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Experience Life Magazine

Build Your Own Winter Retreat

Like most of the United States, we’re in the throes of the polar vortex here in the Twin Cities. The cashier at the grocery store told me when she heard the high temperature was going to be below zero — again  — she noticed her sense of humor about the whole thing had died. Perhaps it was frozen.

In any case, it’s easy to feel low on insight (and patience, and humor) after enough sequential days of challenging weather, and most of your friends are likely feeling the same, so here’s an outside perspective.

Chicago-based tantric vinyasa yoga teacher Jim Bennitt just returned from teaching a retreat in Belize, and in his most recent newsletter he shared these suggestions for how to take a retreat at home. (They are so reasonable they are obviously produced by a properly sun-soaked brain.)

5 Tips for Winter Equanimity (from yoga teacher Jim Bennitt):

  • Get to bed early, preferably before 10pm
  • Wake up just before dawn and enjoy watching the sunrise
  • Practice sun salutes and meditation before you check emails
  • Book a massage
  • Take a 15-minute nap (or yoga nidra) in the afternoon.

Try them yourself and let us know if anything helps thaw your funny bone.

Courtney Helgoe is an Experience Life senior editor. 

Experience Life Magazine

Overcoming an OCD — With Words

trich-org

Image via Trich.org

The most amazing, wonderful, exciting — dare I even say it, miraculous! — thing has happened to me: I’ve finally stopped pulling out my hair.

For the past 20-plus years, I’ve suffered from this odd disorder, which I think started when I was a kid. I liked to twirl my hair and suck my thumb. Like most kids, though, I eventually quit sucking my thumb; the hair-fiddling continued into high school, when it took another form.

I remember sitting in algebra, hand in my hair, and finding an odd strand. It had a different texture and didn’t quite belong. So, pluck! Out it came.

The hair pulling started fairly slowly: An odd hair plucked out here, and an odd one pulled out there.

Then I went to college, which came with an amazing amount of anxiety. I found myself pulling more regularly and soon noticed a bald patch forming in my “hot spot” (which happened to be my bangs at the time). I was able to move the hot spot to a less noticeable area.

I had no idea why I pulled my hair out and was extremely frustrated by it. People would tell me to just stop (oh gee, thanks, I hadn’t thought of that!), and worse, some would even swat my hand away from my head and tell me to knock it off.

The pulling and “helpful suggestions” went on for years. Then one day a word and its definition popped up on my Merriam-Webster screen saver: Trichotillomania.

It was as though a whole new world had opened up. There was a name for what I was doing — and I wasn’t alone.

A Breakdown of Trich

Trichotillomania is pronounced trik-uh-til-uh-may-nee-uh and is called trich for short. The word is broken out as follows:

  • trich = hair
  • till = pull or pluck
  • mania = madness/frenzy/love

It basically means that someone with this disorder “loves” to pull out their hair.

Trich falls into the spectrum of an obsessive-control disorder, but is classified as an impulse control disorder. It affects about 3 percent of the female population and about 1.5 percent of the male population. Doctors don’t quite know what triggers it, and there is no known cure.

Trichsters (a nickname for ourselves) pull out everything from eyelashes and eyebrows to pubic hair to large patches of hair from their heads. Some people will also bite off the bulb of the hair or eat the entire strand (which leads to another more complex disorder, trichophagia).

Some trichsters are so obsessed with pulling their hair out that they will sit for hours simply pulling. The disorder can have a major affect on their work and social life.

I’m a lucky trichster: I have one smallish hot spot on the side of my head that takes the brunt of my pulling and the disorder doesn’t interfere with my daily life. It can, however, be rather embarrassing. There’s the constant need to have my hand in my hair, which can make professional situations a little awkward, for instance.

For those with severe trich it can be worse, given the visible affects of missing large patches of hair on the head or missing eyebrows or eyelashes.

Solution Seeking

Once I found out that my odd compulsion had a name, I started researching the condition in an attempt to overcome it. I tried many things:

  • Behavioral therapy (putting the pieces of hair into an envelope and counting them didn’t work for me)
  • Hypnosis ($350 later and no results)
  •  EFT or tapping
  • Meditation and prayer
  • Wearing gloves
  • Sitting on my hand
  • Playing with a koosh ball (a distraction technique)
  • Participating in a research study at the University of Minnesota
  • Taking N-Acetly-Cysteine (NAC), a supplement that has been found to have decent results for some trichsters (taking two to three pills three times a day was a bit much for me, though).

I’ve wished the disorder away countless times, always wondering, “Why do I have this crazy disorder?” I get angry with myself and swear I’ll never pull another piece. I tell myself, “I’m done, that was the last pull,” only to pull again five minutes later.

Every once in a while my compulsion will come on extra strong. I’ll end up pulling a few strands out at a time and, subsequently, get really angry with myself. When this happens, I go online to see if there’s anything new on the subject.

A Declaration of Independence

During a recent episode that left me with four strands of hair between my fingers in one quick yank, I went online to see if there was anything new on trich. I stumbled upon an article by another trichster (unfortunately I can’t find the article to link back to, so my apologies).

The author wrote about how she had participated in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is a psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness to increase psychological flexibility.

The ACT therapist told the author that she needed to take control of her impulses — they were in her control. (Really? If they were in our control then we wouldn’t pull.)

The author needed to sit with the sensations she was having and not pull (if you’re not a trichster, imagine a fly landing on your bare arm and not swatting it away — stressful, right?!). As she was sitting with the urge to pull, the author was instructed to say five simple words:

“I don’t do that anymore.” (Seriously? Just like that. No putting hairs in envelopes or tapping?)

So, I decided to try those five simple words, inserting “pull my hair” in place of “do that.”

I sat with an urge to pull, and didn’t pull. And when the next urge came, I sat with that urge again and thought, “I don’t pull my hair anymore.” I didn’t pull. And then the next urge came, and I thought “I don’t pull my hair anymore.” And so on.

And you know what? I don’t pull my hair out anymore.

I do still play with my hair and have the compulsion to pull, but when the urge presents itself, I come back to the phrase “I don’t pull my hair anymore.” I’ve even gone an entire day without  an urge to pull!

I’ve been pull free for over three weeks now. It’s truly amazing and wonderful, and I consider it a miracle since I’ve wished for decades to be rid of this disorder.

Those five little words are like the golden ticket for me — a declaration of independence, if you will. It’s not a wishy-washy wish, or a statement filled with anger or frustration directed at myself. There’s empowerment and control conveyed in that simple phrase.

I share this simple phrase and story with you because I hope it can help you, or someone you know, stop something that they’ve “wished” away  for years.

Whether the “do that” of the phrase is “eat chips,” “bite my finger nails,” “eat second desserts,” “smoke,” “swear.” Whatever that “urge” is for you, I sincerely hope the power of your language can help you take control of it.

It has for me. I’m ecstatic to report, that after more than 20 years, “I don’t pull my hair out anymore!”

(For more information and resources about trichotillomania, please visit trich.org.)

TELL US:  What behavior have you been struggling to overcome? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @ExperienceLife. 

Christy Rice is Experience Life‘s circulation coordinator. 

Experience Life Magazine

“Stealth Meditations” for the Workplace

Real Happiness at Work by Sharon Salzberg

The book jacket for renowned meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg’s new book. Image via SharonSalzberg.com 

The stress and pressure of the average workplace doesn’t always bring out the best in people, but there’s no better place to develop real equanimity. (It’s kind of like New York City — if you can make peace at work, you can make it anywhere.) Renowned meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg’s new book, Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace, offers some “stealth meditations” you can build into your workday to help you find grace under pressure a little more easily. Here are a few to try:

“Try to perform a simple, conscious act of kindness each day. It can be as simple as holding an elevator door.” (18)

“Unitask! Focus exclusively on just one thing for a small portion of time. Try setting a timer for 15 minutes, so you can focus without straining.” (34)

“If you’re on a conference call, refrain from checking your email or doing another task at the same time.” (44)

“Every time you feel bored, pay more acute attention to the moment. Are you listening carefully or are you multitasking? Try to be fully present with just one thing.” (51)

“For an upcoming one-on-one conversation, resolve to listen more and speak less.” (144)

TELL US: Do you have any strategies for centering yourself at work? Comment below or tweet us at @ExperienceLife.

Courtney Helgoe a senior editor for Experience Life

Experience Life Magazine

Bill Does Yoga

For the past decade, I’ve taught yoga at various places in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul — yoga studios, fitness centers, spas, and a community center.

The community center is the first place I started teaching at in late 2003, and the one place I’ve remained consistently all these years. What’s interesting about the class there is the age of my students: Many are in their 50s, with quite a few in their 60s, quickly closing in on 70.

I’ve gotten to know many of my students quite well, and after class the other night, Bill (not his real name) came up to talk. Bill doesn’t look like your average yogi: He’s approaching 70, is recently retired, and he’s stocky with wonderfully grayed hair and a full white beard … a yogi Santa Claus, if you will.

Bill has neck and shoulder issues due to an old sports injury that has left his upper body rather stiff and reduced his range of motion significantly. The stiffness causes his downward dog to be less than picture perfect, and he has challenges stacking his shoulders in revolved poses. The extra “stuff” around his midsection doesn’t allow for the graceful transitions from pose to pose and tends to get in the way during forward folds.

But none of that matters — because Bill does yoga! And he has been doing the physical practice of yoga for over eight years!

attachment

Half Pigeon Pose

During the holidays, Bill told me, he mentioned to his family that he has been taking my class for several years. His son, who didn’t know his dad did yoga, asked if Bill could demonstrate a pose. So, Bill got on the floor and demonstrated one-legged pigeon pose (illustrated at right).

Bill’s son and other family members were stunned. One-legged pigeon (also known as half pigeon) is a fairly advanced pose that causes a strong opening on the outer hip of the bent leg and the psoas of the extended leg.

Now keep in mind that Bill’s body doesn’t get in the exact position as the illustration above. Neither does mine — a lot hips just don’t move that way. (Many people have the front bent leg tucked underneath them with their hips raised significantly off the ground; yoga blocks, bolsters, and blankets can be used to help support the hips for people who are really tight through the areas affected by this pose.)

But demonstrating this pose for his family offered Bill a great epiphany: He is more flexible and nimble than many men his age, and it’s something he has taken for granted.

What’s important for others to gather from this little story is that you can do yoga, no matter your age, strength, or level of flexibility. Truly, there are no perfect bodies allowed. Yoga is about starting where you’re at — physically, mentally, spiritually.

But before you run out to purchase a yoga mat and jump into any old class, a few pieces of advice:

  • Let go of your ego. The ego has no place in a yoga class. Avoid the tendency to push your body too quickly or too hard, and avoid comparing yourself to other people in your class (every body is different). Move slowly and be gentle with yourself.
  • Start with a gentle/beginner format no matter how physically strong or flexible you are, and take several classes at that level. This will allow you to learn how to do the poses correctly and how to transition from one pose to the next. You’ll greatly reduce the possibility of injury and begin to gain the stamina and flexibility needed to advance your yoga practice. Please refer to bullet point one if you feel you should jump into an advanced class. On that note …
  • Don’t just wander into any old class. I once witnessed a first-time student  walk into a class that was far too advanced for her, and have often wondered if she ever returned to yoga or if she now has a jilted mindset toward the practice because of that experience. Choose wisely!
  • Love the props. The blocks, blankets, straps, wall, and chairs are there to make the poses safer and more comfortable. Again, please refer back to bullet point one if you think you don’t need the props.
  • Please let the teacher know if something is uncomfortable or hurts. Your instructor should be able to provide modifications so you don’t risk an injury and you’ll be more comfortable.
  • Have an open mind. Yoga is slower moving when compared to other physical practices. It forces you into your mind, which can be overwhelming for some, and the physical practice is quite different from other physical fitness practices since it integrates the spiritual component.
  • Try several classes and teachers before saying yoga’s not for you. You may not be a fan of the style, or you may not be connecting with the teacher you started with. If you try several classes of a certain style or with the same person and you aren’t enjoying it, try something else (for an introduction to various styles of yoga, see “Yoga 4 You“).

If you’d like to be like Bill and impress your friends and family when you’re 60, 70, 80, or older (please feel free to invite your ego back in here — but keep it in check), start practicing yoga now. Your Future You will thank your Present You.

Tell Us: Do you practice yoga? What benefits have you enjoyed? Comment below or tweet us at @ExperienceLife.

Christy Rice is Experience Life‘s circulation coordinator. 

Experience Life Magazine

Beautiful Girl: A Book for My Daughter

Beautiful Girl by Christiane NorthropIt was about this time last year that I began the search for a special Valentine’s gift for our then 2-year-old daughter. I didn’t want anything kitschy and I didn’t want candy: I wanted something meaningful — something she’d keep for years as a message of our love for her.

I knew I’d found what I was looking for when I read about the new children’s book, Beautiful Girl: Celebrating the Wonders of Your Body, in one of Latham Thomas’s MamaGlow newsletters. Written by Christiane Northrop, MD, and Kristina Tracy, Beautiful Girl offers a positive and empowering message to help young girls develop healthy and loving relationships with their bodies. Although it may seem from the title that it’s about external beauty, it’s actually an introduction to all the amazing things that are happening within the body and that come with being born a girl. As Dr. Northrop writes in the forward:

“Most adult women have received some negative messages about their bodies, which can show up later in life as health problems or unhealthy behaviors. This needn’t be the case. When little girls grow up knowing that their bodies are perfect and miraculous, they are far more likely to grow into happy and healthy adult women.” [Hear more from Dr. Northrop about the book in the video embedded below.]

It was exactly the kind of body-image attitude I hoped to instill in our growing girl, and a topic I wanted to have open, honest conversations around in the coming years. I couldn’t wait to give it to her.

Well, Valentine’s Day came and my big girl opened her gift … and moved on. Such is the attention span of toddlers. I tried many times throughout the year to read Beautiful Girl to her, but was shut down over and over in favor of Curious George and Berenstein Bears. I knew, however, that someday she’d gravitate toward the book, initially for the art (French artist Aurelie Blanz’s illustrations are rich and vibrant) and then the words.

That someday was this past Sunday. As I popped my head in to her room to say good night, I was surprised to see her daddy reading the book. Yes, she chose it, he assured me. Then yesterday morning, she came padding down the stairs with Beautiful Girl in tow. ”Can we read this, Mommy?” YES, yes, yes!

My big girl may not fully comprehend the deeper messages in this book quite yet, but I firmly believe the more often we talk positively and openly about our bodies now — about how they function, about respecting ours and others, about knowing how to discern what’s real in the images prevalent in our media-centric culture — the better off she’ll be. In the short and long term.

For parents looking for a good way to start these body conversations, I highly recommend Beautiful Girl, whether your daughter’s a toddler, tween, or full-on-hormonal teenager. The written and visual message come together for a reading experience that celebrates the beauty of being a girl.

 TELL US: How do you encourage healthy body-image attitudes in your children — boys and/or girls? Leave a comment below, tweet us at @ExperienceLife, or tweet me at @JamieLMartin.

RELATED ARTICLE:Building a Better Body Image

Jamie Martin is Experience Life‘s director of digital initiatives, and the proud mom of two young girls. 

Experience Life Magazine

In lieu of gifts, ‘presents of heart and mind’

Yesterday, my friend and co-worker Casie Leigh Lukes shared her family’s holiday gift-giving tradition and her penchant for gifts that are ethical, educational, and fun. Casie’s socially and environmentally conscious holiday goodies got me thinking about my own family’s “alternative” gifting practices.

We Fazeli Fards have never been big on gifting for gifting’s sake. An unspoken rule is that if one of us can’t find a present that the recipient would truly want or need, we simply don’t give anything. No last-minute pressure to find something — anything! — to stuff a stocking or put under the tree. Gifts should be thoughtful and meaningful, and given with intent.

As a result, we often buy gifts months in advance as we come across that perfect item or exchange gifts months after the occasion has passed. My sister, the artist in the family, navigates the situation by making gifts for the rest of us, such as paintings, drawings, and handmade ornaments, while I prefer to make edible gifts, such as cookies, pickles, and jam.

Handmade ornament by my sister.

Handmade ornament by my sister.

Homemade jam by yours truly.

Homemade quince jam by yours truly.

Friends and relatives have learned to expect random gifts at random times, and  not to scoff at a funny card with a handwritten I.O.U.

Another consequence is that physical gifts have, for the most part, been replaced by “experience gifts” — activities, day trips, and vacations that offer an escape from the everyday while building lasting bonds and memories.

For instance, as a combined Christmas/birthday gift for my dad’s 65th, we saved up for a week-long family vacation in Istanbul so he could reunite with his older brother. We celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday in New Orleans. For finishing grad school, I was gifted a dinner at Alice Waters’s famed Chez Panisse. When I bought my first home, my “housewarming present” was registration into a half-marathon in Miami. My 30th involved hiking glaciers and eating rotted shark in Iceland.

Other recent experiences have included massages, movie tickets, adventure courses, and a polar plunge. (Trust me: No gift beats the memory of donning swimsuits and running, as family, down a rocky beach into the icy Potomac River in the dead of winter.)

As you can tell, some of these gifts are budget-friendly; others, reserved for the special-est of special occasions, require saving up for several years. What doesn’t change is the lasting effect of the memories, photos and stories.

This Christmas was no exception to our little tradition. As her gift to me, my sister bought us passes to an indoor trampoline park near our parents’ home in New Jersey. I can’t really describe the sheer joy and giddiness that an evening spent bouncing up, down, and on/off the walls can bring. Maybe these photos will give you some idea:

My sister goes in for a butt-bounce at the trampoline park.

My sister goes in for a butt-bounce at the trampoline park.

Unexpected bonus: Bouncing around on a trampoline is a great workout.

Unexpected bonus: Bouncing around on a trampoline is a great workout.

Hair tie highly recommended.

Hair tie highly recommended.

Kinfolk magazine recently described these experience gifts as presents of heart and mind, noting that “some of the most meaningful gestures that can be given are not, in fact, wrapped in red bows, but are actually experiences to be shared together.” I couldn’t agree more.

Tell me: Do you deviate from typical gift-giving practices? Would you consider marking a special occasion with an experience gift? Leave a comment below or tweet us @experiencelife.

Maggie Fazeli Fard is Experience Life’s staff writer. 

Experience Life Magazine

Frozen Awakening

The change of seasons has been challenging for me this year. I’m not sure why, but I’ve been spending a lot more time alone. I keep thinking maybe it’s my animalistic nature to hibernate. But, unfortunately, I’m not a critter that can stay holed up on the sofa eating popcorn and reading a good book all winter.

There are many things one can try to fight seasonal depression. But, I decided that in order to help me out of my funk, I would return to basics. I know that setting time aside to write and/or create something each day improves my mood and helps me set my intent for each day. So, I made a pact with myself to start taking a photo of something that inspires me each day or to write a poem.

I know winter has its own brittle beauty even though everything seems frozen in time, lying dormant until the warmth of the Spring sun awakens it all again. I decided to start paying attention to the subtle and stark life that only shows up in colder months.

As I was shoveling my backyard walkway the other night, for example, I noticed the brilliant red sunset and how it cascaded light onto the snow and how my neighbor’s tree was holding its own in the brittle-seeming environment.

Frozen Awakening/Experience Life

In winter,
trees hold
vigil.
Beautiful refugees
in December’s
fading light.

This morning, I was re-inspired by a part of nature that I had in my home. Three years ago, while on a hike, I found a beautiful feather on the trail. I remembered my friend explaining how finding a feather was lucky, and meant you were going to get a message soon. I picked up the feather and it has been with me ever since.

This morning, I found the feather on the floor instead of on the little altar of nature mementos where I normally keep it. What is this little feather trying to tell me? Right now, I believe it is a reminder to tune-in to myself, and the world around me, so I really feel alive, which will help me not only be who I am in the present moment, but is also the path to who I want to become.

Frozen Awakening/Experience Life

I want to be
so alive
that the sound
of a feather
falling
is deafening.

Heidi Wachter is the Community Engagement Specialist for Experience Life.

Experience Life Magazine

A Ski in the Park

It’s been a couple of years since I last blogged about cross-country skiing in which I wrote a recap of completing my 14th Birkie. Last year, just a week before the big race, I suffered a medical emergency that not only ended my season, but also required months of healing. Now, nine months later, my recovery is done, and I’ve been getting stronger and fitter through roller skiing, cycling, and strength training. I’m back on track to ski the Birkie once again in February.

Breaking Trail at West Yellowstone

Breaking Trail at West Yellowstone

To kick off this ski season, I traveled to Montana over Thanksgiving to attend the West Yellowstone Ski Festival. For years I’ve heard from my friends that it’s an event they loved and that I should someday experience, too. And were they right!

There were at least three thousand skiers from around the world who enjoyed the perfect conditions that week — plenty of well-groomed snow on over 35 kilometers of rolling, pristine trails that wound through lodgepole forests laden with snow. The daytime sky was cobalt blue and the temps rose from below 0 into the pleasant 20s and 30s each day.

There were races to watch, lots of friends to meet and ski with, plenty of lung-busting altitude to adapt to, and gorgeous mountain views to stop and photograph. It seemed that everyone was in heaven, skiing at least twice a day, in the morning and afternoon.

The evening ski expo was a place to see new equipment from major ski companies, to hear lectures, to see films, and even enjoy a ski-clothing fashion show. And for Thanksgiving, people made sure everyone had a place to go for a holiday meal.

One afternoon at dusk, my friend Matt decided he needed an easy ski to end the day, so we went to the Riverside trail on the edge of town. From there, we double-poled through ungroomed snow and came to an opening that overlooked the rushing Madison River in Yellowstone Park. After a brief stop to enjoy the Madison Range to the north, Matt headed off along the river, and I scrambled to keep up as we went deeper into the park. As the sun was setting, Matt took off and, realizing that I couldn’t keep up with him, I stopped to wait for his return after he finished exploring. The stillness, the darkening sky, the wildness of Yellowstone Park was at once breathtaking and also scary. When Matt finally returned, we double-poled like mad back to town. It was exhilarating, and I have to admit I was relieved to be safe again.

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving and good health than by starting my ski season in the mountains of Montana.

(Look for more about my trip to West Yellowstone in a future issue of Experience Life.)

One of the many trails at sunset at the West Yellowstone Ski Festival

One of the many trails at sunset at the West Yellowstone Ski Festival

Range in Yellowstone Park

Madison Range in Yellowstone Park

Lone Skier at West Yellowstone

Lone Skier at West Yellowstone

Steve Waryan is Experience Life’s Copy Chief.

Experience Life Magazine

Farm Livin’: Horse Chores Workout

LogoFinalFarmLivinWeb

As the creative director of Experience Life, I direct all our fitness photo shoots and meet incredible athletes, from yoga gurus to power lifters. There are times I feel a bit intimidated by their strength and presence. Sometimes they ask me about working out, and my answer is always this: I live on a small horse farm, and my gym is my barn and riding arena. “Oh, that’s great!” is usually the happy reply.

Horses do make people happy: They are beautiful, powerful, and incredible athletes themselves. Horses make me happy every day. They are also a TON of work and luckily for me, the means to my fitness end.

So for my first official blog, I thought it would be fun to put together a “horse chores workout,” complete with my own personal trainer, our Australian Shepherd, Maybelle. She is always encouraging, always at my side. These are the chores I do every day, morning and night. They are the brackets to my days. I’m lucky when I can squeeze in a ride as well, training my two thoroughbred x-racers for dressage and jumping, but these chores are the bulk of my physical activity on the farm.

HORSE CHORES WORKOUT

Wardrobe: Temperatures in Minnesota this time of year hover around 20 degrees F. I don’t go outside without about 12 lbs. of gear including coveralls, a jacket, boots, hat and gloves.

Wardrobe.IMG_0529

Warm Up: I throw in a quick hamstring stretch while tying winter boots, and walk briskly to the barn.

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 Meet the Trainer: Maybelle, our five-year-old Australian Shepherd.

MeetTrainer.IMG_0544

Sprints: Whenever possible, run instead of walk, especially uphill.

Sprint1.IMG_0553

Through the Fence drills: Too many times to count each day, I crawl through the fence instead of opening and closing gates. Squats or Warrior 3 pose are both great ways to get through. Watch the top wire, though: It’s electric.

ThroughtheFence.IMG_0575

Hay Carry and Throw:  Think biceps curls and medicine-ball slams.

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Grooming: Horses get a quick brush down on the way out of their stalls, so I get a quick arm/shoulder/back workout. Jog them out to their paddocks for additional cardio.

Grooming1.IMG_0589

 

Grooming2.IMG_0606

Farmer’s Walk: With 30 pounds of water in each bucket, I top off the water tanks. They are about 250 feet from the spigot, with a through-the-fence squat included. Repeat for three tanks.

FarmersWalk.IMG_0616

Wheelbarrow Dump: After about 10 minutes per stall of scooping, scraping, and sweeping (no need to show the details), dump a full wheelbarrow or two.

WheelBarrow.IMG_0638

Hay Transfer: Transport hay bales (60 pounds) from hay shed to barn. Load tractor or hay wagon and stack in barn hay room.

HayTransfer.IMG_0668

There you have it: my twice daily workout, give or take a few bales. The only way I can skip a workout is if I hire someone else to come and take over, which only happens on holidays. Horses have to be fed morning and night, stalls need to be cleaned, and I love it. FARM ON! 

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Photos by Loretta Anderson

Experience Life Magazine

Behind the scenes with ‘punk rock yogi’ Sadie Nardini

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing “punk rock yogi” Sadie Nardini for an upcoming Experience Life cover story.

For those who haven’t heard of her, Nardini is a NYC-based yoga instructor, host of Veria TV’s Rock Your Yoga, and author of the new book, The 28-Day Yoga Body.

She found yoga following a childhood illness that doctors predicted would leave her paralyzed for life, and used the practice to overcome her physical limitations, depression, and panic attacks. Not only did she build the strength to walk again, she has since become a combat boot-clad, steak-eating yoga powerhouse with an affinity for ninja wisdom (she practices the martial art of ninjutsu) and female empowerment.

Our interview veered from topics of life, death, depression, and downward-facing dogs, to Nardini’s favorite chocolate macaroon recipe and tips on cultivating your “inner badass.”

The full article won’t hit newsstands until March, but I thought I’d share a few of my favorite snippets from the Q&A. Without further ado, my top 5 takeaways…

Health is not about deprivation or punishment.

“I think it’s really important to reclaim the idea of what it means to be healthy, because we’ve got such a skewed perspective of what health and beauty is … We can improve without punishing ourselves or feeling bad for being imperfect. Really celebrating our bodies inside and out — that’s the new healthy.”

Confront your fears, dysfunctions, and past traumas. 

“That stuff doesn’t just sit down there hidden and quiet. It shows up in every single relationship you have. It shows up in how you feel from day to day, how insecure you are, how reactive you are. It shows up in your love relationships, in your family relationships, and in every decision you make.”

Don’t fear your mortality. 

When Nardini was warned that she may never walk again, “I decided I could always kill myself. I thought, ‘Well, that’s always an option for me. So let me try everything else humanly possible before I think anymore about such a final step.’ That gave me the courage to try anything. In Tibetan Buddhism, they call it ‘death consciousness.’ Instead of depressing you, it should make you focus more fully on the present moment, be more grateful for who you are and what you have, and be brave.

Embrace life’s challenges. 

“I have switched my mindset from being upset and disappointed when challenging things happen, to understanding that those are exactly the things that I need to strengthen myself and get more courageous. It’s a chance for me to really stand up for myself and be the best me I can be, and to change the things that aren’t working. The richest work you can do is in that space of discomfort.”

Eat for health AND pleasure.

“You want to exist in balance. You want to fuel your body properly and also have stuff that you really feel happy eating — whether it’s the clean, healthy food or a glass of wine or a little cocktail or chocolate here and there. Enjoy your life.”

Tell us: Do Sadie Nardini’s words resonate with you? What do you agree (and disagree) with? Leave a comment below or tweet us @experiencelife.

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