Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Where Did My Feet Go?

The question of "Where's My Belly?" has been definitively answered. If I went to the movies and sat in the back row, my belly would be in the front row. Now the question is, "Where are my feet?" 'Cause truly, I can't see them anymore when I look down.

Pregnancy has been good to me thus far. My skin is glowing and radiant like it was back in high school, minus the pimples. I haven't thrown up a single day, and my energy level is still pretty good (well, it's only 24 weeks, so we will see how long this lasts). The baby is healthy and behaving like a human octopus, kicking me in every possible place I can think of and amusing the heck out of my husband (who likes the sight of my tummy bouncing around from the inside).

The only issues I seem to have are a) trouble sleeping and b) these GOD-AWFUL leg cramps. Several nights now I have woken up with painful charley horses in the back of my calves, and all I can do is hold on for dear life and pray that it releases. I've read up on these leg cramps (the Internet is awesome), and they suggest a few that really cracked me up was, "Stand on a cold floor or surface." Are you kidding? I can't even get out of bed during the cramp or suffer my husband to touch me during a cramp, let alone limp over to a cold floor/surface and stand a while.

The sites also give conflicting messages. says it's a lack of magnesium (this is what we have also learned during Herbalist training). My doctor says it's a lack of potassium. And still other web sites say it's a lack of calcium, though the more I read, the less support there seems to be for the lack-of-calcium theory.

Either way, I have started making changes. I started rotating my ankles while sitting, stretching my calves more frequently, and to test out the potassium theory, eating 2 bananas a day (sucks for me that I am one of those banana-haters in the world, their mushy texture just repulses me). I'll also start walking for 30 minutes each day (now that the move is done!), and keep my fingers crossed that I don't wake up to more unholy pain in the middle of the night. And you know, I think I am overdue for another Pregnancy Massage. Luckily, I know a GREAT place to get one. ;-)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Of Stroopwafel and Cellular Memory

This week, I experienced my first deep tissue massage with the amazing Bettina Roether. As I mentioned in my blog about my massage with Chelsea, I have some “preeettyyy gnaarrrly” knots in my upper back and shoulders, which cry out for relief. Those areas certainly found some release with the assistance of Bettina's strong and skillful hands. The massage was both powerfully therapeutic and potently relaxing. Bettina's ability to identify and articulate what was happening with my muscles really impressed me as well. She told me how building some more muscle tone and strength in my body could cushion and buffer my joints, which I never knew. Hopefully, my yoga practice as well as my jazzercise class with Pavia client Mckenzie Ector will take care of that!

Bettina also commented on the fact that my left shoulder was actually more contracted than my right, which surprised me because I feel the most tightness and discomfort on my right side. As she worked deeply into the back of my left shoulder, gently and firmly coaxing the muscle fibers to expand out toward my left arm, I breathed deeply to assist my body in releasing. At that time, a very pleasant impression started to bubble up into my consciousness. As I let it take form, I realized that it was a memory of my trip to visit one of my very best friends in Amsterdam in April of 2007. I saw gentle sunlight falling on the charming 16th century row houses and cobble stone streets. I had the warm, delicious sensation of enjoying one of many stroopwafel cookies that I consumed on that journey as well.

Perhaps I was just having a nice memory as I entered a deeper state of relaxation. However, I have often wondered what the connection of such memories could be to certain movement in my body. Especially during yoga sessions with one of my former teachers in New York, I would have very sweet and enjoyable memories arise quite regularly. I particularly remember a very vivid recollection coming back during one class. It was as if I had been transported to the beautiful back yard of my grandparents' home in Richmond, Virginia. So much feeling came with that impression. I felt the pleasure of the sunlight, smelled the pungent, woody scent of the boxwoods, and remembered the feeling of being blissfully alone in a secret and magical place.

According to Wikipedia and other sources on the web, the notion of Cellular Memory takes life only in anecdotes and fiction. Apparently, it has never been scientifically tested or proven. Well, then, it hasn't been disproved either. Many psychologists recognize that traumas can be stored in the body, so why not other memories and experiences? Most energy workers that I know, such as Theresa Hatcher and Brian Rainie, experience Cellular Memory as an absolutely valid and real element of their practice. I don't know just what holds the answer to the mystery of these bright, vivid, and loving memories arising during body work for me—but I am so grateful for them nonetheless.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Purpose, Passion and Prosperity at Pavia with Life Coach Laura Rice

For the past year Laura Rice has been first my life and love coach, and now my personal friend. I'm so excited to say that she will be teaching a class at Pavia on the 28th. Let me tell you a little bit about her! Laura's life story is an inspiring road map for following your passion and your intuition. Through her Life Purpose Coaching and Seminars for Women, she is helping her clients both design and live their own such unique plan. Just a few years ago, however, Laura was living in Oregon working as a high school teacher. Each day at the job, she was feeling her creativity and enthusiasm drain away. But as her desire to leave her unfulfiling job and live out a larger life purpose grew, so did her fears. She knew that she wanted to be a life coach, but didn't know exactly what that was. Laura also worried about how her husband and family would react to the news that she wanted to leave her financially stable but increasingly stifling position.

After gathering the courage to finally share her dreams and desires with her husband, she found a very pleasant surprise in his warm and supportive response. That one conversation then lead to a year of traveling the country and adventuring in an RV, getting life coaching herself, enrolling in the Life Purpose Institute of San Diego, and eventually moving to the warmer climes of the Santa Cruz coast.

Through her five step program 'Claim Your Purpose & Create Prosperity,' Laura helps women to have more clarity, less frustration, and more financial abundance in their lives. She describes a central function of this work as, "Helping women to find their own internal permission and make choices based on that." Sometimes that task begins with something as simple as reconnecting with your own personal preferences. Laura finds that women often lose sight of their own desires and get stuck in what she refers to as "Auto-Nurture." Fortunately, bringing more joy and excitement into your life seems to be the best catalyst for positive change. One client found that she experienced more synchronicity and enjoyment in her life after making the simple yet delicious decision to treat herself to a caramel latte once a week.

Laura's clients are reporting making more money and having more fun than they ever thought possible. I'm already noticing a positive upswing in my finances since completing a five week program with her. Results are very important to Laura. One client just fulfilled her dream of opening up an Adventure Boating business in Minnesota, another launched her Hypnotherapy for Weightloss Business and made more money in a day than she usually makes in a month. Committing to your passion, purpose and personal enjoyment--what could be more fun and rewarding?

Laura Rice is offering her class, 'Unlock Your Life Purpose & Make Money Living It' at Pavia on Sunday, March 28th at 6pm. To register, give us a call at 408-741-1555

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Moving to Tranquility (Hopefully)

With a baby on the way, our one-bedroom apartment is officially too small - we would have had to put the new addition to the family in the kitchen sink. My husband and I have therefore elected to move! The good news: we found a great duplex in Sunnyvale. The not-so-good news: we've lived in the same apartment for the last ten years and have accumulated, accordingly, ten years of crap.

We have been packing each and every night since March 1st. My schedule is: work, come home and pack, eat, pack, sleep, then go to work, come home, pack, etc. Rinse and repeat. The apartment looks like a disaster area, with exploded mounds and piles of junk and papers and knick knacks and whatnot lying about as hazards.

I recognize, of course, being the spiritual athlete that I am, that this is a great opportunity to release "old things which do not serve me anymore," serving as a metaphor on the physical plane for all of those unwanted belief systems, attitudes, and philosophies that I should probably also be trashing on the metaphysical plane. I know that an uncluttered home leads to an unfettered mind, that you can't allow new things to come in without releasing the old. Yup, I am exceedingly familiar with all the usual adages and aphorisms. It's just that doing the physical work is so durned hard.

I started out by putting things into two piles: Things-I-Want and Things-I-Don't-Want-For-Sure. I saw that the first pile was still much bigger than the second, and much bigger than I had originally envisioned. So then I divided the Things-I-Want pile into the Things-I-Really-Want-to-Keep, the Things-I-Have-To-Keep-for-Legal-Reasons, and the Things-I'm-Attached-To-But-Cannot-Articulate-Why. It was this third pile I started going through and examining inner attachments as to WHY I felt I had to hold onto them. An example: my old trophies from the days I used to compete in beauty pageants - I never outright won any beauty pageants, by the way, but I did earn Miss Talent in one and First Runner-Up in another. After much meditating, I realized I had entered those pageants in the first place to somehow prove to others that I was pretty - as if they couldn't decide for themselves upon looking at me. It was a way to strongarm their perception, as it were: "You don't think I'm pretty? Well, here's a TROPHY to prove you wrong." And since then, the years have marched on with inexorable precision, so those trophies are essentially ways to prove NOW that I was once beautiful, even if others disagree or can't otherwise tell today.

But at 37, my self-esteem is no longer in the hands of others the way it once was at 23, so guess what? Out with the trophies, the tiara, the dresses, the sashes, etc. etc. I have my photos and my memories, and that is good enough for me. I felt SO GOOD to throw those silly things in the dumpster, positively lighter and brighter. Now, if I could just convince my HUSBAND to take this same approach...........

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Losing One's Home--Where We All Come From

My Mother was planning to visit California for Easter. She was hashing out the complexities with my sister and I all last week. First, she would be in Portland for a business conference. Then, she would fly into San Jose to spend a week with me. Then, she and I would drive down to LA together to spend Easter at my Sister's home. Afterward, she would fly home to South Carolina.

With a dog-sitter in place, and United Airlines policies sussed out at last, it seemed that her visit was a go. But Wednesday, an email appeared unceremoniously in my inbox. Mom was telling my sister and I that she had finally gotten in to see her gynecologist, and it was decided that she needed a hysterectomy next month. Her California visit was canceled.

The news of her upcoming surgery was a shock to me and sent me straight into a spiral of fear and worry. Why did she need a hysterectomy? Couldn't something be done to stop this? Would she be okay? Who would care for her afterward? What was going on? My heart raced as I contemplated the possibility of the unspeakable "C" word...cancer.

I also had read recently about the very high percentage rate of post-menopausal women in America who had had their uterus removed. The source questioned whether the procedure was always necessary or just an outdated safe-bet for doctors. All these things ran through my mind. I kept returning to the vision of my mother, lying in a hospital bed, just waking up from the anesthesia after her emergency appendectomy and hernia surgery five years ago. I saw how pale and thin she looked, but she also had a fine, luminous beauty about her. I acutely felt the tenuous nature of our physical existence, and both our eyes filled with tears of relief and gratitude as I held her hand.

Another thought kept coming into my mind though, it seems selfish and almost too crass to repeat. I thought, "How can these people take away my home?" Not just my first home, but the place where I was actually created, and my sister as well. How can something so life-giving and sacred simply be removed, and cast aside? And what then? Where does it go? I shuddered to think.

In my studies of the energetic body and energy healing, I came to firmly believe that every part of your body not only has a physical purpose, but a conscious and energetic purpose and place. I do not believe that we can open our bodies and remove something without losing more than just cells and tissue. So, I worried for my mother's healing process, not just in her physical body but the many other layers involved.

Thankfully, I was able to speak to my Mother on the phone that evening. She told me that she had a prolapsed uterus. This condition occurs when the muscles, tissue, and ligaments that hold the uterus in place fail, and the uterus begins to collapse. I had never heard of such a thing, and it did not seem right or fair that it was possible. It sounded like another monster emerging from the hidden vaults of female being, along with all the scary child-birth stories girls begin to hear in their 20s and 30s. I wished for any way to save her from the physical discomfort and emotional strain she was facing. But I was comforted knowing that her trusted gynecologist and another specialist will be performing the surgery.

The following day my sister sent mom and I this article from Dr. Oz. I scanned his words in vain for any alternative process for a prolapsed uterus. It looks like I won't be able to save my home. But this experience has given me a renewed commitment to my own female health and body awareness. And I hope to be there for my Mom during this difficult aspect of womanhood to assist in both physical and energetic healing.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What's Tantra Got To Do, Got To Do With It?

Last week my boyfriend performed the ultimate act of coolness.
Camouflage in downtown Santa Cruz was holding an Introduction to Tantra class, and he actually came with me, willingly. As you can imagine, this greatly impressed his general awesomeness upon me. I thought, "It takes a real man to Tantra, whatever that means!"

Before the class we both confessed that attending such a thing took us both out of our comfort zones. I knew from the flier for the class that there would be "no nudity or explicit activity in the class." I knew that Tantra was an ancient practice related to yoga that used the essential and elemental energies of masculine and feminine to build and release ecstatic energy. I knew that it could create more pleasure in your life and more intimacy with your partner. That's about all I knew, but I wanted to get in on that--even if it required some touchy-feeliness that elicited awkward giggling.

Fourteen attendees gathered in the front room of Camouflage, singles and couples alike. We sat in a circle on yoga mats and blankets. The workshop was being taught by a man named Luke who runs the business Tantric Joy with his partner Jan. You can see their website and read more about Tantra here. Luke was a handsome fellow in his 30's with a straight forward and knowledgeable attitude but a great dry sense of humor. No overly-thin, ponytailed instructor in tie-dye with ooglie eyes and an exaggerated smile. I was more comfortable already.

Luke gave us an overview of the history and different practices of Tantra. He lead us through some breathing exercises and reviewed the body's seven primary chakras as well as the sound to activate them. At one point the class lined up in two rows facing one another. We broke away from the partner we had previously pared up with. We moved down the line, spending a few minutes just gazing into the eyes of someone who was a total stranger. We attempted to truly see them as a whole individual and send love to them. I would have thought that this exercise would be extremely difficult for me. But I actually found it to be such a beautiful and profound experience that I just wanted to hug these strange women whom I had been both staring into and opening myself to for only a few moments.

The class finished up the evening by returning to or original partner or "buddy." My boyfriend and I stood facing each other. Luke instructed us to put our right hands out to touch the other's heart. We then covered our partner's hand with our own hand, and gazed into their eyes. We stayed like that. I felt a powerful flow of energy between us. I also felt surprisingly shy. I thought, "Wow...look at the way he's looking at me... I think this guy really does love me... I think I really love HIM!..."

I had to suppress an awkward giggle.

It was a powerful evening, and a meaningful introduction to this ancient philosophy and practice that many have heard of, but few have experienced.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's a GIRL!...and other musings...

Yay, we found out we're having a baby girl and we are just over the moon. Somehow knowing the sex of the baby makes her more real to me...rather than referring to her as "the baby" or "the cub," I've been using her name and for some reason I have not examined, it crystallizes it a lot for me ("It's really happening!").

I also attended our "What's Your Real Age" health seminar given at Pavia by Dr. Kim Millman, MD, PhD, this past weekend and have now been motivated - no, galvanized! - into changing my diet and exercise patterns. As a vegetarian for the last 13 years, my diet consisted of carbs, carbs, carbs. I figured, hey, bread is vegetarian! Cake is vegetarian! Cookies are vegetarian! And when I got pregnant, I used it as an excuse to eat even more of those items ("Hey! I'm eating for two!"). As for exercise, what exercise? I get no exercise unless you count taking the 3 flights of stairs to my cubicle 4 days a week (at my consulting job). So, diet was bad, exercise was nil.

This is all going to change as a result of the Bio-Impedance Analysis that Dr. Kim gave me. I was so mortified at the results that I don't know if I can share them. Well, first of all, I am 31.8% body fat. Are you kidding me? I am almost one-third fat? I think that qualifies me as obese. None of my other measurements -  phase angle, ECM/BCM ratio, fat mass, etc.- are where they "should be" either. That little slip of paper has really served as a kick in the pants for me. No longer will I put my own health or that of my daughter's at risk.

Dr. Kim recommended that I up my protein intake (eggs or tofu, since I don't eat meat), my intake of category 1 veggies, and take more EPA/DHA (fish oil). She also wants me to make sure I get my daily supplement of nuts (so I raided Trader Joe's and bought out their inventory of walnuts, pecans, and almonds), fruits, and category 2 veggies (the veggies that are waxy and convert directly to sugar). I also started an exercise regimen last night, with the hubby calling out the number of reps I have to do. I was amazed at how quickly I got winded (yes, I was deep in self-denial), and so I feel really grateful to have this chance to change my health and my life!

It's just like what I've been saying about getting pregnant at 37: Better late than never, right?