Friday, September 26, 2008

Slacker Uprising

Was reading the papers and blogs this morning, one being Angry White Guy, I knew Michael Moore was coming out with a new movie but I did not know the title, the title says it all, Slacker Uprising.  Go to the link for a preview, I could not help but make an extra post on this!

And an example of my slackerdom is that I went on a jog to Olive Park, did some sun salutations, handstands, cartwheels and situps and then jogged on the rock wall, on the beach, sprinted along the water jogged back to Chicago Avenue and then jumped in the lake and was very appreciative of the fact that I was able to do this at 10:30 in the morning before I went in to work at the store. Having the lake so close to me and so clean(to me) that I have not suffered any ill effects from the water(so far) is a minor miracle living in such a big city!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Birthdays and Ashtanga

My birthday was last week the 17th and I think something was in the air because a lot of things started to bubble up in my head. Last year I made a list on the site 43 Things, and one of them was to learn the Ashtanga Yoga Primary series.  I have been attempting to practice yoga for many years but I was never really at a physical or mental place to really move forward with the practice. I was a gymnast in high school so a lot of the asanas that might be new to people, headstands, handstands, backward rolls and backbends I knew I could do, I just was afraid to attempt them because I was really out of touch with my body for awhile. Well, this spring I took a workshop with Lino Miele, where I went through every asana(posture) in the Primary Series and when I left the workshop I felt so content and happy for most of the weekend it was almost unbelievable. However, since then I just kept putting off going through the series again because they are very, very rigorous and I knew I had to be in the right frame of mind. Well, I took a Primary series class at YogaView this past Tuesday night, where Bill Shapleigh lead us through the entire series. Now I of course did not accomplish every single posture but I got through the whole thing again and was so happy when I was done. I left thinking how yoga is really a part of my life and of how I am so happy that I have my body back again and that I am moving forward mentally and physically. It all goes back to Pakistan last summer as I was struggling up the glacier and I realized, we all have a choice physically as we get older, to take the path of giving in to age and saying I'm too old, I can't do it, or to take the path of opening new pathways in our body, and actually improving physically with age. After the Tim Miller workshop, a couple of weeks ago and seeing Lino in the spring it just showed me it is entirely possible to improve your strength and flexibility as you get older. I left the class Tuesday night mentally and spiritually in such a great place, I realized the more yoga becomes more important mentally and spiritually to me, the more I actually see physical improvements when I practice.  There are people out there who live and breath chi, like Steve Ilg and his focus of Wholistic Fitness. I just feel very lucky that we have such a great yoga community in Chicago, and that Yoga View exists, and that for me I have to make my emotional and spiritual well being the number one priority which for me means getting to yoga twice a week whether it be the incredible Paul Weiss, BIll Shapleigh or Tom Quinn. But because of yoga I am back to doing cartwheels and handstands and handstands into bridges, all of which I thought I would never be able to do again. With all the people I hear complaining about their health, I feel really lucky to feel so vibrant!!! My plan for the week is to go to Tom Quinn's ashtanga class on Saturday morning at 8am......


Monday, September 15, 2008

Happy Goats

This weekend was action packed, I took a class with Tim Miller at Yoga View on Friday night that was all about the bandhas used in yoga. It was a perfect start to my weekend, Tim explained and demonstrated and we tried to employ the bandhas and understand their purpose or what one tries to achieve, but what I took away is how yoga is such a mental practice and not a physical one and I left the class on Friday night with a sense of peace. I only wished that I could have taken his classes all weekend!!!!!! 
Then I left Saturday morning on a field trip to see the happy goats at Prairie Fruits Farm.  Pastoral sponsored a field trip to the Champaign Farmer's market and then to a visit and tour of the farm. The vendors at the Green City Market have had a lot of tomatoes, however, one of the vendors in Urbana, had the following heirloom varieties, Cosmonaut Volkov, Goldie, Eve's Purple Ball, Black Prince, Garden Peach, Buffalo, Japanese Black Trifele, Roma(Yellow, Red, Black Plum), Green Zebra, Pink Beauty, Celebrity, Arbason, Brandywine, Striped German and Aunt Ruby's German Green and I probably missed some, but I had the thought of how I won't look at tomatoes as just a tomato anymore. At the market I worked on an essay related to my photo project on Electroglobicity which I hadn't thought of for a long time. I came up with this word to account for how the world is basically wired from top to bottom almost everywhere for electricity and on the drive to the market we passed fields with electric poles in the middle which is a scene that is common in almost every farm in every country on every continent and for a period of time, I took pictures of electricity poles wherever I was to document it in a way....But I digress....
 From the market we went to Prairie Fruits where Leslie gave a tour of the cheeserie and we saw the painstaking process of making the cheese and all the rooms for each different humidity needed for the different types of cheese. It just made me realize how precious each little tub of cheese is when you consider all the loving energy that has gone into making it. Then we had an amazing lunch on their porch made with the vegetables and herbs they grow on the farm, of course cheese and some local grilled meat from a nearby organic cow farm. In the afternoon we met the very friendly goats who love to eat almost anything. We left the farm with a little bit of happy goat karma.
 Then to top off my weekend I got up Sunday and biked the 45 minutes down to 63rd St and Jackson Park for the Chicago Half marathon start at 7:30am. I made it just in time, to throw my bike against a tree, drop off my bag and get to the start line. It was raining lightly when we started but after about 5 miles, it began to pour and it seemed like it just kept raining harder and harder, of course, my nano stopped working at 6 miles, my back up radio didn't work so I was musicless for half of the race which I felt was a karmic lesson for me to savor the noises of the racers around me but it was very hard, I LOVE MY MUSIC!!!!!! I kept thinking of the bandhas when I was running and breathing in as much air as possible. It actually was kind of warm, just very, very wet. But after about 9 miles, I decided I couldn't run much slower and I just got into sherpa mode and put my eyes the road in front of me and told myself, one foot in front of the other. I also kept thinking this was only 13 miles, AND I HAVE aspirations to do a 50K, I kept telling myself, this was only 13 miles and I could finish. All I know, is that I in the shape or lack there of I was in and how it felt jogging 13 miles, I couldn't imagine the training I have to do to run 30+ and I got a little frustrated when I saw some of the people that were passing me. And I thought of the uber Speed Goat Karl Meltzer, who is here now of his run of the Appalachian Trail....
I did finish in the pouring rain and then I got on my one speed bike and biked home against the rain and wind. I kinda of enjoyed the weather, for some reason, I feel more alive when I really have to battle the elements, however, I was happy that I was heading home to a hot shower rather than being in the middle of China and heading to my tent. 
I have aspirations to run like a mountain goat, maybe not a Wasatch Speed Goat, but in the middle of the race I thought about creating different speed goat levels relative to my fitness and at least I feel I am at level one, the farm goat.  I realize I really need to move to the mountains where I will have a playground to train in, rather than the flatlands here. But as I said to myself in the race, everything is a journey, one step at a time and at least I was there participating and I am happy that I did!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

BIg Shoulders Swim on a great day

Well, the athlete voice won out at 7:35 this morning, and I got up, had coffee and got out the door and biked to the Big Shoulders race. This was a personal triumph for me!!! In the grand scheme of things, finishing a 2.5K swim is not a big deal when I read on blogs about some of the incredible things people are doing, Karl Meltzer and the ultra running adventures of Olga and her merry crew of ultra friends, and my friend Judy, who finishes an Olympic distance triathlon while having a full time finance job, living in Manhattan and after having 3 boys!!! Are you getting the reason why I feel like a slacker???
        So, the conversation between athlete Jeannie and slacker Jeannie went like this, this morning at 6:35 when my alarm went off, 
S : Oh, it is only 6:35 I can sleep another 1/2 hour, then get up, have coffee and be able to get to the race on time.
So I go back to sleep and the alarm rings at 7:05
S: Oh, I can sleep another 10 minutes and then get up
A: If I don't do this race it will be another year before I have a chance and I know if I don't do it I will be really disappointed in myself.
S:Oh, the water will probably be really cold, I am so out of shape, I will feel horrible in the water. This bed feels so warm and cozy...................
The alarm goes off...
I hit the snooze again
S:Oh, I still have time, it is not my drop dead time yet...this bed feels so comfortable, I am so out of shape do I really want to put myself through the torture of a race?
A: I have been so fearful of life things lately, this is a great way to face my physical fears, this swim is nothing, it is just the first leg of a triathlon, I have been a slacker for far too long and deep down I really do want to do this race, I will be really, really disappointed in myself if I don't do it. At the very worst I can do breast stroke the entire time and finish and there will be people doing a 5k, so I know worst case I can finish.
S: This bed feels so great, the water is going to feel so cold, I am so out of shape...
A: I will be disappointed, I don't want to be disappointed, I have to face my fears and this one is an easy one..
The alarm goes off at 7:40
A:Uh oh, the first wave starts at 8:00 and my wave goes off at 8:20, I had better make coffee and book it out of here..I guess if I miss my wave I wasn't meant to do it.....

             Well, I got out of the apartment, ran into Lee an old friend from my Masters Swim team days at the East Bank Club, I always seem to run into Lee at these kind of events, he was the first one I ran into the last time I did the Accenture triathlon.
             The one thing about swimming which is good and bad, there are all shapes and sizes, which is good because I don't feel like the fattest most out of shape person out there, but swimming fitness is deceiving, because some of those out of shape looking people are very fast despite their appearance,  so my excuse for not training (my slacker mind is great at coming up with reasons for why not) concentrating on a sport that doesn't necessarily make you thinner isn't necessarily a good one for me. 
             Anyways, the short of the race, I finished, it was ugly, and as I am swimming parallel to the LakeFront I see all these CARA running groups, it is amazing the number of people that are involved in the marathon training pace groups and of course, my slacker, low self esteem thought while swimming in the water was, "wow..all these people are out first thing in the morning running, wow, I really need to get my butt out the door and train more for distance races" But I will say I felt strong towards the end of the race, it felt great to swim, the water was amazingly clean, perfect temperature, the day was beautiful and I am SOOOOOOOO happy I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!! But I am happy that I swam in a lake, no matter how big Lake Michigan is rather than an ocean. The first buoy felt like it took forever to get to and I didn't have to worry about any sea creatures, just random algae strands.
           So the plan for next weekend is action packed, yoga at Yogaview with Tim Miller which is always really inspirational and then Saturday I am going to see the happy goat cheese people on a trip with Pastoral, and then Sunday I have the Chicago Half Marathon,  and then work at the store. But for once, the slacker was put at bay!!!!!
But Olga at her blog has this quote which I keep posted and remind myself of:
  "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive!!!!!!" from Howard Thurman
But it is so true, and I am trying to do and not think about things.....And I do feel more alive after doing the progress!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah........

           Ciao Jeannie