Breathing… Not As Easy As It Sounds

How many of you have actually “thought” about breathing?

Probably not many… unless you start choking or drowning… then all you can do is think about that next breath.

No… I mean on a regular basis, do you think about your breath?
How it feels?
Where you feel it in your body?
Is it a shallow breath?
Is it a deep breath?
Is it slow?
Is it fast?
Does it fill your entire being and make your rib cage expand?
Can you breathe deeper sending your breath to your toes?

While I’m not going to get all philosophical or preachy, I learned to breathe … I mean really breath in my Yoga classes. Some instructors focus on the art of breathing more than others. Some will take like 5-10 minutes of a class to focus on just breathing. While this might sound easy, it’s one of the harder things to do because it requires focus and concentration. I’m thankful for it. It’s helped me with my Yoga practice and with getting into deeper stretches (well for me they are deeper). It’s also helped me in other parts of my life.

Breathing is more than simply inhaling and exhaling. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on it. But I know this…. Breathing has helped me relax my mind… turn off the noise and fall asleep. Sure… some nights take more focus than others, but it really has helped. By focusing on my breath, slowing it down, deepening the breath and focusing on what I feel and how I feel, has helped me fall asleep without the fight. I’ve cut down the tossing and turning from 2 hours to 30 minutes. That’s good for me.

It also helps me during my Chiropractic visits. Breathe to relax. Breathe to release. Breathe to let go. It’s not easy. It’s a fully conscious effort. Our natural response to things that hurt or are tense is to stop breathing, hold our breath or to take shorter breaths. Don’t. My adjustments are better when I breathe. Of course, it helps that my chiro cues me when to breathe deep and then when to release it slowly.

Breathing… I think this is why when you get angry, people say to take deep breaths. What the saying doesn’t say, is that you should focus on the breath and sending it to different parts of your body. Not an easy feat when you’re fuming.

Breathing… Focus on it. Really feel it. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but I highly recommend you try it sometime. ūüôā

Be a Kid Again

Who (if you’re an adult) takes time to PLAY anymore?

I don’t … well… not often enough. I’m sure my husband would argue that I play too often, but it depends on how you define “play”.

I define “play” as going to the park and playing on the jungle gym or swings or play a game like volleyball or kick a ball around or play tag. Yea… tag. Or maybe hit the roller rink with friends, do a bit of hop scotch or jumping rope or hula hooping or if it’s raining “puddle jumping”… you know… something you did as a kid. Or maybe build something with legos or blocks … or play marbles or just color… heck… color outside the lines and see what you come up with. You know… do something that is unexpected now, but was totally acceptable when you were 7. (Ok. Maybe draw the line at mud pies. That might be a bit too messy.) Something unstructured… just go with the flow… don’t have a set plan .. just play to play.

While it might seems odd to play tag as an adult, it’s lots of fun.
When Kira was still with me, I’d play tag with her. (Kira was my dog.)
I’d chase her around the park… however since she was a whippet mix… she was pretty quick and often didn’t get “tagged”. She did know how to taunt me though.

Anyways… I think if we had mandatory “recess” every day to play like kids … on the swings and do something from our youth (not dodge ball… that was just violent sometimes)… I think we’d all be less stressed. For one, we’d be laughing the whole time of how bad we were at our childhood games. And we’d be laughing at how silly we felt… how carefree we felt. It would help us let go of every day pressures. It’s not just a stress reliever, I think it would be a “life reliever”. I know when I get the chance to play with my baby cousins at the park, I have so much fun chasing them around and pushing them on the swings.

I’m not suggesting a long recess… although that would be nice. How about 20 minutes? Grab a buddy or your child, and play for a bit in between appointments or on the way home. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be silly. Be carefree. Be a Kid Again.

Peach Spice Cake

2014-08-14 12.41.42 (2)So… I had some fresh peaches that were getting a bit too ripe… and I had a box of Spice Cake Mix.¬† Why not make a cake out of the 2?¬† So, I did!

If y’all know me… you know 2 things… 1) I rarely follow a recipe to the “T” and 2) I bake with booze.¬† This time was no exception. I eyeballed most of what I did to this creation.¬† So, if you try this, feel free to add¬†or change this up to suit your tastes.¬† And while it doesn’t look all that great, it was super tasty.¬† The cake was moist, and the peaches held their form and flavor and didn’t turn to mush.

To start, I pulled out all my ingredients and tools, and put them on the kitchen island.

And then I started the oven… preheat¬†to 325 since I was using a dark Bundt pan.

Ingredients for the Cake part:

  • 1 box of Spice Cake Mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 sugar free applesauce container (from the pack of 6) – I think it’s like 1/3 cup if I had to measure¬† (this was in place of the oil that the box said to use)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 2¬†tsp of spiced rum (I used Captains)

Instructions: Mix all the above together.¬† It’s not scientific or anything.¬† Set aside. You will pour this on top of the peaches.

Ingredients for the Topping part:

  • 3 large fresh ripe peaches, pealed and slice
  • 3/4 of a stick of butter
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of cinnamon (I used Pampered Chef’s Cinnamon)
  • 1 Tbsp of flour (because I read somewhere that this helps with thickening up the “sauce”)
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice
  • 2 tsp of spiced rum (yup… Captains)

Instructions:

  • Melt the butter and brown sugar together… once melty… incorporate the flour and then the lemon juice. Stir constantly.
  • Turn down the heat and add the spiced rum and then the peaches … coating them with the sugar mixture.
  • Pour (as evenly as possible)¬†into greased Bundt pan.
  • Pour the cake mixture (as evenly as possible)¬†on top of the peaches.¬† I did a little jiggle with the pan to get the mix to settle and even out.
  • Put into a preheated 325 degree oven and bake for like 30-35 minutes depending on your oven.

Upon reflection and taste, I probably could have used a dash of¬†salt to punch up the flavor in the peaches.¬† But this is “just cuz” I want to try something different next time.¬† Again… I rarely follow recipes and like to tweak.¬† Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.¬† What matters is taste and whether or not the husband will eat it.¬† Actually… it matters whether I’ll eat it or not.¬† I’ve been known to throw out stuff after I’ve taken a bite even if the husband thinks it’s edible.¬† Edible or not… it needs to taste good.¬† And if it doesn’t taste good, why bother?!

Aging Gracefully…. Not!

There are so many things I should be doing more gracefully. But Why?
It’s so much more fun and sometimes painful to relive your youth when you’re over 18. (Ok… so I’m like more than a little over 18 but whatever.)
Of course, I draw the line at getting a BMX and doing jumps like when I was 10. (I grew up with 2 male cousins so naturally I wanted to do what they and their friends were into.)

So, when my friends started roller skating (the 4 wheel kind), I thought “Hey, that sounds fun and would be good exercise too.” Yes, it was and is both. Unfortunately, it reminded me just how uncoordinated I am when it comes to strapping things with wheels to my feet. I’m pretty decent on skiis and wakeboards… but skates… I’m a little wobbly. And this coming from a person who loves yoga, and yoga is all about balance and core. *sigh* I mean… I can even do SUP (stand up paddling), but apparently roller skating is more of a challenge.

We’d meet up about once a week, and skate for a “couple” hours. For me, it was more like 1 hour with a rest every 15 minutes or so. Skating is a workout. My thigh muscles were like… “What?! You want to use us?! What’s wrong with you?!” But I did… and I worked up a bit of a “glow” too. (That’s code for SWEAT.) My 2 friends would glide around the rink… I’d… well, it was a glide-stumble type of movement. I mean… I was moving forward, and I could almost do a cross-over movement in the turns. It would take me a few laps to feel comfortable each time we’d go out. Needless to say, my level of skill wasn’t as good as most I saw out on the rink who could do twists and twirls and looked like they were part of the Roll Bounce movie extras.

Anyways… after a few weeks, I got cocky and decided I needed to try different skates. Apparently, (as I was soon to find out) there’s quite a difference between regular roller skates and derby-style skates. OR… the wheels and bearings are just different. In any case, my girlfriend let me try her skates and I put them on and they felt slippery. Sooooo slippery that when I tried to move around a group of women messing with their locker that I did a not-so-graceful fall where legs and arms went flailing. And to my utter-distress, I threw my left hand down to catch myself. I knew NOT to do this, but reaction over-rode thinking. And I landed hard on my left wrist.

What did I do next? I shook it off. That’s right….. I played like it was no big deal, and that I was fine. I got up and did a couple laps in the skates to finish “trying them out.” In reality, my wrist really hurt, and I was convincing myself it wasn’t broken. Did I go to Urgent Care to get it checked out? Heck No! Why would I do that? It still moved and wasn’t turning colors, so I was fine. (Plus, I hate going to the doctor and/or hospitals, so if I can just “deal with it”, I’ll be fine.)

And the skates…. Did I like the skates? Heck Yea! They were easier to glide and turn. And when my wrist heals and I save up a few bucks, I’m getting myself a pair of skates with a set of outdoor wheels to switch out. In the meantime, I’ve invested in wrist guards and wear them no matter how old or inept I might look. I don’t care. My wrists are important to me. I mean… I want to be able to do down-dog and chatarangas again without all the pain shooting through my left wrist.

And in case you’re wondering… I did immediately ice my wrist when I got home. (My dad was an athletic trainer so icing an injury such as this immediately was drilled into me at an early age.) Anyways… know this…. a wine bottle chiller is an excellent way to ice down an injured wrist. So, the whole aging gracefully bit… Yea… not gonna happen as long as I have the wine bottle chiller and ice packs at the ready, I’m good. wrist (2)

Take the Time to Make Moments into Memories

People talk about “making” time. I used to say it myself. But when you think about it… you can’t “make” time. Otherwise, every student in school would find a way to “make” more time to delay a test or a due date or something, and every mother would figure out how to “make” more time to delay their kids from growing up.

But we can “take” the time….for ourselves, for our family, for our friends and for our community.

  • We can take the time to spend with our grandparents (whether they remember it or not.)
  • We can take the time to do lunch with a friend.
  • We can take the time to read to our kids.
  • We can take the time to learn a new skill or hobby.
  • We can take the time to volunteer.
  • We can take the time to enjoy a picnic with family.
  • We can take the time to exercise.
  • We can take the time to escape to a movie.
  • We can take the time to go on a weekend vacation with family.
  • We can take the time to listen… just listen.

But it’s up to you/me/us, to prioritize our activities and take the time to do what we know we should be doing but don’t.

I’ve known for a few years now how important it is not to take life for granted. But it’s just recently that I’ve learned how important it is to “take” the time to do what’s important to you/me and my family.

  • We take plenty of time to work.
  • We take lots of time worrying about the “what ifs” and the “maybes”.
  • We take time rushing around, running around, trying to do more and more.
  • … And we spend way too much time stressing about things we can’t control.

Everyone complains about not having enough time. It’s not about having “enough time”. It’s about making the most of the time you’re given. We don’t know exactly how much time that is. Some have more than others. We just don’t know. I think that’s why we all choose to complain about the “alleged time we don’t have”. So, if you choose not to take some time for yourself or your family, then you damn well better embrace what it is you are spending your time on, and don’t complain about it.¬† While the time might be rough, it’s still your time and you’re the only one that can spend it.

  • Yes, you have work and deadlines.
  • Yes, you have to go to school and you have to take tests.
  • Yes, your kids have soccer practice and gymnastics.
  • Yes, you have responsibilities. You can’t ignore them and you can’t make them go away or vanish.

I’m incredibly fortunate and blessed to have the life I have, and that I can take time this year to do what I want and feel are the right things to do.¬† Life hasn’t been easy but then again, it hasn’t been all that hard compared to others.¬† I try to put what goes on in my life into perspective to what other people in different areas are having to deal with, and I know that I’m super lucky.¬† I have a great family and am surrounded by wonderful friends.¬† I try to say “Thank You” and “I Love You” and give hugs as often as I can because 1) I want those around me to know I care about them and appreciate them,¬†and 2) I’ve learned the hard way that you might not get the chance if you wait for “later” or “next time.”

But it’s up to you/me/us to stop b*tching about “not having time”,¬†and Take the Time to do something fun,¬†something meaningful, something that gives back. So, when you take the time to do something fun with your family and friends, embrace those moments and enjoy the memories. Because while it would be nice to Take All The Time in the world to have fun and play, it’s just not realistic. But every now and then (as much as you can afford) …. Take the Time to Make Moments into Memories.

Stop and Smell the Roses

roses

Life has a way of kicking you in the teeth when you least expect it.

One afternoon you are driving home, tired, and thinking how good it will feel to jump in the pool to cool off and enjoy a cocktail to unwind. The next thing you know, your mother-in-law has blacked out and is in the hospital. Less than a week later, she’s declared brain dead and has passed.

Flashback a little over a month…. you, your husband, your mom and your in-laws are in wine country. Enjoying a trip that was a “we should” and “we want to” weekend to wine country. Well, my husband finally “made it happen” this year because Nascar and his Mom’s 60th birthday were all in the same weekend and the race was in Sonoma. So, this was the perfect weekend to “do it all” and “do it up”.

We spent 2 days… all of us… visiting wineries and enjoying meals and sipping lots of wine. And then Sunday… the boys went their way to Nascar and us girls went our own way to do a wine tour and more tastings. My MIL wanted to do a cave tour and so I found a nice yet smallish winery that had a nice one that wasn’t too taxing because I know my MIL has bad ankles and often tires and pains easily.

As we waited for our tour to start (we were like 20 minutes early), we wandered the garden area near the entrance. It was mostly roses with a variety of other flowers (which I couldn’t name because I’m not good with flower varieties or names.) Anyways… we smelled the flowers and commented on which roses smelled sweetest and took pictures of the flowers. Basically, we were taking a moment to smell the roses.

When our tour began, we learned that we were having a “private” tour because the other folks who had signed up had cancelled. So, it was just the 3 of us with Bernard, our guide. It was great to ask questions and take our time. We weren’t rushed. Bernard explained and pointed out that the roses were more than just pretty features. They were planted at the end of each row of vines for a very important reason. The vineyard manager would walk the vineyard on a regular basis not to just check the vines and the grapes… but to check the roses. As it turns out, if there’s something in the ground that might or will harm the vines, it will surface in the roses first. So, by checking the roses on a regular basis, the manager can curtail or at least be aware of any issues that might be brewing.

So, by stopping to check on the roses (and smell a few), you can accomplish a couple of things. You can check on what’s going on with the ground and the roses and the other items you have growing, but you can also do a self check and look within to see what’s going on with yourself and in your life. So, take a moment, stop and smell the roses. It might be more revealing than you ever imagined.