Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Weird and Thoughtful Week

This past week has been very different from all those proceeding in 2011 (or for a while for that matter) in that for the first time in a long time I felt overwhelmed by things that normally wouldn't cause me to bat an eye.

Work this week was difficult. Differences in opinion is probably the thing I struggle most with in any work place due to the fact that once I've decided I'm right, no one should try and tell me any different. When you don't own the company you're working in that can cause some serious strife. Something I consistently have to challenge myself to work on is this one sentence "they're paying you, unless you are morally obligated to decline, do what they say". Something I need to work on given my overly ambitious and even somewhat domineering nature.

Another thing I did this week, which was a big mistake, I got emotionally attached to client's and their case. Big no, no. The clients you tend to get attached to are the ones you feel for the most, the ones that are down and out, the ones that things are least likely to work out for, hence why you get attached to them, and why they're the hardest clients to let go of. I feel for this couple, they're older, they're in so much difficulty and I want to much to make their future and retirement even the slightest bit easier for them, and I can't. I've discovered something about myself, I don't like feeling helpless.

This week was also a disappointing one in the gym. I didn't make it there as often as I should have and when I was there I found that I wan't putting 110% in, in fact, I don't feel as if I was even putting 80% in, and that cannot become a habit. New week, new start, new opportunity for lots of hard work.

I did learn an important lesson this week though, which is: knowing when to say "I was in the wrong" or "I'm sorry". The truth is, as humans we will make mistakes, we fuck up, we hurt others, we get frustrated, we get crabby and we think irrationally. However, what distinguishes one human from another is their ability to realized their faults, apologize if need be, and correct the behaviour. Tom thought me this valuable lesson this week, even though at the expense of my pride and stubborn spirit, I feel it is an invaluable lesson.

The thought however, which has been weighing heavily on my mind for the majority of the week is the idea of pre-occupation, business, and undivided attention. Are you one of those people who always has somewhere to be? You're rushing here and there, always on the way to the next meeting, lunch appointment, personal appointment, class, date, etc.? Do you enjoy that fast paced life style, the go, go, go? If so, I invite you think about why, does having your days planned out and packed make you feel more fulfilled, productive, talented? I spent some time thinking about it and realized, the last time I caught myself engaging in this type of behaviour, busied to the point of exhausted, was just prior to going into the hospital, and if was during my stay there that I realized that I busied myself with useless activities and pastimes that distracted me from really thinking about life, about myself, and about areas or qualities that needed nurturing. I thought to myself, "what would it be like to just be, for a whole day, just be and not think about my education, my work, marriage, the future, etc etc. What would it be like to do nothing and just be? Am I too scared to do this because I fear what I may find? It's possible.

As a challenge to myself this week I want to take a half an hour a day where I literally do nothing, no TV, no music, no readings or computers, nothing for a half hour. and to just sit and be; to allow my thoughts to be, exist, evoke any feelings that may be necessary, and move to the next thought. True meditation which abandons everything external and worldly, a half hour of physical and mental silence. I think the benefits will be well worth the challenge.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Such A Great Weekend

This weekend was so adventure filled, fun and relaxing all at the same time. Probably different from any other weekend I've experienced in a long time.

It started with my Friday evening pole dancing class with my lovely friend Asia. This week was a huge breakthrough for me in class. For the first time since the class begun I didn't feel awkward, or out of place in class and I truly embraced the class and the routine and actually enjoyed the process and how it made me feel in the end. I've never felt more empowered and seductive in my whole life and it was the biggest confidence boost I've had in a long time.

Saturday morning started out with hot yoga at the new studio in Crowfoot. I hadn't had a chance to do a class here in the few short weeks they've been open and was encouraged to join by my gorgeously athletic friend Lynnette for a Saturday morning class. I was nervous at first as I haven't done hot yoga in over a year, and the class was challenging to say the least, but once again, it forced me out of my comfort zone and enabled me to dig down deep and mentally draw the strength to really engage and benefit from the class. For people who have never done hot yoga before I'd say this studio is a good place to begin. Students can do a one time drop in pass for $14 (make sure to bring your own towel cause rental is an extra $2, and you will need a towel) and classes are appropriate for beginners to advanced yogi's. I don't recommend the hour and a half Saturday morning class for beginners, for your first time try the hour class and move up to the hour and half once you've adjusted to the temperature and humidity of the room (42 degrees Celsius and 50% humidity). There are modifications for every pose and you are encouraged to leave your ego at the door and focus solely on your self, your breathing, your personal awareness and progress. My favorite part of the class though, at the end, during your savasana the instructor brings around a cold moist towel that's been soaked in lemon grass to cool you down before you leave. This studio and class is pampering on a whole different level. You can check out class times, descriptions, yoga etiquette and more info here! I know I'll definitely be back.

In my history of humanity course on Saturday afternoon we discussed Machiavelli as a misunderstood figure in the evolution of the society we live in today. Most believe Machiavelli to be an evil character of cunning, backstabbing and betraying nature, however, when you read his works and understand the background and culture he was coming from and writing within, you see things in an entirely different light. He was living in time when Christianity was a very prevalent part of society however, at the same time capitalism was emerging as a powerful source in the everyday life of Europeans, more specifically, the Italians as they were the center of much of the commerce in Europe. At this point, the Medici family was essentially ruling Florence and Machiavelli was a known enemy of the Medici's. The son of a lawyer he was well educated and worked in many royal courts and at one point even managed the army of Florence. He was, however, somewhat undiplomatic in his words and recounts of events. Known has being too blunt and hard-nosed he often offended others. However, what we don't realize about Machiavelli is that he is going against the courtly culture of the times and not putting up this constant facade and mask to make people think he's better or different the person he actually is - he's putting himself out there, and if you don't like it, well take it or leave it.

Another thing he address', which really makes him a modern revolutionary of his time, is the idea that Christianity and capitalism really don't mix all that well. Think about it - if you subscribe to the true teachings of Christianity, loving your neighbour, turning the other cheek, giving the one who asks for your sweater, your jacket as well, none of these principles work along with the unforgiving and ruthless nature of capitalism. Think about it, has one nation, one government, one corporation for that matter, ever been able to truly and unwaveringly adhere to Christian principles and morals and maintain sovereignty, profit or advancement, no. If companies or governments functioned on those premises, they'd be blown over in minutes. Machiavelli is merely pointing out the obvious, and really forecasting what our society has become today, and getting a bad rap for it.

Needless to say, this is only the tip of the iceberg that we discussed in the four hour class, and I left with my mind full of rants and questions about everything from the hypocritical function of religious institutions to the hypocritical people who parade their religious morals above society everyday to questioning if I was a hypocritical human for believing in the power of positivity and karma but allowing my negativity to become rather obvious at specific points in my life, or when certain people or circumstances are brought into question. I felt that I had much soul searching and contemplation to do.

Saturday night consisted of a wonderful dinner with Tom's good friend and training partner, followed by a couple episodes of "The Big Bang Theory" and a few rounds of uno in which I emerged victorious! A relaxing and fulfilling Saturday to say the least.

Sunday, Tom and I headed out to Banff in the early afternoon for a hike and some meandering about town. We decided to do the easy/moderate climb of Tunnel Mountain, which neither of us had done before, and although there were portions of the hike that were somewhat difficult with the path covered with two or three feet of snow, it was really enjoyable to spend that time with Tom, enjoying the fresh mountain air, the exercise, and the feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top of a good climb. We made in up and down in an hour and six minutes.

After this we went to the lulu lemon hoping they would have a different selection then the disappointing sweater colors at the Calgary store, but alas we were disappointed and headed up to the hot springs for a nice long soak.

This is where the interesting and thought provoking portion of the day was. It was so nice to enjoy a long warm soak in the mineral rich and hot water and as Tom and I floated around I looked about and thought to myself, I am the luckiest girl in the world. I am with the most amazing man, who makes me so happy, strengthens my ambitions, inspires me to be a better person, and is easily the best looking and best-built guy in this pool. I was so proud to call him my own.

Upon departing from the pool and going back to the locker room to dry off and change there was a mother and daughter at the locker just down from me. She has locked the locker and realized she had forgotten something inside prior to closing it. Lockers at the Banff hot springs are a loonie and she had used her last one. She turned and asked me if I had change for a twoonie and I handed her a loonie and told her not to worry about it. She seemed insistent to give me the twoonie in exchange for the loonie I had already provided her however I insisted she keep it and told her to pay it forward. The look that came across her face at this point was one of utter anxiety. She continued to insist she give me the twoonie and I continued to resist until she accepted. It was as if she wasn't willing or able to bear the responsibility of having to pay a favor forward - it was to much for her to handle or to heavy on her conscience. Is paying it forward, doing something altruistic or unbeneficial to us for the benefit of others really so rare that when we're challenged to do so it sends us to the point of anxiety?

To end off this post I'd like to challenge each and every one of you to do something completely out of kindness, not expecting anything in return, and not for your benefit in the least, for a complete stranger. See how they react, see how you feel when you do this, more importantly, notice how you feel next time someone completes a completely altruistic act for you - what emotions come up for you and how do you manage them?

An act of kindness goes a long way.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

How many of you have kept true to their New Years Resolutions to date? In my personal experience, for the first three weeks of January my gym is packed. There is a line-up for treamills, the classes are packed and your lucky if you can find a square meter to do your free-weight training. It never fails though, by the end of the third week usually one or two treadmills are always empty and the weight floor doesn't feel like China town. By the end of February, only us devotee's are left and I have all the time and space in the world to continue in what has become a hugely routine part of my life.

Exercise and good diet has always been a huge part of my life but this year I'm trying to take a new approach to it. In the past my workouts have been centered around weight loss and reduction of body fat, and while I may have 10 or so pounds of "Christmas Cheer" to kick off, for the most part I really love the way I feel in my skin right now. So this year, one of my goals is to use my workouts as an opportunity to challange myself, push myself out of my comfort zone, and focus on doing things I never thought I could do before. Although I do want to focus on toning some specific muscle areas and getting some definition, I know this will come along with pushing myself into things I've never done, and being okay if I don't suceed the first time around, laughing at myself, and going at it again.

So here is what I've worked at so far:

Experiment #1: Pole-Dancing Class
Thanks to the wonderful revolution know as Groupon I managed to get a voucher for six weeks of level 1 Pole Dancing, valued at $150 for $20. So far I have been to two weeks of classes and have developed a short routine with a slide down the pole (I haven't quite mastered this one as my knees seem to slam the floor everytime) and the fireman's twist. I've struggled a bit over the past week however with the idea of what this class should be doing for me and what it's actually doing. Body image is a big part of this class as it is a very sensual type of workout routine and confidence is key, however, sometimes I look in the mirror part way through class and think to myself "I can't measure up to these girls. I look awkward and out of place" - I've had to fight the Bad Body Image demons out of my mind to keep going with this despite how I feel. I have decided however, that the fact that I am struggling with these feelings means that I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and I am determined to stick with it, as per my resolution, and trust that in the end I will gain more confidence and positive body image upon the completion of the class.

Experiment #2: Hard Core Cardio
I started off the New Year with focus on my weight trainging with the desire to really build and tone muscle mass, and while this is challanging I find that I am really comfortable in this area. I already know of my potential to gain muscle and build strength. I was always one of the strongest girls in my family and my age group. One thing I have always aspired to but never really focused on is my cardio; running especially. I've always been one to stick to the elipitical or bike but this year I'm going to push further and focus on running. I want to work to increase my speed, and endurance to the point where I could run 10 or 2o kilometers at once and feel accomplised and proud of myself. Last night was my first night of really focusing solely on this. I did 3.4miles (so about five and half kilometers) in fourty minutes. It felt amazing, rewarding, and all around freeing. I truly believe after last night that fitness is just as much about mental strength then it is about physical strength. You can only do what you believe you can do, so if you believe you can run 3.5 miles in 30 or 40 minutes, then you will. And I believe I have the determination and the strength, both physically and mentally to do that and so much more.

After my 3.4 mile run I did a 7 mile bike ride which also felt great. So all in all, an hour and fifteen minutes of cardio which left me exhausted but feeling stronger then I have in years. This is a resolution that I will not only feel good about keeping but I think is going to give me more confidence and strength then I ever have.

So all in all, if I had to summerize my goals for 2011 in one sentence I would have to quote my role model, Jillian Micheals in saying "Keep your meals clean and your workouts dirty". What were you resolutions for this year? How are you doing in keeping them?