Saturday, December 17, 2011

Two Years Ago Today...

Well, actually, I don't know when the exact date was. Had I known it would be such a milestone, I might have paid attention. I really had no clue.

But two years ago this month, my life changed for the better. Why? Because this handsome, intelligent, silly man - who listens to NPR and BBC in the middle of the night - sent me an IM on FB and said, "if you ever want to talk on the phone, here's my number." Now, if you ask the comedian, he will make up a totally different story. But that is, in fact, how it went down. LOL

Was that our first IM or interaction? Nope. Shoot, we've actually been in the same circles since junior high. We just never hung out directly. So when I got the FB friend request I said, "I know him!" and happily accepted.

At that time, I had just finished my half marathon. He started asking me about running, and we chatted occasionally. And then there were the horrible dating stories. Like the older dude who wanted to meet for lunch at Chik-Fil-A because he was tired of women taking advantage of him. And Ashy Larry, whom I met in my bowling league in ATL. Actually, it was the Ashy Larry story that set everything into motion.

After I posted it, along with a photo of the bootleg birthday "present" he got me, it was LDR who said that all these southern men were messing up and leaving the door open for him to swoop in. I don't think I took him seriously, though.

Then he sent his phone number. We haven't stopped talking since then!

He's the reason that one of the first apps I downloaded on my iPad was NPR. The impetus for me to go harder when I'm ready to give up. My dad really liked him. Always asked about him when we talked. And LDR took to him like they had always known each other. Even spoke at his funeral. He always checks in in my mom and puts up with her antics (those of you on twitter know the stories, lol).

I'm so glad that I chose to let things progress instead of trying to orchestrate my life to the T. The more we talked, I realized how much we thought alike and how wrong I had been, up to that point, about what I thought I needed.

And now, we just need to get to the same city! Can't wait to see what the next two years will bring.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Feast or Famine

You know how when you're single, it's hard to find someone worthy of dating...and then when you're in a relationship, folks come out of the woodworks? That's how it seems to be with my job situation.

I promise you, the MINUTE I began giving serious thought to going back to NY, here come the job opportunities. LOL! First, I got a call from a manager I had done a phone interview with previously. She called and told me about a position out of her office, but she wasn't sure if it could be worked from a remote location. She said she'd check with her managers at the end of the week and let me know. I hadnt heard anything before yesterday, so I assumed it wasn't available anymore. Yesterday, my current manager asked me if I had applied, and asked me to forward the confirmation email. Still waiting to hear on that.

Then a workers comp adjuster who previously worked for my company, sent an email to someone who still worked for us, asking her to find out if any liability adjusters were looking as they had a position open. I forwarded my resume last Friday. So did another co-worker. We both had interviews today. I kept hearing things about this position that were making me think twice about applying, but what I was told in the interview made me feel much better. It's on a different side of town but the commute wouldn't be bad.

On Tuesday, my old supervisor called me and said that she was asked for recommendations for another internal position, and she wanted to know if I was interested. I told her I'd like to know more about it, and the next morning after yoga class, I spoke with a manager in that department. What she told me piqued my interest, so I applied yesterday morning. Today, the director called me to do a phone interview, but I missed him. I left him a message this afternoon.

Things like thtis always make me say, "really?!?" My friend Stacy says this is the universe telling me I need to stay in Charlotte. She refuses to discuss relocation with me. LOL! LDR says, "do what you gotta do, babe."

So, what I gotta do is wait and see how this all plays out. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Changes, Changes, Changes

So if we're friends on FB or Twitter, you know I got the news Monday that I'm going to be laid off in February. The account I handle claims on has decided that they are going to handle their own claims in house.

Now, they will have some positions up there, but frankly from wh at I've heard, I would not want to work for them directly. Reduction in pay, reduction in vacay time, totally different and very rigid culture. Uh, no. Sigh.

This economy makes it so hard because the choices are limited. It's almost like you are just caught between a rock and a hard place. You have to fight like mad to find something halfway decent, or just take what you get and be miserable.

I'm weighing options right now, including a move back to New York, since LDR hasn't been able to get his transfer down here. Honestly, if it wasn't for JUST getting the rental house, my immediate answer would be load up the truck and get on back to NY so I can get on with the rest of my life. I don't know what kind of life I'd have in Syracuse, and I certainly never envisioned returning...but at least I'd be with the one I love.

Then there is always the option of Virginia, because that's where my sisters are. They have room for me and I know they'd help me until I find another position and get my own place. That's a little closer to NY than I am right now, but without all the ridiculous snow.

People keep asking, "what are you going to do?" Um, I just found out on MONDAY - I have not made any decisions as of yet! LOL! I'm just letting the news sink in. It's funny because many people I'm close to are going through changes and it seems like we're all searching for the stability we once had.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Made It Through!

We had to visit three houses yesterday for Thanksgiving. That's a lot of people and a lot of food. Not to mention, I had to try to watch the Cowboys/Dolphins game. Lots to do!

We got up and headed to the football field so that LDR could play on the Turkey Bowl. That's the annual game where high school alum come back to live their dreams, lol. When we got there, only my brother and one other guy was there. Now last year there were a ton of people and it was probably 20 degrees colder!

While they waited for players, I went down to the track and started my work out. I got a 5 minute walk and a 2 mile jog in before they decided to head to another city high school to see if everyone had convened over there.

We made it over to the 2nd school and there were people there, but none from our school. LDR got in the game and I jogged another mile and walked 2 miles, and then we left.

We showered and headed to my mom's house first. I wanted to see my niece before she left and went to her mom's side of the family. Our gathering was small this year. My sisters stayed down south, and of course my dad is gone.

LDR only eats fish, and it seems like his family forgets that every year. I asked my mom the day before to fix him some, so soon after we arrived she fried some up for him. I had a small plate of food and we chatted for a bit. Then it was on to my future MIL's house.

Did I mention that LDR has 10 siblings? 7 on his mom's side and 3 on his dad's side. So momma LDR's house is always a cacophony of sounds; nieces, nephews, siblings, everyone! We settled in to watch the game and then during halftime we watched a DVR'd episode of Restaurant Impossible because LDR's nephew was hired to be a chef at this particular restaurant after it was cleaned up. I had another small plate of food and we had a good time laughing and talking. His second oldest sister asked when I was gonna become her sister in law and I told her to talk to LDR. LOL!

After my Cowboys' narrow victory over the Dolphins, we headed to my future FIL's house. They didn't cook this year, so I didn't have to make room for another plate. However he FID serve me the best piece of bean pie I ever had in my life. I could use another slice right now! Anywho, we didn't stay too long because LDR decided to work the holiday. We came back to my mom's house and he took a nap in the back bedroom until it was time for work.

And that was our day! I slept over at mom's and I'm here now while he rests at home. Not sure what we're gonna be doing later. I have really enjoyed my vacay and I'm sad it's winding down. I hope everyone had a great holiday! :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Old Soul

Yesterday, I went to a continuing education seminar for my industry. I always love attending because: A) I get 6 credit hours, B) I get to see old co-workers, and C) they have a holiday party afterwards. :)

Anywho, I sat at a table with two of my old co-workers. I was talking to one, I don't even remember what we were talking about, but she asked me if we were the same age. She's about 41, I think. I told her no, that I'd be 37 in January. She said, "you have an old soul."

She is not the first to tell me that. And I don't take offense to it at all. I think because my brothers and sisters are so much older than me, I've always been that way. About 10 years ago I had a different co-worker (who worked with us as well) tel lme that I was the "oldest 26 year old she ever met." LOL!

Sometimes I do feel like I was born about 7 years past my time...LOL. I like old school music, old school tv shows....you name it. I mean, don't get me wrong - I DO appreciate things from today, especially the technology. LDR teases me all the time about my gadets (iPHone, iPad, etc). But to me, it just seemed like my siblings just had an easier, much more simple time when they were growing up. The ones that are married got married pretty young, and they didn't seem to face all the dating shenanigans and things that I've faced over the past few years.

Do you ever feel like you belong in another era?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Disappointed

I didn't get the job. :(

I was in the middle of a seminar when the HR recruiter called and left a message. When I saw the number, I felt excited. Like, it didn't occur to me that he was calling to say no.

I called him back on my lunch break, and he reiterated how it was a reallly tough choice for them, and that if any more opportunities came up locally they would let me know. I said ok, and I thanked him for the opportunity, but in the midst of the call I felt like I was in a daze.

Whaddya MEAN they don't want me?

I've had interviews where they called me 6 hours layer and offered me the position.

Sigh. Oh well. Back to the drawing board. Onward and upward. All that jazz. I just wish I wasn't so bored where I am now. I'm watching things go on around me that just are not right/fair, so I will just keep working to get out of the situation.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Three Things Thursday

I am looking forward to this weekend! So glad it's Thursday.

1. Speaking of three, I currently have 3 computer monitors on my desk. Why? Because we are transitioning to the computer system of the company that bought us out. It has NOT been smooth. I already have a headache today.

2. I sent out my thank you notes for my interview on Tuesday. It was a panel interview with 4 people, so I was looking online to see if I should send one letter or four. I ultimately decided on four separate letters. Let me tell you, it is a challenge to come up with 4 thank you notes about the SAME interview, and have them all be different. But I think I nailed it. :) Now, we just await their decision. Cross your fingers and toes!

3. I will be in NY and see LDR in 16 days! *squeals with delight*

So what's going on with your Thursday?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cued Up on the Kindle App

OK, this is the last post of the day. I swear. But I had to tell you about this, before I run to the dentist:



The Leftovers - Tom Perotta

Imagine you and a friend are out to lunch, chatting, eating your salads. All of a sudden, your friend is just gone. Disappears into thin air. You find out throughout the day that many people in your town have just vanished without a trace.

That is the setting for The Leftovers. What happens to the people who are left behind if there is a Rapture? Is it even a rapture? Or a 'sudden disappearance,' as the government has labeled it?

Of course, nobody knows the answer to that, but so far I am loving what I've read. I think one of the main reasons I like it, is that he didn't write it from a preachy, religious standpoint. There are religious themes mentioned, but you are introduced to a variety of characters. People who are just trying to go on with life as usual...and then some who are moving on with life in not-so-usual ways. It's like he just sat down one day and thought about what would really happen if this went down.

I've found myself just reading and reading. I fell asleep next to the iPad last night. It's fiction that makes you think. I can't wait to see what unfolds next.

This Needs Help



Yeah. No bueno. This is my precarious set up for my shoes. LOL! Tinisha, my loctician, has challenged me to reduce my inventory to 50 shoes. I haven't started that transition yet. Right now, we're at about 72.

I was looking at this at the Container Store:

Two Three problems:
1. I'd need like 6 of those things. That's a lot of cash.
2. The reviews on this are pretty iffy.
3. I don't actually think my shoes would fit in these boxes...and I only wear a 7.5 (sometimes an 8 if I REALLY need the shoe in my life and there's no 7.5 available. What?).

I need suggestions. I'd really like something like the shoe organizer above. I need to find someone who's good with wood and they can just build me one from scratch. LOL!

Winning! (in my Rockstar Stacy voice)

If you've been reading through any of my yoga posts, you know that I struggle with headstand poses - both the tripod headstand and the regular headstand. There's something about being upside down.

This morning, Stacy took me into a wide legged straddle on the mat, and then said that if I wanted I could play around with tripod/tripod headstand. I decided, eh - why not?

So first I went into tripod:


(that's me from earlier this year)

Then, I got focused. I found my drishti - in yoga that is your gaze/focal point. It's helpful in balancing poses to have a drishti to keep your concentration and focus on your breathing. After that, I started my transition into the headstand. Stacy is always telling us that we shouldn't rush into poses...much like life, we need to focus on the transitions.

For some reason, I always start with my right side, so I carefully lifted my right knee from my elbow and pushed it straight into the air, then pointed my toes. Normally, I would immediately try to push that left knee up, but this time I waited. I waited until I had my balance and my abs were engaged. Then I pushed my left knee up (and this is really more about your core than your leg strength).

Voila! I was up in the air! And balanced! And hopefully it looked something like this (I don't know 'cause I couldn't see it. LOL!):


(photo courtesy of fitsugar.com)

I'm guessing that a lot of folks can lift both legs at once. I'm not there yet, and I don't know if I'll ever be there. I'm just happy I was able to stay up there for about 3 breaths before I started to tilt and had to bring my legs down. My goal is to be able to hold that for 5 deep breaths and be able to release with control. Maybe one day come back down into tripod and then move into crow.

Everything is a work in progress. Even though that ab work in yoga is no joke, I try to focus on my breathing and do it, because stronger abs and a stronger core lead to triumphs like this.

Focus on your transitions this week! :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Last year on this date, I was at my grandmother's funeral. My dad sang "In The Garden." He struggled to even make it to the funeral. How he had the strength to get up and sing, I have no idea. But he did it.

At one point during the service, my dad was holding my right hand, and LDR was holding my left. And I wished that it could just stay like that. But I knew it could. He was dying right in front of my eyes.

I know this all went down a year ago, but some days it feels like it just happened. Does that ever go away? I guess that's a rhetorical question. Nobody can tell you how your own grief is going to play out for the rest of your life. I'm really just rambling...but it's my blog, so that's what it's here for. :)

I wondered how I would feel a year after the fact. Like my favorite yoga teacher often instructs me, I'm just going to observe my feelings and I won't judge them. They are what they are.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wise Words

Happy Saturday, Bloggers!

I'm resting today and trying to do a little detox. Too much sugar and processed foods during the week, and I feel like a mess.

I didn't have much to say, but I did want to share some excellent advice from someone I really respect and admire. Way back when I first went natural, my friend Rob said, 'you need to let Tinesha do your hair.' I had no idea what I was doing, but for some reason I never did take him up on that.

Fast forward to 2011, and not only is Tinesha the bestest loctician EVAH, through her I've met two other wonderful ladies - Jessica and Kelley. These three women have the greatest spirits - I knew it from the first time I met them. There is just something about them. They make me laugh. They make me think. And every time I leave their salon, I just feel better. I mean, of course my hair is on point, but I just feel better INSIDE.

Take a gander at her post about letting the RIGHT people into your inner circle.

Namaste. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Moving Into New Spaces

Moving into the rental house has been a blessing, and I'm enjoying my new space (although, sometimes it can be a little TOO quiet, lol). There's something about moving into a new space that is just exciting for me. New challenges, a change from the norm. Maybe it's the Aquarius in me. As a child I was always changing my room furniture around. My mom used to say, "if you move that furniture one more time it's gonna fall apart!" Of course, now that I'm older, my furniture is much heavier so I can't move it like I used to. But I enjoy changing up what I can.

In my yoga classes, my teachers are always challenging me to move into new spaces. To expand my flexibility and build strength. When I started, lots of poses had to be modified because of my inflexibility, or my myriad injuries (lol). Now that I'm stronger and a little healthier, I try to do the full expressions of poses whenever I can. I don't put my knee down in side plank anymore. I try to open my arms when I'm in my chair with a prayer twist. I reach for the floor in my side angle pose instead of resting my forearm on my quad. I love to feel my practice expand.

As far as my career, I've been in the same space for a minute now. The company I've been working for since 2008 was bought out by another company in our industry. The culture of the old company and the culture of the new company are like oil and water. Total opposites, and they do not mix. It's going to be a drastic change. And it's not one I'm sure I want to be a part of. Everything ain't for everybody...the older I get, the more I understand that phrase. They've pretty much showed us that they don't really care about the people. It's very "like it or lump it." Well, in a recession, most folks are not in a position to lump it. I can just see that it would eventually drain my spirit, which is no bueno. I desire to move up in the ranks, but I don't know if this is the place to do it. Do I really want to (essentially) start over somewhere else?

On a whim, I did post for an internal position, but I was really debating about what I'd do if they DID offer it to me. They call it a "lateral move," because they say that our job grades/pay grades from the old company are much higher than theirs. Translation: we'll move you to this position and give you more work, but we're not going to give you a raise. This internal position involves some files that are in litigation. I've had a small amount of litigation experience; the problem with positions that involve litigation is that they already want you to know how to handle litigated files. OK, well how can I learn if no one will give me the chance?

I kicked azz on the phone interview, and according to my current manager, they "loved" me, but their only concern is the litigation experience. *crickets chirping* You can pretty much teach anyone anything, unless you're just dealing with someone who has no ability to retain information. I'm not that person. Everyone I've worked under will tell you that. When I came into claims I had zero experience. You don't go to school to learn about claims. Everything I had to know I was TAUGHT. I bring things to the table that you cannot teach: my personality, ability to work with all kinds of people, ability to work independently or within a group, the ability to lead, the respect of my peers, my thirst for knowledge, and that internal drive that I will do my job and do it well, because it's not within me to put out shoddy work product.

If they can overlook all that, they've answered my question about whether or not it's time to move on to a new space outside of this company.

So, I'm taking the leap to find a new position. I had a phone interview two weeks ago for position, and now I have an in-person interview on Tuesday. I don't know why I'm feeling so nervous. Maybe because I really want to get away from where I'm at now. I think a lot of my peers are going to start looking, and I don't want to get caught in the rush of people flooding the job market. I want to move NOW, while folks are still debating.

I've gotten offers on every job I've ever interviewed for since college, except for one. And that didn't have anything to do with my skills, but with my credit report (ah, youth. LOL!). I'm hoping that streak will continue. If it crosses your mind on Tuesday around 3:00pm, send out some positive vibes for me. :)

Are you moving into any new spaces in your life?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dear Grandma...


It's hard to believe you passed away a year ago today. You made it through 99 years on this earth. I'm 36 and some days I just feel tired. But I think sometimes our technology and advances have served to make our lives a little more difficult. You kept it simple: God and your family.

At Thanksgiving, Pam and I try to recreate your sweet potato pies. Uncle Gene says we've done a good job so far. He's also put in his 2 cents about what we need to do or what we could do. That's your son, the retired chef. :) We know it's not exactly like your pies, but I don't think Thanksgiving would be Thanksgiving without those pies on the dessert table.

Mom seems to be doing much better. I know that she still misses you and Dad a great deal. Speaking of Dad, can you tell him hello for me? And give him a great big hug and kiss and tell him we really miss him. Today is Sunday, and this was usually the day that he and I would talk for an hour or so. I still laugh about the Sunday he tried to trick me into having LDR bring him some ox tails...knowing he could not have it. I almost wish we had given it to him anyway.


(Grandma ans a few of her brothers - date unknown)

You managed to outlive all of your brothers. I wonder if you are with them now. Or with Uncle Rafe or Aunt Lennie. I hope so. Then that means we have a whole extended network of family watching over us.

I am still working on that family tree project. I hope I can find some more of your family that we haven't met yet. Maybe they can come to the next family reunion.

Well, I just wanted you to know that we missed you. Our lives have been changed but we carry on. We hope you're looking down and that you're proud.

--C

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Statesville Balloon Festival - 2011

This year, we decided we'd actually go early to the festival. Last year, we tried to go close to launch time. EPIC FAIL. We ended up watching the launch from afar.

We got there around noon this time. They had two balloons set up for tethered rides. For $10, you get to float straight up into the air, hover, and come back down. After standing in line for 2 hours, we didn't make it onto either balloon. The first ran out of fuel, and the second had to shut down to get ready for the mass launch. Just as I was going to challenge my fear of heights. Oh well. :/

The festival was gorgeous. Carolina blue skies, and everyone out having a good time. If you live in the Charlotte area, you MUST go at least once. There are food vendors, craft vendors, jewelry, clothing...you name it. One of the vineyards had some lovely sangria for $5 per cup. I spent the $10 I WOULD have spent on the tethered balloon ride on sangria. What?

I have to thank my friend Senetra for inviting me to enjoy the day with her and her 4 year old daughter. This child's vocab rivals that of most grown folks I know. Matter of fact, it exceeds. She has questions about any and every thing. It was fun to see the world through her eyes for a day.

Next year? We go early. Like 8:00 am. We WILL get on those tethered balloons!! And we will take lawn chairs and water bottles and snacks. Yep. That's the ticket.

Anywho, here are a few pics from the day. Enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Fun Facts

Well, maybe not facts so much as thoughts from me. :lol:

--This morning I got ready without the tv or radio on. I actually enjoyed the silence. Gave me time to think and do a little walking meditation.

--While I was perusing one of my favorite blogs, I thought it was about 6:50 (per my watch). Looked at my phone and it was after 7:00. Looks like the battery is dying. I'm hoping there is a jewelry store on my side of town that sells Tag Heuer's and can therefore send my watch for service. If not, I'll have to drive all the way to Carolina Place Mall.

--I had to scrape ice off my windshield this morning. Hello, fall.

--I've come to the conclusion that my cat lives under my bed. She's scared of the house. That's all I can break it down to...there's no explanation. LOL! I think she comes out during the day to play periodically, because I put her cat toys away but when I come home, they are in random places. But for the most part she goes under the bed before I leave, and when I come home she comes out from under the bed. I think I'll have a chat with the vet.

--I will see LDR in 29 days. :)

--Tomorrow I'm going to the Statesville Hot Air Balloon festival with one of my co-workers and her daughter. We went last year. We're going to go early so I can go down and get close up pics with the balloons.

--I have a lot of work to do today and no motivation to get it done. :/

--These cool morning temps have made me realize it's time to pack away the summer clothes. That will be my project when I get home tonight. I'm quite sure there are a lot of fall/winter clothes from last year that I can't fit, so I will probably have to go shopping at some point.

What are your plans for this weekend?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One Rant, Coming Up!

So...most apartment complexes charge a pet "fee" here. Which is different from a pet "deposit."

The fee is you paying for the privilige of having a pet on premises. The deposit would be used to cover cleaning or damages when you move out. If the charges are less than what your deposit was, you get the balance back.

If your lease says "fee," then you're just azzed out and they can charge you an additional $145 for "pet treatment" of the carpet...even though they got your $250 when you moved in. They make a profit off every tenant who has a pet that doesn't really do any damage.

I think that's bogus! If my pet damages the apartment you should absolutely charge me for it. And you SHOULD do the pet treatment on the carpet. I'm in total agreement. But to just charge $250 for GP?!? And the fact that North Carolina allows this foolishness is just... #iCant

The things we do to make money in America. Sigh. At least tell folks up front - look. Put away about $145 'cause that's what we're going to charge you to treat the carpet when you move out. Regardless of this $250 pet FEE you just handed over. At least then, it would feel like you gave me the courtesy of using some Vaseline. &*^%%#@(!!!

As I said, this is a rant...because it's in the lease and there's nothing I can do about that. I've already paid it. I just felt like ranting. That's my disclaimer for the legal eagles who may peek in. :lol:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's on the Kindle App

After reading about this via Yoga Journal, I decided to download and check out the hype.



All I can say is, Suzanne is hilarious! I love her writing style. She's had me being introspective, grossed out, laughing hysterically...everything. I was at the hair dresser when I got to the part about her yoga retreat in Bali, where the teacher advised them to avoid the local water and to keep themselves healthy by drinking their urine.

Yep.

In the beginning she referred to them as pissdrinkers. #iDied

According to the Kindle app, I've gotten through about 62% of the book. The last yoga book I read was fiction. There are some points in this book that I forget she's actually talking about something she went through. It's basically set up like journal entries, of the journal she kept while at the retreat. I'm not sure if she posted entire entries, or just the meatier parts (I'm sure some editing had to be done before it was published).

If you like yoga, and you're not afraid of cuss words and honesty, then I'd recommend this read. :)

The Things Folks Do For Love

I have a co-worker who is going natural. She said she was ready to cut her hair off, but she has to go to a wedding this weekend for a cousin on her father's side. So she's just going to get it blown out and flat ironed. I asked her why didn't she just cut it.

She said that her cousins/aunts on her dad's side of the family take after her grandfather in terms of features. Her words were, "they're all AKAs with long, straight hair." O_o So basically, if she showed up with her short natural, they would have a fit, ridicule her, etc. So she said she was going to just go ahead and straighten it out and just deal with it, and that she was doing it to keep the peace, for her dad's sake. This side of the family often berates her for her weight gain as well. She said when she was in college, skinny with long hair, everything was gravy.

Um...if my dad WAS alive, I just can't imagine him asking me to subject myself to this type of ridicule or behavior, or ask me to go through all kinds of changes to keep the peace with people who are CLEARLY too concerned about what's going on with everyone else's life. Thankfully neither side of my family is like this.

I told her that I can't fathom or envision putting myself into this type of situation purposely. I'm all about self preservation. Maybe I'm just selfish. I love my family to death, and I would hope that they would never subject me to anything like this. Nobody should be that concerned about what's going on with my follicles or weight gain except ME. And I would not be in attendance at that wedding.

Sigh.

Her story made me sad, yet grateful at the same time. I'm grateful I'm surrounded with the people I have in my life.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Locs Check In

It's been almost a year since I started my locs. I can't believe it. They are coming along slowly but surely. I just got them washed/groomed on Friday.

I've been so happy that they won't come out when they get wet, that I've apparently been over wetting them. :/ My loctician wants me to focus on using oils instead of water based products. She also told me to ditch the bonnet and sleep in a scarf that will keep them together and should keep them from getting as frizzy. Maybe the front ones will loc a little better. I'll have to go back to cleaning my scalp with cheesecloth & witch hazel, and only do a full on washing when I henna.

It's a learning experience every time I get my hair done. Maintaining loose, natural hair was so much easier! But nonetheless, I love the journey.

The photos were taken today with my iPhone. I usually try to take pics with a real camera right after grooming, but I got sidetracked.

If you run across this post and you're newly natural or just starting locs, hang in there! Your hair is unique to you. It will take you through trials and tribulations, but stick with it. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Randoms

RANDOM BRAIN DUMP in 5...4...3...2...

Some of my new neighbors continue to remind me on a daily basis why we cannot rise as a people...

I miss having a Starbucks right up the street. When you have to get in the car and make a lengthy drive, suddenly the latte is not as important. LOL

The Cardiac Cowboys aka the Dallas Cowboys continue to give me chest pain.

Having to choose between the Eagles and the Redskins today was like having to choose between beets and pickled beets. I kinda wanted the Redskins to win. And the bamas let me down.

The other day at the dentist my BP was 110/66. SCORE! That's yoga, baby.

I think I've either strained or torn some of the muscle in my calf. It hurts to even touch it, and I noticed earlier today that it was a bit swollen. I will probably have to go to the doctor. I wish I was comfortable with a sedentary lifestyle, because these injuries are for the birds.

Girls' Night In was great! We never did watch the movie we had planned to watch. We ate, drank wine, talked about natural hair care, and watched crazy YouTube videos. Everyone had a good time. Not sure when the next one will be since the holidays are coming up. But I definitely want to do another one as I had two ladies who could not make it.

I have become obsessed with vacuuming my carpet.

Bogey has been here 2 weeks and every day she acts like it's her first day at the rodeo. Bless her heart. She's just petrified of every little noise or thing.

It's coming up on a year since my grandma and my dad passed. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday.

I still haven't deleted my dad's info from my phone. :(

It's jeans week at work. That will make my life much easier this week, wardrobe wise.

Tomorrow morning I have my final walk through at the old apartment. If these folks even think about trying to charge me for stuff that is normal wear and tear we're gonna have issues. LOL

When Chris (maintenance guy) was here, he thought my HairVeda CoCasta Shikakai hair oil was soap and tried to wash his hands with it. LOL!

A Different World

I knew that renting a house was going to be a different world from renting an apartment. First and foremost, I have a yard now. I have zero yard maintenance equipment. LOL! And even if I had it, I'd have nowhere to keep it because I don't have a garage or a storage shed (this was built as a starter house during the housing boom).

Secondly, there are a TON of kids in this neighborhood. I mean, a ton. I don't mind people's kids when they know how to act, but some of thse hellions have jumped straight off the screen from "Bebe's Kids." They look at you like you're in the wrong when you're driving down the street, even though they need to get the h*ll outta the way. I blame this on the parents that always seem to be missing in action. Sigh.

Third, is the amount of time it takes for them to respond to a maintenance request. They have one maintenance guy named Chris. He hails from Detroit. They are apparently working him like a hebrew slave because he wasn't able to make our appointment yesterday at 5:30. That actually worked out well, because I was stuck in traffic due to an accident. But note that I put the maintenance request in shortly after moving in on 10/1. Yeah.

So Chris arrived this morning a little after 10:30 and promptly went to unclogging the tub and sink drains in the master bath. I know you're probably thinking, why didn't you use some Drano? The type of drain that's in this tub is screwed in and you can't just lift it out. He had to use pliers. Not to mention the isht that was in there when he pulled it out. He told me he's found Barbie legs in drains before. LOL! I did not stay there for the whole cleaning process, but when I walked back in all this gunk was sitting in my tub before he rinsed it down. Needless to say, I'll be bleaching the tub tonight. O_o

I showed him the ill-working fridge they threw in here. When I first saw the unit, I was excited. Side by side fridge and freezer, in door ice and water dispenser. Then I discovered that the ice maker and water dispenser don't work. OK then. Not a big deal. Never had one before, don't need it now. Then I opened it up, and it became clear that this was a used unit. Again - not a huge deal, I'll just need to clean it out well. But when you give me a fridge that doesn't get cold enough, now we got a flag on the play.

It builds up a layer of ice on the back of the freezer, but none of that seems to make a difference. So I pretty much have a refrigerator where the freezer should be, and a refrigerator that's relatively useless. He told me he'd email the property manager (who is on vacay in the Bahamas - must be nice!) and let him know. He started talking about getting a unit similar to what I have. That's when I had to step in and call the 30 second time out.

Listen, dude. I just need a freezer-on-top unit that WORKS. As in, a new one. Tell the owner of the house to use some of the rent money I paid him PROMPTLY on 10/1. LOL! I don't need anything with bells and whistles. I simply need frozen food that's frozen, and cold water when I need it. Not soupy Ben & Jerry's and lukewarm juice.

So, we'll see how this plays out during the week. Property manager is not due back from vacay until Thursday. In other news, two little boys who are TRYING to be useful members of society stopped by today and asked if they could mow my yard either today or tomorrow for $20. I like it when kids are doing positive things, so I accepted their offer. Especially since it's time for a mowing. We'll see how they do. :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Taking Care of Home

I noticed, in my last few months in my apartment, that I just dreaded doing chores. My schedule of getting to bed early, getting up early and being gone all day left little time in the afternoon/early evening for me to address household chores. It's just me (well, Bogey is there too but she doesn't do much), but one person really can make a lot of clutter/mess! I found myself having to do everything on the weekend. I'd spend most of my Saturday and Sunday doing laundry, vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the bathrooms, etc.

I decided that when I moved into the rental house, I would make a much better effort to keep things in order. First and foremost, I am trying to make myself do laundry during the week. It's much easier to do 1 load per night than to have to do 4-5 on the weekends. But then I wondered, what else can I do?

Martha Stewart to the rescue. I'm not like a MS stan. I didn't/don't watch her show. I've never bought any books. But when I did my Google search on keeping home organized, I came across a checklist of hers...which led me several more checklists. I printed out 6, specifically:

--6 Things to Do Every Day
--Weekly Cleaning Checklist
--Monthly Cleaning Checklist
--Seasonal Cleaning Checklist
--Medical Supplies Checklist
--How to Keep the Refrigerator Clean

I don't know about that seasonal list...I just glanced at it, but I don't know if I'll be doing all that. I don't own the house I'm living in. LOL! However, I really found the list of 6 things to do every day to be very helpful (I did most of those things anyway), as well as the weekly cleaning list. I also need to have a better medical supplies box/first aid kit. So I plan to put those to use.

The 6 things you should do every day are:
Make the Bed
Manage Clutter (look around rooms for clutter and pick it up before you go to bed)
Sort the Mail (make bins for personal correspondence, bills, catalogs and filing)
Clean as You Cook
Wipe Up Spills While They're Fresh
Sweep the Kitchen Floor

You can find all of these at www.marthastewart.com/checklists

What do you do during the week to keep your home organized?

It's the Weekend!

So glad it's Friday! I have a couple of things brewing this weekend:

1. I have two phone interviews today. One for an internal position and the other is with a new company. The internal position is lateral with no increase in pay, but exposure to more complex claims. I will find out about the external position later today. In this economy it's nice to have two opportunities.

2. This afternoon I get to see the wonderful ladies of @revolutionEGO to get my locs maintained. They are doing really well. At the end of November it will have been a year since I started them. One of the best decisions I've made.

3. Tomorrow I'm taking a yoga workshop called Yoga for Runners from 2:30 - 4:30 at Charlotte Family Yoga Center. It's going to help us with our breathing during runs and also with some stretches to help us with the tightness and injuries that often plague runners, such as IT band issues. I am looking forward to it. I hope some of my running buddies will come out and join me.

4. Saturday evening I'm having a Girls' Night In with 6-7 friends. We're going to watch an old school movie, eat snacks we don't need, drink wine and just chill out. I think everyone needs time away from their husbands/kids/significat others to just hang out with the girls. Should be fun! :)

5. Enjoying the rental house, but not happy with their response on my service issues. Slow as molasses. I guess that's the trade off from apartment living. Unfortunately they're coming tomorrow, shortly before my Girls' Night In starts, but during the week it would be so much more difficult to meet him. I would have to leave work to go over and disable my security alarm. Hopefully he can get everything taken care of tomorrow.

6. Sunday is going to be a rest day! My Cowboys are back after the bye week and will face the Patriots. I hope Romo has had a chance to regroup. *facepalm*

What do you have planned for the weekend?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Three Things Thursday!

*blows dust off blog*

1. I'm currently on my Twitter/FB annual hiatus. It's been 3 days. I feel like Pooky from New Jack City. I will probably have the shakes later today at my desk. And of course, they decide to come out with the FB for iPad app right as I'm going on hiatus. *facepalm*

2. I strained my calf last week during our run and it's still trying to work itself out. This morning only one other person showed up for our BGR run, and her legs were tired from hill work the day before. So, we went for a 20 minute jog at conversational pace. I felt like I could have gone 15-20 minutes more. Conversational pace is where it's at! The calf is still tight, but not to bad.

3. My yoga is coming along fabulously. Ms. Stacy has been helping me take my poses further. I even held plank for a minute the other day. I've gotten to the point where I can do side planks without having my knee down. Still can't get that headstand, though. LOL!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Running on Empty

This "return to running" thing is hard! And it's not even about the physical. Well, it is. I mean, let's face it: I'm carrying about 20 lbs extra weight, and it's not like I've had anyone's baby, so...yeah. That means it's harder on the joints. Yep, like that knee joint - that pesky joint that has been injured since November and is still being rehabbed...albeit on my own and not at official PT. I had to let them go after they wiped out my FSA, man. :::cries silent tears:::

The physical exertion needed to get back to running is something I've done before. It's a big cardio adjustment, moving from a machine that carries all of your weight (elliptical), to running where you've got to support all your own weight. However, it used to be much easier than this. I am currently using Couch to 5K as a guide, and today was Week 3, Day 1.

That being said, my struggle appears to be way more mental this time. Here are some of the random things I struggle with:

1. When I finished my half marathon in December 2009, I was a size 6. Now, I haven't been that small since high school/college, and I had no pipe dreams of maintaining that size once training ended. But I figured, it can't be too hard to stay at an 8 or even a 10, right? WRONG! Well, partially wrong. I was able to maintain for a while, until the bottom fell out, around September 2010. That's when the plantar fasciitis just made it pretty much impossible for me to continue running. I had to shut it all the way down. Then my grandma and dad died three weeks apart in October and November, and add the stress...I swear I gained about 15 lbs while I was in NY dealing with all of that.

2. It feels like someone flipped this evil switch on my body's metabolism. I probably work out harder now than I ever did, aside from the previous running. I do cardio and weights 3x per week and power yoga 3x per week. I definitely am getting stronger in the upper body, but the pounds are not budging. The inches ain't moving. Matter of fact I feel like in some places my clothing is getting tighter. Is some of it muscle? Probably. But still. Very, very frustrating. It's hard to want to get up every morning at 5:00am when you feel like you're not getting any results.

3. In my head, I remember when I was running 9:45 miles (which for most people is pretty slow, but I was slowly working my way down and feeling good about it). So I want my body to do that. This ain't a 9:45 mile body. It just ain't. LOL! It's more like a 11:30 body on a good day. But my MIND still wants to go 9:45. Very, very frustrating.

I think, if you've never really run and THEN had a huge set back, you can't understand this, or can't understand why I can't get over this (well, I know one person who can - waving at her if she's reading this, and sending a hug). It's a challenge. I'm so glad I've gotten back into my regular yoga practice because I know that will help me "get out of my head."

I hope, when I get to Week 9 of C25K, I can look back at this and wonder what I was so worried about.

If you're working on your own personal fitness challenge, I commend you. This thing is hard work, but we'll get it done.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Confession

"Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession." - Mohandas Gandhi

I've downloaded two books for my Kindle app on the iPad recently - "The Five Love Languages," by Gary Chapman and then "The Five Love Languages for Singles," also by Gary Chapman. They've been sitting there, looking at me like, "read us! Read us!" Although he says that singles can benefit from the original book, I decided to download the one for singles after
Serenity 23 mentioned it.

I started reading it last night and read some more this morning. There is a section about forgiveness. It's honestly nothing that I haven't heard before. Sometimes it's just the wording of things that can affect you. Like this sentence:

"Forgiveness is a response to confession."

Remember how when we were little, our parents would tell us, "if you just admit that you did wrong, it would be better for you." We'd continue to say that we didn't break the dish/kick the cat/scratch the furniture...all the while they KNEW we did it, and so the punishment definitely fit the crime. Would it have been less severe if we had said we did it? Possibly. We still would have gotten in trouble, but at least we told the truth, our parents would forgive us, and we'd move on.

How is it that we forget this as adults? Stuff would be so much easier if we could just admit when we mess up. I read that sentence and immediately was taken back to the end of the relationship with my ex. I can vividly recall apologizing for MY reaction to things...but he never once confessed to doing anything wrong. Even though we both know he did. Would that have saved the relationship? Hell no. But it would have made for a better transition. Had he just said, "yes, this is what happened," it would have been much easier for me to forgive him. Especially since I kept catching him in lies (did he forget that I'm a trained investigator? LOL)!

I mean, ultimately I am responsible for me. I know this. I'm responsible for how I react to things and the emotions I decide to hold on to or let go of. But that sentence really summed up WHY I had such a hard time with the end of that relationship.

Don't forget that your confession - no matter how much it feels like torture - can be healing for the other party involved. Maybe that could be your last selfless act before you part ways.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bridging The Long Distance Gap

"True love doesn't mean being inseparable; it means being separated and nothing changes."

"Missing you gets easier everyday because even though you are one day further from the last time I saw you, you are one day closer to the next time I will."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've been out of blog-spiration for a minute...lol. I tweeted that I'd blog if someone gave me a topic to write about. As usual, my tweeps came through and the topic for today is: The Top 5 Things That Make My Distance Relationship Work. Here we go!

1. COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION!
And one more time for posterity - COMMUNICATION! I can't stress this enough. If you hate talking on the phone, a long distance relationship is NOT going to work for you. LDR and I talk every day, several times a day. Every conversation is not deep and meaningful; sometimes it's just about hearing the other person's voice. He's not here, so he can't read my feelings based on my actions or facial expressions. If he's said/done something that bothers me or affects our relationship, I have to let him know. Really, that goes for any relationship, but especially for one involving distance. No matter the feeling, good or bad, you have to convey it. Also, keep in mind that email/texts don't always convey tone. What you meant might not be what is interpreted when the other person reads it. Voice to voice is usually best. It's always cool to get that occasional "sweet nothings" text message, though.

2. TRUST
You need trust in any relationship, but you REAAAALLLLY need it in a long distance relationship. We're not walking around with webcams to record every move of every day. I have to trust that when LDR says he is somewhere, that's where he is, and vice versa. This issue goes along with communication and transparency. We talk about our day and what we've done, who we saw, etc...we don't hide anything from one another. Now, I have the added security that our home town is about [ ] <-- this big. If he WAS doing something, there'd be 285 people trying to tell me about it. LOL! Not to mention, my brothers live there, and he has a big family...we have a wide circle of friends/family so eventually it would get back to me.

Most long distance relationships do not have this type of safety net. That means you're really going to have to step out on faith. If you need to constantly check your mate on their every move, a long distance relationship is not going to be a good fit for you.

3. ESTABLISHING VISITATION PLANS
Wait. That sounds like one of us is in jail. LOL! I can't think of another way to word it, so just work with me.

I find that if we have concrete plans about when we will see each other next, it reduces anxiety. Folks on FB and Twitter will tell you, LDR and I are always posting countdowns until our next visit. It keeps us sane. Because we're 700+ miles away from each other, airplanes are involved. That means scheduling well ahead of time. Not to mention, LDR has two sons so we have to keep them in mind when we make our plans. If you can, it's also important that both people do the traveling. I don't think it would be fair to ask one partner to constantly make the trips, unless it just works out easier for you to do it that way. It would actually be easier for me to go up there more, because I get more vacation days from work, but because it's my hometown, we have added distractions when I visit. Which actually leads me to my next point...

4. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FACE TO FACE TIME
Nothing is more frustrating that finally getting to see your significant other, and then the days are done and you feel like you didn't have any quality time. We both have friends and family up north, so when I go to see him, I often feel like I'm being pulled in two directions in a tug of war. Luckily, he is very understanding about the situation. My ultimate goal is to spend quality time with HIM, so while I may spend a day or so visiting family and friends, most of my time is with LDR.

When you're together, focus on the important things. If there are big issues that you need to discuss face to face, by all means, do that. Just don't sweat the small stuff. Does it drive me crazy that the contents of LDR's suitcase usually end up ALL OVER the apartment when he's here? Why, yes. Yes it does. LOL! Do I focus on it? Nope! We only have a few days of time together. I just covertly move stuff around while he's in the shower, or whatever. I also straighten up his apartment when I'm there, because clutter puts me in a state of confusion and disarray...but that's another blog for another time. :)

You also need to strike a balance between the "free time" and planned activities. When he comes down here I try not to plan our visit to the exact minute. There are days when it's worth more to me to just lay on the couch and watch movies, or cook together, or just be random, than it is to have a night out on the town or attend a concert. People always ask me, "what are you guys going to do while he's here?" Sometimes the answer really is "nothing." Just the fact that we are in the same space is enough for us.

5. DEDICATION
When we started this relationship, we went into it knowing that distance would present an extra challenge. But we both decided: this is it. We want to be together and we're going to make it work. We didn't step in with our toes, we jumped all the way in. You have to decide that this is the person you want to be with, and focus on that. When it gets frustrating, you don't go looking for a third party to make you feel better, and you don't start contemplating starting a new relationship simply because that person is in your physical presence and your SO is not. You focus on strengthening your bond, and you believe that the light at the end of the tunnel really is the moment when you two are occupying the same zip code and working on your "happily ever after." If you start thinking the light at the end of the tunnel is a train, you're going to get flattened. Period.

Of course, there are many other little things that go into making a long distance relationship work. I think these are the 5 big ones, for us. We most certainly have frustrating days. He can tell you that many times during our conversations I've said, "I'm so sick of this damn phone!" LOL! Or we've both said, "I wish you were here." So far it's been 1.5 years and still going strong.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fruits and Nuts...Mostly Nuts


Aunt Betty: "Our family tree is full of fruits and nuts. Mostly nuts."

What's your family tree full of? Do you know your roots? I'm currently working on the trees for both sides of my family. This is something I've wanted to do for a while, but never really got around to it. I just wasn't sure where to start. Enter modern technology, in the form of the iPad and an app called "Mobile Family Tree." I've spent a lot of money this summer, but I think this app is the best $14.99 I've spent in a long while.

I can remember two assignments in school - one in elementary school, and one in high school, both having to do with our family trees. In elementary school it was a tree diagram. It didn't have a lot of branches, but I remember being sad that I really didn't have much information to fill in. I want to say this was around 4th grade.

In high school, it was an 11th grade English assignment in Ms. Gingold's class. I remember her being in front of the class all giddy: "I want you to write about how your family came to be in the United States." Inside my head I was like, "really? OK. Slavery. The end." What the deuce? I remember being so upset about this assignment (I think it was actually a journal entry we had to write), but not knowing how to say, "this is some shullbit! What do you expect the black students in the class to do?" I don't even remember what I wrote. I fudged it and made up some stuff - but I made sure to throw that slavery in there - and all I really knew was that my parents were from GA. The end. But it always bugged me.

Side note: My BFF wrote a "protest" as to why this assignment was not fair to the black students in the class. Did I mention that I love her? She always had the guts to say the things that I was thinking, but couldn't quite articulate.

I don't know if my nieces and nephews have ever been asked to write anything about this. I just know I don't want them to feel like I felt. I felt ashamed that we had no info...and angry...and frustrated. People were coming to class with their stories about family crests and great-great-great uncle so and so coming over on such and such ship. I had none of that. And the ish was not my fault. And I'm sure no one cared, but I just felt stung by that whole situation.

So, I'm determined that we WILL have more information than what I had to fill into my anemic little tree in 4th grade. And THAT'S why I'm working on the family trees.

I hate that we let all these elders pass on in our family and didn't document more information. But it's been so much fun to find the info I've found so far. I didn't find out until our 2007 reunion that my great grandfather was married twice. My grandmother had a whole other set of siblings that I didn't even know about. It's been really hard to get information on them (my great grandfather was born around 1851), but I will do what I can.

And my nieces and nephews willNOTbe without info. And neither will their kids. :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

MIA...again

I apologize for being gone again! It's been hectic. Just finished up my family reunion on my mom's side, and I'm working on the family tree for both her side and my dad's side. I've also been trying to switch to Word Press, but I haven't really figured out how to use everything over there. Very overwhelming - lots of bells and whistles. I consider Blogger easier to use right now...so I think the switch is on hold. I'll let you guys know.

What's everyone been up to?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: Gotta Yoga



Today's yoga adventure found me at Gotta Yoga on the North side of Charlotte. It's not too far from where I live. When Living Social offered a deal for new students to buy 16 classes for $32, I had to bite. $32? $2 per class, man! (note that their normal drop in rate is $15, and that package of 16 classes? $150. So...yeah.)

Normally, I go to RockstarStacy's home studio on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30am for yoga. On Mondays, it's normally hot yoga. This week we decided to change to Wednesday and Friday since Kiesha is traveling. When I checked Gotta Yoga's website and saw they had a hot yoga class at 6:00 a.m., I had to bite. From what I can tell, most studios just don't offer early yoga classes.

I arrived around 5:45 or so, and it was still dark inside the studio, so I sat in my car. I was thinking, did I read the schedule wrong? But right around 5:50 our instructor showed up, and then I noticed a couple other cars pulling up in the parking lot.

I had been at the studio on Saturday, to activate my 16 class pass and take a look around (they were having teacher training and a class so I couldn't look inside the actual rooms). One thing I like about their location is that they have two showers available for our use. Each shower room has a chair, and a table with a mirror. The showers have shower gel and shampoo and conditioner. They even have towels! Of course, I had my own towel and tools, but it was nice to know they had those as needed.

The hot yoga class was taught by Alexandra Arrandt. There were four of us total. From her conversation with the others, I could tell that two of them are regular attendees, and the other woman was new to yoga. She appeared to be friends with the other two. I asked her later how many people normally attend the class, and she said they usually have about 8 people.

The room we were in was huge. The lights had an amber glow to them, and there were plenty heaters to keep the temperature at 95 degrees. Sometimes I like to set up by the heater, but today I chose a space up front. They had all the usual yoga props - bolsters, yoga straps, and blocks available. Their bolsters were cylindrical and I wasn't used to that, so I didn't grab one. I did grab a block and a strap, but didn't end up using either.

Alexandra started class by introducing Erica, a teacher in training, who was going to be assisting her with the class. We started out with some quiet meditation and then got into some stretching. It was a little different from the flow classes I'm used to taking with Stacy. I wasn't sure if it would be "kick azz" enough for my liking. LOL!

She asked at the beginning if anyone wanted to work on any particular body parts or moves. One of the ladies asked for core, and the lone gentleman asked for shoulders. The newbie didn't request anything, and I had no preferences. And so it began.

I need to have a talk with that woman who asked for core work. We started out the class with boat and canoe. Not just lowering from boat to canoe and back up, but after doing that a few times, she had us "row the boat" - which meant balancing in boat and then taking the prayer hands going from side to side as if we were rowing, literally. My abs were ON FIRE! (I almost want to erase this, 'cause Stacy is probably taking notes...)

I didn't realize it until Alexandra pointed it out at the end of class, but we did no warrior poses except for airplane/warrior 3. We came out of down dog and stepped into low crescent lunges. That was different. I liked it. We even got to flip our dogs.

The yoga gods apparently are determined that I will have open hips and shoulders. Yesterday in deep stretch, we went into Eka Bhuja Swastikasana. What is that, you say? Why, this here:



(If you want to see the video of how to get into this pose, click
here. )

This morning, we went into this pose again. It was actually good to get back into it. With the 95 degree heat, I had an easier time. Of course, with my T-Rex arms (lol!), I cannot get into the bind without a strap. We were given the option of taking the other hand back to the smalls of our backs, so I did that.

I had forgotten all about Erica until I was in a forward fold, and she appeared like a ninja and pressed my back down. She caught me off guard for a second, 'cause I forgot she was there. LOL! It was nice that she had someone to assist, because we got lots of yummy assists during class to help us stretch. Someone came and pressed my shoulders down during savasana...not sure who, but it felt great! After class, Erica told me she felt me "melt" into my forward fold after she came and pushed on my back. Good stuff.

Overall, I enjoyed the class very much. I loved the assists, but I don't mind being touched. It definitely wasn't as kick azz as Stacy's class, but that's ok. Sometimes you need to try something different, to bring some balance to your life. I wonder if she took it easy because she knew the one student was new to yoga. I'll have to try the class again to see what else she has to offer.

The studio is a good size. The bigger room has storage cubbies for whatever you lug along with you, and there is also a storage bench in the lobby area. I definitely loved being able to take a shower right there after class. It almost felt like taking a shower at home. I did ask if they wanted me to spray the showers down with anything, but Alexandra let me know they have someone come in to clean the showers.

I have 15 more classes to take, so I will definitely make my way back there! :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

I Wanna Try Yoga - Now What?

Several people have seen my Curvy Girl Yoga post, and now they want to try yoga! I'm so excited! That is awesome news. No matter your age or athletic ability, you can do yoga. Just remember that.

Now - you've decided that you want to try yoga. What's the next step? I realize that everyone is not blessed to have a Rockstar Stacy in their lives. Which is a real shame. LOL! Yoga studios were opening all around me and I was convinced, after watching "Namaste" on Oxygen channel, that there was no way I was contorting my body like that. I didn't know anything about modifications. Stacy convinced me to give her class a try, and the rest was history! But since you probably don't have a Rockstar Stacy, I'll give you my 2 cents on what I think you should do to get started.

READING IS FUNDAMENTAL...SOMETIMES. Normally, if I was going to try something new, the first thing I would do is read and research. You CAN do that, but there is soooooo much information out here on yoga, I think it would be confusing. There is a Yoga for Dummies book out there (there's a "for Dummies" book on everything, isn't there? LOL) that really breaks down the basics, the types of yoga, takes you into some beginning breathing exercises, and talks about some of the poses. Honestly? If I had read that book first, I think my mind would have been doing too much, and I wouldn't have tried a class. Your mileage may vary. You might decide that you need your brain to be full. That said...

HOME VS STUDIO: The next thing you need to decide on is, will I start at home or start in a studio? Maybe you live in the boonies and don't have access to a studio. Or maybe you are intimidated by the studio environment - which, that's ok if you are. In that case, you may want to start with an at home video for beginners. Make sure you have a big enough space to practice. You don't want to be banging into furniture while you're trying to move. No bueno. The disadvantage to starting at home is that you don't have anyone to provide guidance to make sure you aren't going to injure yourself in a pose, or to provide modifications. I would just say that you should make sure your videos are geared to beginners.

If you want to make the leap to a studio, then check around your city. Do you know anybody who already does yoga? Ask them which studio they are going to. Check out the websites of the potential studios. What type of vibe are you feeling? In this case, you need to know what you want, in terms of environment. Some people just want their azz kicked, physically. They want some power yoga classes, they're not interested in the spiritual aspect or the meditation. They want to leave dripping in sweat, physically challenged, and good to go. Other people need a studio with a family environment, such as Charlotte Family Yoga Center. The provide Family Yoga classes on Sundays, where you can bring children 4 years and up to participate in yoga with you. They also provide child care during many of the classes, for a nominal fee. If you have young kids, this type of studio is for you. But you also have to be ready to possibly hear kids playing while you're down in savasana. If that's not for you, skip the family environment.

YOGA FASHION: Many of us are fashionistas outside of the studio, but might not know what to wear IN the studio. First things first - you need comfortable, light weight clothing. It's going to be warm in the studio. As you (and the rest of the bodies) start building heat, it's going to get even warmer. Don't go in there with sweats or UnderArmor on - recipe for disaster! You don't want to go in there with clothing that's too baggy, either. Oversized t-shirts will be falling all over the place as you try to move and get into poses. You'll want to get some clothes specifically geared to working out. At the same time, if you don't know how well you're going to take to yoga, or how often you're going to be practicing, you may not be ready for the likes of Lululemon or Prana. I know I'm not. LOL! Not yet, anyway. You can find clothing for yoga at Old Navy, Gap, Target, WalMart...lots of options. I tend to wear crop pants a lot. Something that's fitted and sometimes has the wicking fabric to get the sweat away from my body. I found some cute tops at WalMart, but they don't always stay put when I'm in down dog or inverted poses. That's the advantage of the more expensive brands. Just do what works within your budget. If you find yourself getting deeper and more involved in your practice, then you can upgrade your wardrobe.

TO MAT...OR NOT TO MAT? You don't HAVE to start with your own mat. Most of the studios have mats that you can borrow or rent for a nominal fee. If you are squeamish and need to know that only your "stuff" (LOL) has been on your mat, then check out retailers like Target and WalMart. If you decide that you want to continue you're practice, you'll likely find that those mats don't give you the stability or resistance you need, and you'll end up going for an upgrade. I personally use a Manduka eKO Mat (in the denim color, of course!). I use their mat sling to carry it to and fro.

WHICH CLASS DO I CHOOSE? Your first studio class will depend on what the studio has to offer. Hopefully they will have some kind of beginners series. Each class in the series will focus on certain movements.One class you may learn the sun salutations (Sun A and Sun B). Pretty much every flow class I've taken has started with these to build heat. In another class you may focus on the warrior poses, or triangles and forward bends. If you are fortunate enough to start with a beginners series of classes, you'll be well versed on the poses when you move on to the next level.

My first class was a slow flow vinyasa class. That means that your movements will be done in conjunction with an inhale and an exhale. In a slow flow class, you will hold poses for several breaths before moving on to the next one. In a power flow class, you do a lot more moving. I've been on several yoga studio websites and almost all of them recommend that people transition from beginners classes into slow flow. If there's no beginners series, have no fear. You can make it through a slow flow class. Just make sure to let the instructor know that you're new and may need a bit more guidance. :)

I'M READY FOR MY FIRST IN-STUDIO CLASS. WHAT DO I BRING? HOW DO I PREPARE? If you've bought a mat, bring that with you. You may also want to bring a water bottle, and a small towel to wipe the sweat from your brow or from your hands. You may want a small bag to carry your personal items like your wallet, keys, phone, etc. Most of the studios I've been to have little "cubbies" outside for you to store your things.

You'll be practicing in your bare feet, so if you are OCD about your footsies looking good, then get a pedi. However, do NOT lotion your feet or hands before class. You'll just slide all over the mat and it'll be an exercise in futility. Honestly, most people are not going to be paying attention to your feet. And your yoga instructor has seen every kind of foot there is.

EXTRAS: Most flow classes end with savasana - you lie flat on the mat (or on a bolster if you choose), with your eyes closed. There's soft music playing in the background and everyone is quiet. We're usually given cool lavender cloths to put on our forehead/eyes during savasana. Lavender is calming, and also very few people seem to be allergic to it. However, if you are very sensitive to smells, you may want to decline the towel.

Many teachers like to give you a little extra nurturing at the end of class. They may come around and give each student a small foot rub, or a shoulder rub. They may press your shoulders and/or hips down to help your relax and release during savasana. I took a slow flow class today and she came and rubbed our foreheads. If you don't like to be touched, you may want to let the instructor know at the beginning of class.

Most of all, just come in with an open mind, and a willingness to leave the rest of the world outside the class room for an hour, so you can treat yourself to something yummy.

I hope I hit the highlights for you. If you have any specific questions, just ask! Happy Yoga!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back in Stride

As most of you know, after the weight gain, the issue with my knee, and then the broken toe (ouch!), I got back into stride with doing Couch to 5K. This has probably been the hardest time for me to get back to running again. It's not so much the injury as the weight gain. I'm trying to move 20 extra pounds and it's just not that cute. I will work it out, but it's going to take some time. I hate this weight gain and I feel like I've let myself down (and others, too), but I know it's not healthy for my joints and I'm taking the steps to get it gone the right way, so it's just a matter of time and effort.

Today I started back with physical therapy again. I don't know if I blogged about it, but the previous provider said that I had osteo-arthritis. When I tried to go back to CardioFunkytown and my knee started hurting again, his response was pretty much well, you're always going to have problems with your knees, etc. Huh? Nah. I need something better than that!

When I went to my PCP to follow up on the broken toe, I talked to her about the weight gain and also about my issues with my knee. I felt really comfortable talking to her because, in addition to being my PCP, she also does sports medicine, and she is a runner herself. She asked me if I'd be ok with doing another set of x-rays, just so she could take a look at my knees. She went over them with me thoroughly and did NOT see evidence of osteoarthritis. From the symptoms I described (pain and clicking in my knee, feeling like maybe it wasn't tracking properly), she felt that I had patella femoral syndrome. Finally - there's a name for it!

She referred me for PT with a new provider, and today was my first day. I really like my therapist. He was very thorough. He really read through my history and the notes from my doctor - I didn't have to rehash everything because he knew it already. He says that the problem with my knee is two fold:

1. like a lot of runners, I have tightness in my IT band. I never thought about it, but he pressed on it and it was tender/sore. That tightness is pulling my knee cap to track outward, when it should be tracking inward.

2. my inner thigh muscles are not strong enough to support my knee cap and sort of pull it back to where it needs to be.

Therapy is going to be 2x a week for 4 weeks to begin. I have exercises I can do at home, particularly some IT band stretches that should help. I chuckled because one of the stretches is something that we do at the end of yoga class sometimes. We are also going to do strengthening exercises like leg extensions, squats on the wall, and straight leg lifts. But for all of these I have to squeeze either a ball or a rolled up towels between my thighs, to keep my knees from sounding like a bowl of Rice Krispies (snap, crackle, pop!). I am looking forward to it because I like lifting weights and I wouldn't mind getting stronger.

One of the things he tried today, which I didn't have at the previous provider, was electrical muscle stimulation. Now, as a claims rep, I've seen this coded on bills many times, from PT providers and from chiropractors. I never thought much about it and didn't really know how it would work.

He hooked up the electrodes to my inner thigh. I was lying down on a table. He said that if I could tolerate it, he'd want to get it up to a level where it caused the inner thigh muscle to actually twitch. I told him to go for it. He turned it up and the level where he stopped was a bit too much for me to tolerate for 10 minutes, so he turned it down a notch. Then he added in the kicker - every time the stim kicked in, I was to flex my leg and tighten up my quad.

Let me just say that EMS is no joke! About halfway in that machine kicked in and I tightened up my thigh and I think I made a noise out loud...lol! The longer you sit the more intense it gets. I had to do some yoga breathing for the last 4 minutes or so. Whoo! BUT, afterwards it felt really good. I was able to get up from the table without much pain. It's feeling pretty good as I sit here and type this. I definitely want to continue with that as part of my treatment.

The best news was that neither he nor my PCP want me to stop yoga or running. I was really hoping they would say that. I made sure to ask about that, because I don't want to derail my healing/therapy, but I don't want to derail my fitness goals, either. Depending on how late I work tonight, I want to hit the greenway and start week 7 of C25K, since I went to PT instead of running this morning.

Hope you all are having a healthy, injury-free week! :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Show Me Love

I was just reading on another blog, and the commenter said, "we all do not show love in the same way." Hmmmm. Yes, I guess this is true. Countless things can affect the way you show your love and affection for one another. Your background, when/where/how you grew up, and the people that you've met in this lifetime.

Me personally? I'm a "hugger." If I can give and receive a hug, that's the best. Some of the best moments with LDR are when he just hugs me and holds me. We don't talk or anything. We just hold on to each other. Or my sister...the one who retired from the military. She squeezes the LIVING BREATH out of me every time she hugs me. Like, I probably need a CT scan for cracked ribs, but I wouldn't have it any other way! In my family, we don't get off the phone with each other without saying "I love you." I know some people just aren't that vocal. I'm actually trying to think back to how many times my ex actually said that he loved me, and it wasn't in an email.. :::crickets chirping:::

Annnnnnywho (lol), I think part of showing people love is knowing what they like and HOW they like to be shown love/appreciated. Which I guess really only works if they reciprocate. For instance, I have a friend who just does not like to hug people. It's just not her thing. We would be at get togethers and people would try to hug her and then they'd remember, oh yeah, Y doesn't hug folks. I haven't seen her in quite a few months, but the last time I did she actually hugged me! I was like, "huh?" and it must have shown on my face, because she said, "I'm trying to do better with this." But I think she was ok with hugging me because I never tried to force her to hug me. Once she told me she didn't "do" hugging (lol), then I respected that. Others would be like, "well girl you need to get over that, I'ma hug you anyway." Um...no. That's not the way to approach that. Not if you want those same people to respect how YOU feel!

I think that people just want you to KNOW them. Know what's important to them and then act accordingly. People get tired of giving and getting nothing in return. So maybe what they're expecting is not what YOU would do. So what! If you LOVE them, then sometimes you suck it up and you give them what THEY need. Especially if they'd do the same for you.

As Tamar Braxton would say, "point blank period." :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Yoga Off the Mat: Flexibility

This week's yoga principle is flexibility.

According to Merriam-Webster, definiteion #3 of flexible is the following: "characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements (a flexible foreign policy) (a flexible schedule)"

I was sleepy on Wednesday morning and a bit out of sorts. I really should have blogged this that day, so I'd remember more. Oops. LOL!

The first thing that came to my mind when Stacy mentioned flexibility was the physical act of being flexible. I mean, we're sitting on yoga mats and she's about to take us into a 1 hour routine that will most definitely require flexibility (don't even get me going on the crow push ups - whole 'nother post all together). Right?

But really, it was about you being flexible with what the world throws at you. If you're on the mat that day, and a pose just isn't coming to you, or you can't get it quite right, how do you react? Do you get frustrated with yourself and lose concentration for the rest of the class? Or do you continue to go with the flow (literally) and just do what you can?

The same applies in life. I like schedules and plans. And checklists. I get excited when I can check something off of a list. I feel like I've gotten something done. When I set a schedule/plan, that's what I want to go by. I get flustered if you (or life) come along changing the plan. In the past, I would let that throw my entire day off. I'd carry the pissivity (yeah, probably not a word but it is for the purpose of this blog, lol) into the rest of the day. At 4:00pm, still mad about what I didn't get to do at 9:00am and how it threw off my entire day. So that leads to stress and anxiety, and none of those are good for my health. See how that sucks?

I told Stacy about my initial thoughts in regard to flexibility...how I wasn't ready for all those push ups she had us doing in class - isn't that strength? What's that got to do with flexibility? I've been hoodwinked and bamboozled. Plymouth Rock landed on ME, man.

Her response: "I clearly stated that flexibility and strength are not mutually exclusive."

Oh. LOL! (well yeah, she probably didsay that, but it was 5:35am. Cut me some slack!)

There is strength in being flexible. We shouldn't feel like we're being weak or being defeated if we have to veer from the plan. It's ok. That's life! Duly noted.

So, take this lesson out into the world, my fellow yogis, yoginis and aspiring yogis and yoginis. Be flexible!

Fashion Find

I found this at Cato for $15.99 - you can't beat that, man!





I wore it with a white tank top, indigo colored crop pants, and some pewter colored shoes.

What are your latest finds?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Curvy Girl Yoga

I've made a few posts about the meditative and spiritual aspects of yoga, but what about the physical? Well Stacy is definitely helping me to develop my muscles. I got some triceps coming in! Here are some photos:


High crescent lunge: When I started yoga, I couldn't do this move with the right foot back, because I had broken my toe shortly after starting my yoga practice. So glad I can do it now! The alternative is a low crescent lunge where the knee comes to the mat.



Half moon: some days, this is just not a good one for me. I usually have to use a block under the hand at the bottom. I'm surprised I was able to hold this long enough for the picture. LOL! I probably fell out like a ninja right after the flash went off.



Down dog: this is a pose a lot of people are familiar with. When you first start doing yoga this may seem like a pose that takes a lot of work, but after a while you'll come to appreciate it as a resting pose. :)



Dancer: In this pose, you start out with the leg bent and the opposite arm up in the air. You reach back and grab your ankle, and then slowly bend forward. You really have to find a focus point so that you don't fall over.



Crow/Crane: This is one of my favorite poses. I think because I can vividly remember crashing and burning the first time I tried it. I was up for all of one second - if that. Then bam! Hit the mat. LOL! Sometimes after holding this for 5 breaths, we will kick out into a high push up. That took me a minute to learn as well. I had the bruised knee to prove it. :)



Tripod: I have an easier time going into this pose from crow...but I'm sure there are folks who can just get right into it with no issue. The next step from here is to try to use my abs to get my legs up into the air for a headstand. I've tried...I can get them up, but then I roll right over like a weeble-wobble. FAIL! LOL!



Chair pose, with an extra kick: up on the toes! Always have to keep it interesting!



Bow: not my favorite...it's hard for me to keep my knees in close, and I can't lift very high, but it's a work in progress!


Canoe pose: It works the abs. We lower our torso and legs and hold, then bring them back up and hold. Rinse, repeat. Whoo!



Crescent twist: after getting into the aforementioned crescent lunge, we may hold for one or two breaths before twisting and holding.



Warrior 3 aka Airplane: We were trying to do this in class the other day, but instead of prayer hands, we had our hands out to the side...like the wings of an airplane. Then we were supposed to move our arms down/together, and then back up. I couldn't hold my balance and was apparently flailing everywhere...which sent my classmate Kiesha into a fit of laughter...gotta love 5:30am yoga!



Triangle: This is actually a triangle with a twist. If this were a regular triangle I would have had my left hand on my left shin, and my right arm straight up in the air (I'd have been facing the camera). Twists are good for the spine, so I don't mind doing them.



Toe hold: Some days, I have to use a strap for this. Especially after I've already been in class for 20 -30 minutes working. It's something else to try and muster balance that early in the morning. LOL!



Three point: We will usually go into this and then bring our leg down and through to the top of the mat, to get into a warrior pose. For some reason, I didn't taken any Warrior 1/Warrior 2 poses.




Wheel: Sometimes we used to do this in high school, as part of track practice. I never knew it was a yoga move. Go figure! And lemme tell you, it was much easier at age 18. LOL! The first time I tried this with Stacy, it was all I could do just to lift myself up. Now, I can get up there pretty easily, so we may hold for 5-10 breaths.



Supported wheel: When coming into wheel, we push up and first rest on the crown of our heads. But if you're comfy there, you can stay there by bringing the hands behind the head and clasping them, and bringing the elbows in. The idea is to rest on your forearms, not your head. This also took some getting use to, but I'm much better at it now. Especially when my mat cooperates and my feet aren't sliding!


Supported wheel with leg up: This one here? I thought Stacy was CRAZY when she introduced this. I was just trying to get used to being in wheel, and now she's talking about bringing a leg up? What?!? It really requires focus and a mind-body connection. In the beginning, my mind was telling my leg to go up, but my leg surely was NOT listening. I could get my knee up for a few seconds, and then right back down. I can't tell you how happy I am that (on a good day) I can get my leg up there. Whoo hoo!


Happy Baby: This is one of several inversion poses - feet are up above the heart. We always come into an inversion at the end of class, before going into savasana. I usually chose this one.

So, that's what I've been doing! We don't do every pose in every class. It depends on what we're focusing on for that week. I am really loving yoga. I love learning new things, and challenging my body to do new things. I especially love that I'm achieving it at THIS size. Curvy girls most definitely CAN do yoga!