Monday, April 25, 2016

Sending Love to Houston

There are two things that I am the most proud of in my life thus far, my two strong and fiercely independent sons and the endeavor to serve Caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease. During the caregiver's retreat this past Sunday when were beginning introductions someone shouted, "I’m a care-receiver today!" My heart swelled with joy, as this is exactly what our mission is about. Receiving the tools to begin to take radical care of themselves so that they have more energy, joy and peace in their daily lives.

Our 2nd annual Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Retreat received a miraculous gift in terms of weather. The severe storms and flooding held off until the retreat completed. Elm Flats Ranch has experienced some extensive flooding on the road up to the house, but thankfully no damage. Many of you in Houston were not as fortunate. Our dear friends Paul and Aline Houston lost everything in the flooding. If you’d like to contribute in any way, please click here. We wish them, The Woodlands Yoga Studio, and many more a speedy recovery from the damages, and hold you all in our thoughts and prayers.

During the retreat we were honored to serve 40 beautiful 'care-receivers' with the help of 40 giving and talented volunteers. This beautiful retreat was possible because of the dedication, hours and offerings of so many. Please join me thanking the generous donors of time, food, services and/or supplies by supporting their offerings or businesses by clicking here (scroll down to sponsors and supporting their endeavors). Check out the beautiful photos of the day taken by Matthew Paradise.

Passionate about teaching students and teachers in a one to one setting, I’m also very excited to introduce an Accompaniment Program for Yoga teachers and private sessions. See more details below and teachers can book a free session.

Enjoy the beauty of spring, a time of renewal and growth. May each day remind you that there is always time to pause, if even for a moment to catch your breath, reset and start again. Every day, a new day. New hope.

In Joy, 
       Melissa 


"I just wanted to take the time to say thank you for the Caregiver's Retreat. It was a day of relaxation, reflection, recharging and release. I got home last night and felt amazing. I fully intend on using the methods we were taught yesterday. This morning with all the flooding going on, the cable was out, and the Daisies were sleeping late, I used that time to do about 45 minutes of Yoga.... I love my new haircut, and I feel like a new person. Please tell all the volunteers thank you! It means so much and makes such a difference. So, thank you again.”

-Raquel

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My Shoulder Injury

Beginning this month, I'll be chronicling my experience into healing an idiopathic frozen shoulder, both shoulders, actually. Examining the anatomy, biomechanics and all of the different movement and manual therapies, Yoga, diet, sleep, and all manner of advise I've been given and tried for the shoulder... basically everything I've been exploring to heal. 

What's exciting to me about this challenge is I now have a new depth of understanding when a student comes to me in pain. This particular pain is like nothing I've ever experienced. It's rendered doing little things like fastening my bra, gathering my hair in a ponytail, putting on a coat, sleeping (in any position), playing with my boys or doing any weight bearing exercise nearly impossible without sharp pain or simply impossible due to stiffness (frozen) in the joints. 

For a little background on life and how I ended up with an injury which has no known cause... here's the newsletter I sent out this past month to fill you in below. I'm hoping that the transparency of my journey will enable us all to dive in a little deeper into how not only complex our bodies are but also-- to get real. I feel very humbled by all of this- I'm no longer able to do all the things I want to do, and some days I'm angry, other days I feel sad. Most days, I don't dwell on it and plow through best I can. 

Feel free to post in the comments about your own injuries and journey, especially if you've had this condition. I'm listening. And hopeful this journey will grant us both new empathy and resiliency, if not at least more insight to work with clients through a movement I'm passionate about: Yoga (#yogaformerlyknownasyogatherapy). 

***


"As I write this, I cannot believe we are approaching March already. March for me has always been symbolic of pruning, new growth and eventually, blooms. And, this month is no exception. 
My transition to Calgary (from Kuala Lumpur) has been significant, albeit, a little disjointed. A full teaching schedule hasn’t enabled me to really “move into” and become a part of my new city yet. I often feel as if I’m running from one carpool to the next or to one dentist or doctor appointment to another… and time feels as if it’s dissolving at an ever increasingly rapid pace. Do you ever feel like this?

My relationship to time is often how I view my relationship with stress. In this way, stress corrupts my view of time. Each day, armed with a list prepared the day before, I begin valiantly with a short meditation and stretching but often soon after, the day starts to look more like a roller coaster. Rather than being the creator of my day, I often allow myself to become a target and even a victim to time, reacting to events placed in my path almost as if it were obstacles to scramble over. Even going to Yoga (on time) feels rushed. How many of you have raced through traffic only to get to class minutes late and then spend the whole session trying to unsuccessfully calm your mind? As a mom, there’s nothing I can do but embrace the little alterations in plans when my child is sick, needs you to listen to his book report (6 times) or needs to get a new mouth guard or… Likely by the end of the day, I haven’t had moments to care for myself in a relaxing way. 

“So many people come to me asking how could I pray, how should I think, what should I do, and the whole time they neglect the most important question, which is how should I be?”
 -Eckart Tole
As I shift my focus this spring to blooming and adapting, the most effective way I can do this is by learning to find pockets, moments or even seconds where I can just be. Be still. Finding just moments of this, rather than huge unrealistic blocks of time, is equivalent to hitting the snooze button on my alarm. Stress is removed from it’s dictatorship into a more manageable role. I begin restoring my equilibrium (and sanity). 

Then, I look for ways to slow down. 

When I slow down, I feel. I become aware and awaken areas of my life that if I face rather than suppress will reveal new secrets and eventually out of the calm and quiet mind, clarity will come. It’s when I try to seek clarity out of chaos or stress that more confusion results. 

In my own life, I am learning (forced) to slow down through a shoulder injury. The phrase- she carries the weight of the world upon her shoulders has taken on a very physical transliteration for me. Meeting these obstacles from a different frame of mind and at an unhurried pace has allowed me to see myself from a new light. I am still me- only a bit more mindful and a little lighter in spirit. 

Right now. I invite to you to find that lightness by pausing for a moment. After you read this, imagine yourself near the ocean. At the surface, it’s restless, with breaking waves. Allow yourself to slip down below the surface of the water where you find it still and quiet. There is no sound and everything is moving at a silent, soft and steady pace. Stay there for a while and listen for your breath. Then, go about your day with an inner smile. 

                                           With grace,
 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Healing belongs to all of us.


Today, my dad messaged to tell me Marcee, his wife who has Alzheimer's is in the hospital with a serious infection... 
"If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing." ~Zimbabwean proverb
I've never felt like I could really carry a tune but have always enjoyed singing... the connection of singing hymns in church in unison, of chanting corporately, or even singing alone in my car to the radio... brings a feeling of joy.
In preparation for the Caregiver's retreat, I wanted to see what affect practicing the Kirtan Kriya "Sa Ta Na Ma" which is being researched by the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation as a way to improve memory in dementia patients, would have on me. Similar to meditation, the results have been calming, centering.
This past month, I recommitted to (radical) self care due to an idiopathic shoulder injury with changes in my sleep, diet, movement, cultivating true rest and dealing with emotional stuff. Today, instead of worrying about Marcee or busying myself with the urgency of work, I took a nap. I kind of shut down. 
There are times I feel numb about her situation, like I lost her years ago and other times, the freshness of the memories of her old self feels sharp, as I make my coffee the way she taught me to, of her laughter in the kitchen, or if I simply reflect for a moment how my dad must be feeling...
Some days, like today, I just want to crawl back in bed... other days, I feel so invincible that I breeze through, music playing, feet tapping.
After my rest, I took a minute to turn on a song I remember she loved, and then took a few deep breaths and did the chant. I felt calmer -- and more at ease and like I cheated the panic attacks that have been happening lately with ever more frequency.
Mostly, life is riding the unpredicable waves with as much grace as I can muster. We all have our daily rhythms and learning to mindfully synchronize the emotions with endeavor makes the fluctuations less drama-filled, more calm.
Moving toward my most healthy, content self is more than positive self talk or "aligning my chakras". It's a huge shift to put my self care first. Saying no to great projects, asking my kids to do more at home, and asking for more support from friends. 
It is a moment to moment practice where I am empowered to choose freedom from stress and pain, even when that pain is present, I can navigate my response to it with a little more clarity, a little more singing, a little more movement in my body.
With the retreat just a little more than a week away, I feel grateful that myself and more than 40 volunteers will be able to share some tools for self-care in honor of Marcee and my dad. 
Healing belongs to all of us.

#EndAlz

To register or share about the Caregiver's of Alzheimer's Retreat, Click Here.