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April Check-In

27 Apr

Hello, again!
I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from this blog to allow some “float time.”
Vision and clarity can return when I am not pushing so hard to achieve something.
When I was burnt out, I hardly noticed it until I was at the point of complete exhaustion.
I come from a long line of stoics, and we just put one foot in front of the other until whatever-it-is that needs to be done is done.
Sounds pretty joyless, doesn’t it?

One thing I have learned from the Feldenkrais Method is to simply ask the question: “What ELSE could you do?” Exploring variations of actions, verbal expressions, emotional tones, the stories I tell myself, all help to reshape and reframe current circumstances into something that feels more manageable.

I have been lying on the floor a lot to do Awareness Through Movement. The lessons are a way to reconnect with my sensations, put emotions and to-do lists and deadlines aside, and just enjoy moving and discovering whatever there is to discover that day.

The biggest missing piece, you may recall, was that I had abandoned all my creative work, especially my writing. The wonderful site has helped me to re-start and re-habituate myself to writing every day, even if I haven’t been sharing much of it on my blogs. All in due time!

I have also been continuing on my quest to become healthy, so I am actually (GASP!) exercising.

It’s true.

My apartment complex has a pretty good workout room. Most mornings, I go over there before breakfast and spend 30 minutes on the treadmill. Some days I do a little work with light weights, and some days I do do-it-yourself Pilates exercises via YouTube.

A new and welcome addition to the schedule is a weekly vegetable delivery from a local service that brings the farmer’s market to my door. This weekend is going to be a total pig-out to finish up some snow peas, kale, and fabulous salad greens in preparation for Monday’s delivery. I have persisted with my almost-vegan lifestyle, and one result is a weight loss of 55 pounds to date. I have gone from a size 16 to a size 6 or 8. My BMI was 30.9, and is now 22.6. My waist measurement was 44, now it is 33. Some new clothes from the thrift shop, new professional head shots, and some fun new shoes — pink high heels — have provided surprising new energy as well.

Even though a busy time is coming up, as our training program reconvenes, I feel healthy, confident, and excited about new possibilities.

The Burnout provided a chance for me to stop, step back, and reinvent. Reinvent what? Pretty much every aspect of my life, from the way I spend my time and with whom; the food I eat, the thoughts I think, the quality I want to have in all my relationships. I have a different guidance and calibration system now, so that when I start to feel overwhelmed, I can take stock and take steps. Or lie down.

How’s it going for you?

Resilience and Recovery

19 Feb
English: Maria Moline, instructor, coaches her...

Typical ZUMBA Class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something odd (for me) happened a couple of weeks ago.

I injured myself, doing something that, in hindsight, was dumb, results predictable, and entirely avoidable.


Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been attending a ZUMBA class to get myself back into exercising. As I have felt better and continued to lose weight, I’ve also been taking advantage of the well-equipped workout room at my apartment complex. As someone who really hates almost everything about exercise, this is a big step. I don’t really hate exercise. I love movement: dancing, gardening, walking, playing. I dislike the whole mechanized, impersonal, automated, testosterone-driven exercise scene. The rituals and costumes just don’t do it for me. However, I am convinced of the importance of vigorous exercise every day, and have been getting my head around figuring out how to do that.

So a couple of weeks ago, I came home from my Monday night ZUMBA class. I felt really fantastic. My execution of the dance moves was self-scored (I can’t help it!) at about 85%, and I also felt like I had pushed myself, but not too far. I was so energized that I really didn’t feel like eating much for dinner after the workout.

The very next morning, I felt so great that I practically skipped over to the workout room. I got on the elliptical machine for a few minutes. This is a machine that I recognize holds great promise for me, and I have to work on my coordination and stamina to master it. After less than five minutes, though, I felt fatigued.

This was the moment when I should have stopped. However, I switched over to a recumbent bike and pedaled for about 15 minutes. Usually I can do 30 with no problem, so stopping after 15 was the dawning of my awareness that I should maybe take it easy.

I went about the rest of a typical Tuesday, seeing clients and teaching two Awareness Through Movement classes. However, that evening, I was so stiff that I could hardly walk. My right hip felt inflamed, and things did not feel like they were “lining up” in my hip joint. I came home, took some ipuprofen, and went to bed.

No position was comfortable. Wow, I thought, I have really done it. I couldn’t roll over in bed without causing a shooting and terrible pain that made me yelp. So, something about the twisting. . .

Here’s where the resilience came in, and the beginning of recovery. The executive summary is, I was better the next day, have not re-injured myself, took some time off from structured exercise, and have returned to my ZUMBA class. Happy ending. The resilience piece is that I started thinking using the Feldenkrais Method.

  • In the present moment, what movements seem to cause pain?
  • Is there a way to do those movements in a less painful way? (Changing speed, force, size, trajectory of movement)
  • What parts of myself am I not including in the movement?
  • Is there an easier way to do what I intend?

I slept fitfully that night, but each time I awakened, I moved in mindful ways to make myself more comfortable. I found an easy way to roll over that did not tweak and twist my back. I experimented with other silly variations of the movement, exploring for comfort. By the next morning, I got out of bed, stood for a few moments, and took a few tentative steps. No pain!

In hindsight, I realize that I should not have done lower body work so soon after my ZUMBA class. If anything, I should have done upper body work. I returned to class last night, and my continuing experiment is to rest today. I have clients and two Feldenkrais classes, so my “exercise” will be some gentle Feldenkrais and perhaps a bit of a walk. Tomorrow I will return to the workout room, and see if I can do five minutes on the elliptical machine.

After a setback, we can’t always just “get back on the horse” immediately. I had to be willing to take small actions, slow down, stop, think, explore strategies, and allow things to re-integrate. To rush the process is unwise. Of course, I can apply this process and this new learning to other aspects of my life — namely, my overall recovery from burnout — to redefine setbacks as opportunities for learning.  The resilience and new wisdom come from this process of ebb and flow, light and dark.

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