Monday, February 28, 2011

Natural Shiva Lingam

Every year I get this natural ice sculpture outside of my window. Today I looked for it and it was knocked over. Maybe because it was delicate in parts this time. With a month still of winter potentially, there may be some more lingam development, but if not, it'll be back next year.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

So it's a Fibroid (fibroidasana)

The technician wasn't supposed to tell me but she did. I have at least one really big fibroid, which may very well explain why I've been having the symptoms associated with having fibroids. But it's not for sure the reason and who knows - maybe a doctor - one that I'll go to see soon. And in case you're not following the links, having a big fibroid is not going to kill me or have me out of commission or anything. It's a nuisance, it drains my energy, and it may require surgery, but it's not any kind of cancer or anything like that, so don't worry.

I feel relieved on the one hand. Relieved to know there was "something" likely causing my symptoms and it's not just early onset menopause (I wish at this point). Relieved that other people, even people in my family, who've had to deal with this and are fine. Even the tech who did my ultrasound shared that she'd had some removed, had a procedure that's used to take care of this and she said her energy is back, she feels great and has the period of a 16 year old again (very light)!

It turns out that the medication I took for 6 weeks to try and address some of the issues I was having likely made the problem worse. Ooops. Oh well, guess I just wasted some time and 60 bucks on pills and made it so the problem is that much more acute.

I guess I'll be holding the pose of "fibroidasana" now. I'd like to handle it naturally, of course. I've never had an operation, I even had my baby on the bed at home, and I'm not that into being put to sleep by a general anesthetic. However, I'm not totally against it and if that's the route I'm supposed to take, I'll take it.

While I wait for a confirmation of what the tech saw (technicians work Saturday mornings but radiologists don't) I'll keep gathering information (especially on natural remedies). I'll breathe into the sensations (it's on my left side covering my left ovary in case you want to do a visualization that will help shrink it with me). I'll relax and know that it's a sign of life (a life that's getting older in a body that's showing signs).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

At that Invisible Place

I’ve gone invisible. I haven’t been blogging for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is that there’s a health issue that’s been going on for sometime that’s started to make me feel like my body’s out of control. As a yoga teacher to have my body feel like it’s out of control is extra scary – isn’t part of my job to be healthy? So what happens to me if my body breaks down? Can I teach? Do I have a job?

The way I teach right now, the answer is pretty much no, I don't have a job. I teach to people as a contractor, so if I don't show up, I don't get paid. I don't make money for workshops I design and have others lead, I only earn money if I'm on site. That has always felt honest to me, but with the health stuff coming up, it feels pretty risky. If I have to take a week off, there's no money coming in, and no promise that I'll get my classes back or my workshop spots back or anything like that. That's one of the aspects of being self-employed in the service industry that's unripe and makes me understand while people do form unions and create safety nets, but it's also one of the things I have appreciated about it from an entrepreneurial point of view.

Being a full time yoga teacher, able to teach classes regularly, take the time to design course materials for workshops and trainings, and be available for student's correspondence, means I don't have another job. Lots of yoga teachers work full-time at jobs and then teach yoga on the side and I would recommend that's how people for sure start out because earning enough as a teacher to not only be paid for your time but enough that you can save to have benefits or savings or take a vacation, is unusual. Lots of us live simply so we are willing to earn what seems like a lot of money per class at times, but when weighed out over time, isn't very much at all. We don't teach yoga for the money, let's put it that way. Or what seems like a great income when you and your family are healthy may not be there when you get sick or need to take extra time away with your family.

So hopefully we yoga teachers will stay healthy long enough to share yoga with people who want to learn. And over the past year I took on a project to earn money for myself and other yoga teachers as an alternate source of income and another way to provide teachings of yoga (that's the company, Capital Yoga Publishing). It's still a baby and won't pay for my vacation anytime soon, but it's a start.

The invisible place is being a woman in my 40s who's now for sure out of my youth. My periods have gotten heavier and way longer. As a result, I have low iron and I'm afraid to check again because I must be anemic by now. I've seen my doctor, I've tried hormone replacement, and I'm waiting now to see a specialist. My energy is zapped, I'm numb in parts and even though I practice yoga like I used to, I feel nervous and not sure if I'll have the energy to do everything I've got planned for my day. When I'm on the spot, leading a class for 90 minutes, sometimes I'm not sure I'm going to make it through the whole class without having to run out to the washroom to deal with the menstrual flow. Sometimes I've had to leave the class and run out and come back. Yoga is also taught these days in tight pants. They're comfortable but often revealing, so to wear enough support means having it show through the clothes, which can feel awkward. The whole thing feels awkward. I'm in a place at the moment where I would welcome menopause. My period keeps me up at night many nights and I've been having it for well over a month.

This doesn't happen to most women in their 40s. It won't happen to many people but apparently it runs in my family and I'm not sure how to handle it. It's scary on a physical level and if I had the kind of job where I could just excuse myself briefly and that was normal, maybe work life would be okay. But as it is, I'm on, eyes are on me, and it's tricky.

One of the courses I teach that's been actually something that has made teaching through this change in my body is the teacher training. The groups can be working together and if I have to go to the washroom every half an hour it's not a big deal. Sadly, I won't be teaching the training in the summer as I had expected. The centre where I teach is also feeling scared and wants to broaden their safety net of teachers. So they've decided to have someone else lead the summer program and I'll be back on for the fall they've said. This is motivating me to move my teachings in a direction where I can lead more groups the way I'd grown to love in the teacher training format and not have a centre decide if I'm teaching or not. It's going to take some time to develop ways to be an independent teacher, especially a way to market and advertise courses, but I think I owe it to myself to create work in my field as a yoga teacher, that's more secure or feels more that way. Obviously no one's secure and things can change at any time, but at least making a plan for it seems like a good idea.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Project Get Good Sleep

I wasn't always a terrible sleeper. As a child I had no problems sleeping. As a young adult sleep did not elude me. I think it was after my daughter was born that my sleep was disrupted enough and over time it wore on, wore me down and a decade later, sometimes it's really hard to get solid sleep. I also think that as we age, uninterrupted sleep is harder to get, but I'm no expert.

This past summer I noticed that I was feeling sleep deprived and stressed more than usual and I took it upon myself to develop some guidelines to give myself a chance to have a decent night's sleep when I needed it. These aren't everyday guidelines necessarily, but are the big guns I use when a solid night isn't imperative (that would put too much stress on the situation), but is likely. Then I can be fortified the next day with the knowledge I had a good sleep, I get the real benefits that come from having a good night's sleep, and the relaxation that comes from knowing I've done what I could to take care of myself.

Most of what I'm going to type here is common sense and you can probably already find loads of articles about these items. These are my personal guidelines.

Project Get Good Sleep Guidelines:

Go to sleep at the Right Time. Be in bed ready to sleep before 11. By 10 is even better. But not too early. Not before 9:30.

Eat the Right Amount at the Right Time. For me this means I can't go to bed hungry or else I'll wake up, and I can't go to bed full or else I'll be digesting and that will wake me up. So dinner after 6 and before 7:30 is what works for me.

Don't Drink Too Much Alcohol. Too much wine makes me sleepy but then wakes me up in the middle of the night. So if I've had anything to drink, I try to make it happen with dinner so it's all done by 7:30.

No Talking After 9. This isn't strict, but I try not to talk on the phone or have any conversations that are going to require that I think a lot or have any emotional content before bed. I'll talk by texting or maybe an email, but I try not to gab after 9. (This is just for Project Get Good Sleep, remember?)

No Electronics in Bed. Again, not strict, but I don't have a TV in my bedroom anymore and if the computer's in there, it's limited to low key activities. I put the wireless devices on airplane mode so I don't get email. The strict version has no computer, iPad, phone, nothing that will beep or light up.

Hot Bath. I find that after I take a hot bath, I'm dopey and good for just about nothing but sleep. So a hot bath is key for me in setting the tone for bedtime if sleep is what's in store.

Responsibilities. If I have an inkling that tonight might be a night for Project Get Good Sleep I make an extra effort to tie up loose ends during the day, so I don't go to bed and wake up remembering to do something important or wondering if I shouldn't handle such and such.

Exercise. Making sure that my body has had sufficient exercise makes Project Get Good Sleep more likely. It's also a way to get tired - tire out the body in a good way.

The Bed. Not that high up on the list obviously, but fresh sheets, the Perfect Pillow, room temperature and brightness/darkness, can also factor in, so I make sure I'm set up to be not too hot, not too cold, not woken up by the lights of downtown, and all of that good stuff.

Opportunity. Project Get Good Sleep is not something you may be able to have every night. If you're living a full life, there are many nights you're out late, you're eating late, you're having a blast and travelling and having fun with friends or working on exciting projects until the wee hours. These are guidelines for the times when you have a chance - or you need to build in a chance - to get a good night's sleep every once in a while. I find the more I tackle it and know that when I have a chance I'll get a good night's sleep, I'm more relaxed on the night's when I can't, and I know that I have it in me to create a night of good sleep for myself.

And there you have it. Jamine's personal guidelines for Project Get Good Sleep. Thanks Twitter, for asking!