Posts Tagged ‘insights’

My thoughts on my biology class.

I loved my sixth grade biology class. Most specifically, I loved my teacher, whose passion for the subject was contagious. On a personal level, he was one of my allies throughout middle school, and I would often visit him at the beginning or the end of the day as he stood outside his classroom. 

And then I didn’t take a biology class for years and years. My high school had “integrated science,” which was really more like ecology – it included biology but only hit the basics here and there. Maybe it was mainly the teachers I had and not just the material, but I was disappointed and didn’t feel engaged with it. I did take chemistry my junior year. I liked my teacher, but I often struggled with the material. I remember that it often took me a while to balance equations.

In college, I remember being interested in taking biology of plants, but I never took it. I took astronomy as my lab class, and psychology fulfilled the rest of my natural science requirements (yes, it fell under that category at my small liberal arts college).

So I was anxious about stepping into a biology classroom again this semester. My class would involve both a lecture and a lab with different professors for each. What if I didn’t have enough of a foundation?

My lecture professor began my life sciences biology class with a cautionary warning: to pass the class, we would need to study extensively. If we were taking several other classes, she would recommend dropping at least one. See, the class, even at the community college level, has a 60% pass rate.

Later in the semester, she would explain that she was telling us because it was the truth, not specifically to scare us. I admit that it was intimidating to hear and I wondered if I was out of my league.

Luckily, I wasn’t. I’m not. Yes, the class is challenging. Yes, the exams are hard: a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and a short essay question (requires a five-sentence answer). My professor is very thorough. She wants us to learn to apply the material and not just memorize it.

She is also, in my opinion, a great professor. She gives great analogies, she uses good visuals, and she’s expressive and personable. 

I’ve been recognizing that I may have pigeonholed myself somewhat in what “type” of person I am in an academic setting. I have always been a good student. I excel at the humanities, languages, and social sciences. I’m creative and love doing art. I was often less interested in and struggled more in math. And science…I think it was mostly that I lost interest. Maybe it was that I didn’t have great teachers for the most part. Maybe it was that other subjects interested me more, or the structure of classes at my college, or a combination of all of the above. But at some point in time, I decided I was not a science person. 

I’m doing well in the class. I’m loving learning the material and feel like I’m filling in gaps where I was missing information. Yes, I study a lot.  The sheer amount of material is challenging. And I’m also getting a lot out of it. So maybe I can be a science person, or maybe I’m a little bit of everything. It doesn’t have to be either/or. I don’t have to redefine myself entirely, just expand my view of myself and my interests to include another subject that I enjoy.  

As the semester approaches its end, I find myself feeling relieved that it’s almost over. I’m certainly looking forward to having more free time and less stress. I’ve also found myself thinking, “I’m going to miss the class so much!”

Clinging to the in-between time

Sometimes it feels that there is a like a quieter, almost suspended piece of time in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Perhaps it lasts a few days more.

It’s January 6th. I find myself wanting, as I often do this time of year, to hold onto that feeling of quiet. Tomorrow, many activities start again at their regular pace. My husband’s first full week of work, uninterrupted by any holidays, begins tomorrow. I’ll put up a few ads for more proofreading work, resume my Nia classes, and send some e-mails out. As a freelance proofreader, January can be slow sometimes, so perhaps I will have time to clean and organize things. I’m planning on taking a class at the community college this semester, but that doesn’t start for another two weeks.

Since Winter Solstice, the days have grown longer, slowly, minute by minute. But they still feel long. There is currently snow on the mountains above Las Vegas, and sometimes the temperatures dip to freezing in town. It’s not wintry weather by some people and place’s standards, but it is wintry for us.

I often feel like slowing down this time of year. I’m generally more tired; my moods have a tendency to dip lower. Hibernation sometimes sounds appealing.

I’ve seen so many messages over the past week about starting the new year “right,” to make lists, clean up, work out more, make plans. All of these things require direct action and the energy to do them. For me, this time of year isn’t necessarily about renewal; it’s about slowing down and listening deeply. This doesn’t mean I won’t make goals or won’t start new things, but it means I might do so less energetically – or at least with more consideration of my energy level – than I might in another season.

So, as much as I sometimes wish there was a way to “pause” time just for a little bit, my hope is to honor where I’m at and how I feel, take care of my obligations, and take small steps towards my goals. Right now, I have no specific deadlines; that may change tomorrow or another day soon. I will savor the stretches quiet time when I can, and find the quiet moments between things when life gets busier.

Nia Blue Belt Insights: My relationship with FloorPlay.

I started writing a post that summarizes my experience at my Blue Belt training. And in truth, it didn’t really touch it. I can use adjectives like amazing, life-changing, but that doesn’t really give you a picture of how it touched me.

Over three weeks later, I am continuing to integrate the material. I imagine I will be integrating for quite some time. The Blue Belt training, the second belt level of Nia training, focuses on communication, relationships, and intimacy. I just opened the PDF version of the Blue Belt Learn book on my iPad and turned to the first principle: the Joy of Being in Relationship With — with another, life-force energy, etc. So in honor of that, I’m going to create separate posts about how my relationship with my Nia practice, myself, life, other people, is shifting in response to my experience at my Blue Belt training.

I’m beginning with FloorPlay, which is both a Nia practice and a Blue Belt principle.

My relationship with: FloorPlay

I am predisposed to like being on the floor. I don’t remember a time when plopping down on the floor didn’t feel like the most natural thing in the world. In the living room, I am generally more likely to sit down on the floor against a couch than sit on the couch. It is fairly easy for me to get up and down from the floor. So, generally, I like being on floors and I appreciated that moving and playing on the floor was part of Nia.

And yet..sometimes FloorPlay in Nia felt muted to me, like an obligatory extension of cooling down and yet not quite a cycle unto itself. FloorPlay is the sixth of seven cycles in a Nia class. So coming down to the floor is often an expected part of any routine. I understood that it was supposed to have a conditioning element, but how often did it really feel like it? I liked being on the floor and moving there, but I sometimes felt like something was missing.

NiaStudio floor

The studio at Nia Headquarters

After spending most of a morning on the floor during the training, I gained more of a felt sense of FloorPlay conceptually and as an embodied experience. We spent time on the floor concentrating on areas of our bodies we wanted to self-heal. We played with conditioning and experimented with how it felt to exercise versus move. Moving is easier, smoother, less forceful, more flowing, more energy-centered. I realized that I could do the same action, like crunches, from an exercise approach and a movement approach and I would feel and experience it differently.

I gained a deeper embodied experience of what it meant to play on the floor. I had moments where I felt giddy in the revelation and expression of play. I can gain a similar feeling I had as a child rolling down hills at a park as I play and move on the floor.

Now, after the training, I crave more quality FloorPlay time. I want to intentionally spend time on the floor, not just as a part of a routine, but a practice of conditioning, self-healing, and play.  I look forward to what this practice will teach me, how it will add to my experience of my body, myself, and Nia.

I am now the proud owner of Nia kneepads to help support my body with this practice.

kneepads

Kneepads!

After that morning’s FloorPlay session, I was texting my husband about it. He said, “I’m glad you’re such good friends with the floor.” I said, “I could be even better friends with the floor.”

Disappointment, acceptance, begin again.

Last Tuesday morning, I was ready:  ready to write a blog entry about May Day, ready to begin teaching a new Nia class the next day.

And then the sharp, shooting pain started, enough that at one point I curled up in a fetal position on the floor. After hours in urgent care, the verdict was kidney stones, which I’d never had before in my life. If I have any say in the matter, I’d greatly prefer not to experience that kind of pain ever again.

That blog post still sits in my drafts folder, but is now outdated, irrelevant.

I had to call that next morning to say I couldn’t teach that Nia class that day, and hoped to start the next week (today). But largely due to past disappointments about someone else not making it to teach numerous times, people ended up losing interest. They weren’t willing to go again. The studio owner called me today to cancel the classes. Completely out of my control, all of it.

Having the kidney stones knocked me down for several days; the pain gradually receded to a dull soreness and exhaustion. Each day, I’ve gotten a little more energy. Now, I don’t feel quite 100% yet, but I’m getting closer.

Part of me thinks: this is a lesson in acceptance. Sometimes things happen and other things happen as a result. I did not hold control or blame in having kidney stones or losing the class. I also cannot pretend that it would have been helpful in any way to try to teach a first Nia class somewhere while that depleted and in pain.

I used to hate when my ex would say, “It is what it is,” but that’s true sometimes (Granted, I used to think that she said it in a way that really meant, “Life sucks, so just suck it up and deal with it.” I don’t mean it like that). Sometimes things happen, and they can be unfortunate and disappointing and invoke all kinds of emotional responses.

Earlier, I had a moment where I wanted to say to the people who wouldn’t try going to another Nia class to give me a chance. But I don’t know them. They don’t know me. My health issues aren’t personal to them. They don’t know that I would only miss teaching a class if I absolutely had to; they do know of the others who weren’t there to teach and disappointed them.

I can reason and rationalize and say that it was a huge unknown anyway, that it was a risk, that I didn’t know how it would go. And that’s true. But meant to be or not meant to be, that class isn’t happening anymore due to circumstances beyond my control. And maybe there is a better opportunity. Perhaps there will be another opportunity. For the moment, maybe not. In the meantime, I’m still teaching my one class per week, learning more routines, and continuing to practice Nia in my living room.

And I can allow myself to be disappointed, to let unfulfilled anticipation slowly ebb away in its own natural time. It’s a new beginning, a new activity that did not come to fruition. I need to step back for a moment before planting new seeds.

Whatever else is true, I have to have a kernel of faith here that my next ongoing class, wherever I teach it, will work out. Faith and hope are crucial for trying again. So maybe at some point,  I’ll reach out to another place, and see how it goes from there. Even in the midst of disappointment, other potential new beginnings are out there.

Practicing mindful existing.

Watching from the second-floor window of the doctor’s office where I waited for my doctor to come in and see me on Thursday, I noticed a cat wandering around the grounds below. I first saw the cat by the bushes, where it unsuccessfully stalked a group of pigeons. It then walked closer to the entrance of the medical center, where other people noticed it and tried to coax it to come to them (being a true cat, it didn’t).

The sky was a bright blue that began to fade as the afternoon went on. I looked at the details on the nearest palm tree, the patterns on its tall trunk.

I also noticed details inside the room as well, such as the new technology of a tablet-like device on the wall that flashed images and different offerings: from an anatomy library to contact information about support groups. I didn’t go up to it to investigate further, but it still caught my attention every so often.

Sitting on the exam table, I practiced several of the Nia moves with hands and fingers: finger flicks, creepy crawlers, finger extensions.

By knowing roughly the time I got in there and the time I left, I could estimate how long I was in there. But during the time I was waiting, I didn’t look at my phone. I didn’t know what time it was or how long it had been.

In the past, I might have allowed myself to space out while waiting in a doctor’s office. I would drift off, allowing my thoughts to wander from this to that. Ultimately, I would detach from my own experience. That no longer feels like an appealing option, especially since it can mean that I might feel out of my body during the actual appointment, which doesn’t improve the overall experience or how I feel afterwards.

During my time in that office, I was practicing mindful observing and existing. I could have grabbed my phone or my iPad from my purse and given myself something else to do, but I didn’t. It wasn’t about impatiently waiting for the doctor or thinking about what I would do once I got home. I gave myself quality quiet time just to exist.

It’s often hard for me to carve out time like this, as there are often things to do at home, and I often go places with the specific intention to actively do something. But perhaps I can find more opportunities like this and create the space to just be.

A resolution towards more gentle self-talk.

Last week, I accidentally hit a button on my phone that somehow ended up with Instagram recording me live in a tired and vulnerable moment without my knowledge.  I had just gotten home after a busy day without a full night’s sleep the night before, I was muttering to myself, and I was having somewhat of a sensory meltdown. I turned to my phone and realized it was recording live video…and that there were at least two people watching, one of whom was an acquaintance who I’d seen that day.

I alarmed her, and she did message me and then called me out of concern. She had good intentions and meant well. I hope I reassured her enough. I had to remind myself that I don’t owe anyone long explanations on why or when or how. It was enough to tell her that I was really tired, that I was safe, and that my husband would be home soon.

Aside from feeling embarrassed and self-conscious that I could so easily accidentally record my own actions while I was alone and completely unfiltered, I’ve also had the thought: I need to speak more kindly to myself, even when I’m alone, even if there’s no one around to hear it. And that’s not because I might accidentally hit that record button again, but because it’s better for me. It is less distressing overall and keeps me in a more open and less reactive emotional state. Speaking gently to myself helps me receive myself with more love – even when, and perhaps especially when, my energy is low.

While I don’t really remember the exact words I might have said in this instance, I do know that I do sometimes say things to myself at home that could be distressing to someone on the outside. Sometimes that’s out of habit, coming out of a past where I did mean those things in a more harmful way. Sometimes I say something and what it really means is, “It’s hard to function right now. I need to rest.”

But no matter what the reason, there’s other ways to comfort myself and meet my own needs. It’s also an importance practice to say what I mean. It’s a lot more affirming to say “I need rest and quiet right now,” rather than “I don’t want to deal with people anymore, ever.” The “ever” adds a sense of extreme finality; I may not want or need to interact with people in that moment, but the “ever” part is not actually true.

So, here’s to not accidentally hitting that record button again. I also resolve to work on speaking gently and truthfully to myself, whether I say the words out loud or not.

From 34 to 35

It’s about 9:30 p.m. on the eve of my 35th birthday. And so I write to 34 before I turn 35.

34

sometimes, I felt in between
settling in,
living a full year
in my new home.

some hesitation
what’s right and when and how

and also: finished a course. started a new business.
got clients. making money,
working from home on my own terms.

contributing more to our household
cherishing the love we have that grows stronger and
stronger each day.

it’s still hard to give myself credit
for all I have done
all I am doing
it’s a work in progress —
I am

giving myself more:
sunlight
dancing
walks
time to be

thank you, 34,
and all you have brought me and
taught me.

35, right in the middle of the 30s,
maybe not significant in some big way
an age demographic shift in surveys
where the choices are 25-34 or 35-44

maybe time is running thinner on some things
but it’s expanding in others

welcome, 35, whatever you bring
whatever I bring into being this year
as the day turns,
I shed this age and take on
another.