Archive for July, 2013
In the past three weeks I have had the chance to reconnect with friends where it’s been too long since our last meeting. The first was a virtual connection. A few weeks ago, while he was in Kenya, Africa attending a yoga teacher training and I in Boston, Massachusetts, through a live streaming feed we were able to practice yoga together. Last Wednesday I met up with a childhood friend who was in town visiting her husband’s family. We grabbed lunch, went on a walking tour and caught each other up on the last ten years of our life. This afternoon I had coffee with a local friend and teacher of mine. As we are both in the wellness industry, it is always fun to hear the latest and greatest research/trends/books we’ve experienced.
Researchers have data which supports how beneficial connecting with friends is on our health. And it extends beyond our immediate social group. Networking sites, churches, sports clubs, and continuing education classes are all examples. They can give physical support, like helping us run errands, and they can provide emotional support for things such as depression and anxiety. All of these seemingly minor perks can literally add years to our lives.
Social networks have been a great tool for me to reconnect with friends and family from my past. While this is a great tool, I find that for me, an in person meeting, phone call or snail mail is a much more meaningful connection. I understand this is not always possible because of distance between two people, scheduling conflicts or other logistical problems, finding someway to connect is better than nothing.
Tomorrow begins a new month, therefore, a new goal. My goal for August is to reconnect with all sorts of people from my past. A large part of that will take place next weekend as I attend a rather large family reunion, many whom I have not seen since 2007. Others may be getting snail mail, phone calls or text messages with my hope to reach as many as I can.
“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” These words were spoken by a true legend, Jimmy Valvano, at the 1993 ESPY awards as he battled cancer. Earlier this week, a father/son duo, Team Hoyt, won the Jimmy V Perseverance Award, named in honor of the late North Carolina State men’s basketball coach, Jim Valvano.
Dick and Rick Hoyt won the most prestigious award at the ESPY awards. Nearly thirty-seven years ago, Rick asked his father to push him in a race. At the end of their first five-mile race, Rick said to his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.” That was just the beginning of many races to come. Since then, they have completed over 1,000 races. These include marathons, duathlons and triathlons (six being IronMan competitions).
Opportunities for those who are handicapped or disabled have grown tremendously over the last 40 years. In 1975, the Boston Marathon began to change the public perception and paved the way for wheelchair athletes to compete. In the 1980s, the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) established a visually impaired/blind division and a mobility impaired program. Founded in 1997, the Challenged Athlete Foundation (CAF) was established to make sure people with physical challenges have the same freedom to enjoy sports as everyone else. The mission for Achilles International states Our mission is to enable with people of all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics in order to promote personal achievement, enhance self-esteem, and lower barriers to living a fulfilling life.
C Different is an organization that was created to help visually impaired athletes compete. A dear friend of mine decided he wanted to guide someone through IronMan Wisconsin. He connected with C Different and in 2012, they crossed the finish line together.
“Next time you see someone in a wheelchair, or who can’t talk, or walk, or they may talk or walk a little bit different, they are people too, and deserve to be able to live, learn, work, and play. Rick and I want to thank you all.”- Dick Hoyt, 2013 ESPY Awards
This morning I received a text message from my brother which read, “Tyson Gay….Sigh.” Since I had not picked up the news yet, I immediately took to my iPad. The news feed popped up that he was guilty of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). The reply to my brother, “Such a bummer.”
Marion Jones, Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Shawne Merriman, A-Rod, and Ryan Braun are just a few of the many athletes that have admitted, been found guilty or accused of using PEDs. A performance enhancing drug is defined as substances used by athletes to improve their performances in the sports in which they engage.
Unfortunately salaries, endorsement deals, extended contracts are all based upon performance. And while our society expects athletes to play or perform at their peak for longer periods of time and longer into one’s career, athletes are looking for ways to keep that edge. Bodies break down. Repetitive stress creates injuries. The difference between a earning a medal at the Olympics or not could be hundredths of a second. Winning the Superbowl could be whether or not you stand your ground.
The big debate, “Just allow all athletes the choice to use PEDs. It helps to create a more level playing field if everyone is using them.” There are many problems with this statement. First of all, it does not create a level playing field. Only those athletes who can financially afford and have connections to the often illegal drugs will benefit. Second, there are legitimate effects of PEDs.
I for one, prefer to keep the sports world clean.
It was summer time and we were visiting my grandparents in Iowa. I was a young child, maybe seven years old. The weather was hot outside and felt like I needed to take a nap on the couch. At some point, Grandma came in asking if I wanted hot dogs for lunch and I declined. That should have been a sign something was wrong.
The next thing I remember is hearing Grandpa’s voice saying “Annie, Annie, WAKE UP!” We were in the back of an ambulance, on our way to a hospital nearly 30 miles away. I was in and out of consciousness and don’t remember much about the ride other than his voice. It was a few hours later that I started to come to, but very much in a fog. My body temp was 103 degrees. Due to this, I was placed in an oxygen tent and ended being in there for several days. My parents were not allowed to hold or snuggle me for fear their body heat would transfer to me. Ten days later my fever broke. In all, I was in the hospital for two weeks. That is a long time for an active kid to be stuck still; especially with immobilized arms due to IV’s with a splint to avoid needles being pulled out.
I began having a seizure on the couch while napping and that is why I was rushed to the hospital. The final diagnosis was bacterial meningitis.
Growing up in small town, rural America, it truly was, “Where everyone knows your name.”
I remember hearing the phone ring so early in the morning. It was just a few minutes later Dad knocked on the door and came into my room asking me to come downstairs. I saw mom sitting in her chair with tears rolling down her face. Clearly something was wrong.
They went onto explain that our high school guidance councilor had called and said one of my classmates had committed suicide. My knees buckled and I hit the floor. Within seconds I was nauseous I ran to the bathroom. I was flooded with many emotions, it was like a roller-coaster with so many twists and turns.
There was a long period of time where I was angry. Angry at him. Angry at myself. Angry at the world.
The anger has disappeared but those initial feelings come back every once in a while.
I was fresh out of college and made my way from Moorhead, MN to Washington DC, a small town girl moving to our nation’s capital. The previous summer I had done an internship with a wonderful health club that invited me to come work full-time once I finished school. So two weeks after receiving my diploma I packed up the car and drove half way across the country.
Everything was going great. I loved my job and reacquainting myself with the DC area. I was meeting new friends and joined a softball league. And then life as we all know it changed one beautiful, sunny Tuesday morning. The club I worked for was just a few short miles away from the Pentagon. After two planes hit NYC, we began getting flooded with phone calls asking to find members and get them home. Washington was now a target.
The building our club was in shook just enough to feel the vibration as the plane hit the Pentagon. At that point, there were just a few employees left and we all huddled around watching the events unfold on television. It took several hours for me to get home, and even longer before I was finally able to reach my family to let them know I was alright.
The smell of burning fuel and smoke was evident for several days/weeks. Snipers atop buildings were extremely visible. Clients attending multiple funerals for their friends and colleagues. All of this were daily reminders of what just happened.
I share these very personal experiences with you because I feel that it is important for us to realize that much of our past can effect our energy, how we move and feel. There is a saying that “our issues live in our tissues.” Strong emotions and feelings are embedded within us. Our bodies are like a sponge. They absorb everything we take in; food, drink, the air we breathe, the products we put on our skin, and the emotional stress we take on.
A few weeks ago at the yoga workshop I attended, emotions were a large part of our discussion. And the talk of emotions lead to a discussion on the chakra system.
There are seven main chakras through the center of the body with many minor ones elsewhere. Chakra is often translated as “wheel” or “disk.” This wheel is an energy center that is not seen but can be felt. Below is a chart which explains a little bit of information about each chakra.
When one or more of the chakras becomes blocked, we are incomplete or unbalanced in life. A chakra can be blocked by childhood trauma, limited belief systems, physical and emotional injuries, cultural conditioning or just a lack of attention. It should come as no surprise that during my yoga retreat as the discussion of chakras and emotions were discussed, that I noticed a few of them were blocked. Take the three stories above. Even though they happened several years ago, many of the emotions I experienced then are still in my tissues today.
Part of my own healing and growth process is to acknowledge these emotions. To notice which chakras might be deficient and which are running in over-drive. I can then use movement exercises, yoga, breathing, journaling to bring myself back into balance.
I often invite my yoga students to think about emotions or feelings. Is there a strong grip on something from your past or more recent? Often times this gripping onto an emotion can prevent us from living a balanced life.
Is there something in your world that you’ve been gripping onto?