of fun.  The mixing, the experimenting, the sharing our results with the other people in our class and then of course trying out our products all added to the hands-on element of the course, which was exactly what I was going for.

Essential oils used in the workshop

Essential oils used in the workshop

Ingredients for our body scrub ... and it was so easy to make!

Ingredients for our body scrub … and it was so easy to make!

 

THE PRODUCTS WE MADE

So we made and we created, using our hands, which was great coz it involved NOT ONE LAPTOP OR KEYBOARD. I think a lot of people out there who work an office job and sit at their desks for hours on end can appreciate how lovely this is, to create something and use other senses. For me, the real fun in the aromatherapy workshop was the chance to stand or sit, depending on what I was making, to use utensils and tools that are normally associated with fun stuff like cooking, and, of course, the chance to make products that smell AMAZING. I am a big fan of citrus products, so I used a lot of that in one of the products I made.

I was also really glad, at the end of the day, that I got to create something that inevitably would help with my health and wellbeing.  Not only was the act of taking time out to do the workshop beneficial to my overall wellbeing, but the products I made using aromatherapy techniques was also beneficial too.  It was a win-win, and as I grow my knowledge about all things in the big ole sphere of wellbeing, I felt incredibly grateful to have been a part of that workshop.

I walked away from that workshop with the following self-made products:

  • Massage oil
  • Body butter
  • Body scrub
  • Bath oil

And I was so proud of myself!  I’ve already used the massage oil and body butter, and will the body scrub soon (this is my favourite product and for some reason I am using my “save the best for last” mentality with this one), and giving the bath oil as a present, because they are all contained in cute little containers with adorable little tags which Sze Wing supplied for us on the day.

Will I be doing more workshops like this in the future? You bet. The more I educate myself about health and wellbeing, the more open I am to trying different things in this area. I know treatments, techniques and theories change all the time, but this area of work is fascinating to me and it’s great to discover new ways of being a healthier, more balanced person.  Something we’re all striving for in this day and age. 🙂

Sze Wing Yip from Intuitive Coaching during her workshop.

Sze Wing Yip from Intuitive Coaching during her workshop.

Considerate consumerism? I hope so!

The jackpot at the Round She Goes Vintage Market in August, 2013 in Marrickville

The jackpot at the Round She Goes Vintage Market in August, 2013 in Marrickville

This is brilliant. Lately, like in the past 6 months or so, I’ve been buying a lot of clothes from thrift shops and second-hand stores etc. Even when I was overseas I kinda lost my shit in thrift shops. It saved me a ton of money and I was able to buy items that were unique and stopped me from wearing what everyone else was wearing. Op-shopping meant I was able to buy pretty reasonable wool jumpers at a fraction of the cost of what I would have paid if I had bought it at a shopping centre. And, because I bought them from the Lifeline shop up the road, I was also helping my local community.

I was shopping in the second-hand bookshop in my ‘hood a little while ago, when I came across a flier advertising Considerate Consumerisma movement which promotes the buying of goods that are not brand new, but instead re-used, re-cycled or even up-cycled. I reckon a more considerate form of consumerism is to not buy ANYTHING at all unless you absolutely need it (groceries, toiletries and cleaning products would fall under the latter category, an updated summer wardrobe would fall under the former).

Needless to say, I jumped on to that considerate consumerism bandwagon pretty damn quickly.  The flier I had was very specific in their message though, “The challenge is not to buy anything new for 12 months”.  Brilliant, I thought. I could use a challenge.

Since that time I have failed twice already. I bought some new tops from Sportsgirl (on a whim, or most likely out of boredom) about a week ago and the buyer’s remorse that took over me that night was palpable.  The second time I failed was when, also on a whim and also most likely out of boredom, I bought earrings because I felt like I “needed bigger earrings”. Fail, fail.  Hopeless failures, both times.

BUT I have won the battle more times than I have failed (so far). I attended a vintage market fair in Marrickville and I kid you not, I could have stayed there for HOURS. I feel terrible that my fiancee came along (wasn’t really his scene, obviously), but the poor bugger was just so damn supportive and he offered to play photographer for the day so he tagged along. But I just love knowing that the pieces I bought that day (I bought 6) were not overpriced, unique, and more importantly, did not make me look like I was dressed by a cast member from Jersey Shore. 

I also, apart from those two moments of weakness in Pitt Street Mall where I bought things new and full priced, keep away from shopping centres and opt instead to shop at second-hand stores. I’m lucky though – my neighbourhood has a pretty decent op shop (thanks Lifeline Manly) which is pretty good, and I also get my books from Desire Books, another shop I could disappear into for hours.

The only thing I’m worried about with all this supporting of pre-loved goods is whether I splurge because it is so damn affordable and end up buying twice as much as I would if they were full priced?  Meeeeeeeeeeeeh, not thinking about that for now …

I bought a pair of earrings and necklace from this stall. I was so happy.

I bought a pair of earrings and necklace from this stall. I was so happy.

This belt was unbelievable. I didn't buy it. I just thought it was too badass for me. I couldn't pull it off!

This belt was unbelievable. I didn’t buy it. I just thought it was too badass for me. I couldn’t pull it off!

Sunday Brain Dump

My brain is still fried from the week that was, and I just transferred a whole load of random images off my phone. Here’s a few of the random ones:

Watched a bit of Harry Potter and remembered I had this image. This aint no Hedwig, but still ...

Watched a bit of Harry Potter and remembered I had this image. This aint no Hedwig, but still …

I have nothing to wear for winter so I've been checking out a lot of winter wear, especially in grey for some reason. Suits the mood of the season, perhaps?

I have nothing to wear for winter so I’ve been checking out a lot of winter wear, especially in grey for some reason. Suits the mood of the season, perhaps?

70s Gear

I don’t remember who this is but I like her style. I haven’t been able to wear a tight tee in aaaaages. Must stop eating pasta, grubby grubby.

Lenny Kravitz

I mean seriously, what’s not to like?!?!?!?!

Just, really ….

531994_241072149366208_774379717_n

It’s just been one of those days and I don’t want to over-use my good friend Grumpy Cat’s very unique online presence but FFS sometimes, you know, just sometimes, I want to crawl into a dungeon constructed of my own self-pity and (borderline) Gen-Y entitlement and turn on a big-inch flat-screen TV watch every episode of that old comic standard, Press Gangand be reminded of the fact that once upon a time, Julia Sawalha wasn’t just Saffron from Ab Fab, just like I’m not just a workhorse.

Tomorrow, I will regret this outburst and contemplate how grateful I am to be in a job I thought I would never have.  Happy Friday to all! 🙂

A Sexy Look for … Not Anyone, Really.

I don’t really know what’s wrong with me. I think since I’ve started walking, like, everywhere, and realised that sensible footwear is probably the way to go, I’ve begun to appreciate shoes like these:

flat shoes

I know what these shoes look like. A mad, fugly mix of Professor Geeky McGeekson and a too-cool-for-school fashionista. Hipster chic. Ugly as shit, but so very stylish. Something my dad would have worn, yet something the Man Repeller would wear right now and be lauded all over Instagram for.  Similar to this look:

 

I love the worn-in look of this outfit. I love the shoes, I love them in brown. I love that you could probably wear these shoes with a lot of different outfits, and I especially love that, should I be forced to, I could most certainly walk for miles and miles and miles in these shoes (unless I was drunk, then I could probably only walk for a couple of feet). I love the denim, but I’m not sure about ripped denim. I love the navy blazer and the jumper underneath. I love that this outfit looks a little polished, but not out-of-place at a coffee shop.

As much as I love this look, it freaks me out a little because, let’s face it, it has bloody zero sex appeal. It is not an outfit most women would wear on a first date, it is not an outfit worm by the likes of alpha female models or celebrities like Beyoncé or Miranda Kerr. It is an outfit that BIll Murray or Woody Allen would covet. Yet I really dig it!

Why do I love it so much? Because my worst fear is to dress like this:

Kim Kardashian's weird bloody outfit