Days like this: Self care

I had a three day weekend due to MLK day.  It’s been restful and low key.  Last night I attended the Realizing the Dream concert for the first time since coming to UA.  Often I am out of town this weekend at a Midwinter Conference and have missed it.   The concert featured Jonathan Butler, South African R&B, Jazz and Gospel musician.  It was a lively and wonderful evening of music and celebration.

This morning I ventured out to IronTribe for an 8:30 class (instead of 6:15 – the alarm went off and I rescheduled).  I spent the rest of the day at home, taking time to do things that I enjoy most – restorative yoga, writing, cooking, reading and painting.  It was a lovely day and reminds me how important it is to take a break. Constant work is not healthy and it really isn’t productive.  I worked all the time for many years and paid for it with poor health and feeling like I was never getting enough done even though I was always working.  We need the space to step away from work and take time to care for ourselves.  Work will be there.  As one of my former colleagues liked to say, in our profession “there is no body on the table”  so nothing is really urgent.

I discovered a new recipe website called The Garden Grazer so I tried Black Bean Lentil Tacos.  They were quick and good.  I went back to one of my favorite sites, Cathy Fisher’s Straight Up Food.   I tried the Beefless Stew and made a Quinoa salad that I have made a few times in the past.  I also made oatmeal in the crock pot.  So I am set for the week for meals.

beefless stew tacos


This was the rest of my day:

Restorative yogarestorative


Some coloring and paintingcolor

and my continuous practice writing. day 22 All in all a very good day.

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Choosing a yoga teacher training

I’ve been thinking about writing a post about choosing yoga teacher training for a while. I’m not sure if I have any great advice but I’ll give it a shot.  I was reminded about this again today because I saw another one of those articles about churning out yoga teachers.  There are lots of programs that are graduating lots of 200 hour certified yoga teachers.  All programs are not the same and all graduates are not the same.  That can be said about many kinds of trainings and programs, however.  I think there are a few questions that I would advise anyone thinking about yoga teacher training to consider.

  1. Why are you doing this?  This is one of my coaches favorite questions for me when I talk about training, racing or many other things.  Why are you signing up for a yoga teacher training?  Do you want to teach? Do you want to improve your own practice? Do you want to learn about a different style of yoga?  I think it is important to know why you want to do a training because it really is a major commitment of time and money. It often requires several weekends over the course of a year and it is tiring.  The reason may change once you are in the training and that is perfectly fine.  In fact, expect your reasons to change.  I began with several women who said they would never teach.  I think most of them are teaching or want to do so.
  2. What kind of training are you looking for?  There are different kinds of trainings.  Trainings vary by length – intensive trainings are daily over a short time while other training programs are once a month for a weekend and may include an intensive at some point.  Also, think about the kind of yoga you want to study and teach.  There may not be a training in your area for that kind of yoga.  I completed a 200 hour training in Core Strength Vinyasa with Melissa Scott.  It was not the kind of yoga that I had practiced for years and I started out saying that I would never do it or teach it.  That changed over the course of the training but I probably should have taken some CSV classes before I began the training.
  3. Have you connected with the teacher?  I think it is important to meet the person you are going to work with for an extended period of time.  Though I did not have an opportunity to take a class from Melissa before I started training, I did go to an introductory session about the training and I traded some emails with her before I applied.  I also talked to my teacher about the training and about Melissa since they are friends.  When I met Melissa I knew I wanted to work with her.
  4. Do you have a yoga practice?  What is your practice like now? Are you ready to increase that practice and see it change, because it will.

These are just a few questions to think about.  You can find a lot of articles about how to evaluate yoga teacher training programs and what to consider if you search the web.  You will find online training, in person training, intensive training, and training that meets over a long period of time.  Trainings vary in the amount of reading and writing that is required – yes, we read a number of books and wrote papers.  Some trainings require written exams at the end.  Teaching is part of training as well. Trainings also often include observing other yoga teachers and taking classes at other studios or places you might not normally take classes.  Many training are registered through Yoga Alliance so you can register with them when you finish.

There are now five yoga teacher training choices around the Birmingham area: Melissa Scott’s 200 hour Core Strength Vinyasa training begins again in March. Kim Drye and Becca Impello are offering HereNow Yoga teacher training for the first time this March.  It is an alignment based training and this year is sold out. Birmingham Yoga offers Ashtanga and Kundalini Yoga teacher training. LifeTime Yoga offers a 200 hour and 300 hour training led by Lauren Lippeatt.  Finally, Kiva Yoga offers a hot yoga teacher training.  You can see we have a wide range to choose from in the Birmingham area.

The best thing about yoga teacher training is the close bonds that are created with your fellow trainees.  I have a wonderful group of friends who I most likely would not have met any other way.  That made training worth every minute.


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On the horizon: Looking at the future, being present

I began this post a few weeks ago during the midst of #Quest2016. It was based on the synthesis for the week’s prompts.  But I didn’t get it finished in all the holiday and end of semester flurry.  So, here I am still considering the horizon in the new year.  It seems appropriate and I have different things to say now than I did a few weeks ago.

The prompt

Jeffrey invited us to consider a geographic  horizon as we synthesized our writing for the week.  What do we see when we gaze out? What future is there? I considered going to the lake or river for this exercise.  Water is my favorite horizon for gazing and dreaming.  If I had received the prompt a day earlier I probably would have headed to a a park in Birmingham to complete the writing.  But it was Sunday and I was home, spending the day around the house.  I have a large picture window and smaller windows across the back of my house.  That is where I most often gaze out and think as I write.  I went out onto the porch and sat in my chair, watching the clouds move across the sky.

On that Sunday afternoon the clouds were really amazing.  The photos do not begin to do them justice and the way in which they were moving.  I’m looking for the near future in the horizon, thinking about what is coming.  The questions focused on 2016 and were: What am I making or creating that is making a difference? Who am I relating to, and how, in a different way?

In the second week of 2016 I am thinking a bit differently than I was a few weeks ago.  I am already feeling re-energized at work, something I have not felt for a very long time. I still do not quite know what that means or what it will bring in the coming year.

In December I joined a group called continuous practice.  The idea is to commit to something for 100 days. I committed to writing and am already on day 15.  I write for 20 minutes a day and I am seeing the practice help me formulate ideas and plans. I met Saundra Goldman, who began the group, while I was in Austin last week.    It’s so wonderful to meet other creative women.

Yoga continues though I have changed where I teach.  I have a very nice core group who show up three times a week.  There are many who come and go as well or can only come once in a while.  Everyone is welcome.  It’s a lovely group and I feel fortunate.

I am trying not to overcommit this year.  For a while I considered training for a half ironman again this year but I decided that my main objective right now is health.  At some point this year I will do another race but I am not sure which one or when.  Right now I am concentrating on Iron Tribe and on yoga.  I’m learning the moves at Iron Tribe and slowly increasing the amount of weight I can lift.  Now if I can just learn how to jump rope….

That is my horizon for the moment.

Posted in #quest2016, challenges, change, choices, Iron Tribe, passion, Tracking wonder, yoga | 3 Comments

#nofailure: Perspective is the key

Saturday’s question for #Quest2016 came from Debbie Millman, writer, educator, artist, host of Design Matters.  I was not familiar with Millman’s work so I went and listened to some podcasts during the day.  They were delightful discussions about creativity and taking risks.

This brings me to the prompt, which I pondered most of Saturday:

How would you do business as unusual in 2016 if you knew – no matter what you chose – you would not fail?

I wrestled with the word failure, as did many others in the group.  What is failure? Is failure in my eyes only?  It is really perspective.  Maybe it’s because not failing brings up being perfect and I am not perfect.  I have learned many valuable lessons from failing (or at least failing in the standard, American society definition of failing).  These are what move me forward.  I don’t enjoy failing but it isn’t all bad. Thinking about this brought up several examples for me.

The main  example is from my attempts at 70.3 races – four of them, with four DNF’s (did not finish).  I have had people ask me how I deal with the failure of the DNF and keep going.  I have finished a number of shorter races, for one thing, and for another, I have been disappointed but I don’t consider my DNF’s failures because I have learned from them.  Let me review:

Raleigh – first 70.3 attempt.  I did not complete the swim.  I had cramps in my legs and there is no practice that can prepare you for being constantly kicked in the water.  What I learned:  hydrate better and get in more open water swims before my race.  I was still a relatively new open water swimmer at that time.

Augusta – 2013 – Swim and bike complete, 3 miles into the run was pulled by a volunteer.  What I learned: Don’t fill the Camelbak in transition.  My hydration did not go into the bottle, it went on the ground but I didn’t realize it until I was on the road.  Hydrate (I hadn’t quite gotten it right yet). I met the wonderful Carol Fitzgerald Tyler and her sister Leslie Doll as a result of this DNF.  Carol was the medical person who came for me.  Leslie was racing and I have followed her amazing story of getting cochlear implants and learning to hear.

Barb’s Race – 2014.  Swim, 45 miles of the bike – through the worst part of the bike. I made it up Chalk Hill, which only means something to those who have done it.  What did I learn – I was ready to race but nothing is guaranteed.  Race day was very hot after a few cool days.  The kindness of strangers was reaffirmed.  A kind woman named Louise gave me water, put my bike in her van, and took me to the race site after I sat waiting for a race vehicle to come by.  I also met wonderful people on this trip and found a place that I truly love.

Augusta – 2014.  Swim and bike complete, 9ish miles of the race done.  I pulled myself on this one.  I knew that even though I was close that my ankle was not going to make it.  It was a better decision to take care of myself than risk injury. I had friends cheering for me.  Allison ran with me and helped me get through.   Friends supported me afterwards too.  I knew that I could complete the race, just not on that day.

So, in sum, I have

  • dinner 2014learned to swim in open water
  • improved my nutrition on race days
  • not given up, and
  • met great people who have enriched my life (see photo from some of zany Augusta friends).

An important factor that runs through all of these races and the past five years is my coach Sam. He has never given up on me, even when I want to give up on myself.  He has never told me that I failed or that I was some awful disappointment because I didn’t cross a finish line.  He has supported me when I have been on the podium and when I have been the last person to finish or have not finished at all.

So what does all of this have to do with the prompt?  Maybe nothing.  Maybe what it lead me to when answering Jeffrey’s challenge to synthesize what we had learned from writing and thinking about getting clear over the past week.

As I looked at the three prompts and what I had written I came up with perspective.


That is my portal of possibility – keeping my perspective.  Whether that is the way I define failure or success, what I tell myself or what I envision in the coming year, it’s all perspective.  Staying focused on my goals and dreams is important but things happen that delay or change dreams and goals.  Sometimes those are the very things that lead me to something new and better in my life.  I could still be happily training for long course triathlons (yes, I did think I would do a 140.6 at some point).  Instead I re-discovered yoga, have become a yoga teacher, rediscovered my writing practice that I am still working on, and broadened my community.

So, you are probably wondering if I am ever going to actually address the prompt.  How would I do business as unusual in 2016 if I could do what I chose and not fail?  I would keep taking risks, explore new ideas, try new things.  Kind of what I do now.   

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What’s knocking? #Quest2016

Prompt two greeted me in my inbox this morning.  Jonathan Fields, author, dad, founder of the Good Life Project,  challenged the group with the following:

You wake up to discover a knock at your door. A wealthy uncle you barely knew has passed and left you a fortune. It’s more than enough to live out your days in glorious splendor, but there is a condition. To be eligible to collect, you must commit your full-time working energies to the pursuit of an answer to a single question of your choosing for the next 12 months.

You are welcome to continue that pursuit after the year ends, for years or decades if it warrants, but you must remain fully focused on seeking the answer until the last minute of the 365th day. A minute shorter, the entire inheritance goes to your annoying and equally long lost cousin, Philly.

What is your question?

– See more at: Tracking Wonder Quest 2016 #Quest2016, #Whatsknocking

It didn’t take me long to come up with an answer for this prompt.  I have been living the same question, or a variation of it, for several years.  How do I combine story, spirit and health to create good for others (and for my own life)?  These three elements have been the focus of my work and study for some time. I look for pieces and how they combine and meld.  I have created workshops, classes, and stories around them. I look for answers and I find variations.  There is no one answer that fits everyone. What can I offer the world from what I have been given? From my gifts, talents and passions?  Pursuing these questions makes my life richer and, I hope, the world around me richer.

I will live this quepassion and my lifestion (or group of questions) with or without a ton of money.  I need to do different things to keep me going and to spark ideas and connections because my ideas do not come from one place.  A year off to concentrate on a question would be lovely – it’s called sabbatical and I had one many years ago. It was glorious.  But I know myself.  I have too many interests.  They feed back to my one compelling question but others do not always see that because they don’t understand how I think and work.  My guess is the Uncle Moneypants, as fellow quester  Brenna Lane dubbed him, wouldn’t see my wandering mind as logical enough or linear enough to warrant the money at the end of the year.

I will keep on pursuing the questions that are knocking anyway.  They are my life’s work.


Posted in #quest2016, #whatsknocking, challenges, change, choices, passion, yoga | 1 Comment

Tell myself: #Quest2016

On Tuesday morning I began a month long journey with a group of business artists, writers,and  creators called #Quest2016.  Led by Jeffrey Davis of Tracking Wonder, this journey provides prompts from visionaries to lead us into 2016.  Every few days we receive a prompt to consider, write about,  discuss with one another.  The first was from Susan Piver who asked us what we need to tell ourselves most for 2016?

I considered the prompt when it was posted on Tuesday morning and ruminated over it as I left Sonoma County for the airport.   I thought further about it on the airplane ba2015-04-21 08.45.09ck to Alabama.  I need to tell myself three things.

Stay grounded 

Monday evening I stood on the edge of my mat in a yoga studio, following as Anna guided us in mountain.  It’s more than just standing.  It’s finding balance. It’s more than a balanced standing pose.  It’s finding balance in life.  It is a foundation.

As I find mountain pose, I remind myself to stay grounded.  It’s been quite a year with many unexpected turns and twists.  I am finding my way.  I need to continue to know that I am the one who understands my dreams and passions – that I do not have to own other people’s ambitions or views for my life.  I have a supportive community to help me with my true dreams. This morning my Facebook memories revealed that a year ago this week I was interviewing for a job that I wanted very much.  I did not get it.  It wasn’t my calling or my journey.  I could still be in California, interviewing again for another job but I realized a few weeks ago that the jobs I have been seeking over the past year are not my dream or vision for my life. They are what someone else thinks I should be, something that looks successful to other people but does not feel successful to me.  So I will work on staying grounded in 2016 in the calling I feel for my life, following the path that I am on.

Remember the ease2015-11-26 14.43.01

On this California trip, much more so than any of my trips  over the past 18 months, I felt a sense of ease.  There was a flow and a rhythm to this trip that felt right.  I spent time with good friends, new and old, I practiced yoga and taught a yoga class, I walked the in the Redwoods and by the ocean.  Things fell together as they were meant to.  I had wonderful conversations with people and laughed a lot. There was time to read, write, and just be.  I was at ease.  Fellow quester Denise Ransome wrote about not getting caught up in the swirling that goes on in daily life.  When things swirl, I will remember the ease I felt this week.

Connect my heart

I live in my head much of the time.   I am an academic by day.  I have been feeling a connection with my body more as I have become more active over the past five years and as I have processed the changes in my body through improving my health and becoming an athlete.  Returning to my yoga practice  has extended my ability to connect with my body. But my heart is often not fully engaged – it is protected.  I need to engage and connect my heart more with what I am truly passionate about, what excites me, what means the most to me.  This may be what I need to tell myself the most for 2016.

So there are the three things I need to tell myself.  I am looking forward to this month of quests and to the year ahead.



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I am a runner

I am a runner.   That has been my athletic identity since high school.  Running didn’t require any flying objects, no deep water, nothing complicated.  It just required a decent pair of running shoes and a place to run.  I have never been a fast runner.  In high school I was generally last.   I placed once in three years of high school track (we didn’t have most sports my senior year of high school due to a failed millage).  I continued running for a while in college but I didn’t have a goal or purpose so I gave it up.  I returned to running when I met Sam in 2010.  I recall telling him that I wanted to run again.  I recall thinking he was looking at me like I was crazy but he didn’t say that.  I have written about starting running already so I won’t repeat my first attempts.  I’m back to that place again though.   I have finished a number of races since 2011 and I have even earned a couple of awards, not just finishers medals.


Running is not easy.  It wears on my knees and my ankles.  I have had running injuries throughout my life but I always come back. Running, no matter how slow, is one of my happy places to be.  I have heard a lot of condescending remarks about my running, especially over the past five years.  People seem to think I should feel awful and like a total failure because I am slow and because I am generally last or near last.  I don’t though, for the most part.  Running has given me gifts.  It makes me feel good.  It has provided an opportunity to hang out with family members and friends.  It has allowed me to meet some really great people and run in the streets of some very cool cities.

Augusta 70.3 in 2014 was the race that almost ended my running.   I made it 9.1 miles in the run at Augusta.  I was so very close to finally crossing the line but I knew that my body was not going to make it across the finish line. My ankles just were not going to last on that day.  For a few weeks I tried to act like it did not defeat me.  But it did.  I had trained but my training got interrupted by family issues so I had several weeks of almost no training at all.  It was too much and it cost me the race, the finish line that I had worked for over the previous two to three years. Since September 2014, I have not wanted to run.  I tried to begin again a few times. I talked about running.  I looked at races finisherand I was registered for a few triathlons that I did not do.  I made a few attempts on the treadmill, thinking I would build up to where I had been.  But it didn’t last .

Three weeks ago I began Iron Tribe 101.  Most of the workouts include a run.  I wasn’t happy about that at first. None have been long – 100-400 so far.  I’m always last.  I’m slow.  I’ve had some pitiful looks thrown my way and some “you can do it” remarks thrown my way. What no one (except maybe Sam) knows is that I don’t feel all that pitiful as the last one.  Yes, I’m slow.  I’ve always been slow.  I will probably continue to be slow by everyone else’s standards.  But I am running again and not stopping.  There will be days when I hate running even 200.  But there will also be days like today when I felt a personal accomplishment from running again.

Don’t count me out just because I am slow, just because I am last.  I began again.  I will keep running, one foot in front of the other.  Last doesn’t bother me for the most part.  I grew up being told that someone has to be last so it might as well be me.  I never quite understood the point of the remark, but somehow it helps me when I am out running.  I’m not sure where my running will take me this time but I am looking forward to finding out.

Posted in challenges, injury, Iron Tribe, running, Sam | Leave a comment