Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mastering Spirit: Making Time

This is going to be a short post.  “Making Time” really has multiple meanings, one of which being, I am making time (a very small amount) to write this blog post.

The past 2 weekends have been extremely busy.  Our schedules have been jam packed both days.   Despite the crazy schedules I am proud to say that The Pilot and I made it a priority to get to church both weekends.

We had to literally sit down, look at our schedules, look at the church schedule, plan what works for us, and commit to it.  Church has to become just as much of a commitment as all of the other things on our schedule.

It feels good to make a commitment and stick too it.  I really wish my mentality about making time for Church would bridge to other aspects of my life.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mastering Body: Half Marathon Schedule

*Sorry for the odd posting time (I try to make it a point to post at 3pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday), but there was no internet at work today, so blogging had to wait*

Last year I ran my first marathon.  It was a great experience, but training was long and hard and time consuming.  Not quite what I am looking for this year. So the Pilot suggested a series of half marathons over the race season, all about 6 to 8 weeks apart.

About a week ago we selected the races and then Saturday night we started the registration process.

Here is the schedule:

  1. Chi Town Half Marathon on March 24, 2013
  2. Rockford Half Marathon on May 19, 2013
  3. Rock ‘n Roll Chicago on July 21, 2013
  4. Fox Valley Half Marathon on September 22, 2013

I hope to improve my time with each race, but I don’t know yet how fast I can go.  I’ve selected this 6 week training program to start with, basically because I only had 6 weeks to train and I prefer to run as few days as possible Winking smile

After a baseline race and to start improving, I’ll probably move to this training plan, which I’ve used before and LOVED!!

Signing up for the races really gets me motivated to run consistently, so I’m excited for this race season to get underway.  Wish me luck!!

*You can follow my training on dailymile*

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mastering Mind: Defining Work

I’ve talked before about some of my scheduling difficulties.  Working odd hours and odd days can be quite confusing and sometimes when I’m working it doesn’t really look like work.  Or what I think other people perceive as work.

At times, I feel the need to justify what I call work.  Today is a perfect example;  I am writing this post on Friday morning (about 11am, but set to post at 3pm) at my makeshift desk at our kitchen table in yoga pants and sweatshirt.  I haven’t even showered yet.  I consider this work because blogging gets my creative juices following; necessary fuel to help me write articles for work or maybe some day author all the books I have titled in my head.  Later, I will read.  I am currently reading 2 work related books; I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me and Optimal Functioning.  Reading these books will make me a better clinician, but I doubt most people just get to read and call it work.  Later still, I might find time to study for the next licensing exam I need to take.

This will all be done from home, which could mean, no shower required and my uniform remains yoga pants and a sweatshirt.  Not a normal “work day".”

Yesterday is another good (but strikingly different) example.  I showered, wore work clothes and went to the office; saw 4 clients, conducted 5 intern interviews, spoke to the mother of a client about a future treatment plan and drank a lot of coffee.  However my business was conducted from 11am to 7pm (not the normal 9 to 5 gig).

My definition of work changes daily.  Next week on what is typically considered a work from home day, I’ll be attending two very different types of training; a meditation training and a Mood Disorders discussion lead by Kay Redfield Jamison.

Do any of you work non-conventional jobs or odd hours?  How do you define work?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mastering Spirit: Monica

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the name Monica I immediately think of Monica (Geller) Bing from my favorite TV show Friends!  And while I’d love to write an entire blog post about Monica, or Friends, for that matter, this post is about a different Monica; ME!

I have chosen Monica to be my confirmation name.  I do struggle with feeling like Monica is a very modern name to be that of a saint, but after doing a bit of research, I couldn’t imagine taking any other name.

Back in high school, I would have taken the confirmation name Mary.  It is my mother’s given name and I thought that would be a nice way to honor her.  Plus, let’s face it, to a high schooler, it was an easy choice; no research necessary as Mary is one of the most famous saints.

However, as an adult, I needed a name that reflected me, not my mother and I was a little more willing to do some research to find the appropriate name.

So what aspects of me, did I want this name to reflect?  Well my profession, seemed like a good place to start, because I believe I have talents that drew me to this profession; empathy, good listening skills and emotional insight (to name a few).  Upon further reflection, I realized these talents were transferable to other aspects of my life, for right now, mainly being a wife, but what about the future when I become a mother?

Could it be possible to find someone that was the patron saint of Mothers, Wives and Counselors?  Turns out it was incredibly simple. 

Enter St. Monica.  So, St. Monica is known for watching over mothers, wives and counselors, which would have been enough to sell me on taking her name.  But she possessed other qualities, mainly motivation, determination and consistency, that I wish I had more of.

St. Monica was made to look over me and some of the major things I want to accomplish in my life (being a good wife, mother and counselor) and by taking her name I hope to begin to embody the qualities she possessed that I feel I’m lacking in (motivation, determination and consistency).

I have been blogging more consistently recently, so maybe Monica is already working her magic Winking smile

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mastering Body: An Active Rest Day

My fitness routine has been all over the map recently.  A little bit of running.  The occasional yoga class.  Sometimes I throw a weight lifting session in there for good measure. Nothing constant and nothing consistent. 

This past week has been a bit better.  Thanks to two very important people.  My first helper is my incredible husband, the Pilot, who sat down with me last weekend and together we planned our entire race schedule from March to November (blog post to come).

The other major support last week, was Rachel from Poor Girl Organics.  Rachel and I work together and our schedules were such this week that we managed to support each other through 2 work outs this week.

On Monday, we walked to the gym we are both members of and she rode the bike while I did a weight lifting session.  It was only 30 minutes out of our day, but having the accountability of another person, was extremely helpful for me to actually get me to the gym (I have no idea how it effected her).

Then on Wednesday, the sun made an amazing appearance after several days of non-existence.  Not only did it fill the day with plenty of light, it also warmed the earth, I was so inspired, I needed to get outside.  So Rachel and I set out on a nice leisurely walk to the closest Starbucks (which was 1.1 miles away). It was so physically, emotionally, and spiritually refreshing and a great way to spend an hour with a beautiful friend.

Wednesday was my active rest day. So, I went on a two mile walk with Rachel and then did a very light yoga work out.  That rest day was sandwiched in between half marathon training and consistent weight training.

It was a great week, with great activity and a great support system.

What do you do on your active rest days?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mastering Mind: Organizing

I went on an organizing spree this week!

A portion of my week, is spent in the office, with clients, co-workers, books and tons of paper.  The other portion of my week is spent at home with even more books and paper.  I constantly feel like the “Incredible Traveling Counselor,” moving piles of paper and books from one “office” to the other, because sometimes I work on projects that can be done in both places.

The Pilot finally got annoyed with my piles of paper that are overtaking the house and we formed the start of a game plan.  I woke up the next day and went into major work mode.  At my home office, I started making piles (work, personal, go to the office, trash, etc) and based on those piles bought desktop organizers to have at home.

Then, anything that was in the “go to the office” pile made it’s way to work and then I cleaned and organized everything at work!

Finally, the organizing stretched slightly into my personal life and I organized my nightstand drawer, which my entire life has served as a “catch all” drawer.

As the days have drawn on, my organizing rate has decreased, but I’m hoping to get back into mode today, as I attempt to start organizing me receipts for taxes Winking smile

When all this organizing is finally done, I will happily be showing you the finished product.  For the time being, I’m enjoying knowing where everything is!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mastering Spirit: 40 Day Practices

Since January 5th, I have been leading a 40 day transformational practice at work.  Previously this workshop was run by my bosses (I talk about it a bit here), but this year they went on a January vacation, so I took the reigns.

For 40 days, I meditated daily, did 8 sun salutations daily and chanted 3 separate Sanskrit mantras daily.  Then once a week, I led a class that included a Chakra lesson, group discussion, a group mantra chant and a group meditation.

This has been an amazing experience for me, both personally and professionally, which  is something I will talk about in a future post, because my transformational journey is not over yet!!

40 days from January 5th is today, February 13th.  Today is, coincidentally, also Ash Wednesday, which, in the Catholic faith, begins the 40 day practice of Lent.

So today, I close one 40 day practice and have the opportunity to start a new one.  This 40 day practice will look slightly different, but I know the results will compound each other.

I hope to share this journey with all of you and wish good luck to those of you looking to make positive changes this year also!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mastering Body: Reflexology

My physical activity motivation has really been low recently.  I’ll have spurts of good activity level, but then I’ll succumb to long draughts of inactivity. So, I don’t really feel qualified (not that I ever was) to talk about working out/running right now, as means of discussing how I’m Mastering my Body.

Further, while I feel as though I am making improvements in my eating habits, I also don’t feel prepared or qualified to be talking about that subject, yet.  I think part of me is scared the better habits, won’t stick, as we know is a pattern around here.  So, I’m waiting until my confidence level improves to talk about how food is helping me Master my Body.

So then, you ask, what will I be talking about in this category for the time being?  Other aspects of physical well being.  Mastering Body and physical health can be, and is, so much more than diet and exercise.  There are so many other things that go into physically feeling whole and healthy.

This week, my self-care included a reflexology appointment.  Reflexology believes that massage and pressure on the bottoms of one’s feet can help identify and possibly alleviate internal physical ailments in the rest of the body.  A very dear friend of mine is a reflexologist and sold me on it’s benefits years ago.  I don’t make appointment as often as I would like, but I love my experience when I do have the chance to have them.

Even if I didn’t believe in the internal physical benefits of reflexology, how nice does it feel to have a foot massage?!  And, with the amount of running I (typically) do, my feet can always use a little TLC.

I just thought it was important to point out that taking care of the ONE BODY you have been given includes so many other things besides diet and exercise.  I will talk about other self-care ideas as future weeks unfold.

Any physical self-care techniques you use or are particularly interested in hearing about?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mastering Mind: Attitude Switch

Several months ago, I was struggling to find job motivation.  My client load was less than ideal, the drive was taxing and the staff was changing, so things felt unstable. I didn’t want to go in.  I didn’t want to do anything extra.  I just wanted clients to appear without me doing any work to gain them. 

I slowly began to realize that maybe I was the problem and not all the environmental factors I kept blaming.  Why would a potential (or existing) client want to come and utilize my services, if even I didn’t want to be there?

As I stepped back and evaluated all of these things, I realized I had control of two very basic, but incredibly powerful things; my attitude and qualities as a therapist. 

So I changed the internal monologue that went on in my head.  Instead of being upset about driving in for just one client, I would be thankful, because one was better than none.  Instead of focusing on giving up my Saturdays, I focused on how many people went without therapy services because most counselors are unavailable on weekends.

Then, I shifted my focus to being the best therapist I can be to my existing clients.  This isn’t to say that I was being neglectful before this realization, but I promptly stepped up my game. I was reading more books, looking at more resources, seeking more supervision and consultation.  Through all of this, I realized these clients were going to be my best advertisement.  If they liked the services they were receiving, hopefully they would tell others.

These tricks worked; I gained more clients and got my first ever direct referral from a previous client!

Sometimes solving the seemingly impossible challenges, is just as simple as changing your perspective, changing your mind to see and act differently and switching up your attitude about the scenario.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mastering Spirit: I am Getting Confirmed

My history with my Catholic faith is long and involves many twists and turns.  I’ll spare you most of the details, except for those pertaining to the sacrament of Confirmation.

As a freshmen in high school, I began the journey towards getting confirmed, by attending weekly Religious Education classes.  At that point in my faith development, I was sort of blindly doing what my parents told me do.  They weren’t forceful, we were all just following the “rules” and not really asking why.

Sophomore year things changed.  Marching band practice conflicted with my Religious Education schedule.  At that time, I had aspirations to be a band teacher, so the decision was made to discontinue Religious Education and not get confirmed.

I didn’t become a band teacher and my lack of confirmation commitment did not bother me for many years.  Cut to present day, or 2011, more accurately, when the Pilot and I were preparing for our marriage.  During that year, my Catholic faith continued to grow and my beliefs strengthened, so as I prepared for the sacrament of Marriage, I started to feel as though, I missed a step.

Luckily, my church offers an adult Confirmation class, for those of us who have received the sacraments prior to Confirmation, therefore making RCIA incredibly redundant.  I had the best intentions at the start of 2012 to participate in that class and be Confirmed last year, but an old pattern resurfaced and a work commitment conflicted with the class schedule and I chose work over Confirmation.

This year it became a true priority because I hope the Pilot and I start a family in the future and I would like to be Confirmed before I Baptize my future children.  I also like that I am truly making this decision as an informed adult, instead of a teenager doing what her parents ask her to do.  To me that makes this process so much more meaningful and spiritually driven.

I am committed to it now and changed my work schedule accordingly.  I have been to 3 classes and will be Confirmed in April!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mastering Body: Don’t Think About Running

So, recently I went on a run.  It was nothing special.  The weather in Chicago was warm enough for me to run outside, so I headed out.  There was no real goal in mind, as I’m not currently training for anything. I decided I would do somewhere between 3 and 4 miles.

Off I went and the first 2 miles were fabulous!  I was thinking about work projects.  I was thinking about future blog posts.  I was thinking about missing my husband.  I was thinking about my recent personal losses.  I was thinking about my birthday.  Basically, I was thinking about everything except running.

Then at mile 2, I returned my attention to the job at hand.  “One foot in front of the other.  Your slowing down, pick up the pace.  Don’t trip on the rock.  Man I really hate it when people pull there cars into the pedestrian lane. Oh no, 2 more miles to go.”  All I was thinking about was running, how awful it was, how much work it was, how I felt forced to be doing it, how I’m not “good” at it, etc.  And that mile ended up being my slowest mile of the run.

Towards the end of mile 2, crossing over into mile 3, I realized what I was doing and managed to shift my focus.  I moved on to things that inspire me and the reasons I chose to run, instead of focusing on the running itself. 

I discovered that the trick to successful running, is to not think about running.  I’ve always heard that people run to clear their heads, but I’ve never put that idea into practice until that day.  And look at this, because I was focusing on blogging, I knew exactly what to write for today’s Mastering Body post.

Thank you Nike.  Don’t think about it.  JUST DO IT.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mastering Mind: My Birthday

Today is my 29th birthday.  To be perfectly honest, I’m feeling very apathetic about the whole thing.  I think I’m getting to that stage in life where it’s just another day.  Just another year.

I can think of several reasons why I might have cultivated this blasé attitude this year; my husband isn’t here to celebrate with me, I’ve been consumed with so much sadness, I’m having a hard time celebrating anything, I was away for a long weekend in January and spent so much time planning that, that I didn’t really plan for my birthday, it’s not a milestone birthday.

But as I write this, the real reason is surfacing and it’s because over the last few years my birthday has been clouded by bad events.  Unconsciously, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.  So, what does all this have to do with Mastering my Mind this week?

Well, this year I am going to actively change my mind.  Change my outlook.  Change my expectations.  And, how, you ask, will I do that?  A Gong Bath, of course!!

When the e-mail appeared in my inbox that this Gong Bath was occurring, I knew immediately what I wanted to do to celebrate my birthday and enter into the next year of my life!

Today I will mindfully set an intention for the Gong Bath and my this next year.  Tonight, I will lay down in Shavasana for 90 beautiful minutes and let the sounds and vibrations of the gong and the Starnes Sisters voices wash over me, heal me and reinvigorate me for my year ahead.

*If I peaked your interest, more information about Gong Baths can be found here.*