fitness · rest · self care · sleep

Sleep and other forms of rest

Image description: against a yellow background the words: “You are exhausted physically and spiritually because the pace created by this system isfor machines and not a magical and divine human being. You are enough. Rest. The Nap Ministry”

We blog about sleep and rest quite a bit around here. I’m keenly aware of this topic right now because I’m 10.5 time zones away from home, with disrupted sleep, and I’m taking a time out from my Around the Bay Training to go easy on my knee/IT band issue.

Approaching my trip to India last week I had an empty tank, a backlog of work I couldn’t get done even if I’d had no sleep, and my left knee was bothering me because of an IT issue from my long distance runs for Around the Bay training. The unsettled weather (freezing cold, then snow, then freezing rain, then rain) didn’t help. I hadn’t felt that run down since last winter. I literally couldn’t wait to get on the plane so I could zone out for the next 20 hours while enroute.

This is why the above message from the Nap Ministry speaks to me. The pace. It’s not human. And yet I can’t seem to slow down for any appreciable length of time unless I get sick, travel (and even then, it’s not always to a slower pace), or hit the wall in such a way that I get a case of the “eff-its.” India happened as a convergence of the second and third of these possibilities, with “sick” likely to follow soon if I hadn’t taken off.

What causes me (us?) to go go go like this when we know it’s too much? I know I fall prey to the idea that I have to do it or I’ll let people down/be a failure/reveal myself to be a pretender — pretending to be on top of things, pretending to be good at what she does, pretending to be smart and effective, pretending… I try to keep up so I won’t let people down and won’t let people see me down.

But we’re not machines. The Nap Ministry has reassured us that we are enough. We get to rest. And in that spirit, after a very long day of sight seeing yesterday that included the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, with a combined time of over four hours on our feet, I took a time out this morning to stay in my hotel room. Granted, I stayed in to do some work, but I also needed a bit of a retreat.

It felt self-nurturing and right to come back to my room after breakfast, read a few student papers, and then curl up under my covers for another hour before meeting up with people at 1:30.

My knee hasn’t bothered me since I left. I’ve had enough sleep the past couple of days. I’m still behind on work. But I’m feeling more rested today than I did the day I left. To me that’s a win.

Namaste.

Are your sleep and rest adequate? If so, what’s your secret? If not, what holds you back from getting enough?

Image description: Tracy walking towards the camera wearing low boots, slim fit pants, a black long sleeved jacket, two scarves, sunglasses, and carrying a camera. In the background Taj Mahal, blue sky, green grass, and throngs of people.
aging · fashion · self care · yoga

Mina’s Naked Yoga Toes

I’m in yoga looking at my naked toes. It’s not a pretty sight and distracts me from my breath, flow and alignment. Running has thickened several of the toenails, so wearing nail polish feels like a favour to anyone who has to look at my toes. The long-term, non-stop polish practice has yellowed the nails and left white deposits of I-don’t-know-what and, yes, aging is having its way. 

It’s the new year and for the second year in a row I’ve decided to give my toenails a breather, literally. I’ll leave the polish off my toes until it’s sandals season again. The first days of my naked toes depress me unreasonably. Last year was more traumatic than this year. I hadn’t bared my toenails for well over five years. Their gnarly nudity makes me feel like I’m accelerating down the cliché slope of letting myself go

Fortunately, after a few days of toe blues, I remember several important things. First, the whole concept of a woman letting herself go is sexist and obnoxious ageism, as this article in Flaunt points out (As I Am Now, So You Will Be: Your Ageism is Hypocrisy). Why would I turn that flawed idea against myself (or anyone else!)? Second, the reason I have so long to study my naked toes is because I’m in aerial yoga class. Instead of having a toe-vanity crisis, I should be high-fiving myself for getting to class. 

Closeup of legs and beautifully polished toes of woman on hammock doing aerial yoga

By the third yoga class of the year, my head clears and I’m able to notice that in fact my toes are happy and enjoying their toe-pranayama (that’s the cleansing yogic breathing). How do I know? Because they start to look better. And this year, being the second year, they are perking up faster. They will never be ready for their close-up and I don’t have a future as a foot model; still, their evident improvement makes me feel kind to my body and is a comforting reminder of my body’s capacity to repair itself.  

I’m not giving up polish on my toes. The sight of my toes’ shiny candy-tips jazzes me. They add zing to all my sandals and inspired me to breakdown and buy open toe ankle boots, which seemed like a ridiculous and impractical fashion, until I bought a pair and realized I could wear them long past sandals season and continue to enjoy the polished insouciance of my toes.  My favourite colour is a dark night sky blue with a tiny bit of twinkle. But that’s just my default, I enjoy the ritual of choosing a hue that suits my vision of the weeks I’ll be wearing the colour. I have a bit of a colour obsession—I choose yoga mats, blankets and aerial hammocks depending on my mood. The woman’s dark red yoga pants and polished toes in the picture above, paired with the dark grey yoga hammock, satisfy my appetite for colour harmony.

I also love a pedicure. My hardworking feet earn the pleasures of a pedicure with all the miles they run and hike and walk and bike and cross-country ski and get wrapped up in yoga hammocks. 

After all, if we are going to ask our bodies to work hard for us, they deserve a reward, don’t they?

fitness · self care · vaccines

Life in the fast line: Self care isn’t all pedicures and massages

Sometimes it’s vaccines and x-rays.

The university is open but the students aren’t back and classes don’t begin until Monday. Because the work week began on Wednesday, after new years, I don’t have my regularly scheduled meetings. Instead, I’m sneaking in catch up stuff.

On the weekend I got my hair cut and coloured. Last week I had my eyes tested and got new glasses. Yesterday I took Cheddar to his new vet. And then in the afternoon I went the doctor and renewed all my prescriptions.

I also did some extra health care chores. Yesterday afternoon was a toe x-ray and the shingles vaccine. Life in the fast lane. I don’t know what’s wrong with my toe. It’s the same one that would, when I was running, randomly shed its toe nail. Now it’s all crooked and sore. Broken? Arthritic? Both? Here’s hoping the x-ray tells all.

The point here is that we sometimes think about self care in terms of luxury goods and services. And okay the hair colour is a luxury but the health care stuff wasn’t. Often it’s taking the time to give one’s own health priority, amid family and work demands, that is what self care is really all about.

Jean Gerber. Unsplash. A time lapse photo of traffic on a road in South Africa.