Monday, January 30, 2017

6 Benefits from 21 Days of Yoga

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Well, I've been taking a yoga class 6-7x a week since January 4, and guess what ... I feel better.

I'm also annoyed because it's not like this is a huge revelation. I'm stubborn, and I don't like it when other people tell me what to do. So hearing, "You should do yoga," would deter me for like, another year. I'd try it out on occasion, but would never commit.

The good news to come out of Mom's cancer diagnosis (I haven't talked about it much on here, but if you Google "what cancer has the lowest survival rate" or "what is the worst cancer to get" you'll see what she has!) is that it has forced a lot of self-care. I'm an only child, and pretty much the ONLY downsize to being an only child is the whole being the caregiver when parents fall ill. Fortunately, I've got a huge support team of friends, and if they warned me of anything, it is to take care of myself. I am trying.

The only change I've made so far is going to yoga every day. It's a huge luxury because it requires basically a 2-hour chunk of time where I need someone to watch the baby (the 4-year-old is in preschool). My sister-in-law has been watching the new wee boy. There is no way I could have otherwise afforded to pay for both a yoga class and a babysitter every day. Believe me, I recognize this privilege. Remember that I have been used to solo parenting 200+ days a year, and my sister-in-law only came to live with us in December. It's been HUGE for my ability to practice self-care.

I've not managed to increase my time spent with music or writing, but here are the benefits I've seen so far, 21 days in to a regular yoga practice:

  1. I feel stronger. I'm not quite as hesitant to carry my baby down the stairs or lift him out of the bath now. 
  2. My posture is better. I still like to cross my legs and relax, but I find my spine is a little longer. I honestly feel a little taller. 
  3. I am not as tired. My kids are not sleepers. The baby nurses several times a night and wakes up with teething pain or belly issues or a diaper need or just wants to party for a bit. I took my FitBit off with rage months ago because knowing that I had "374 minutes awake" was not helpful. I am not sleeping any more now than I was pre-yoga, but I don't feel as tired. This seems crazy because I sweat and pant during yoga class. But again, like they've been telling me for years ... endorphins make you feel better. 
  4. I feel less stressed. Much like however many times you explain physics to me, I will never understand how an airplane stays in the sky, however many times you explain exercise in terms of neuroscience, I will never understand why it helps improve my mood. Life is intense right now, but my mind is more calm than it was. I think a huge part of it is that yoga is providing me more than just exercise: it provides that sacred alone time.
  5. I am more social. No secret that I have massive social anxiety. Going to a new yoga studio that first day was terrifying, and I still get butterflies when I don't recognize the person behind the front desk. But there is a yoga community up there, and even though I am nervous to find new community, it is good for me. I am forced to utter a few sentences every day to someone who is older than four. I'm getting there.
  6. I'm sleeping better. Notice I said I'm sleeping "better," not I'm sleeping "more." My kids still wake up at least 4x a night, and I'm nursing the baby multiple times. But most of the time I am able to fall back asleep relatively easily, which is new to me. 

Okay. I don't want to be a yoga evangelist, but I do want to admit when I am wrong. And for many years, I suppose, I should have been doing yoga. Oops. No time like the present, right? Now if I could just find a way to play music and write for an hour a day, I might dig my way up to zero.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Weekend review: The Sound of Music & a saw gig!

Wee Angus has been a really great baby (except for the sleep thing, but honestly, I had very low expectations there), but I've really been feeling sad about missing out on time with my first Wee Boy. He is at the most fun age, and he is just so happy and good and such a fun person to be with. But I'm tethered to the baby, and it's hard to even enjoy a game of poker when the little guy is trying to eat the cards. I know "they" say that love doesn't divide; it multiplies. But time divides, and it is very hard to divide quality time equally.

This weekend, however, I got a one-on-one date with my 4-year-old! It was the best. We went downtown to see The Sound of Music at the Kentucky Center. Our seats were high in the balcony, but a very kind woman offered us her extra box seats when she saw us heading towards the nosebleed section. It was so sweet of her and such a perfect way to introduce Graham to big musicals.

Though I've had a lot of negativity in my head lately (I'm SAD, people!), I'm trying hard to focus on the positive. A huge positive is having a 4-year-old with the state-of-mind to sit through a 3-hour Broadway show, with curiosity and comprehension and appreciation and wide eyes. It was so fun to see him light up when they sang "Edelweiss" and "Do-Re-Mi" and to welcome him onto my lap for some snuggles during the wedding scene where he wanted to lean in and kiss me.

Oh, he is just the best.

Also, Louisville people, the new restaurant at the Kentucky Center was delicious! There is a kids' menu, but the Wee Boy and I shared some of the regular tapas -- even though we got fettuccini, which is basically a grownup version of butter noodles. We also shared a tasty salad and some truffle fries.

It was so much fun. The only sad part is that the tickets were my mom's, but she has been knocked down from last week's chemotherapy and couldn't make it. I'm hoping she's feeling well enough to take him to The Little Mermaid next month though.


This weekend I also played a very cool event at the Kentucky Science Center. Mostly I played musical saw, but also taught a couple of quick saw lessons and made some spontaneous music with the women who put together a cool musical interactive exhibit in the stairwell. Also, I ate a lot of treats. The caterer had made the entire solar system out of cakes! Here's Earth; it was delicious:
Here's me all dressed up in real clothes, ready for a gig.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Me, doing yoga.

All that boasting about my newfound daily yoga practice yesterday, and I skipped this morning! But I was helping my mom take a 3-hr test that required breathing into a tube every 20 minutes, and yoga just didn't fit in that schedule. I did drag my mat out of her car and move around a few rugs in order to stretch a bit in her living room. Then I took a yogie selfie of myself doing Downward-Facing-Dog because I was impressed that I could get my legs straight and my heels down.

Check me out, friends:

I put it on my Instagram (@brigidkaelin), you know, like you're supposed to do when you do yoga, but I'm feeling a little proud of myself which means I'm completely missing the point, I know. I'm less proud of being flexible and more proud that I have actually done something so many days in a row. Follow-through has not been my forte lately, especially in a time where it is impossible to plan more than a day in advance because of medical appointments, etc.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday confessional: I've been doing yoga.

I've gotten a bit out of shape in the past two months. Oddly, lots of people seem to think I've lost weight (and I have lost the baby weight, but I lost that before anyone started commenting on it), but mostly I've been a lazy bum.

Confession: Since my mom began chemotherapy in December, I have had her car -- you know, lest I need to run errands for her or take her to the hospital at 3 am. It also means I've been driving the 0.3 mile to the grocery and 0.5 mile to preschool and the 0.5 mile to her house. It's ridiculous.

In light of that, I have another confession: I have been going to yoga.

You might be thinking: this is an artist who is also a vegetarian, who doesn't own a car, who had a home birth ... of COURSE she does yoga, right?

Well, I've done a few yoga videos and podcasts here and there, specifically prenatal ones to prepare for birth, but I've only ever been to a handful of classes over the past 10 years. I have not actually ever enjoyed a yoga class.

Truthfully, I don't like group things -- except bands. My social anxiety kicks in, and even though I know yoga isn't about the other people, I still feel like there is always someone there who is either super loud about how healthy he is or who is doing handstands at me ... "as a warmup." I'm trying to not care anymore, even though I do wish I could wear an invisibility cloak to class.

But in the past 14 days, I have been to 12 yoga classes. 

I'm not going to lie and say that I love them -- yet. But I love that I have gone to them. I love being a little bit sore. I love being able to touch my toes again. These are much more fun than any previous classes I've attended, and I look forward to them. The front desk crew knows me by name now (and offered a bit of therapy after class today), and I've even brought my mom to a couple of the more gentle classes.

But, secretly, I think I really like the ones that make me sweat.

I skipped a day last Friday, and that afternoon I was an irritable, complaining and generally horrible person. (I know, I know, I'm too hard on myself.) I'm not sure if it's the exercise, the meditation or perhaps simply the alone time, but something about having done yoga makes my head a lot lighter -- what a revelation, right?

I have questioned whether blocking out a 2-hour chunk of my day to use a babysitter and not focusing on my career is the smart thing to do. But I'm sticking with it a few more weeks -- at least until I can go up the stairs without panting.

Today I went to a morning yoga class and the babysitter offered
to stay extra so I could get some writing done and work
on my taxes. WINNER. 
Shout out to my brilliant sister-in-law who has been watching the baby, so I can go get sweaty. Folks, it's amazing what having another adult around the house has already done for my well-being.

Thanks for the nice folks at 502 Power Yoga for opening shop within walking-distance of my house -- although, who am I kidding? I've driven my parents' car to every class so far. (Face-smack)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2017: New Beginnings & Planning a Routine.

You have noticed that I haven't blogged as often as I would have liked to lately. Partly that is because of depression -- something I don't hide, but also don't flaunt. Partly that is because I don't have time; I solo parent 200+ days a year. Partly that is because I've got a lot of stressful things going on. Like, big stuff.
Family photo! 

My mom is sick again -- cancer sick -- and it's got the whole family doing a lot of thinking and over-thinking. Life, death, taxes, deeds, mobility ramps, adventures ... things that we would have like to continue putting off thinking about for many years, but that have suddenly been forced to the forefront.

Something that has improved life immensely: David's oldest sister has come to live with us for a while.

If you know me well, you know that David's job for the past 3.5 years has been 80-100% travel. I didn't advertise that on my social media pages because I didn't want the world to know that I was the only adult in the house most of the week. That silence also meant I couldn't properly vent. It meant I couldn't properly explain why my musical and writing career has suffered or why I haven't seen your band play yet.

David's sister being here means that there is now another adult in the house. You would-be burglars can't touch us now, and I get to (I hope) get back in the groove of writing, meditating, yoga-ing. Okay, so I've only really ever done writing regularly, but I'm hoping to add the others into my life for some sort of mental stability and physical release. At the very least, it allows me to take more showers during the week and maybe even to leave the house once the kids are asleep.

I have often said I need to blog more often. I say it again today as a recognition that this blog is my first outreach post. It's a line-item that is easy to check off. It reaches people in a different way than a simple Facebook post. It is somewhat more personal than a tweet (though Twitter has been my most-used media in recent years), and it's not forced in your face in the way a Facebook post so often is. It requires a click-through, and for that, I thank and acknowledge you. Right now, that's my only connection.

I'm working on it. Routine will be my friend this year.

Talk to me about your routine -- what works for you and how you maintain it. (And don't tell me you get up at 5:30am 'before your kids wake' because my kids wake at 5:30, so #notgonnahappen.)