38.5 hours and 51,426 words hath November

Eat my shorts – Bart Simpson

[Day 1, Day 10Day 20, Day 27, Day 30]

I did it!

On Thursday, Day 30 of my 30 days Bikram challenge #yogaeverydamnday, I put on my Wonder Woman pants and ran down to the studio and did 90 minutes of Bikram yoga.

My Bikram blogs have had so many hits after the Netflix documentary about Bikram Choudhury. I didn’t watch it and have no desire to think about it or him. He didn’t invent yoga or any of the asanas. They have been around for centuries. Passed down orally man to man, as women weren’t allowed into the yoga club.

His gift was to sequence a specific set of asanas and to crank up the heat. It works, it’s great, I love it, end of. My only wish is that the women (and men) he has abused, have their stories heard and validated, justice is done, and that they are held in a healing space so that they can feel better.

That said, I wish to add that even though we perform the same sequence of asanas everyday, everyday is different. My body, my mind, my spirit feels different and therein lies the yoga practice. It is not what happens on the mat which is the true measure of success. It is how we feel off the mat as we move forward through the world and how we respond to life and to everyone in it. That is the key.

Personally speaking, a month in the studio has helped me stop holding on so tight to people, places, labels, and so on. My greatest desire is that I continue to live in this more easy space so that I can hold it for others too. I have lived this realisation for most of November and it feels like magic. And that is exactly what I was hoping would happen during the 30 days.

Choudhury, in his best moments, says:

You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late and never too sick to start from the scratch [sic] once again.

Bikram Choudhury

Knowing that I can start again in any given moment is the greatest gift yoga has always given me since the first time I learnt what yoga was when I was eight years old.

So! After my 30th Bikram in a row, I stayed on for Yin yoga and then came home via Pret for some of their Red Thai Vegetable Soup, delish. I ate it outside so I could watch the trains go by.

I am a total trainspotter and even after doing it a zillion times, I still get a massive rush everytime I am on a train pulling in or out of King’s Cross Station.

Red Thai Vegetable Soup

Then I came back to Stalker HQ and hit the NaNoWriMo sweet spot 50k word target. I was so thrilled with myself that I had to lie down for a little Nana nap. Rock n roll!

On waking up, I spent time on my work project which really has improved in the way I was hoping it would with me being creative elsewhere. And, I am now really looking forward to giving it my full attention next week and making it sizzle and having fun doing it.

After that, it was time to run about to pick up my little footballers and make dinner – mushrooms on toast – then I put on some lippie and went off to Chinatown for cocktails and tarot. I had the best evening. My new favourite cocktail is Opium’s Ching Shih, named after a female Chinese Pirate.

Friday morning I woke up with the intention of going to Bikram and another 1,667 words but I looked at the bright blue sky and felt completely ecstatic at the idea that I didn’t have to, so I skipped Bikram, and wrote 500 words to remind me of bits of my NaNoWriMo plot I haven’t rationalised, which then freed up some time to go out to lunch at Barrafina with that nice husband of mine. After which, we had time for a walk in the winter sun round Covent Garden and a trip down memory lane.

In the evening we put up our Christmas decorations as we are all still super sad and missing our Pooh. But, fairylights, Tigger, and tinsel really helped. This time last year, Tigger was nil by mouth before a root canal and I caught him eating tinsel just before we had to leave, I guess he was hungry. I didn’t think it counted as food so I didn’t mention it.

Tinsel and Tigger

Today is the last day of November. I will write more words later, after the school Christmas Fayre. I’m on the mulled wine stall (one for you, one for me) and then I will call time on November.

I have loved having goals and directing all my energies into achieving them, armed only with industrial strength moisturiser and hair oil so that I didn’t dry out. Though I still feel so thirsty. It’s hard work keeping hydrated during Bikram and cocktails (ahem), though so exciting to experience both.

I love how I feel having achieved what I set out to do. Though now, I am very much looking forward to getting back to ‘normal’ blogging with me lurking in the background.

Thirty days hath November, all gone, like my Pooh, gone but not forgotten, leaving me richer, leaner, fuller, sadder, wiser, and a little bit different than before and for that I am so deeply grateful.

December, I am ready. In the meantime I will quote Iyengar, who spat on and beat his students in the yoga room, another yogi with feet of clay:

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.

B K S Iyengar

Amen.

My Pooh, all love and gratitude. You made my life better.

Pooh: Thirty Days Hath November

[Day 1, Day 10Day 20Day 27Day 30]

Pooh, our cat, got run over, probably on Saturday, as yesterday afternoon the council came round and said that he had been found dead in the next street. I am brokenhearted. My little pal. He used to sit and watch me type, or sit on my computer, or on me, or besides me, or the window sill, or the sofa, or on my desk, and now he’s gone and the flat, my life, today, are all much emptier without him.

This morning I had to do my ecstatic breathwork without him sitting on my chest. I fell asleep last night without him chewing the wires on my earphones even though part of me kept listening for the catflap, as he never just climbed through it, he always ran in at a clatter, you could always tell it was him.

And, today I am lying on the daybed, on my front as I type, and Pooh would often pad up and down my back and legs and give me a little cat massage before falling asleep either on me or near me. I keep looking to all of his favourite spots and he is not there.

I’ve tried to keep it business as usual today. I went to Bikram as it is Day 27 and I cried on my mat all the way through and got a big lovely sweaty hug, much needed and appreciated, off a friend at the end. Now back home, I am part way through my words for today on Day 25 – my running total right now is 45,970 but I only about 400 words in as I am struggling. It’s just no fun without Pooh sitting on me. I used to explain my plot lines to him and he would just look at me bemused, waiting for me to finish so we could have a cat-snack tea-break.

I had always wanted a cat, all my life, and it was the most magical day when Pooh and his brother Tigger (who is hiding under the bed in case another human wants a teary, soggy hug) came home with us five and a half years ago.

Pooh survived one car accident when he was only a year old. He dragged himself home with a dislocated hip and broken leg and I drove him round London to get him operated on, and then we stayed up all night feeding him with a 20ml syringe every hour as I didn’t want him left on a drip by himself at the vets over the weekend. He recovered well and miaowed angrily when we kept him in a cage for five weeks as I made the rookie mistake of leaving the door open that first night he came home and he had legged it straight out the catflap and over the back wall with his recovering hip and leg still in a splint. I lied on the Monday when the vet asked me if he had been outside.

‘No idea where all that mud came from.’

He was such a lovely cat and I can’t bear to talk about him in the past tense. Oh Pooh, I will love you always.

[ Day 30: 38.5 hours and 51,426 words. I did it.]

Lost the plot: Thirty Days hath November

Searching

[Day 1, Day 10Day 20Day 27Day 30]

I am on Day 20 of my bikram 30 day challenge, and Day 18 of NaNoWriMo. So, far I have clocked up 27.5 hours of bikram and 33,799 words which is not too shabby, but I do feel a bit like I am losing the plot.

Bikram

Bikram everyday really is making a difference but I am just a tiny bit fed up of having to go all the time and can’t wait to have a day off, especially because, four times last week I was only able to practice early morning. It felt like I was getting up before the dawn chorus to go to the studio. My resistance is not a physical thing though, it is purely mental, because once in the room I am thrilled to be there, the heat is just fantastic. And, last Wednesday morning the waxing full moon was hanging heavy over the main road as I drove down it. That was a sight definitely worth getting out of bed to see. The best bit about early mornings is driving back feeling job done and yet the day is still fresh and brand new.

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo has been a lovely experience so far with lots of oooh, ahhhh surprises. It has been exciting to type in things and then say: Oooh I never knew that, that’s why she is behaving like that. So, I was disappointed by the last two days as there were no revelations and it felt like I had lost the plot. Yesterday, however, was the real low point, it felt like I was typing random words into my laptop. I am hoping that it’s just a passing phase, and that if I treat it just like yoga, i.e., I just show up and my body seems to remember how much it likes bending over in a hot room, then everything will be okay. Tomorrow, at nano time I will not overthink it and just show up at my keyboard so that my mind can remember how much it enjoys entertaining me and hopefully all the words I type will make sense. Tonight though, I may have to reread my notes so my subconscious has overnight to cook up something extra.

Outside of bikram and nano, I am once more super enthusiastic about my work project and I have decided to not rush it and really polish it up and make it as good as I can, which involves a bit more training before I can perform better. I also now have a long list of blogs which I would like to write, which is exactly what I was hoping would happen with bano-nikram and I really can’t wait to get on with everything.

Not yet, I still have 12 more days to go. I will keep on keeping on and try not to wish the days away. Wish me luck. My next update will be in December.

See you on the other side.

[Day 27: Pooh died]

A Third of Thirty Days

Bonfire night

[Day 1, Day 10Day 20Day 27Day 30]

I am a third of a way (Day 10) through my Bikram challenge as in the end I started on Wednesday 30/10/19. I decided to get on with it because I kept thinking about it and thought that I had to start before I lost my nerve altogether.

This is so me. I hate committing to things in the future and then thinking about it and working myself up into a lather. It makes me feel trapped. Anyway, now I know for certain that I like to see how I go, I intend to start all new adventures off gently with an option to start again. That said, I have told everyone in the studio so that I have to keep going (though now I wish I hadn’t as people keep telling me that I will be totally fed up around Day 15 – but honestly, I’ll be the judge of that!). Also, there’s a lovely chart at the studio and I am enjoying ticking the days off and sticking on the odd gold star and kissing my biceps every time I finish a class.

Physically speaking, Bikram everyday is easier than I thought it would be. I feel tired outside the studio as I wasn’t sleeping so well either with all the thoughts about Bikram waking me up, but each time I step into the heated room my body relaxes and is happy standing on one leg and the rest of it.

I am also doing Ecstatic Breathwork everyday too which takes the Bikram to another level, I find it’s best to do it straight after Bikram when my mind is more relaxed. Honestly, the combination is amazing.

NaNoWriMo

I started this on November 1st but I only had four scenes planned. However, so far so good. I am really enjoying the discovery of it all in a way I haven’t really experienced before or at least can’t remember experiencing for a very long time. Feeling slightly tired all the time, from the Bikram, really helps. I am a bit more relaxed and not listening to my inner critic, I don’t really have the energy to pay attention to negative self-talk, I just keep pressing on and writing to see what happens next. I am hanging on my every word and totally excited. I didn’t know I could do this and I have written 15,209 words.

So far this November is really nice. I feel a bit lighter, less resistant, more in the flow, which is just lovely. Long may it continue.

Part 3 (27.5 hours and 34k words)

Thirty Days Hath November

Halloween offerings

[Day 1, Day 10Day 20Day 27Day 30]

Today is Halloween (or Hallo Iain as my Dad would say to my brother every year) and Samhain which marks the end of harvest and the start of winter – the darkest part of the year. We are well into the Scorpio season of magic, death and rebirth and I am following this Tarot lady on YouTube‘s daily talks on diving deep into Scorpio energies and I am thoroughly enjoying a good rumination on what she says deep down in my soul. I am enjoying thinking once more about the energy of archetypes as well as tarot.

In the accidental techie blog series, I looked at how I got to where I am now, first and foremost as a computer scientist, but the rest of life is in there too intertwined, all the agony and ecstasy which make me who I am right now. In When things fall apart Pema Chödrön summarises all experiences as the eight worldly dharmas: pleasure and pain, loss and gain, fame and disgrace, and praise and blame. I love the succinctness and binary clarity. Nonetheless, ever since I fell into talking about the past – all of it, not just the computer bits – I have had trouble shaking it off and moving forward.

So, I am harnessing that Scorpio energy in order to make some magic of my own with two challenges: I will be doing a 30 day bikram challenge and also NaNoWriMo. In this way I hope to create some momentum by nanowrimoing and bikraming up a storm. I am viewing it as a busman’s holiday because I am stuck in what began as an exciting work project which I now approach with immense resistance and so hopefully by the time I open my advent calendar on 1st December I will have finished it or it will be in much better shape, I might even be in better shape too who knows? Thirty days straight Bikram has to do something to my body and soul.

I don’t normally announce things publicly as I have a horror of setting myself up for feeling like a failure but in Bikram the teachers often say that yoga is a practice, not a performance. Blogging is the same as well as writing any first draft of anything, it’s starting and failing, it’s all practice and progress, which is great.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

[Part 2: 10 days of Bikram, 8 of NaNoWriMo]