A Joyous Return to Yoga

Last week I went to my first yoga class in more than a year. It was amazing.

My body felt better. My mind felt better. My head even felt a little better. At home, my practice is always half-hearted and rushed. It is more about getting through what I need to do. What I’ve always loved about yoga is focusing on the good my body can do instead of how my health drags me down. I feel strong and whole. I haven’t found that in my home practice, but I felt it in class.

Maybe because I felt safe with the teacher walking me through everything I had to do. I pushed myself, but gently. My neck and shoulders, already loosened up after a massage on Monday, felt better than they have in a year. Seriously.

Having only a few good hours most days, usually in the morning, has kept me from class. If I devote that time to class, then I don’t get anything else done. Tuesday I went to class, then had a great rest of the day. More energy and strength followed. I got my good hours and then some.

Maybe it was a fluke, but Monday and Tuesday were great days. I felt good physically and mentally. I’d like to attribute it to massage and yoga. Or maybe it was the return to exercise, as not exercising contributes to headaches. (Although I doubt one day made much difference!)

In any case, I’ve planned a new routine. Such plans aren’t usually successful for me, but I think I can do this. Massage at 9:30 a.m. Monday and yoga in that time slot on Tuesday and Thursday.

Just like that I swung from despair to hopefulness. I’m trying to temper my excitement, but it is hard. Not only did I do something I love last week, I think it actually helped my head. *fingers crossed*

Negative Thoughts, Part Two: If Only I Worked Harder…

There’s a common wisdom that illness can be overcome through hard work. Work is definitely involved, but effort isn’t the only factor. I know this, just as I know I’m not lazy or faking it. I also know I work really hard to improve my health. Still there’s a nagging thought: I must not be getting better because I’m not dedicated enough.

To reassure myself, I looked at the review of my 2007 treatments and treatments I planned for 2008. The lists are so long I tire remembering all appointments I’ve been to. This should be proof that I’m trying to get better. Too bad my inner perfectionist tells me I should be able to do more, no matter what the project.

During my (mild) meltdown last night, Hart asked how he could help. I asked him to tell me that I do work hard at getting better. He looked so pained when he told me I work as hard as I possibly can. Having him say that was so reassuring. If he thinks I’m trying hard enough, I must be.

I wish I didn’t need outside confirmation for things like this. Ha! That sentence makes me laugh. Of course I’m too stubborn and independent to ask for help. Of course I want to do it all on my own. I simply can’t — none of us can. Maybe I’ll remember that for a few days at least.

And maybe I’ll remember I’m working my butt off to get better.

Maybe I’m Faking It Because I’m Lazy

My head hurts so much that I can barely walk. I’m on the verge of throwing up. Yet I’m still wondering: Maybe the migraine isn’t that bad and I’m just being lazy. It is the unrelenting refrain. Whenever I think I finally believe I’m not faking it, the doubt comes back.

Cooking, My New Hobby

Since I stopped devouring books and using the computer much (because reading triggers migraines), I’ve been bored. I hate being bored.

Every hands-on craft I try causes wrist pain that I haven’t been able to conquer. Baking is fantastic, but consuming all that I make isn’t a smart dietary strategy. So I’ve decided cooking will be my new hobby.

Although deciding to do something I’ve never particularly liked for fun is a little weird, it makes a lot of sense. I’d love to have a hobby again. I like food, I need to eat, and eating better food would probably make me feel better.

By approaching cooking as a hobby instead of a chore, I hope it will be fun, not the high-pressure job of reforming my diet. Ideally cooking will become something I want to do, not have to do.

These are the guidelines I’ve established so I don’t exhaust myself. Is it contradictory to set goals for a hobby?

Use Simple Recipes
I’m currently taking Mark Bittman‘s (aka The Minimalist) no-nonsense approach: Make better food in less time with fewer ingredients. I’m starting small with his very short cookbook, How to Cook Everything: Quick Cooking. It isn’t an overwhelming tome, but a short introduction to tasty basic recipes. A perfect housewarming gift for someone in their first apartment, the book includes variations for the more experienced or adventurous cook. I’m supplementing with The Minimalist Cooks at Home for variety. (It’s out-of-print, but is available used.)

I’ve owned it for four years and have liked the few things I’ve made from his books. Now my plan is to approach it methodically. Like Julie and Julia, where blogger Julie Powell set out to make every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking. The Minimalist’s goals are much less lofty, but the idea is the same.

Buy Ingredients for One Meal at a Time
This is to avoid wasting food and feeling like I’ve failed. I broke this “rule” one day into my plan. Because this is a new hobby, not a resolution, I’ve no need to beat myself up. Good things hobbies don’t have rules. Besides, I still think I can do it.

Learn New Techniques
This is the part that turns work into entertainment. I’ve always been reluctant to cook meat on the stove. In fact, I’m reluctant to cook meat at all. Not only do I get to produce an edible product (however bad it may be), I expand my skills and learn new recipes. This will make my hobby more fun in the future.

Tomorrow I’m taking the knife skills class I’ve wanted to take for years. It’s a morning class, so I’m confident I’ll make it this time. I’m already daydreaming about future classes.

Do It
I made my recipe plan yesterday morning, then Hart called to say he had a work dinner. I felt crappy, so it was fine, but my motivation is far weaker than 24 hours ago. I hope applying the techniques of the knife skills class will boost my overall motivation.

Clearly there’s little difference between my new hobby and a New Year’s resolution. Since resolutions usually fail, I’m relying on the power reframing. It’s an essential skill of every optimist.

I hope simple cooking will become a frequent topic on The Daily Headache. Nutrition and ease are some good topics for a headache blog.

Photo by Joe Zlomek.