Saturday, August 27, 2011

A return

It's been many months since I blogged, and life has been busy. Our Mexican honeymoon was wonderful, and I wish we could return right now (though I wouldn't enjoy the heat, I'm sure.) Work has been crazy, but I love it. I love what I do, and that is something new for me. My past job was wearing me down, and the addition of my extra duties has made it far, far better.

My husband and I celebrated our first anniversary last month with a small party for our family and friends, and then a day to ourselves. It's hard to believe it's been (over) a year already. Though I hate cliches, I guess time flies when you're in a secure, happy, loving relationship. While everyone has their ups and downs, fights and fun, the great has definitely outweighed the bad.

I will be returning to blogging with a new focus of The Perfect Housewife Project. I will of course continue with my cooking and baking, but I'm also going to focus on our lives, with all the travel, family and love that I am so lucky to be able to share.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The end of the line

Today was the last day of my 30-day challenge, and it's bittersweet. While I'm ready to get my life back and actually get home from work at a normal hour, I will miss knowing that yoga was always a constant in my day, even if nothing else was. Though I still can't touch my toes and I still sometimes hold my breath during certain poses, yoga has helped me to let things go, which is something I desperately needed to learn.

I will post more on Friday, but I couldn't go to bed without announcing that I did indeed finish my challenge. All 30 days of it. I didn't fail, and right now that feels really, really good.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 26: The double shift

After missing last Sunday due to feeling sick when I woke up, I was a day behind my yoga this week. Thus, I did two classes today, a Yin-Yang practice followed by Hatha.

It actually went really, really well. I was worried I'd be exhausted by the end of it, but I was in a great mood afterward and I felt wonderful. However, my poor knee was a casualty of war after I broke up some scar tissue while doing a final stretch. My physiotherapist mother assures me that this is a good thing because it will hopefully allow my leg to stretch a bit more, but it's always a bit tender for a few days after so I'm on a constant cycle of ice and heat.

I felt so good after two classes in a row today that I have decided to do another two classes tomorrow so I don't have to worry about getting up early on Monday. I start my new job that day, and I am a bit worried about having to miss my class on Monday night if something happens at work and I end up getting stuck past 4 p.m. This will also give me the chance to eat dinner with my husband earlier than 7:30, which is always exciting.

It will be kind of fun to be ahead of myself in yoga, though it's still strange to think that after tomorrow I only have two classes left in my 30-day challenge. I am going back to Hatha on Tuesday with my mom, and then finishing my challenge on Wednesday the way I began, with a hot class. I'm looking forward to being able to come home right after work, and I'm looking forward to having my weekends completely free. However, I am a bit sad to be finishing the challenge, as thus far it has brought me some amazing things.

Even if I still can't touch my toes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Karma, giving up and returning to the mat

Obviously I haven't been blogging for the past several days. It's been a week of highs and lows, and I haven't been around too much other than to quickly check email and then sleep.

The first couple days this week were great. I enjoyed my classes, life was going well, and I was enjoying the challenge. And then Wednesday smacked me in the face.

I came home from hot yoga, and I announced to my husband that I was quitting yoga, I couldn't do it anymore, it wasn't doing me any good and I needed to stop, effective immediately. He told me he would support me in whatever I chose to do, but reminded me that completing this challenge was important to me. I had already promised to take my mother to yoga again on Thursday, so I said I would do that and then end my challenge there, a week from the finish.

Well, that didn't happen. I returned to hot yoga today, and I enjoyed it once more. The teacher this morning was wonderful, and she really helped me better my asanas. At night the class attendance is higher, so the teacher isn't able to give anyone individual attention. I can't help but think that if I had taken a class with today's teacher the entire time, I would have made a difference in my flexibility. I'm kicking myself now.

Unfortunately she doesn't teach at night, so I won't be able to take a class with her again during my challenge unless I go at 6:30 a.m. on Monday. I haven't decided what I want to do yet. In theory I really want to do it, but I just don't know that I can get up at 5:30 in the morning.

But this week hasn't just been full of yoga-related ups and downs. My work life this week has been both fantastic and heart-wrenching.

I have received a promotion at work, but at the cost of a very good friend. And it's weighing on me, because one of the things I had hoped to gain during the course of the challenge was a better acceptance of the highs and lows of my career. Instead, I got a new addition to my career, which was much greater karma than I ever though would happen. In one regard, this challenge has brought me so much, but it has taken away things from others, and that's making me feel tremendously guilty.

6 more classes to go ... kind of hard to believe.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A pause

This morning, I rolled over and went back to sleep instead of going to yoga. After overdoing it on Friday with yoga and then meeting with my personal trainer, plus not feeling well last night after eating something that didn't agree with my stomach, I didn't have the energy to get up. Instead, I will be doing two classes in a row next Saturday morning, which I'm actually kind of looking forward to.

The past two days (day 18 and 19) have been ... interesting. Friday was my usual hot class, but with a different teacher this time. Though she was very nice and her intention of vulnerability was beneficial (since I hate to show weakness in front of people and have always considered myself to be a very strong person and therefore never vulnerable), the class was full of teachers-in-training, and therefore the instructor seemed to be catering more to them than to the other members of the class. Through the past three weeks I've been working towards using the Sanskrit words for the yoga asanas, but I'm still unfamiliar with many of them. This instructor used them quite frequently in order to make sure the prospective teachers knew them, but for those of us who did not, it was kind of isolating. However, I came out of the class calm, which right now is the best thing I could ask for.

Yesterday I decided to take a hatha class, mainly due to my soreness from my gym workout the day before. I do enjoy the occasional hatha practice (though I wouldn't be able to do it every day, since I think I would get a bit bored), but this teacher was very airy-fairy and seemed to lose track of what she was doing sometimes. Now, I don't mind the bohemian type (I loved the surfer instructor last week), but when you're in the middle of a balancing pose, it's disconcerting when your instructor loses track of where you are and floats away into the clouds. I also didn't feel as challenged as I was hoping to, but I guess one day out of the 19 so far isn't too bad. I'm sure the remaining 11 classes will be challenging enough for me, as most of them are going to be hot.

It's kind of hard to believe that I only have a week and a half left on my challenge. Time has flown by, and soon I will be in Mexico on my honeymoon (26 sleeps!)

I truly cannot wait.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 17: Hatha and my mother

My mother has an osteo-arthritic hip, which has caused her many problems over the past several years. Partially because of this, she rarely gets any exercise, and thus is always on a weight-loss mission.

Today, my day 17 of my 30-day challenge, I took her to hatha class with me. My first love is hot, but I knew she would never survive, so hatha it had to be.

And for once, she really enjoyed it. She had never taken yoga before, so I was a bit worried coming in she would dislike something, but I was very happily surprised. She wasn't able to do all the postures, but she made it through the entire 1.25 hour class, and I am very proud of her. She says she will be returning at some point, so we'll see what happens after I get back from my Mexican honeymoon (29 sleeps!)

As I noted, today was day 17. 13 days left, and today I was actually kind of sad. Though I have certainly had my bad days, most of them have been good, and today was one of them. The time flew by, and my body feels great. I'm tired, but after working for five days, who isn't?

But I will miss my daily yoga practice, and I know I probably won't be able to repeat it anytime soon. So far it has helped my hip flexibility (I'm still waiting on the hamstrings), lightened my mood, taught me to breath and given me new energy, and something constant to concentrate on.

Though I am only just over halfway through, yoga has helped me centre myself, and brought good things to me. Starting on March 28, I will begin working Monday to Friday. For the past three years, I have worked Sunday to Thursday and that has occasionally caused problems because I am unable to do things on Sundays, such as brunches, bridal/baby showers and family get-togethers. Now, I will be able to attend those things if I so choose. I will have a normal weekend like everyone else, and I can spend more time with my husband.

It's weird to think about, but I think my 30-day practice has brought me some good karma, and now that karma is paying off.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 15 and 16: Heading downhill

Kind of hard to believe that I'm halfway through my 30-day challenge, though two more weeks still seems like a long time.

With some upheaval at work and trying to be there for my best friend and her family after the death of her father, it's been a rough few days around the Perfect Housewife household. I'm overtired and snappish, and small things are irritating me.

One of those things is the packed yoga class. Because it's teacher training until Sunday, there are extra people in my usual hot yoga class, and it feels a bit squished. It's hard to get the full effect of opening your lungs and chest when you're afraid of smacking someone with your arms as you breathe in. It's also a bit disheartening to watch all these flexible people who are training to be teachers, especially because I don't feel I'm any closer to achieving my goal of touching my toes while standing. My muscles aren't hurting anymore, which I suppose is a good sign, but they're still just as rigid as they were before I started. Hopefully the next two weeks will make a slight bit of difference, but I'm kind of down on that possibility right now.

The other irritant is the extremely full parking lot. There are an extra 20 people doing teacher training, so that translates to several extra cars in the tiny studio parking lot. I've managed to get a spot for the past two days, but tomorrow I'll be arriving later and I'm not so sure I won't be parking far away and having to run to class. Not the best start to what is supposed to be a relaxing, enlightening practice.

Tomorrow I am taking my mother with me to hatha class, which I'm a bit worried about. She has a bad hip, but I'm hoping the slow pace of the class will at least allow her to keep up. She may end up in child's pose the entire time, but maybe at least a bit will sink in.

14 days left ...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 14: Death to my abs

6 a.m. is way too early to get up for a yoga class. While I'm great in the morning (a bit lazy to get up but fine once I've washed my face and brushed my teeth), it was very very hard to get up in the dark and leave my husband sound asleep while I went out to torture my abs.

Because torture it was. While I do the occasional ab workout at the gym (though not as much as I should), this was an hour of full-on core work. It was nice to leave with that bit of soreness though, because I've always been a fan of feeling sore after a workout, provided it's not an injury type of sore. Knowing that I worked hard is a great feeling though, and so even though it was really hard to get up this morning, I did enjoy my yoga just a bit. Not enough to get up that early again unless I have to, but at least it wasn't a total waste of my time.

I am however looking forward to returning to my hot class tomorrow evening. I never expected to love it so much, but it truly refreshes me and gets those endorphins flowing, which is always something I need in my life.

That said, I got some very sad news yesterday afternoon after my last entry. My best friend and maid of honour's father was quite sick (one of the three people I mentioned last week in my appreciation post), and sadly he passed away yesterday. The family is obviously devastated, and so tomorrow evening my mom and I will be bringing over food and sympathy cards. While it was not an unexpected death, yesterday was a very sad day for everyone who knew my friend's father. He will be greatly missed. 26 is too young to lose a parent (though there is never a good age) and 26 years is definitely too short for a happy marriage.

My thoughts, love and yoga-ic intentions go out to my friend and her family today, tomorrow and every day this week. And I will be giving my friends and family some extra-long hugs this week, just because.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 12 and 13: Ninjas and the hardest class I've ever taken

Yes dear readers, I am a ninja.

So said my instructor yesterday, as I am apparently so quiet when going into my poses that you wouldn't hear me if I sneaked up behind you. Doing yoga poses apparently.

It was an awesome hatha class. I was energized and ready for the day once I left, and I just loved it. I was hoping he would be teaching other classes, but it looks like he was just a substitute instructor. I will keep an eye out though, just in case. It's kind of fun doing yoga with a surfer boy.

And then there was today, lucky day 13. Due to hot yoga teacher training, the class I took last week and was hoping to take every Sunday was preempted, and a Power Yoga for Hips class took its place (next week as well.) The teacher was very, very nice, but it was the hardest class I've ever done.

I am more of a strength-based yogi, which comes in handy for postures like the plank and downward dog. I am NOT a flexibility-based yogi, at all. And this class was hugely based on flexibility, making it very hard.

The idea of it seemed so great, because I do hold a lot of tension in my hips and I would love to be able to release it. But a flexibility-based class is just not what I can handle right now, as much as I wish I could.

At the end of the class he asked me how it was and whether I enjoyed it. I said I had enjoyed it to some degree, but that it was really, really hard. His response was that it's supposed to be hard, which I disagree with.

I don't do yoga as a form of exercise, though it certainly is one. I do it more for the mental and spiritual benefits that I cannot get from my time at the gym. I've certainly seen some physical benefits of this challenge, including better sleep, increased energy level (most of the time) and a bit of increased strength, but I am not going to yoga to lose weight. I go to the gym four days a week for that.

Yoga is supposed to be challenging, but I don't think it should ever be hard. I don't want to go to yoga and be frustrated when I leave because I felt like I made a fool of myself. Even though something in me is telling me to try again, to do that class next week because if it's hard, it's something I should be doing, I just don't want to. I want to go back to my hot yoga, secure in the feeling that even if it's challenging, I'm still capable of doing it. I don't think I'm capable of doing that class again.

I'm frankly terrified of tomorrow. I have a meeting after work and I'm not able to attend my usual 5:15 hot class, so I signed up for a 7 a.m. core class with the same instructor I had today. My abs are definitely the weakest part of my body, and after today I think it's going to be another hard day. My other option is a 6:30 a.m. hot class, but I don't think I'm the type of person who can get up at 5:30 to go to yoga. I may spend half the class in child's pose on my mat.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Days 10 and 11: Hitting a wall

Yesterday night, I came home and almost cried. Though my hatha class was great, I was exhausted, beat down and ready to just call it a day. I was proud of myself for getting a third of the way through my challenge, but my body was telling me I needed to sleep.

So I did, and this morning I woke up rejuvenated and ready for the day. I went for a run, and then headed to hot yoga. It was a different instructor this time, and much different crowd. While my evening class is closer to my age, this group tended to be quite a bit older. In some ways this was inspiring because it proves that yoga is good for all age groups, but it was certainly disconcerting to see a woman in her 60s do a better dancers pose than I can do. I tried, and that was all that matters.

And then my husband called. He was in the emergency room because he couldn't stop shivering and his entire body ached. Being me, my mind immediately went to the worst possible thing I could think of, which was meningitis. I nearly dropped my entire basket of groceries in the middle of Safeway, but I knew that would do no good so I finished my shopping and then headed to the hospital.

Four hours, several blood tests and an IV later, he apparently has a case of the flu. After sleeping for four hours, he's feeling much better and is drinking Pedialyte, Gatorade and soup, and says his headache is going away with the help of Tylenol and Advil.

I on the other hand am popping some melatonin and hitting the sack, because now I have a headache of my own, brought on by the usual culprits of tension and stress. I hate hospitals; people close to me die in hospitals, and walking into that emergency ward desperately hoping my husband was okay was a body blow.

As I said earlier this week, I love my husband, for everything he is and everything he will be. I don't want to live without him, and I cannot imagine a day without him in it. Today, I used my yoga breathing to calm myself down, and not let outsiders know how scared I was. My mantra of "relax, release" worked to prevent me from outwardly panicking, and for that I owe a lot to my yogis; every single one of them.

Perhaps yoga really does work outside of the studio.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 9: Appreciation

Remember how I said yesterday that my energy level is better? Well, I made myself into a liar today when I had to get up to talk a walk because I was getting too tired to concentrate. Hopefully that was just an anomaly though.

I could not for the life of me tell you what the theme of today's yoga class was. Lately the yogi has been providing an intention for the class, but today he did not, and even if he had, I would have changed it to suit my own purposes.

This week has been a very hard week for many of my friends, with two cancer diagnoses and a requirement for surgery that will likely prove fatal (these are three different friends, to be clear.)

All three people diagnosed are the parents of my friends, which last night made me think about all I take for granted regarding my own friends and family, especially my parents. Throughout my life, there have been times when my parents and I have fought, for various large and small issues. But no matter what, I love them both very much, and I love my friends and other family members as well.

I am lucky that my parents have been there for me through all my milestones, from graduating high school then university, and beginning to date and then marrying my husband. I hope they will continue to be there for more milestones in my life, that of my husband and any future family.

Today, I appreciate my mother. I appreciate that even though she and I have had our share of disagreements and screaming fights, she loves me anyway. I appreciate that she has always taken care of me, and that she was there for me during the planning of my wedding, which came with its share of stress and tears.

And I appreciate my dad, who has also been there for me through thick and thin, through bad decisions, two tattoos and forced mediation. He loves me for whatever I am and whomever I become, and for that I thank him. I never stopped to think on the day of my wedding how lucky I was to have him by my side as I walked down the aisle, but looking back now, I see how blessed I was.

Finally, I appreciate my husband, who puts up with my moods, buys me flowers, and cooks me dinner when I get home exhausted. I appreciate him for loving me, for making me a better person, and for keeping me on an even keel when the world gets too much. It is my hope and prayer that we will have a long, happy and healthy marriage, no matter what lies ahead for us. I cannot imagine losing him, and I hope that won't happen for many, many decades.

It is my hope that my friends and their parents will have the best possible outcome, no matter what it is. Today, my yoga intention was to remember how lucky I am, and how important it is to remember that life can change in an instant. Being selfish is no longer an option for me, and I hope this will be one promise I will keep without ever wavering.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 8: Pushing the limits

I think I'm finally pushing past exhaustion at the end of the day and getting used to my schedule. Prior to yesterday, I came home from yoga ready to just go to sleep. However, I actually have energy when I get home now, which is definitely a step towards my goal of getting more energy and not hitting that wall in the mid-afternoon.

Today was hot yoga, which I am still loving. I was worried that I would be bored after awhile, but I'm learning that even if the instructor is the same, there is a variety to every class. Much of it seems to be within myself, and I'm hoping that the remaining 22 days will still give me that feeling.

I am also aiming to appreciate the eagle pose, even if I never really enjoy it. The pose itself doesn't look very complicated, but thus far I haven't been able to do either the arm or leg movement. Perhaps this is due to my lack of flexibility, or just a lack of coordination.

Balance caused some issues to me today though, which I was very surprised by. You're supposed to use your own gaze to keep yourself upright, but today that was just not happening for me. I fell out of the balancing poses quite frequently, but if there was time I went back into the pose and tried again. Perhaps tomorrow will be better, and even if it's not, I'm almost a third of the way through my challenge, and that is something to be proud of.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 7

It's kind of hard to believe that I have gone to yoga seven days in a row already. Though the weekend was hard, those seven days went by really quickly. I'm hoping the remaining 23 go just as fast.

Today was back to my lovely hot yoga, taught by the owner of the studio. When I took a class by him several months ago, I found I didn't enjoy it as much as I did from other instructors. Today, it was just fine, despite the chattering teenage girls and the woman who tried to leave in the middle before being told to just sit down if she was feeling faint.

I am also learning to appreciate dancer's pose, which frustrated me to no end last week. It's still very hard for me, but through repetition I'm actually able to go a bit deeper than I was at the start. It's my hope that by the end of this challenge I won't feel quite so silly with my lack of flexibility, even if I don't end up getting much farther into the pose.

I am trying to get my mother into a yoga class with me. She has a very bad hip due to a past injury, and so she wants to try a class. Unfortunately I can't really think of a good class for her to try, since hatha involves quite a bit of balancing and arm strength, and she'd die in a hot class. I will inquire at the studio tomorrow and see what they recommend. I think it would be good for her, though I don't know how well she'll do with focusing her mind on her breathing instead of day-to-day issues. I struggle with it sometimes, but slowly I'm getting better at letting things go for that hour and 15 minutes, even if it comes rushing back as soon as I get into my car.

All in all, it was a good practice today. Not the most amazing one ever, but not at all bad.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 5 and 6: Healing

I fell down on my blogging last night, probably due to coming home and passing out facedown on the bed.

Anyway, yesterday was my second foray into hatha yoga, to test if my mild dislike for it on Thursday was due to the teacher, the lack of sweating, a combination of both or something entirely different.

Apparently it was inherent laziness, because I still didn't enjoy it like I expected to. Part of it was due to the teacher, who I found a bit abrasive (I won't take a class her again, but I will try again with Thursday's yogi), and part of it was due to how packed the room was. One drawback of the 30-day challenge is that I'm not the only one doing it, and therefore people are fitting in classes whenever they can. I guess 10 a.m. on a Saturday is a popular time, since there were at least 30 people in a very small room. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought it was a hot class after a few minutes. It's never comfortable to be afraid to raise your arms over your head in case you bonk someone else. A bit tough to get a good stretch when you are feeling constrained.

However, I can't write off hatha just yet. As noted I won't be taking another class with the teacher from yesterday (unless I have no choice of course) but I will go back to hatha on Thursday and see how it goes.

That brings us to today, my first yin-yang class. Yin-Yang is a mixture of deep, slow stretching (yin) and flowing sequences (yang). 8:30 on a Sunday not being a popular time, it wasn't packed and I didn't feel in danger of whacking someone else or being whacked myself. It was definitely a struggle to get up so early on a Sunday, but I really enjoyed the class. However, leaving for work afterwards was not so enjoyable, since I was in a state of blissed-out exhaustion and all I wanted to do was go back home for a nap. This could have made driving a hazard.

Six days have passed quite quickly, but I am waiting for the sudden exhausted crash where I just don't feel like entering the studio again. I'm sure it will happen at some point in the next 24 days, but I'm hoping it can hold off until closer to the end of my challenge, when the finish line is in sight and I can use a final burst of energy to carry me through.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 4: Gender politics and a really long pigeon pose

I may have overdone it today.

I spent an hour with my trainer this morning before grabbing something to eat and then heading to the studio for a hot yoga class. Now, my muscles are aching and I feel like I could fall asleep sitting up.

Anyway, it's very interesting to see the mix of people who come to a yoga class. My usual early evening class consists of many younger people, mostly women. Yesterday's hatha yoga was completely women, but tended more towards the older side of things. Today was full of older women and many, many men, which surprised me. Though many of the yogis are men, it's rare to see more than one or two men in a yoga class, at least thus far.

However, it was a weird situation. Academically I should be okay with men stretching beside me, but I was a bit uncomfortable. It was like my practice had become a very private thing, and suddenly the opposite gender was intruding upon it. Being a hypocrite, I had no problem with my husband attending a hot class a few weeks ago with me, and two of my favourite yoga instructors so far have been male, including the one who taught me "relax: release" which I have since used in my yoga practice and in my personal life when trying to fall asleep while my brain wouldn't shut up.

I wasn't particularly fond of feeling like the men were intruding, so I hope it was a momentary thing and the feeling will not return next Friday. Perhaps it was just a product of being tired. I think the ridiculous amount of sweat also contributed to it: ladies should never sweat, just glow, and that is definitely not possible in a hot yoga class.

I mentioned earlier this week that I love the pigeon pose. I still love it, but a bit of the sparkle went out of it today when the yogi asked us to hold it for a very, very long time. I believe it was about two minutes on each side; those may have been the longest four minutes of my life. My hips began to hurt, my mind wandered and my arms ached. I know it was good for me because it unlocked my hips where I hold a bunch of tension, but it was kind of sad for my favourite pose to become so hard.

I sound like a big whiner today, but I do promise that I enjoyed my practice, just as I do most days (yesterday notwithstanding, but I'm trying again tomorrow.) Four days has passed fairly quickly now and I'm getting into a routine. The biggest test will be Sunday when I go before work, as Sunday is the day I usually sleep in a bit and take the day off of exercise.

Four down, 26 to go!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 3: Confusion

I'm not sure what to think about today's hatha yoga class. I've always taken hot yoga at the studio, but I was thinking that four days in a row (tomorrow's class is hot yoga) might be pushing it and may strip me of all my electrolytes. Note that this is not necessarily a bad thing until I collapse from dehydration.

Anyway, it was interesting. The room was much smaller, and definitely not warm. In fact, I was quite cold, but that could have been because I dressed for hot yoga. Lesson learned, wear pants instead of shorts.

The teacher was very nice and had a very soothing voice, which is important for hatha yoga because it is meant to be more relaxing. However, I found it much harder than hot yoga.

With hot yoga, you are meant to deeply stretch and hold positions for a longer period of time in order to facilitate that deep stretch. In today's class, we moved from pose to pose much quicker, and I sometimes found my arms or legs shaking from the effort. I've also found with hot yoga that you do much fewer exercise with your own body weight, and that was definitely not the case here.

I'm going to try another hatha class on Saturday, to see if I like it better. Something in my brain is telling me that I need to do it because it's hard; I need to overcome my feelings and keep trying until my brain stops telling me to stop.

Tomorrow may or may not be the day from hell. I have a personal training session from 8:15 to 9:15, then driving my father to the airport for 10:15, and then returning for yoga at 12:15 to 1:15.

After that you will find me collapsed on the couch.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 2: Relax, release

That was today's mantra, and surprisingly, it worked at the end.

Hot yoga was on the agenda again today, day 2 of the 30-day challenge. I have discovered a new favourite pose, the pigeon. It's an excellent stretch for my hips, which is apparently where I carry quite a bit of stress and tension.

However, the frustration of being inflexible is still there, even though my logical mind knows it's impossible to change my muscles in a day. I don't want to be upset, and I don't want to be looking for judgment that is probably not even there. One of the philosophies of yoga is the lack of judgment and the understanding that everyone is in a different place. Not everyone can do a specific pose, even if that person could do it yesterday.

I would do well to remember that sometimes.

Tomorrow is a rest day of hatha yoga, which I have never taken at this specific studio. I'm sure it will be just as enjoyable, and I certainly need the rest. I never realized how tired I would be with a schedule of going to the gym in the morning, going to work, and then hitting yoga on the way home. I'm hoping this exhaustion will go away once I get into a schedule.

One thing I am proud of today? I was really looking forward to yoga after work. Normally I am exhausted and I just want to go home, but today I really wanted to hit the studio. It's small progress, but progress just the same.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 1

The first day of my 30-day yoga practice had its good points and its bad points.

The class began, as always, by the teacher telling us to choose an intention for the practice, and for the rest of the day. Today mine was "just breathe", something I plan to continue for the rest of the week. Though it sounds mildly ridiculous, breathing can be really hard sometimes. It's something that everyone does without thinking, so slowing down and actually thinking and hearing your breath go in and out is something I need to concentrate on over the next 29 days.

Over the course of the hour, I was able to actually let go of my thoughts and outside stresses, which is definitely one of my goals. However, my insecurities about my flexibility and my body were still in full force.

It is frustrating to know that my flexibility hampers me from doing many of the poses to the greatest effect. I can't do dancers pose, I can't touch my toes without bending my knees, and I definitely can't do eagle pose (which I've discovered I hate.) I know one of my intentions with this challenge is to increase my flexibility, but I'm scared that it will never happen and I will continue to be completely inflexible.

It was also very hard to stand there surrounded by all these skinny women and see what I perceive as my chubby belly. Tight yoga clothing does my body no favours, but hot yoga cannot be done in sweats. It seems that no matter how well I eat and how much I exercise, my belly will not disappear. It's the way I'm shaped, and where I store my fat. And it's sad, because I'm not there to compare my body to others, but today I couldn't help but notice it. And I was worried that the other women were judging me for both of my problems (flexibility and the belly.)

Perhaps that insecurity will go away as well.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The beginning of the journey

I start my 30-day yoga challenge tomorrow evening, with a hot yoga class after work. I've done hot yoga several times (and blogged about it), and I love it.

So why am I so nervous? I've done yoga on and off for years, though it obviously hasn't had any effect on my flexibility or strength. It's one of the few places where I can let my thoughts go and just listen to my body, and perhaps one day appreciate it for what it does despite the extra lumps and bumps I wish it didn't have.

I am desperately afraid of failure. To me, failure is one of the worst feelings in the entire world. I am afraid that I won't be able to do 30 days straight. I am afraid that I will give up when it gets too hard. I am afraid that it won't make a difference and I'll be just as unhappy when I finish.

But maybe most of all, I'm afraid that it will change me. I am afraid that I will come out at the end and realize how bad of a person I was before I started. I am afraid that I will not be happy with my life after the challenge, because I can't afford to take a class every day for the rest of my life.

I have failed in some of the things I have set out to do, as everyone has in life. Sometimes I feel like I've failed at being a good wife, let alone the Perfect Housewife.

But this is one thing that I cannot fail, because I believe this will show how strong I really am. And not being strong would be devastating to me.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Muffins, cheesecake and a short hiatus

My husband is apparently addicted to blueberry muffins.

As a treat several weeks ago I made low-calorie muffins, which he then took for breakfast for the rest of the week. They're were quite tasty, but as I posted about a few weeks ago, they weren't exactly what he was looking for. So, I continued the search for a better low-calorie blueberry muffin.

I ended up finding one on, a site dedicated to helping people lose weight as a community.They're even lower calorie than the first ones, but they're much denser and more moist, as the recipe includes vanilla yogurt.

They were a hit, and so I made another batch of them last weekend. That batch is now gone, and Mr. V is requesting that I bake another one. I've created a monster.

Last weekend was also my birthday, and following a family tradition, I baked my own birthday cakes. One was the typical Betty Crocker mix, but I decided to get all fancy for the second one, and made a chocolate brownie cheesecake.

Were I a teenager, my response would be "OMG!" That cheesecake was delicious! It was one of the more time intensive cheesecakes I've ever made, as I had to make the crust (assisted by my capable husband), make the brownies, and then make the cheesecake itself. It was definitely worth the time, but it won't be a recipe that I can just whip up on a whim. It went over very well at my family birthday party though, so I will certainly be keeping it in my arsenal for the future.

And now we come to my hiatus. As I noted last weekend, I have signed up for a 30-day yoga challenge at my yoga studio. Every day from March 1 to 30 I will take a yoga class, in a possibly vain effort to centre myself, gain some self-esteem and learn to breathe again. Unfortunately this means my Perfect Housewife duties will be falling by the wayside, but instead I will be blogging every day (seriously) about the challenge, my thoughts and any problems I encounter. My aim is to come out the other side a much calmer and more centred woman, but as usual there are no guarantees. I'm hoping this short journey of self-discovery will wash away some stress and remind me of the importance of liking myself as a person, whether I'm a Perfect Housewife or not.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Being domesticated

This weekend, I am being a wife. I am not being an editor, I'm not being a professional.

I have had a rough couple weeks at work (hence my silence on this blog), and so, this weekend I am decompressing. I am going to bake muffins, make delicious dinners for my husband, and be a bit lazy. It will also be my birthday on Monday, so I am baking two cakes for a Sunday family dinner.

I'm also taking Mr. V to yoga with me tomorrow. As I noted late last year, I love hot yoga. It's one hour where I can forget the outside world and let my mind concentrate on nothing but my breathing. Though my flexibility is in my legs is still poor after more than a decade of horseback riding, yoga actually lets me stretch.

So, I will also be starting a 30-day yoga challenge on March 1. Every day until March 30, I will attend a yoga class. It is my hope that I will be able to return to the woman I want to be, and perhaps work on that flexibility issue.

I need to be happy, and lately the outside world is not making me happy. Thus, I must attain happiness from within. This is not to say that my husband, family and friends are not wonderful; they are, and I love them dearly. But even the Perfect Housewife has to find contentment in something other than a beautiful house, fantastic cooking and delicious baking. It is time to find happiness.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The muffin results

As I noted yesterday, I made blueberry muffins for the first time last night. All in all, they turned out well. However, they were obviously low-fat and low-calorie. To me this was just fine, but they weren't what my husband was looking for. I quite enjoyed my little muffin breakfast though.

That's not to say he didn't enjoy them, but he suggested that next time I add butter. That kind of defeats the purpose of low-fat muffins. Adding butter adds fat, and that wasn't what I was looking for.

Sometimes this whole dieting thing makes me weary.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mmm muffins

One of my requests for Christmas was for someone to buy me some muffin tins, since cupcakes and muffins are two of my favourite things (perhaps my carb fixation contributed to my extra poundage up until a year ago?). My parents obliged, and when I came downstairs on Christmas morning there were two muffin tins under the tree.

Today, they are having their coming out party. Tonight, I will attempt to make blueberry muffins, because my husband has requested one for breakfast tomorrow morning, and of course as The Perfect Housewife, I live to grant my husband's wishes.

Happily, one muffin is only 137 calories, meaning I can have one for breakfast tomorrow too. We leave on our honeymoon in 70 days, so 10 weeks from now. As hard as it sometimes I will be counting my calories every day, so a low-calorie, low-fat treat like a blueberry muffin is very exciting to me.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sheet lessons

I'm nearly 26 years old, and just learned today how to fold a fitted sheet. What's even worse, I was taught by my husband.

When I lived with my parents, I was in charge of doing the laundry but not putting it away (except my own obviously.) Thus, I can time a laundry load down to the minute, and have honed this technique since Mr. V and I moved in together almost two years ago. However, when I do the sheets I just fold them haphazardly and stuff them into the Ikea wardrobe that serves as our linen closet.

So today, as I asked my husband to fold the sheets for me, he asked if I had ever learned how to fold it properly. I had no idea there WAS a proper way to fold a fitted sheet. Apparently my shoving into a closet doesn't count as a proper way. Psh say I, it's always worked for me.

Well, his way worked better. At least it folded up into a square instead of a vaguely oblong rectangle.

I guess it's a good thing I have a domesticated husband, even if it takes away from my title as The Perfect Housewife.

Hating the late shift

The Perfect Housewife has fallen down on the job.

Due to another editor's vacation, I have been working the late shift for the past two weeks. Because of this, I've been packing my dinner every night and my husband has been fending for himself. I'm sure you can see how this can be wearying after awhile.

Apparently my housewifery skills are appreciated though, as my husband announced yesterday that he is looking forward to getting home after work to find his dinner already laid out for him by his Perfect Housewife.

My poor apartment needs a good cleaning though. I'm fairly possessive about my cleaning supplies, and so I kept telling my husband to stop cleaning up; I'll do it when I'm done my late shifts.

That time has now come, so tonight after I run my errands I will be hitting the cleaning supply closet like an addict missing a fix.

Tomorrow night we are hosting my parents-in-law for the first time by ourselves. Usually when we've had his parents over, we've also hosted my parents as it was almost always something wedding-related so it was easier to host both instead of repeating ourselves. Now, we will be hosting them alone.

Currently I am planning homemade pasta with an olive oil, garlic and wild mushroom sauce, salad, sausages for the meat-eaters (so, everyone but me), and a blueberry-lime cheesecake for dessert.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Housewife Competitive Instinct

It's not the 1950s anymore, when women were expected to stay home once they got married and keep a spotless house, cook delicious meals, entertain any company that came in and eventually, raise the children. However, there are days when it seems that a wormhole has opened up and swallowed me right back into that decade.

I posted after Thanksgiving about my frustration over the ingrained gender roles in my husband's family. That still frustrates me, though it took until recently to realize exactly why that still reverberates in my head.

I was never raised to think that my only stock lay in the cleanliness of my house, the perfection of my cooking and my skills as a hostess. But as the time has passed, it feels like I'm being shoved into that spot, a square peg in a round hole.

My husband has (hopefully!) a good life. Our house is clean, I try to cook dinner as many nights as I can without collapsing from exhaustion, and I love to entertain friends and family to dinner.

But I am not the Perfect Wife in the culture I have married into. I argue, I refuse to cook meat, and I don't want to reproduce at this point in my life. I prefer to sit quietly and observe my surroundings before jumping into a conversation if I'm not perfectly comfortable with the situation. I don't trust easily, I only hug and kiss people I love (and never, ever on the lips unless it's Mr. V), and I don't go along with things for the sake of peace.

No, I am not a good wife in the stereotypical sense. But sometimes, being an individual nags on me too.

Every day, women are bombarded with suggestions for how they should live their lives. The TV blares ads for every possible cleaning product, always showing a woman doing the cleaning. Advertisements for food products invariably show a woman doing the cooking, dressed beautifully with nary a hair out of place. And let us not forget the unrelenting chorus of "You're too fat! Your husband will leave you for a better woman! Try this diet plan because you're just not good enough right now!"

It affects me. The women in those commercials have what looks like the perfect life. No one yells, no one struggles, and certainly no one ever leaves the dishes in the sink for a few hours because she'd rather read another chapter in her book.

My (probably imagined) deficiencies at being a housewife are never more pronounced than when The Housewife Competitive Instinct rears its ugly head.

I am one of two young V wives. My brother-in-law was married four weeks after us. My sister-in-law is a peacemaker, while I am a fiery-tempered grouch at times. She embraces the culture she has married into, while I rail against it when something about it frustrates me. She can start a conversation with anyone about anything, while I prefer to be approached for discussion. In short, we are very, very different people. This has caused some friction in the past, as she has been around the family for an extra couple years, while I was a new entity (and still am, at times.)

The situation brings out said competitive instinct. I want the family to think I am wonderful and that I'm a good wife to Mr. V. I want them to accept me without expecting me to be a clone of my sister-in-law. And so, I bake.


My sister-in-law has said before that she is not a baker, so I take on that role. If someone is having a get-together, I want to bake something. I need to prove to the family (I feel like I should be capitalizing that) that I am good at something. I may not eat meat, I may not want to pop out a kid right now, and I may not have any desire to ever take in my in-laws to live with us except in the case of a dire emergency, but I AM GOOD AT SOMETHING!

These thoughts will be continued in another post.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Homemade pasta and the evolution of a pasta sauce

My grandmother bought us a pasta maker attachment for our KitchenAid stand mixer as a wedding gift, knowing that not only would I love it, I'd probably also use it and invite her over for dinner to test it.

Being mildly paranoid about using wedding presents before the actual wedding (and being a strict adherent of Emily Post's etiquette), I packed it away in a cupboard, and then continued with the wedding planning.

Apparently five months after the wedding is high time to take that pasta maker out of its box. Thus, Mr. V and I gathered around the pasta machine, and prepared to do battle. Now, I've seen Mario Batali and Gordon Ramsay make pasta on TV before, and it didn't look that complicated. And truly, it's not. Flour and eggs are not expensive ingredients, and due to my obsession with baking, they're something we always have on hand. Mr. V, having stronger hands, made the dough while I prepped vegetables for the mushroom bolognese that I found in a Canadian Living vegetarian cookbook. Little did I know that we'd be chopping mushrooms until we had eight cups of tiny shreds.

Not the point, but thank the deity of your choice for the food processor.

Anyway, the dough went well, and then it rested while I continued to chop vegetables (possibly while singing along to The Trews, because singing to vegetables makes them chop easier. It's a little known old wives tale.)

Running it through the pasta machine was mildly trickier. When we've seen Batali and Ramsay do it, they make the dough and then hang the noodles from a pasta drying rack or some such. Needless to say, we have nothing of the sort, and I refused to hang pasta from my cupboards in case they were dirty. We ended up tossing them in flour and putting them in a bowl.

Meanwhile, the pasta sauce is bubbling away and its resemblance to a meat sauce is mildly terrifying. As usual, I've followed the recipe to the letter, but the sauce is ... not so good right now. Not to say that it wasn't a quite serviceable sauce, but it was bland, and we cannot have a bland sauce. Adding salt didn't work, and neither did adding pepper. We had already put oregano in the sauce, which stood in for the nutmeg that Mr. V detests. Cayenne pepper rescued us, and soon the sauce was bubbling away on the stove again, mildly enhanced so it actually tasted like something other than mushrooms.

By this time the water was boiling and it was time to cook our homemade spaghetti. Being used to dried pasta, I was mildly nervous about the short cooking time required for fresh noodles, and may have had to be convinced that they were fine and ready to eat.

Verdict? Delicious. The noodles were fresh and light, and while apparently the sauce couldn't pass for real meat sauce because the texture was different, it was indeed a very yummy meal, and a good first try for the novice pasta makers. Perhaps it is time we invite Grandma over to sample our wares.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Damnit Julia!

I love Julia Child. I think she was a very cool, very smart, very funny lady. And though I cannot eat nearly everything in her Mastering The Art of French Cooking, I respect the amount of work that went into the book and I'm sure her recipes are delicious (or at least Julie Powell, who wrote Julie and Julia, tells me so.)

So it disappoints me to see that she once said that she never serves pasta to guests because it shows that you don't know how to cook. Being a life-long pasta lover and always looking for the next perfect recipe, the idea that I cannot cook just because I occasionally serve pasta to guests is an alien one to me.

That's not to say that I haven't been served some perfectly horrible pasta, but I have also been served some amazing, wonderful, out-of-this-world pasta (Mario Batali's restaurant in Las Vegas, I'm looking at you.)

Though the base of a pasta dish, especially when you're a vegetarian, is often the same flour and egg noodles, there is always endless variety in the sauce. I have never been a fan of cream sauces personally, but many people dream of the perfect fettucine alfredo that they had in a restaurant long ago. I have tried many different types of tomato-based sauces, including the amazing and delicious Alla Crazy Bastard that I have written about here, and the V version of a Gordon Ramsay sauce that we've made several times over the course of our relationship when we have leftover vegetables and tomatoes. Again, the tomatoes are always the base of the sauce, but I'd be hard-pressed to think of too many other similarities.

I have also become a recent convert to olive oil and garlic-based sauces, mostly due to the euphoric experience of putting that first bite of Mario Batali pasta in my mouth on our mini honeymoon in August. Though I have not yet perfected it myself, Mr. V has become a master in it, especially when mixed with wild mushrooms. To die for, seriously.

Now that I've gone and made myself hungry, I submit my rebuttal to Mrs. Child. While the perfect delicious pasta sauce doesn't take as much effort as deboning a duck or roasting a chicken, the pursuit of it has led me to many happy hours trying, tasting and seasoning. The mark of a good meal is one that you enjoy, and so if you have satisfied your guests, you are a good cook.