Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How Embracing Yoga Has Positively Changed My Life-Part I

In my youth I avoided yoga as something only crunchy vegetarian tree huggers practiced. It seemed foreign and inaccessible to a klutzy, ungraceful woman who embraced daily wine, a USDA prime steak so rare it mooed, and couldn’t imagine twisting my body into the pretzel like shapes shown in magazine ads. 

Then in the spring of 2002 I looked in the mirror and saw I’d lost my muscle tone, gained the post 40 fifteen pounds and considered that I’d experienced excruciating back pain for no apparent reason. It was time to act if I wanted to enjoy life to my chosen age of 96.

So I joined a fitness center that included various toning, Pilates, aerobic and yoga classes.  I decided to give yoga a try. The classes available that fit within my schedule were a more advanced power yoga class and a more gentle Hatha class.
These classes weren’t easy; I struggled; but I found that I’d been completely misguided about yoga.

There was no expectation that I immediately contort my body into inaccessible poses. Instead, I found that true practitioners of yoga encourage one to accept what one can do on any given day, understand that all bodies are created differently and some bodies are not physically capable of all poses, and that I needed to do what was right for me on any given day.

I kept going back. The environment wasn’t ideal at a mixed-use fitness center. Yoga was not the focus, only an offering among many fitness options. The instructors were not certified yoga practitioners / teachers. But, I learned a lot and decided that this was a path for me to embrace a holistic approach to mind, spirit and body health.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Starting My 2nd Re-upholstery Project

Even though I purchased the fabric for this project last spring, I’ve procrastinated. There were other projects that needed my attention over the summer such as spreading mulch, painting the interior of the house and pulling up ceramic tiles in the laundry room and kitchen.  And, I found out just how much work it takes to remove move than 1000 staples, keep track of fabric pieces and then re-assemble a wing chair.

I discovered why it costs so much to have a wing chair recovered. The instructions that I’d found online and You Tube videos provided some guidance. However, my chairs were custom made 25 years ago and I knew I would be dissatisfied with the results if I took short cuts. I also knew that if the job did not look professionally done my husband would not allow the chair in our living space. Better a cat defaced heirloom quality chair than an obvious DYI that screams “good enough for government work”!

My first project turned out great for a first effort. But that chair sits in my office, the darkest room in the house where nobody is likely to see the flaws. This chair, however, accents our family room where it will be on display to all who come calling. So there is a bit more pressure to kick it up a notch.

At least I’ve learned some valuable lessons from round one. Buy extra fabric.  Mark each piece of fabric as it is removed – the order and location. Use the pieces carefully removed from the chair as pattern pieces and cut the fabric generously.  Be cognizant of the fabric design and measure, measure, measure to ensure the design is centered and all pieces are laid out in the same direction! Do not rely on a staple gun, staples and glue alone.  To get the fabric pulled tight it is necessary to use upholstery thread and needle and hand sew the pieces together on the chair. Trim can hide minor mistakes. A nice throw can also disguise minor flaws.

So I started this evening during Jeopardy and managed to remove the bottom back pieces in about 2 hours. That’s why I’ve put this off. I now know just how much time and effort this project will require. But I know now that I can do this and that I will be pleased with the result at a fraction of the price of a new chair with cotton/linen fabric.  So tallyho!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Everyday Heroes & Heroines – My Sister!

I truly believe that each of us are privileged to know and love everyday heroes and heroines – not those that exhibit bravery in extraordinary circumstances – but the unsung brave who fight everyday to survive in an inhospitable, sometime unfair world.  These are not athletes, movie stars, television personalities or military fighters. Instead they are people that are faced with adversity or challenges that get up every morning, get out of bed and just take the next step no matter how painful.

A little more than 10 years ago a diagnostic exam noted a lump in one of her breasts. She scheduled a lumpectomy. A lumpectomy is an ordinary procedure undergone by thousands of women throughout the world daily. Some women receive scary results. Others are relieved. My sister was relieved. The lump was benign.

However, the procedure that required general anesthesia caused a latent autoimmune disease to come alive – lupus. It took several years to diagnose, caused her to lose weight she couldn’t afford to lose, turned its dastardly attention to her pancreas & digestive system, awakened celiac disease, and caused her to face days, weeks, months, and years of uncertainty.

Once her myriad of doctors ruled out every other potential cause of her deteriorating condition, they determined she had lupus and finally found a pharmaceutical cocktail that could make life tolerable.

Most people in her shoes would have succumbed to the fear, the frustration, and loss and curled up into a ball of denial or self-pity or embraced the concept of disability. But she did not.  She refused to accept that a disease would cause her to give up a career she loved as a PhD and teacher; that she could not be there for her children; that she should just give up on life and be a shell of what she strived so hard to accomplish.

So she underwent experimental treatment, continued to teach, researched recipes and prepared food for her family that she couldn’t eat, traveled to seminars and family events and took her own food, celebrated small victories and refused to give into defeat.

Last Friday her doctor told her she needed emergency surgery. Her daughter, my niece, was scheduled to be married 8 days later. Delaying the surgery could have been catastrophic. So she scheduled the surgery for Monday and knew she would press through the adversity and be there for her daughter on Saturday.

Fortunately, she has some amazing friends that gave love, support and encouragement.  She pushed through the pain, made the decision to celebrate life, ensure the wedding went forward as scheduled and caused everybody who knows her to admire the fortitude, dedication to family and love of her children.

We are sisters and have had our disagreement, arguments and misunderstandings over the years. However, I can think of nobody that I admire more as an everyday heroine.