The kapo machine & Bulldogs sit funny

Here are a couple pics of the kapo machine. The ropes are simply the lower ropes of a traditional Iyengar rope set up. The second picture shows the adjustable rubber exercise band with handles that’s tied to a drawer pull The Cop attached to the wall for me (he put up the ropes, too). I should be impressed that he’s willing to do stuff like that for me, shouldn’t I? I will also note that he never protests or looks at me weird when I ask for stuff like this, either.

ropes

bands

And here’s proof that bulldogs sit funny.

ty-sits

Advertisements

My Life in Pictures

Soundtrack: Brian Eno/Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks

Kapo Machine (Next step is to shorten the ropes a bit so my thighs are kept more perpendicular to the floor…)

UD (Slightly better light than the last photo.)

ud-1-25-09

Rope Hangback (Ahhhhh, this feels great in the hip flexors! And look! You can see Tyler!)

rope-hangback-1-25-09

“The Rack” (Easily the most painful thing I do all day, even though you can’t see it on the outside… All I’m doing is pushing my arms straight, and I have no idea why that is so difficult or painful.)

March to January

end-march1

ud-1-20-09c-2

UD better; photography worse.

Dog days

Tyler is the first dog I’ve ever brought up. My family had a dog when I was a kid, but my dad raised him, so I just got to hang out with Duke, but didn’t have to do any of the work.

So here’s the deal. Yesterday I took Tyler out for our post-Ashtanga-practice walk. We usually either take a walk over to and around the perimeter of a nearby park, or we cut back behind the neighbor’s houses and walk alongside a wash in the desert. We stick to the wash 75 percent of the time — it’s remote, there are beautiful palo verde and mesquite trees and some spectacular creosote bushes to look at, and it is a quick 1.25 miles.

Yesterday, though, I figured we’d head over to the park for a little change. As we rounded a bend in the road, I noticed an unleashed Rottweiler hanging out at the end of the street. I had Ty sit and stay, the Rottie didn’t notice us, and I figured we’d wait a moment, until the dog’s person caught up to him or called him or whatever. But no person materialized. The dog just kind of aimlessly wandered around for a while. Irritated, I decided Ty and I would just circle back by our house, then head over to the wash. No sense walked Ty past an unknown, unleashed, unsupervised dog.

So we headed back toward our house. As we came around the corner toward our house, I spotted the fellow who The Cop and I call “The Boxer Guy.” He lives several blocks down from us and has two boxers. What’s notable about Boxer Guy is that he’s, um, an idiot. He was standing at the edge of my neighbor’s lawn, holding two retractable leashes, both of which were pretty much all the way run out, with either dog off in a different direction while he just kind of stared off into the sky.

Geez.

I knew he hadn’t seen me or Ty, and I knew he wasn’t going to notice us until one of his dogs angrily lunged toward us, which is what they always do. I debated about whether to say, “Good morning” to give him warning, but decided that since his dogs’ leashes were run out, they weren’t going to reach me or Ty when they lunged, so I might as well just be silent and let them give him a bit of a jolt.

Which, of course, they did. The black and white dog saw us first and lunged, the red dog realized what was going on and ran over to lunge, and Boxer Guy was twirled like a doll in the middle. He kind of laughed, and said, “Oh, I didn’t see you!”

Uh, yeah.

Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have thought anything of this. But the whole episode is par for the course with Boxer Guy. His dogs lead him around the neighborhood and act menacing whenever they encounter other dogs and people. Something suddenly dawned on me one day, and I told The Cop about it when Ty and I got home from our walk. “Oh my God, I just realized! Boxer Guy isn’t ashamed that he doesn’t have control of his dogs! He’s proud that he can’t control them! He thinks that’s cool!”

What a tool.

At the first obedience class Ty and I attended (we go back for the second level of classes the first week of February), the trainer talked about leash manners. The deal is this: you do not let the dog decide where you are going. YOU are the alpha dog, you are the leader of the pack — therefore YOU decide where you are going. I’ve been really conscientious about training for Ty, because he is a big breed dog, and because his breed is one that can have a bad reputation. I want him to be able to go out in the world and behave well. Which means he has to respect me and The Cop as his alphas. He can’t be left to run the pack — though I suspect he’d be a gentle leader. 🙂 Still, it isn’t fair to put him in that position.

One of the reasons we often stick to walks along the wash is because so many people have their dogs off-leash at the park. Almost inevitably, the people who have off-leash dogs have very well-mannered dogs. Generally they are older dogs with older owners. When I see an off-leash old dog with an old man, I have flashbacks to my Dad and Duke. They had a very traditional relationship: Duke obeyed my Dad without question and without hesitation. Like gravity, it was a law. 😉 I do worry, though, that everyone at the park might not be exercising good judgment when they let their dogs go free.

Anyhow, I was telling The Cop that it’s something new for me, this awareness of the behavior of dogs and owners. When I approach a human and dog at the park, my attention goes to whomever is in charge. Generally, I look to the human to see if their dog is friendly and if it’s a good idea for Ty to interact with them. With Boxer Guy, though, I look at the dogs, because it is clear that THEY are running the show. Boxer Guy just holds onto the leashes and gets pulled around and feels like he looks like a stud because he has uncontrollable dogs.

(Seriously, what a tool.)

Ty loves meeting other dogs and people. When he was little, I wanted to protect him from aggressive dogs so he wouldn’t develop fear of other dogs. Now that he’s bigger and happy and confident and not fearful, I don’t want him to be put into a position where there might be a fight — in large part because he would likely “win,” and then I just know it’s going to turn into an “American bulldogs are vicious” thing, even if he didn’t start the fight. (Maxine stays in the house, because she is so old, but it’s the same deal with her, as a pitbull.)

So I’m doing my part to train him and be responsible for him, but there’s still a world of unsupervised dogs out there and (even worse) dopey owners who use their pitbull or boxer or American bulldog to project a “scary” image.

Tools.

Perpetual energy machine

Gah. You know those days when you wake up and kind of want to cry because you just really want about 8 more hours of sleep? Yeah.

The weekend will be here soon. The weekend will be here soon.

In the meantime, this week is devoted to performance review sessions. This is an opportunity for me to lay out how I see each manager’s performance, and their potential. And it’s their chance to say how they see their contributions and their potential — their professional selves. And how they see me. And whether our perspectives are aligned.

So we review current reality and explore some alternatives (as necessary). Agree on a path for the future. And then I like to talk to people personally. I like to wipe my mind clear and see the person in front of me, without all of the other “stuff” (politics, habitual frame of reference, my personal opinion) and make a connection with the human who spends so much time and effort trying to do the right thing.

Yeah. That’s this week. I’m making energy for it during practice each morning. Usually I have evergy to spare, but my battery is not charging properly at this point, so I am really hanging on by my fingernails by about 3 PM each day. Luckily, I have some emotional currency with the team. So even if I’m a little burnt around the edges during their reviews, they’ll cut me a little slack and try to see where I’m coming from, and what my challenges might be.

Can’t ask for more than that.

Music I’m listening to (shout out to Cody): “Layla”/Derek and the Dominos/Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs

Phew!

Ahhhh. Good to be back to normal life, finally. The past few weeks have been insane — so insane, that I’m feeling a little traumatized. All of the stress was work-related, so while it isn’t ideal, it wasn’t like I was dealing with personal (i.e., really important) issues. I just had to put my head down and keep my act pulled together. I actually tend to think of this as “single Mom mode,” because it’s something I perfected during those long years as a single Mom pursuing a graduate degree and climbing the corporate ladder. Ooh, it makes me a little tired just thinking about it!

Those days are gone, but one thing I took away is an ability to strategize, set goals, figure out tactical requirements, schedule myself (and everyone around me) like crazy, and stay on task until it’s all done.

The past few weeks have required that kind of focus, and yes, lots of projects wrapped up, I travelled to meet with a new client, wrote all of my performance evaluations for my team, and made a presentation to the Board about a new initiative. Oh, and I tried to stay flexible so I’d be available to anyone on my team whenever they might need to talk.

The Board presentation wrapped up at noon yesterday (yes, Saturday!), and that was the finish line of this recent madness. I came home and pretty much just collapsed. The dogs seemed perplexed by my inability to get off the couch. The house is a mess, since I travelled last weekend, so didn’t have time to clean, and when I got back on Wednesday night, there was nothing I could do but dive back into long work days. So the place is a mess.

Tyler kept standing by the door, wishing for a walk, but I just didn’t have it in me. I needed to lie on the couch and eat a Tootsie Pop. He decided that in lieu of a walk, he could lie on top of me and chew a nylabone. Fine. As long as he’s happy.

***

Today’s a new day. I’ve practiced and taken Ty on a nice walk. It was SUCH a pleasure to just be out in the sun, with nothing in my head. Ahhhhhh.

***

Practice in DC was pretty nice. Travelling Ashtanga is always curious. The best part was that I got to meet Tova at her shala in DC. She is just what you would imagine — humorous and dear and very beautiful. She and a few other early birds open the shala and begin practice at 4:45 AM, though official Mysore practice starts at 6 AM. The early start was perfect for me, as I had to get to the office for early meetings.

So there I was, up at 4 AM, getting ready for practice. I didn’t think too much about the fact that 4 AM is actually 2 AM Scottsdale time. At least, I tried my best not to think about it. I am always a little amused by the expression of desk attendants at hotels, when I show up at 4:30 asking where I can find a cab.

Tova was waiting at the shala when I got there. She walked me down what seemed like a long maze of halls and doorways to the very end, where a sliding glass door brought us into a big Mysore room, with beautifully shiny wooden floors. I was surprised to see so many space heaters. I’d forgotten about the cold. I feel like I battle the winter here in Scottsdale, but of course that’s just silly compared to what DC is like. So there were big space heaters in the room, and for the most part they just took the chill off. No steaminess, for sure.

I was fine, though. It was lovely practicing with Tova and the other early arrivers. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, and I just love the whole Mysore practice thing, where someone new can join in and we all do our practice together. There’s something so perfect about the fact that all that matters is that we all practice — individual differences, personal background, none of that matters. It’s nice to chat about those details afterwards, over tea, but it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of the Mysore room.

DI, the teacher, showed up at 6. I carried on, as there were plenty of people arriving and practicing. After a bit, I looked up. He was standing a bit to the side, hands behind his back, watching the room. It reminded me of Matthew Sweeney. If ever I were a Mysore teacher, I would want to be the kind who stands back and observes. For some reason, when a teacher just stands and observes, I find it very reassuring.

At kurmasana, he came over and asked if I did supta kurmasana. I said yes. He crossed my feet behind my head. Then he left.

It was maybe the best supta kurmasana adjustment I’ve ever gotten. I am accustomed to being wrestled with and sat on for supta kurmasana adjustments. I’m accustomed to having my feet pulled down my back and pulled tighter across each other and all kinds of other stuff. DI just crossed my feet and left me to my own devices.

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I sure do like the minimalist adjustment aesthetic.

And that was my only adjustment on Monday.

***

Last time I posted, I whined about my right shoulder. At this point, I’m willing to call it an opening. Weirdly, it hurts most during ardha baddha padmottanasana and ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana. And it’s not when the right arm is binding — it’s when the left arm binds and the right arm reaches to the floor or to the foot.

It’s getting less painful each day, so I figure everything’s sorting out. In the meantime, ALL of the stuff in my shoulder girdle (bones, muscles, tendons, and that elusive fascia) seems to be shifting. It’s kind of strange, but also very cool — instead of feeling like a solid structure, my shoulders are suddenly a variety of discrete parts.

***

Okay, enough blogging. Tyler is eager for lunch, and he’s not gonna put up with another day of me lounging around on the couch. 🙂

Eh

Shoulder not good this morning. Not bad enough that I needed to skip practice, but enough to be irritating. Teres major? Minor? Infraspinatus? Looking at wikipedia info on muscles doesn’t help me understand it. I’m not even sure why I feel compelled to try to figure it out. Particularly since work is mad crazy.

I’m off to DC on Sunday, and at the same time, there’s this perfect storm of strategic initiatives for the organization, my department, my teams — oh, and the board will be meeting when I get back from DC. So now I’m putting together a presentation for them. While it’s great to get some visibility for projects, I’m also at a point where I’m just running flat out. And did I mention I had performance reviews to write for everyone? LOL!

The Cop asked me when my flights were, and all I said was that I didn’t have time to look up that information yet. Hopefully I will be able to spend a little time this evening, getting organized for the trip.

All I know for sure is that I’ll visit Tova’s shala and that I’ll get to take Amtrak from the airport to Union Station. I’m looking forward to some public transportation, odd as that may seem.