taking care

Running the Road to Nowhere

Like so many people this year, I’ve been combatting my cabin fever with exercise at home and outdoors. Fitness today is not the same as it was pre-pandemic, you know when we had races to train for and studio classes with our favorite good vibe tribes. BUT at-home workouts have been a marvelous way to manage stress during this crazy time, and I am thankful to have remained healthy through the last several months. 

I feel proud of myself for “not skipping a beat” and maintaining an active lifestyle despite all the closures and quarantines and disruptions to life, but I have noticed something I can’t ignore: I am completely burned out. I have not raced since late winter and haven’t really strived for much beyond my average weekly mileage for months now. Yet somehow, I feel as though I’m running the road to nowhere.

Sometimes we ignore the signs

This is not an all-of-a-sudden feeling either. If I’m totally honest, I’ve been low on motivation for many weeks now. At first I thought it was just hot, then I thought I just needed to double down on my routine, or push through it. Before long, the self-doubt started creeping in; maybe I am out of shape or no longer passionate about fitness.

Why and how can this be? It feels like I’m not doing really anything, so how can I be tired of it… Does this feeling of shapeless fatigue sound familiar to you? 

As I stop and think a moment, it occurs to me that what I’m feeling is a combination of guilt and fatigue. I feel spent yet I don’t feel I’ve done enough to warrant a break. 

Rest does not have to be earned.

We talk a lot, especially on The91Rewind, about the importance of rest and integrating it into our self-care routine. And the truth is this: rest is not something we deserve only after a monumental effort. It’s not something that we must earn. Rest is a vital part of keeping our engines running and our living our best life. 

While I haven’t been out there killing trail races every weekend, or getting promoted at work, or teaching sold out handstand workshops, I have still been doing my gosh darn best. And that – particularly in today’s current and colorful climate, takes a great deal of effort and energy. Living necessitates rest. Not living well or maximally, or heroically or any other superlative…just living and surviving the day to day entitles us to a break now and then. 

So I’m going to press  P A U S E …

Just like our cell phones, without regularly and intentional recharging, we will eventually run out of batteries.  Don’t wait until you think you’ve earned it (you already have) or worse, until it becomes your only option. Let’s be proactive and practice rest just like we practice anything else.

Have a great month, friends! And give yourself a little break now and then!

Living Well

Don’t Forget Yourself

November is well underway at this point. Halloween has come and gone, Thanksgiving is just around the corner with other winter holidays following close behind. It’s a busy time of year, which for many of us will only get busier. While you’re running around gifting and giving this holiday season, don’t forget yourself.

I say this because I’ve noticed that in my own life, the self-care rituals I really enjoy are the first things that drop off when my schedule picks up. We all have responsibilities and must be flexible at times; it’s part of adulting. But we usually sacrifice those little things that bring us joy when we need them the most. Head’s up-I have one way to ensure you get yourself a little TLC before the holidays, (and at 15% off too) but you’ll have to read on for that.

When the tasks pile up, I feel like I don’t have time to take care of myself. How can I possibly go to yoga when I have so much to do? I can’t spend an hour cooking when I’m already behind on this project…Sounds familiar, yah? I think many of us have felt this conundrum. FELT being the key word. 

If only I had more…Subconsciously I believe if I can require less energy/time/food/sleep/whatever I can have more energy to channel elsewhere. While it would be cool, this logic doesn’t say much for common sense. The truth is that we have to take care of our needs if we’re going to be of any use to the world. And speaking of the world, it will continue to turn regardless, so you may as well make yourself a priority.

Simply put, we cannot get something from nothing. I think it was a third grade science lesson that I first learned that matter can neither be created or destroyed. It can be transformed though and embody different states. I like to think about human energy in the same way. Our energy can ebb and flow but it is present at all times.

Self-care is one way we can transform our energy. Spending time generating good feelings can help us feel rejuvenated and refreshed. A few months ago I had an opportunity to recharge my energy at a local yoga retreat hosted by my dear friends Lauren and Cici. It was the perfect way to reconnect with myself and my yoga practice in a playful and friendly atmosphere. Here’s a little recap of my Day Pass experience.

The retreat was located nearby at The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain in Chapel Hill which is about 40 minutes outside of Raleigh. I couldn’t go for the whole weekend, but I was able to purchase a Day Pass to attend the Saturday sessions. This was perfect because it allowed me to enjoy a TON of great activities like multiple yoga classes, workshops AND yummy snacks, at a great price.


Photos courtesy of JME PhotographyPhotos courtesy of JME Photography

Photos courtesy of JME Photography

I arrived at the farm and was greeted by the sweetest little goats just in time to gather with the group for a quick cup of tea. We said hellos and headed upstairs for an energetic morning vinyasa lead by Lauren. About 75 ass-kicking minutes later, I was roused from Savasana by the scent of roasted sweet potatoes. Magically, there was a delicious brunch spread waiting for us after class. It thoughtfully included every possible dietary option with labels to help clarify… very nice touch!

After brunch, we had a couple of hours to explore the farm before we resumed our afternoon activities. I took a walk down to the adorable Honeysuckle Tea House to get a cuppa and chat with some of the other retreat goers. To my surprise, everyone had the same story. We chose to attend the retreat because it was perfect for a last-minute Treat YoSelf activity. 

We reconvened in the afternoon for a workshop focused on demystifying the “bandhas” which of course, lead to an upside-down yogi recess. Even with many different levels of experience, Cici was able to get everyone playing with the concept of arm balancing. SO FUN!


Photos courtesy of JME PhotographyPhotos courtesy of JME Photography

Photos courtesy of JME Photography

After this empowering but exhausting hour, Emilee from Healer’s Hemp Co gave us a crash course in all things Cannabis. She offered some insight on dosing and what to look for as you shop. Raleigh Raw came through with a create-your-own poke bar which was a huge highlight for me. I just LOVE Raleigh Raw and I got extra cashew sauce this time. 

Our evening yoga class was inspired by Yin and Thai massage and was a perfect way to conclude such a physical day. We partnered up for some assisted stretches, which contrary to my expectation, was not weird at all. (By that point in the day, we were all very close friends, ha!) The class was gentle and relaxing and it left me feeling restored but still alert…I had to drive home after all. 


Photos courtesy of JME PhotographyPhotos courtesy of JME Photography

Photos courtesy of JME Photography

After a fireside s’more, I hugged everybody–literally everybody at the retreat, goodbye and headed home. I was so blissed out, I don’t even think I turned on the radio.

So, with the Day Pass I got way more than I paid for…multiple yoga classes, knowledge, delicious foods, fellowship with awesome yogis AND I was home before 11pm! It was amazing and I highly encourage you to join Lauren and Cici for a day at their upcoming Winter Immersion Nov 21-24. For 15% off, use the code DAYPASS15 when you check out. Visit the retreat website to sign up; the discount is valid until Saturday 11/16.

As the holidays draw near and you’re giving everything to everyone, don’t forget yourself. You deserve TLC as much as the next guy or gal on your list. When things get crazy double down on the joy mongering. Make time for fun so you can smile your way through these wild times. 

Whether you commit to your weekly fitness class, family dinners or spending a day (or maybe the whole weekend) at an amazing local retreat, DO NOT forget yourself this holiday season.

in love and light,

E

taking care

go with the flow

The last several weeks I haven’t felt like myself. I feel stuck in slow motion. Everything, from getting out of bed in the morning to deciding what I’m going to have for dinner, takes so much energy. I suspect it’s because I’m off my routine, which now that I think about it, I haven’t really had a routine in a couple of months. I like to think of myself as a whimsical and fun person, but the truth is I’m really not. I crave scheduling and checklists. I like to know exactly what I have to do and when I need to do it so I know exactly how much time I have in between. I can plan to be spontaneous, but it is hard for me to go with the flow.

I can set out for a run with no route, I can teach a movement class without a lesson plan, I can even strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, but I cannot just go with the flow. It drives me crazy to have “tentative” plans. I manage a lot of activities/hobbies/jobbies and my perception is that I’m far too busy to just “kick” it. This perception is precisely why I feel so listless after weeks of enjoying myself and earnestly trying to go with the flow.

Since September I’ve been out of town a lot, some for work and some for personal things. I’ve run a few races, I’ve visited with my friends. I’ve really had a lot of fun! I am an adult so that means I am in control of my own programming. I chose to make all these plans for myself and break my routine, so why do I feel so exhausted?

I had the great fortune of taking a yoga class with a dear friend

and gifted yoga instructor Cici recently. It was a “Yin” style class that included mostly passive stretching poses. I’ve never practiced this style before, but I knew it would be different than what I was used to. The objective of poses in a “Yin” sequence is to create sensations in the body; to stimulate relaxation by putting the muscles on a deep stretch.


Cici and Erica co-teaching an outdoor yoga classCici and Erica co-teaching an outdoor yoga class

Cici and Erica co-teaching an outdoor yoga class

What that means for a person like myself, (a compulsive mover who self-medicates with exercise and pot cookies), is that I am encouraged to slow down. To get the full experience of each pose, Cici instructed us to go to 60% of our max and that let our breath carry us the rest of the way. That probably sounds kooky, but it resonated with me. As I entered each pose, I was careful to leave some “room”; by the last few breaths I moved deeper in some of these stretches than ever before.

It was a pretty amazing experience. I didn’t do much other than choose to be present in the moment. I noticed the subtle changes with each breath, took inventory of how I was feeling, and when it felt good, I let myself go a little further. With Cici’s calm energy guiding me, I was totally “getting it”, and feeling so proud of myself for this awareness and intention. And then, she shared a quote with us, “Going with the flow is choosing to yield to life’s changes instead of fighting against them…”   

Suddenly, it hit me: I have been doing a lot of fighting against the ways and whims of the universe.

By trying to have a routine and add in all sorts of other things, I confused “going with the flow” with “being on the go”. I’m finding these are remarkably different philosophies. “Being on the go” means that I’m bogged down with obligations; doing one thing, but already thinking about the next, or worse lamenting something that didn’t go well earlier. When we live like this, we aren’t fully participating in life. We miss the present.


spontaneous handstands during a run in downtown Atlanta, GAspontaneous handstands during a run in downtown Atlanta, GA

spontaneous handstands during a run in downtown Atlanta, GA

Truly going with the flow doesn’t mean you say yes to every single activity.

It does not mean that you plow through life at recklessly high speeds leaving little time for rest or recuperation. Going with the flow means living one day at a time, remembering that today is new and different than yesterday, and appreciating that tomorrow will be new and different all over again. Going with the flow is deciding to take a walk instead of going to the gym because the weather is nice. Going with the flow is seeing an old friend at Target and making plans to get together THAT MINUTE instead of saying you will text them sometime.

If I take a step back, the dissolution of my routine did not result in a universal catastrophe.

I was not careless with my time or dismissive of my responsibilities. In fact, I planned all of this craziness months in advance. I had a sneaking suspicion it would leave me feeling overwhelmed, yet I did it anyway (tips on making better choices to come in a future post…maybe.)

I’m sure this won’t be the last time I over-commit, overextend, and overwhelm myself, but now I have a little more clarity when it happens. I can accept that I can’t have my routine and disrupt it at the same time. I can accept that there are only 24 hours in a day; that once they pass they are gone forever. I can choose to be present, to own my time and how I choose to spend it, WITHOUT FEELING REGRET!

There will be times where the routine falls off, where we must choose between what we *believe* should do and what we want to do.

In those times, we will do well to remember the choice is ours to make how WE SEE FIT. If we only focus on deficiencies, on what we could be doing instead of what we are doing, we miss the present. When we allow ourselves to get excited about what lies before us , even the little stuff, everything changes. After all, being present is a choice.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Bill Keane (or more importantly from Kung Fu Panda 3):

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, which is why they call it the present.”

If you guys have not had a chance to flow with Cici at 110 Yoga, take her class. It’s a real treat!

Namaste,

E


sea animals are experts at going with the flowsea animals are experts at going with the flow

sea animals are experts at going with the flow