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celebrities exercise health Life yoga

This is how we do it. sometimes.

In 2020, the New York Times suggests that to channel our best selves, we be more like Jonathan Van Ness. He likes to end unwanted conversations with a thoughtful Namaste.

I was hard-pressed on Jan. 1 to channel my best self… interestingly enough at a yoga studio. I like the instructor’s style and have taken several classes with her. But in general, I am not a fan of the practice by some yoga teachers to crank up the music during power vinyasa and other classes. This class I attended was a standard vinyasa flow class and about halfway through, the instructor cranked up the music.

I have tinnitus or ringing in the ears from going to too many loud concerts when I was younger, which is another reason why I find loud music at yoga classes particularly frustrating. When the music is cranked up in class, I find it hard to hear the instructor and it bothers my ears.

When this took place in class, I turned to the instructor, who was right behind me and asked her to please turn down the music a bit (this was about the second or third time she had progressively turned the music up). She nodded and then walked in front of me, turned and gave me side eye and practically sneered: This is how we do it, sometimes. She then turned down the music for a few seconds and then cranked it back up.

It was all that I could do to not walk out of class. I decided to tough it out… this was yet another challenge presented in class… not unlike hearing loud noises outside and still needing to stay present and mindful in class.

“This is how we do it, sometimes,” as if I was not part of the class and was an outsider that day. I bet if she asked the class, I would not be the only one bothered by the loud music, but I was the only one willing to speak up.

My 2020 is off to a good start, despite that odd interaction in the Jan. 1 yoga class. I’m doing Dry January again this year, and I feel really good about it and starting the year off healthy. In December, I had some blood work done, overdue from last summer. Amazingly, my numbers came back very good. I also had my first mammogram in four years, with nothing abnormal.

I will likely not take another class with that instructor, given that I have the power to choose. And when I do see her, I’ll be sure to relay an extra special Namaste a la JVN.

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Diagnosed with gallstones: Changing my diet didn’t help (at first)

Following my diagnosis in mid-November, I changed my diet pretty drastically. I did a lot of research on the Interwebs and talked with a friend who had also been diagnosed with gallstones. She had met with a surgeon and was considering surgery, but her symptoms went away and never came back. She drank a lot of apple juice, which sounded like a good idea to me.

My symptoms continued to wax and wane. During one of my first days at work, my boss took me out to lunch. I ordered a pasta dish and forgot to ask if it was prepared with butter or olive oil. Given the discomfort I felt afterwards, my guess is that it was prepared with butter. I was able to finish the day at work, but felt frustrated with myself and this new condition that I was living with. I was still confident that I would come out on top, or maybe I was just in denial.

I cancelled Thanksgiving Day plans because of this lunch incident and because I didn’t want to be *that* person who asked: What is this made with (when looking at every dish)? I even had a great idea for a gluten-free dessert, which I ended up making and which wasn’t very tasty. Sigh.

I drank apple cider vinegar and read about liver flushes that you could do by at first fasting, or eating apples, and then drinking olive oil mixed with citrus (typically lemon juice). That didn’t sound appealing, quite honestly. I tried turmeric and milk thistle. I wasn’t eating any red meat or fried foods, and cut back on high-fat dairy, including cream in my coffee.

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Diagnosed with gallstones

This is the first in a series of posts on my recent diagnosis with gallstones. The post below covers my initial diagnosis and related denial about my health.

I had guacamole last month for the first time in a while. When my parents came to visit last Christmas, I had a few bites of chocolate, tried two of my mom’s french fries at dinner one night and also had some of the goat cheese in my salad one day. Avocado, chocolate, fried foods and cheese – these things are forbidden items in my diet these days, thanks to a diagnosis of gallstones, several bad attacks last November and a short hospital stay in mid-December.

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Nip/Tuck, discovered with Glee

Nip/Tuck, the TV series

Slightly more than one decade after its debut, I am finally watching “Nip/Tuck,” the FX show about two plastic surgeons in Miami. I’m not really sure why it took me so long or why I wasn’t interested in 2003, but it was worth the wait. Oh, Ryan Murphy – you’re a devil-ish little genius. And I love love the cameos and bigger roles for actors and actresses that end up in “Glee,” too.

Principal Figgins was in the episodes I watched last night, and Coach Beiste had a small cameo. Jessalyn Gilsig, who played Will Schuester’s first wife, Terri, on “Glee” has a meaty role and appeared in five seasons. Her character is a tough one to like, not unlike her role on “Glee” but a lot nastier, in a constant way.

 

I also have newfound respect for Bradley Cooper, who plays an egomaniacal young actor on the fictitious “Hearts and Scalpels.” He seems like he had so much fun with this silly role, and I’d love to see him do something similar. His scenes on the show have been among the funniest I’ve watched in the series.

The guest stars on the series are a never-ending surprise, too: Alec Baldwin, Famke Janssen, Vanessa Redgrave, Jill Clayburgh, Sharon Gless, Rosie O’Donnell, Oliver Platt and the actress who played an NYU reporter in the “Seinfeld” episode that led to Jerry and George being outed (though they were never “in”).  One disclaimer, if you’re not familiar with Murphy’s work, the show is not for the faint of heart. I look away often during the surgery scenes; the show won several awards for outstanding makeup (both prosthetic and non).

 

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Strong female characters, swimmers: Olivia Pope, Stella Gibson and (well) me

Kerry Washington swims in Scandal

I got into “Scandal” earlier this year. I’d held off … most likely because I find smart and even sometimes soap opera-y TV shows to be quite addictive, and I was trying to limit my viewing.

With Netflix streaming and other online services, it is easy enough to burn through a short season in a long weekend, too. So after burning through “House of Cards” and reading articles about the trend to cover D.C., I started watching “Scandal,” catching up on the first two seasons shortly before the third season kicked off. I was intrigued by the detail that Olivia, played by Kerry Washington, is a swimmer.  She swims laps on occasion to blow off steam and stress, while retaining her stylish ways.

I am no Olivia Pope, but I grew up swimming, was a lifeguard and taught swimming lessons while in high school and part of college. I recently got back into swimming more seriously for two long-distance events, Park to Park, and Swim Across America, a two mile swim, which was a new record and challenge for me. I was part of Team Ben Towne Foundation, raising money for pediatric cancer research.

I really love to swim, even when doing the crawl for two miles in a lake feels like it takes three hours and my arms feel like lead weights. In reality, it took one hour, 21 minutes. And I think it will feel even better next year.

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body cancer health Seattle Uncategorized

Don’t move, don’t breathe. Don’t move, don’t breathe.

Medical bracelet

Those commands can be jarring and, of course, constricting. It’s what the technician says when you’re getting a mammogram. If I move, will something else show up on the film? If I breathe, will that appear as something abnormal on the test?

While waiting for my results, I heard the technician in the room next door offer similar instructions to her patient. It was probably the woman in the yellow sweat pants and shoulder-length blonde hair. She’d been accompanied by her boyfriend or husband. I was among a handful of women, all of us white except for a woman rescheduling an appointment, at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance that day.

It had been two years since my last mammogram. Yes, that is a confession and I was raised Catholic. I was overdue, I know. But the last time I went, my visit was so traumatic and I still felt a bit scarred, and anxious. I needed a biopsy, which was incredibly stressful. And research that I’d read (and helped to promote by Dr. Joann Elmore of the Univ. of Washington) about false positive exams and the toll that can take … well, I was living it two years ago.

I felt a heaviness in my left breast in the days leading up to this appointment. That’s the one that has a small titanium rod in it, following the biopsy. Writing that makes me want to sing, of course: I’m bullet-proof, nothing to lose, fire away, fire away. I then started thinking that I might be mentally causing some malignancy by having these negative thoughts. The power of positive thinking, it’s important, experts say.

When I booked an appointment, I had the option of immediate results or waiting for them to be mailed. I grabbed the first option, not wanting to go through what I’d experienced before. If something was up, let’s discuss it and keep moving forward.

The technician was great. We talked about traffic on the way to work. Mine was easy, given that I lived right down the street, and even if there was a slow-moving truck in front of me. She had a drive that took more than one hour. I wore a dress to my appointment, not the best choice given the gown you have to change into. She helped me keep mostly covered up in my exposed state. It was just us girls in the room, any way. Right arm out first, and then left, and then repeat for side views. Don’t move, don’t breathe. I asked her how things looked. She said the slides looked the same as the last time I was there (a positive, I thought).

She asked if I wanted something to drink, water, after the screening was finished. I said that water would be great. I needed to stay in my robe and not change back into my clothes, she said, because the radiologist might want more pictures. The water never arrived. My magazine options were US Magazine and a cancer care and research journal. I stayed away from the latter, remembering how I made myself a little crazy the last time by reviewing my medical chart.

The technician knocked on my door and very formally announced my name. It was the same woman who had helped me the day of my biopsy two years ago. She said my slides looked fine, and I could come back in one year. I told her we’d met before, the last time I was at the center. She looked in my chart and said oh, yes, I see my signature here. Of course she’s seen a million patients. But I remember her helping me get through that difficult day. And I was grateful that she delivered the good news this week, too.

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beauty body diet exercise friends health Life Me Music Seattle skin care swimming travel Uncategorized writing yoga

Yoga, Kauai, vegan-ing, bliss, Samadhi

Secret Beach

Books read: 1, Wild: From lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed. This was really the perfect book for me to read, even if it sounded cliche to take on a yoga retreat in Hawaii – Cheryl’s mother died, her marriage fell apart and she went to find herself on the trail. I’m inspired to visit some of the places she described along the trail, inspired to be even more adventurous and take trips in the wild and calm.
Yoga classes: 13 (7 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily), courtesy of Samadhi yogis Kathleen (the lovely) and Sheev
Pounds lost: 4
Hikes: 2, including the Na Pali Coast trail (treacherous, sweaty! and got rained on, which felt pretty heavenly. Remnant – a blood blister on my big toe, right foot. Gross, but true.)
My yoga mat was mistaken for: fishing pole container, “a piece of rubber”
Dogs encountered:  5 – including one-eyed Maui, Kona and Pua (flower) at the retreat center
Laps in the pool:  unknown, but swam on two different days. Sun was harsh and left me with a “tramp stamp” sunburn one day (thanks for that description, K)
Rainbows viewed: At least half a dozen, while experiencing yoga on the lanai. Hope that my photos captured it.
Animals heard, day and night: Geckos, cows, chickens, roosters, dogsVegan meals:  7 + – I think I’m a convert. I know, it surprises me, too. I lost weight, feel wonderful, didn’t miss any foods and my skin looks fabulous, too. I may opt initially for Mark Bittman’s Vegan before 6 or VB6 as the cool kids say.

Smoothies: 12, estimate. Pina colada on the final day (virgin, of course).
Recipes to try: Coconut lime banana bread, Okinawa sweet potato curry (if I can find that potato here in Seattle), raw pumpkin pie- some from Jennifer’s 30 Minute Vegan cookbook. Yes, we were blessed to have her as our chef for the week.
Incorporate more in diet: macadamia nuts (though they’re expensive here on the Mainland), sweet potato, avocados, smoothies, vegan foods as declared above
Items purchased: Long-sleeve rash guard, tank top with cut-out back from QuikSilver
Beaches visited: 2 – Secret beach and non-secret
Naked humans observed: 3, at Secret beach. A woman praying to the gods of the ocean, a man rolling on the sand as we left the beach, another man walking in the distance. L walked closer to land so that she could see him. JK.
Dolphins: 60, according to a local surfer who captured some film on his birthday. Hurling themselves on the air … Breaching the surface and having so much fun at Secret beach.
Alcoholic beverages: one-ish, glass of wine with dinner on our final night at Dolphin in Hanelei
Fish tacos: 3
Places to visit next time: Queen’s Bath, Garden Cafe at Common Ground, Tiki Tacos, Secret Beach (again)
Summary statement of the week: good God (R on the final day, struggling with virasana after an arduous hike. I felt the same that day. Thank you for verbalizing.)
Music in my head the entire trip: Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia. And does it not sound like Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” in the beginning? I so need to be a DJ.
Movies to watch: South Pacific, North Shore
Hikes to try: Mt. Rainier, Bagby Hot Springs
Future vacation: Alaska
Items thrown away: Keens, bathing suit bottoms (too big, falling off my bod in the water at the beach and, yes, I had a smaller pair with me)
Items to replace: Keens
Products to try: Lavender and echinacea body lotion (courtesy of L)
Books to purchase or get from the library: 30 Minute Vegan, Bitters by Brad Parsons (recommended by V)

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body exercise health Life Me Uncategorized yoga

38 to 40 (+1).

Image

I didn’t finish out strong (as planned), but I started anew on day 41 and am doing well as I move beyond the original 40-day commitment.

I went to yoga on day 41, and Steve talked about positive v. negative vibrations. Yes, it sounds a little woo woo, but it also makes a lot of sense.  I’ve found that I can make a difference even in my dreams. It’s easy to dwell on the past, and I’m not saying that I don’t think about things that have happened, but it’s just as easy to decide to dwell on something positive, or shift your mind in that way. Having thoughts about the ex? Well, let’s shift to another topic that is just as easily navigated via dreams. It works. It’s helpful to me even if today, I’m not feeling so much like moving on and away from times that I thought were really happy.

In the 41 + days of late, I hit yoga, did a stair climb and then went back to yoga today. Today, Liz talked about the glass being half empty, or half full and focusing on the half-full and trying to fill it up even more with thoughts of family, friends and other positivity. Sounds kind of like the positive v. negative vibrations, eh?

I’m not sure yet what I’ll aim for tomorrow. The plan had been to do yoga, but it might be nice to do cardio instead. Or I could hit the pool for some laps. My legs are still sore from the stair climb, so a bike ride could be good if the weather cooperates. Daylight savings time means more hours of light in the evening here in the Pacific Northwest and that felt helpful already today.

My thoughts this weekend were with Zoom, a woman I met and worked with in Seattle while spearheading a great event called Chicks Play Hard. Zoom worked at Miller Community Center, and she was so supportive of our event. I worked with her for several years, until she left Miller and moved on to Montlake Community Center.

She told me how she’d take regular trips to Canada with senior citizens to get prescription drugs that they could afford. She was a truly giving and kind soul, from all that I saw. Then, something changed. She is now accused of shooting a Parks & Rec supervisor. When I saw her name pop up via Twitter on Friday, I had an omg kind of moment. Her nephew was quoted in the news, and said that something had changed last July when her home was broken into and her dog was killed. I’m so sorry that she didn’t get the help that she needed, and my thoughts go out to the victim, his family, and to Zoom and her family. Yes, I’m switching gears here from the 40 days but my gosh, what happened on Friday is a reminder of how quickly life can change. Here’s to positivity and working through painful things in life in the best way that we all can.

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exercise friends health Music Relationships Uncategorized yoga

Days 17 to 23 of 40: Back on track

Half moon pose from Yoga Journal

My real work outs began again this weekend, one week after gum graft surgery. (Yes, this is a funny video and no, I didn’t find it completely accurate. There is not any gum in the roof of your mouth; it’s tissue.)

Yoga yesterday, and today – 90 minutes each class. I feel great. My torso is sore in a good way from the twisting and core work (thank you, Liz).

Earlier in the week, I made sure to walk every day. Of the highlights, on Monday, I took a walk to the University District to pick up a prescription. 40 minutes round trip. I was still feeling the effects of the surgery, and while peeking gently at the gum graft sites, I worried a bit about whether I might have an infection. Turns out, now that it’s healing up even more, it was just the sutures on the left side of my mouth that looked like an infected wound. Gross, I know. And I also figured out that if I really did have an infection, it would have been hurting and not just looking like something was wrong.

My periodontist said right before the surgery that it was great to see a patient that had so much saliva flowing. She said that most of her patients are on so many medications, it dries up the saliva. Not something I’ve always thought about being thankful for, but it was a nice reminder that I am healthy and not on a bunch of meds.

On Monday, during that long walk, I took a cue from a scene in Liberal Arts. The main character walks around listening to opera, and he comments on how it has changed the way he views the city. In that scene, everyone looks at him and smiles (the scene takes place in New York City). I was listening to Mozart arias performed by Cecelia Bartoli. It’s a favorite disc of mine though I haven’t listened to it for awhile. Sorry to report that the music did not have the same effect on the people that I passed. Maybe one or two smiled, but one guy gave me a pretty quizzical look and a lot of people ignored me. So – interesting experiment but not quite the same results.

My horoscopes have been strange and somewhat dark this week on Astro.com. On Tuesday, Feb. 12 the subject line was: Something is wrong. Yikes. On the one hand, some of what was in there is true – you’ll separate yourself from persons or circumstances that are doing you no good. But then it went on to say in the process, I’ll experience a considerable amount of tension, and that I may be confused for awhile. “You would be well advised to go off by yourself for awhile, because other people’s advice will be of little value, unless you select your advisors with great care.” The horoscope went on to say feelings of restlessness and uncertainty would be strong. I actually do feel some of that.

Looking more on the bright side, the subject line for today is Soft lights. But, wait – tomorrow is A new tack. More thoughts on this change in direction for my life. “Keep working, for your efforts to expand and liberate your life are not finished.”

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body exercise eyes friends health swimming Uncategorized yoga

Days 12 to 14 of 40: (Keep swimming)

Pool from beyondthecreek.com

Wednesday – the first bump in the road of the 40 days. With happy hour plans after work, I brought gym shoes so that I could walk during the day and also thought if I got home early enough, I could take a quick walk or do some yoga at home. Rachel and I were all set to walk outside and it was pouring rain, which is actually a little unusual for Seattle … at least during the day like that. We ended up walking a bit in the halls and up and down some stairs at work, but I don’t consider it really getting our walk in.

And I didn’t get home early enough to do anything except change clothes and head to happy hour.  That still felt good for the soul and it was nice to catch up with my friend, M, who had gone on a fabulous trip to Nepal and had all kinds of things to share about life. She listened to my “yes, I went back for a third time” tale, hugged me and told me (as many others have) that I deserve so much better. It has finally mostly sunk in, that line of thinking.

Thursday, last night – upgrade my gym membership and swim at 24 Hour Fitness. I had my new TYR nest pro goggles so that I won’t have raccoon eyes, and I was pretty excited about that. I left work a little late-ish and got to the gym around 6:15 or so. The membership upgrade process took awhile, and I’m always skeptical of the “we’ll give you the best deal” because I’ve had bad experiences before with the gym. When I last checked online, the upgrade price was $10, which no longer seemed available. In the end, I didn’t have to pay that much (I did pay a reduced initiation fee) and timing-wise, it really worked out because there was a water aerobics class and I wouldn’t have been able to swim laps.

So, as luck would have it, I pretty much had the lane to myself the entire time for swimming.  30 minutes, mostly laps. The only downside – having to listen to snippets of a conversation between three men – one younger white boy, older asian man and older African American man. From what I could tell, and thank God (honestly) that I couldn’t really hear them, they were talking about sex. Seriously, on the deck of the pool, with older women sitting around them, completely covered up. I heard “back door” and “first time” and “home run” and tried to do my turn as fast as possible when I got to that wall. The younger kid said something that made me think he and other friends of his were sleeping sequentially with the same woman. I have a feeling that he was making a lot of it up.

Back to business. I was pleased with the goggles, and able to stop at the store on the way home. And it was a double workout kind of day; Rachel and I also took a 30 minute walk–in the sunshine, too–so I made up a bit for the day before.

As for today, well, I’ll tally 30 minutes of walking. I had gum grafting surgery this afternoon, so real exercise is actually off the table for the next week. Again, something I hadn’t planned when I embarked on this 40 day journey. But walking counts and maybe towards the end of next week, I can work in some yoga. I don’t want to miss out on celebrity sightings at Samadhi.