Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yoga Teacher Training

As many of you know, I'm in the process of training to become a yoga teacher. As a part of that training I attend a class every Tuesday night, for three hours, where I learn to break down the poses and teach them to people. I also learn aspects of the philosophy of yoga. The truths of yoga philosophy are deep, yet simple. A lot of people assume that if you're a yoga practitioner, you must be Buddhist or Hindu. Yoga isn't affiliated with any particular religion but encompasses the basic tenets of all religions. I have no real religious leanings. My parents are Southern Baptists, but I never had any interest in tethering myself to a specific religion. I do believe that there is a higher being or a higher state of being. I refer to it as God because that's the easiest thing to do. Yoga philosophy describes God as the divine, whether that be a holy spirit, a figurehead, or the sense of the divine that we all carry within ourselves. Joy, compassion, perseverance, and gratitude are all encouraged in the yogic philosophy. There is no one path to the divine. There are many divergent paths, and it's up to you to choose the one that works for you. In that observation, I see a message of tolerance. We all come from very different places, but for the most part we want the same things.

To make up for the lack of excitement in my last blog post, I'll leave you with a picture from my yoga teacher training class. In the picture I'm in downward dog, and my classmate Elizabeth is giving me an assist to push my hips further up and back.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sophomore Year

Since my last installment regarding the life and times of Michelle Stringer, I know many of you have been dying to know what happened next. Amazingly enough, I rarely ever saw Mr. Nice Guy during my sophomore year of college. He and one of the guys that he roomed with freshman year got an apartment off-campus. Since we weren't on the same track as far as which degrees we were pursuing, we didn't have any classes together. I missed him, but there were other things going on. I was spending more and more time with my girls, as well as exploring more of Boston. I know that's not the answer you were all looking for, but that's the way things ended up being. Looking back on it, my sophomore year was actually kind of boring...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Weight-loss is a Journey, Not a Destination

You may have noticed that I haven't really been doing my weekly weigh-in blog post. The reason for that is to take some of the focus off my weight-loss journey. There will be ups and downs and I need to make sure that I'm okay with that because I'm in this for life. One of my Twitter friends is also on a weight-loss journey, and yesterday she tweeted that her trainer told her that a newspaper wanted to do a story on her and her weight-loss. Her first reaction was "But I'm still overweight." By uttering those words, she effectively negated all of the progress that she has made. I got her to look at it all from a different perspective by telling her it's not about how much work she has left to do, it's about the work that she's already done. When we have our eyes on the prize, that's the only thing that matters to us. That tunnel-vision stops us from seeing the successes that we've already realized. Weight Watchers encourages its members to celebrate the small victories because eventually they will add up to become large ones. In Sanskrit there's a saying "Pada pada" and it can be loosely translated to mean "Step by step". In life we must take all things step by step.

When I get to my goal weight my life isn't going to magically change. I'll still be the same Michelle, just not as heavy ;-). My goal weight is not my destination. It's a milestone along the journey. Once I reach that milestone, it will be time for me to reassess my path and make any changes that might be necessary. Two weeks ago I lost 3.4lbs, which was great, but of course a bit of hubris came in and the following week I gained. I brought myself back down to earth, got back on plan, and am happy to report that I lost 1.4lbs this week.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Young Lurve

I've gotten a request or two for a description of Mr. Nice Guy from my freshman year in college. So here goes nothing. He was tall and lanky with broad shoulders. He had short brown hair and brown eyes, and wore these cute little glasses with round lenses. One of the things I loved most about him was his smile. It lit up his whole face. He was a midwestern boy from Kansas and one of the nicest people I ever met. I think the fact that he was so nice is what made me fall hard for him. After we spent time together on my 19th birthday, I would sometimes hang out with him and his roommates in his dorm room. Whenever I saw him he always seemed very happy to see me and would greet me with a big hug. For those of you who don't know, I absolutely love hugs, so to get a hug from this tall, fine man would always make my day.

One of the not-so-great things is that Mr. Nice Guy had been in rehab back in Kansas at some point during his freshman year at University of Kansas. Apparently he ran with a crowd that was heavily into drugs. One night when I was hanging out with one of his roommates, he came in the room all upset. Apparently one of his buddies from his drug days in Kansas was using again. Mr. Nice Guy felt that his friend was in trouble and that maybe the guy's parents needed to be made aware so that they could step in. He was so afraid to make that phone call to his friend's parents, but like any good friend, he knew it had to be done. I sat on the floor beside him as he made that call, and I could hear the tears in his voice. Much later I thought to myself "I should've held his hand while he made that call", but I didn't. Instead, once he hung up the phone I asked him if he needed a hug. He said yes, and I hugged him tight. He thanked me and told me that I was a good friend. Soon after, I left and went to my room. Little did I know, that situation was a foreshadowing of things to come.

Monday, February 6, 2012

It's Good to See You Again, Michelle

In an earlier post I wrote about the fact that I no longer have a a desire to have straight hair. For most of my adult life I've worn it long and straight. I thank God that I never got it chemically straightened. Actually, that's more than likely the reason why I have such long thick hair now.

On Saturday I went to get it done, and when my hairstylist asked what I wanted her to do, I wasn't quite sure. She had a magazine at her station and showed me a picture of a woman with her hair in an intricate braided style. I told her I really liked it. Instead of braids she did double-strand twists. The end result was this:

For those of you who may be wondering, yes, that's all my own hair ;-). Told ya it was thick! With this hairstyle, I feel liberated. Part of yoga is finding one's true self, and I think that it has helped me to get closer to my true self by helping me to realize that wearing my hair in its natural state has now become a part of my identity. In pictures from two or three years ago when I had straight hair, it looks great, and I look happy. When I think about it, I realize that I still look the same as I did back then. The thing that has changed is my perception of how I look. I am seriously going through a process of awakening.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Freshman Year

As I settled into my new life in Boston, I of course also had to go to classes. A music college is like a foreign land as compared to your standard college. There were general education classes that were required, but for the first two years you focus on music theory and sight-reading music, which means you should be able to figure out a tune when given a sheet of music based purely on the key it's written in and the starting pitch. Because my singing experience was with choirs, those things didn't come very easily for me. I met a girl in my sight-reading class that ended up being a really good friend. We used to do our homework for that class together. She definitely helped me to make it through that stuff.

Because my school was about 80% male, I was friends with a lot of guys. Seeing as I grew up with two brothers and a host of male cousins, I was very comfortable hanging out with guys. I understood their sense of humor and I knew that if I was sarcastic with one of them, they wouldn't take it the wrong way. Some girls have a really hard time with sarcasm. Why that is, I have no idea. Both of the girls that I became good friends with lived on the same floor of the dorm so when I went to see them, I'd have an opportunity to meet some of the guys that lived on that floor, too. One guy in particular was so nice to me. We became fast friends. The thing that sealed our friendship is the fact that we hung out together on my 19th birthday. Initially I was going to hang out with one of my girls (the one who always felt the need to point out my accent), but she totally blew me off. On my way back from her room, I met up with Mr. Nice Guy. He was on his way to Boston Harbor and asked if I'd like to come along. At this point I hadn't done much exploring, so it was nice to be able to take a walk around with someone. We walked through the Public Garden and Boston Common as we made our way to the Harbor. It was a very companionable walk. I don't remember what we chatted about but I remember really enjoying being there with him. Once we got to the Harbor, we sat on the sea wall and dangled our feet over the edge. It was a beautiful fall night and it was starting to get dark. There were boats on the water and the city was starting to light up. I think that night is probably what inspired my love of being outside in the city once night fell. Also, looking back on it, I think that night is when I fell in love with him. He was a beautiful person inside and out and I was touched by the fact that he chose to spend his time with me when he could've been doing a host of other things. At the time, I had no idea that the seed of love had been planted, but over the next couple of years it would grow.