Thursday, February 26, 2009

Creating Your Own Destiny

I have been swamped with happy work - this is amazing to me. I have always been able to find a way to pay the bills - well... except for that awful time that I don't want to get into right now. But unfortunately that 'way' almost invariably ended up being in some job that was in no way whatsoever what I wanted to be doing. And yes, that means it was in an office in a secretarial position. Sometimes the money was great, sometimes it sucked, but the truth is either way was bad, bad, bad for me. Following a 9-5 life is not good for me. It's too constrictive, too predicated on some bizarre whim that says even if you have nothing AT ALL to do and even the paper clips in your drawer have been organized in accordance to size (I dare not tell you how many jobs I've had where doing just that was the high point of my day and the most productive thing I'd do in a week) that you must still sit at some desk twiddling your thumbs until 5pm.

Have I mentioned how much I hate that? Yeah. Probably about 2 million times.

I've said it before and will continue to say it: the worst day walking dogs is still better than the best day in an office.

I am still amazed that I am being paid to walk with dogs. It's the most incredible feeling to do something so fun, and that I truly feel serves a much needed purpose - for the dogs and for their people - and get paid for it! It's unbelievable to me, as I'm sure it will be to anyone who has ever worked with me in an office, that I am not only on time to this job but that I am often early! And when I go 'over time' (which happens with some regularity because I lose track of the time, or the weather's great, or the dog is just having too much fun to make them go home) I don't mind at all. I don't get paid for that overtime, which is fine because it's my choice - unlike the last office I worked in where I always stayed late and very, very rarely got paid for it.

Even more amazing to me is how many dogs keep falling into my lap, so to speak. It's like some magnetic canine pull. Like these pups have just been waiting for me to finally figure out that THIS was a good move for me. It's also a lot like a book I've owned for years and never could quite 'get' called "Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow". Well, you know sure I've pursued lots of things I've loved - ain't none of 'em ever had the money following. But this time it seems to be in sync and that is still astounding me.

The other thing is how good I feel all the time now. Make no mistake: I get incredibly tired, and I have had some bad issues with my hands aching to a ridiculous degree (from holding on too tight with certain new dogs who have been big 'pullers'). But even when I'm hurting, and too tired to even send an email to keep in touch with people, or to read, or to knit (ouch!), I'm happy.

I'm doing work that makes me happy and pays.

That is a sentence I never believed I would write. Ever.

It makes me feel like for once I really am in control of my own destiny. Probably my new-found obsession with Bikram Yoga is adding to that, but I think most of the credit goes to the dogs. And after all, we all know what dog spelled backwards is - don't we.

Namaste baby, Namaste.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Yoga is something I've always 'thought' about. Sure I grew up with everyone's favorite PBS braid on Lilias, Yoga & You, sure I own a yoga dvd (watched it once), and most assuredly I have always had a huge trepidation about taking a yoga class.

Which means I ain't never taken no yoga class.

In general I am not a 'class' person any way, reminds me too much of *shudder* gym in school; but I have taken various classes from time to time in my life. The worst of which being the spin class my beloved trainer-turned artist, Rafael, agreed to take with me just so I'd try it. That was once. We both nearly died - spinning sucks! (she says cheerfully while vowing: NEVER AGAIN!)

So taking a yoga class has been one of my many fears. One of those things I kinda wanted to try but never could get myself to do... like swimming (which I can do now thanks to a ten-minute swimming lesson from Gary in Mexico.)

Yesterday Miss X's mom and I were planning to take a yoga class together. She's done it before, a pro that girl, but she had agreed to try something new: Bikram yoga. Yes, the one that's done in a crazy-hot room for 90 minutes. Prior to the event she sent me these three stages to prep me for the challenge. I reprint them here for your amusement.
for me there are 3 stages of yoga:
1. the "yoga is a good idea" stage before going to yoga.
2. the "why the fuck did I decide to do this it's too fucking hard" stage while doing yoga and
3. the "that wasn't so bad and I feel really good" stage when I'm done.
Well, as it turned out the poor thing came down with a tummy flu on Saturday night and if there's one place you don't want to be when you're sick is in a 105 degree room doing yoga. Uh-NO. So sadly we were not going to take the class.

Thing is I had gotten myself VERY excited about trying this, I mean I made a commitment to buying a mat (very pink and floral, so girly) I really wanted to use it - at least once - before it got relegated to the back of the closet. The only problem was the fear. The fear of yoga. The fear of the class environment. The fear of the goddamned heat. And the fear that if I didn't do it now I never would.

I did the back and forth with myself for hours: do-it. No way. DO IT. No WAY. DO IT I SAID! (oh shit was that my mother's voice?)

The two things that pushed me over the edge to just go - alone and terrified - were

1) the class for beginners was given only on the weekends. Beginners are welcome to all classes, but the beginners-only class is just on the weekends. I didn't want to wait until next weekend, and I didn't want to go into a full-out class unprepared. I figured since this particular class is limited to 10 students the worst that would happen is I embarrass myself in front of 9 students and 1 teacher maximum. I can deal with that.

2) I realized that if I could go swimming with dolphins in a country where I barely speak the language, when I didn't know how to swim and I was traveling solo, that there was no logical reason I couldn't haul my ass two blocks away from my apartment and take a yoga class. So I did it.


And I'm going back this morning for another session.

Yeah. It was hard, but it was great. I was the only one of the 10 beginner students who had to stop (more than once) because I honestly thought I was going to throw up.
BUT the teacher was really encouraging and the whole deal is to do your best, listen to your body, keep trying, do not compare yourself to anyone else in the room, and most of all just stay in the room. As she said: As long as you're in the room, you're doing yoga. Just stay in the room.

Staying in the room is hard enough, let me tell ya. It's a sauna, not that I've ever been in a sauna either, but you get the picture. I felt sick and dizzy and nauseated... but I stayed in the room. I stopped when I really needed to and then got back into it. And you know what? I did 100% better than I could ever have imagined. No one was more shocked than me that I could do some of these crazy poses and not tear a ligament or fall on my face. So I'm going back today to try again. Maybe I'll do better than yesterday, maybe I'll do worse but the main thing in Birkram, as in life, is "stay in the room".

Not such bad advice, is it?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Adjusting to the changes

Things have been hectic here - which is kinda great, and kinda not. Great in that my day to day has switched up quite a bit, not great in that my day to day has switched up quite a bit.

2009 - the year of change. That it is. And I'm a big believer in the good of change, no lover of routine here. But change isn't always easy and while I'm loving the changes that are going on in my life I'm missing (just a little) the way it was. My free time has gotten a bit less free and that means less time to loll around reading, making things, trying new recipes, and blogging. But on the up side it means lots and lots of walking around the city and the park with sweet, sweet doggies. I know I might be a little too in love with the canines, but honestly they are such great models for living. Every day is new, every moment is lived RIGHT NOW and worries about the future are pretty much nonexistent. Dogs know we don't have anything except this moment and they seem pretty happy with that. Seems to me that's a pretty good philosophy of life.

Of course being humans we have a few more responsibilities (taking care of said live-for-today pups being one of 'em for me) and so thinking ahead just comes with the territory. Remembering to relish being alive right this minute seems to be a a good way to keep worry about those responsibilities (and goals) from becoming overwhelming.

When I'm out with a dog I sometimes start thinking 'the shoulds'. I should be writing. I should be doing laundry. I should be finishing that book I was reading. I should be.... Then I look down see that happy dog-smile on the creature walking next to me and I remember - what I SHOULD BE is right now. Our lives whip by at lightening speed and we worry so much about the coming moments that we lose the current moments to a future that never happens - because all we are is right now.

When we're in pain, or feel alone in the world, it's hard to focus on the now. Our minds take us to imaginary scenarios of bleak futures where nothing gets better, nothing changes. Our minds are powerful places - they can keep us locked in a cycle of remembered hurts that keep us from experiencing the little delights of life, the tiny things we take for granted, the things that make life so amazing. We want faster, faster, more, more and when it doesn't come we become frustrated and continue the cycle of stressing and worrying about what we don't have and letting the moments and joys we do have slip by us without noticing them.

I'm not saying to live for today and the future be damned in some sort of hedonistic, irresponsible way. We can live and be happy in the moment while still being responsible and caring towards the earth and the creatures (us included) living on it. But worries and negative thinking about all the things we're not doing, not achieving, not having can keep us from seeing how very much we DO have, and how very, very lucky we are to be alive.

I guess what I'm saying is: make sure your shoes are comfy, that you have poop bags and treats in your pockets, hold the leash securely as you move forward and most of all, be here now.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Smart AND funny

Yes, The Big Bang Theory is a very funny show about physicists - but REAL physicists can be funny too. And I like that.