How I Spent my Self-Designed Summer

I freakin’ nailed it. Best summer in a very long time. When I heard the drums of Autumn (the marching band practicing), I was not the slightest bit queasy.
So, if you’ll remember, my problem going into summer was this: Since time seems to speed up in the summer (and I love summer so much and never want it to end) how could I slow it down?
My strategy consisted of:
Mindful Mondays (which included:)
*Intermittent fast
*Severe limits on screen time
*Double meditation time
Champagne Thursdays
Read fiction
And it worked. It totally worked. I am astonished that it took so little to make me so happy. I noticed the wildflowers (and took pictures of many of them).
I paid attention to my rhythms, especially hunger and satiety (intermittent fasting was great for that). I scheduled time for self-indulgence (Champagne on the deck every  Thursday after yoga, and long afternoons spent reading novels in the hammock).
Now all my needs for relaxation and rejuvenation and fun have been met in spades and I am going into this next season feeling generous and ready to take on new projects and challenges.
Now, what to do about Fall and Winter? Could I do the same thing? Could I design those seasons too, and make it so they don’t seem to drag and feel so dreary? Is there anything I could do, any rituals I could perform to prevent Fall and Winter from killing this nice summer fire?
I do know that all my deepest thinking and reading and creating happen in the fall and winter, and I do love and appreciate the deep interiority of winter, but I also hate not feeling sparkly and energetic a lot of the time, particularly in January and February. If there were only more daylight hours to play in, or at least more bright sunlight in those days, that would help a lot.
But the reality is that I’m not going to move from the cloud belt of northern PA this winter, so I need a…I almost said “survival plan” but what I actually need is a “sur-thrival plan.” Survival isn’t the issue. The issue is how to thrive, and flourish, and appreciate, and get important work done, and nurture relationships, and have a whole lot of fun doing it?
I’m wondering if there’s a way to blend fun and sparkle into introspection and interiority?
I’m challenging myself to come up with a plan. Stay tuned.
Do YOU do anything specific to ease the transition from summer to fall?  Do you have any habits or rituals or ways of motivating yourself? Tell me in the comments. I’d really, really appreciate it.

It’s All About Energy

Do you ever dream about what it would feel like to max out as a human being? Use yourself up completely?

I wonder about that a lot.

I am fascinated with people like Tim Ferris of The 4-Hour Workweek and Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines. Those guys seem to be living so much larger than I am.

And even though I don’t want to live their lives, I do want to have as much passion and enthusiasm and discipline and moxie for my own interests as they do for theirs.

It’s all about energy. And having a ton of it. When you have energy (are rested and well fed) you can move your projects forward. You feel like a world beater.

When you’re tired and exhausted, or worse, bored, you can’t do squat.

Healthy, active, vital people are the only ones who can make things happen in their own lives, and in the world. Healthy people are the only ones who can move their lives and their projects forward.

They don’t call in sick. They are reliable. They get the job done. And for that reason they are extremely valuable to everyone around them.

Don’t you want to be like that?

To be healthy you have to move your body. There’s no two ways about it.

Walk. Log 10K steps on your Fitbit. Do yoga. Every day. Rain or shine.

Find a body practice you like to do that is not dependent on other people, the weather, or fancy equipment, and do it most days. No tennis, no golf, no swimming. Those are all too complicated. Fun, yes, but not for a daily body practice.  Find something simple with no built-in excuses for why you can’t do it.

Also: watch your fuel. Make sure you put mostly high octane in your tank. If you’ve gotten off-track with your food, get back on track. Hire a health coach for a few months if you have to, and get back to healthy eating. Eat green things every day. And move.

I’m a yoga teacher, so I have a bias towards yoga as the perfect body practice, so let me give you my argument for why yoga should be your daily body thing.

You can do it by yourself, or in a class with others.

You can find free classes and instruction on YouTube.

You don’t need any fancy equipment.

You can start at any age and at any level of fitness.

You don’t have to be bendy or flexible (it will create that in time.)

You will stretch and strengthen your body, and focus your  mind.

In 20 minutes a day.

I am also a huge fan of walking. Get a FitBit or a VivoFit or some gadget you can wear on your wrist and start logging steps. There is a latin saying, solvitur ambulando. It means, walking solves everything.

If you have a problem, take your problem for a walk. Walk long enough and you will solve your problem. Having problems with someone at work? Schedule a “walk and talk.” So much more productive than an office meeting.

Fresh oxygen to the brain cures lethargy and promotes creativity and problem-solving.

Find a body practice and commit to it today. It is key for project development.

Yoga Teacher: Energy Vampire

Went totally rogue in my 7 o’clock class tonight. Practiced with my students. (A big teacher No-No.)

(But in my defense, there were only 3 students, all of them adept yogis, and all of them part of the Challenge.)

My own practice time was eclipsed by my gym workout with the adorable Vince, and by an incredible hour on Facetime with my new Naturopath (wheee!!!) Jennifer.

Then, since my poor G is down with something,  I made her some kitchari and told her under no circumstances was she to go to practice today, but just lay her ass on the couch, sip hot water with honey, and watch the first round of the Masters and heal.. But did she listen? Of course not. She totally disobeyed me and went up to practice, “just for an hour, I promise,” but was up there for well over 2.

I really don’t know what I am going to do with that girl.

Sandy taught the early class and I came in for the 7.

The 7 is going to die next year. Not enough people come. But tonight, instead of feeling a little sad about the turn-out, I decided to exploit it and make it “Kath’s Playground” and do the practice I didn’t get to do today–with friends!

It was so fun. It reminded me a little of when Christine and I used to practice Ashtanga in the mornings all those years ago. We were all doing it together and I totally energy-vampired Brittany, Tom and Nikki  as we cranked 5 As and 5 Bs after a lengthy warm-up. I totally fed off of their amazing juju.

I even did savasana with them–don’t tell.

But right toward the end of the practice, I think we were in the 3rd set of Bs, there was a startling lightning bolt, and a clap of thunder that scared the shit out of us.

But we kept going.

I suspect it was some pissed-off Kali energy directed my way.

Bad teacher: ka-pow!


What I Don’t Love About Yoga

I don’t love all the emphasis on postures and doing postures perfectly.

I don’t love the obsession with achieving the “aesthetic” goals of yoga: The high arching backbends, the Yoga-Journal-perfect expression of Side Crow.

I realize there are also functional goals in yoga, like being able to balance, or getting stronger or more flexible, but to tell the truth, I’m not all that concerned with functional goals either.

I am not all that interested in the body practice of yoga.

The only thing I am interested in is using my body to help me gain mental clarity, or become a more creative problem-solver, or to achieve altered states of consciousness (through intense pranayama,).

And that’s it.

I am not that into yoga postures, but I am totally committed to yoga as a life hack.

I like trying out the insights I get on my mat in my real life and seeing how they play out, how successful they are in allowing me to express myself authentically.

But don’t get me wrong. I’ve gone through intense phases where I was hell-bent on trying to master certain postures. And that was fun, if only because the disciplined day-after-day work made me suppler and stronger.

But the body is just the vehicle for insight, and I don’t think it should be the sole focus of attention in a practice.

I now practice the kind of yoga that uses the body to try to find unexplored channels of energy inside myself. It’s a lot like like personal spelunking. And I often need a headlamp. (It’s mighty dark in that cave.)

I also appreciate that the payoff for all this physical practice is that it gives me tons of energy to keep my personal projects moving forward in the world.

  And I love the daily discipline of practice. I especially like how when I hit my mat consistently, day after day, with an attitude of curiosity, I start to realize things.

Things like: how large the universe is and how small I am; or how long time is, but how briefly I get to experience it.

Then what happens is that the way I talk, and act, and think, and spend my time, changes. It changes to align with these realizations.

It has to. It has no choice.

The body practice of yoga allows me to test how much and where I can open up more energy streams in my body.

Recently I was talking to someone about my  finances and she advised that if I wanted to become richer, I needed to open up more “income streams.”

It’s the same thing with yoga. The more energy streams I can open up in my body, the more alive I can be. And the more alive I can be, the richer my life is in all its possibilities.

And that, I believe, is my best shot at accessing my full human potential.

Cleanse: Day 8

I have finally turned the corner on this cleanse. So happy.

The weekend was hard, only because certain celebratory rituals involve food and drink.  One of the big revelations of this cleanse for me (so far), is how food is not just food.  It’s social. It’s symbolic. It’s comfort beyond physical hunger.  It functions as  amusement.

I feel as if inside my body there is this sun, this big, bursting ball of energy, and that certain things, including food, can either block that energy, or free it up.

So here’s what I’m thinking now.  I will probably not bring back caffeine.  (I cannot believe I just wrote that.)  A coffee might become a “treat” from now on, but not the beverage that ignites my day.  I’m  feeling  more focused and centered and relaxed without it. Caffeine, for me,  masks as a energy freer-upper, but it’s actually an energy blocker.  It produces a lot of static in my brain and in my body, and I prefer to have a clear signal.

The other thing I love, is having my main meal in the middle of the day, and then having only a smoothie or a bowl of (clear) soup for dinner.  I really like how it feels to go to bed with my gastro-intestinal tract quiet, done, finished, closed for business. My sleep these past few nights has been so soft and so very deep.  I don’t feel hungry at all at bedtime.  I just feel empty, and it feels good, and spacious.

So far I am not seeing anything dramatic in the mirror, which is weird, given how dramatically different I am feeling on the inside.  That’s okay though, I’m sure mirror changes will show eventually.

During the first week I did hardly any sweating.  I took walks, I did soft yoga, I did only one day of the yoga workout.  This week though, I am anxious to ramp up physically: run on the t-mill, do ashtanga, lift weights.  I also want to go take some saunas.  Tomorrow I am having a massage, and I am really, really looking forward to that.

So that’s it so far.  Week 2 begins today.