Life’s Short, Learn Capoeira

photo copy 63Yesterday was a Walking Dead kind of day. I felt like a zombie, after 48 hours of non-stop action.

The craziness started on Saturday, with a surprise road trip to Athens, GA for my friend Melissa’s 40th birthday party. And then there was the 550 mile drive to Vero Beach on Sunday, that took longer than it should have, and kept us all up until 2 AM. Which would have been no big deal, if I had been able to sleep it off. But no…there was an early morning wake up call from landscapers, trimming palm trees with chain saws, outside my bedroom window yesterday morning at 7 AM.

Of course, the girlies never heard the chain saws, and slept until 9 AM. They recovered well from our late night, but I was definitely not myself. Instead of our normal play on the beach/swim at the pool/play at the park vacation routine, we parked ourselves at the pool for the entire day. It was all I could handle, or so I thought…

As late afternoon rolled around, I remembered that it was Monday. And the Capoeira (pronounced cup-where-uh) class I had been planning to take with my family, would take place tonight. I knew we should go, even though I was really, really tired, and didn’t feel like dancing.

This crazy healthy life has taught me that good things happen when I show up, even when I don’t feel like it. And learning how to dance like this must certainly be worthwhile, right?

Isn’t that amazing?

It was 6 PM when remembered my intention to get the girls to Capoeira, and the class started at 8 PM. I texted hubby (who had been working at his Vero office all day), packed up the pool bag, rushed home for a quick dinner, and got our messy selves to the Capoeira class, just in time to shake it like the Brazilians.

And thank God we did, because it was AWESOME. Seriously, the most fun I have ever had with my family. Here’s what it looked like:

 

The dancers were welcoming, and I fell madly in love with the teacher, a wonderful, 60 year old African-Brazilian man with dreadlocks, named Xodo (pronounced show-doe). I want to adopt him and take him back to Atlanta. The dancers were awesome, too. So encouraging, and ready for anything.

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The history behind this art is rich: Capoeira was created in the 1800s by slaves in Brazil, as a form of martial arts. The goal was to teach self-protection, but they had to make it took like a game, so that they slave owners would not prohibit it’s practice. The result is a beautiful, empowering art, that has lived on for centuries. It might look difficult, but it’s actually very simple in practice.

When we dance Capoeira, we keep hands in front of our faces, and our eyes on our opponents, asserting ourselves with awareness, staying low and tight, and constantly react to every move. It’s all about awareness and movement. Kinda like partner yoga, but much faster and louder! There are also times that we chant, clap and show off our craziest dance moves.

The class was fantastic. We laughed, and danced, and banged sticks on the floor, and lived in our bodies for 90 minutes. With strangers. But it didn’t matter that we were strangers–we connected on the love of movement. It was primal, and so incredibly joyful! I really can’t wait to try it again.

If you get to Vero Beach, find Abada Capoeira and dance with them. If you can’t get to Vero, find a Capoeira troupe near you and run, don’t walk, to the next class. You will be glad you did–the best kind of crazy healthy fun. 
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Time Matters

1391767_485484761558997_1565215455_nYoga playtime with the girlies

Did y’all hear that a little snow brought our city to a standstill last month? I was one of the thousands of people that were stuck on the road for most of the day. It took me 7 hours to travel 13 miles. Lucky for me, the gas tank was full, and I had snacks on hand, so it was not as much of an ordeal as it could have been.

Even so, it was pretty stressful to be stuck in the car for hours on end.

My journey began at 1 PM, just after the snow started. By 7 PM, I was still 3 miles from home, and really thirsty, so I stopped to buy water at Walgreens.

The store was empty, but for 3 or 4 people and a single clerk. Shoppers were quick to pick out their items, and hop in the check out line–everybody wanted to get home as soon as possible. As I paid for my water, the man waiting behind me placed a 6 pack of Milwaukee’s Best, and two bottles of red wine on the counter. Another man walked up after him, and they struck up a conversation.

“You’ve got the right idea, buddy! Stocking up for a long day tomorrow.”

It struck me as so funny, because I had been thinking along very different lines. Sitting in the car for hours on end had stiffened up all of my muscles, and my joints ached where I had broken bones many years ago. I was not thinking about getting my drink on at all…instead, I was giddy at the prospect of having an entire day at home to stretch, flow, practice arm balances, and cook healing foods.

As they say, to each his own…

But I wonder what would have happened if I had encouraged my fellow shoppers to think differently about how they spent their snow day. This crazy healthy life has taught me that time is our most valuable asset, and we must spend it wisely. Every day is an opportunity to do better, and to be better. It’s all cumulative.

So, with this in mind, I thought I’d share what we are looking forward to doing, while we are trapped in the house:

1) Learning how to cook healthy foods. The girls are learning to roast veggies, make green juices, sauté fruit, and make spiced nuts. This means our kitchen will be a big fat mess for the next few days, but it’s a price I am willing to pay. Let the dishes pile up…we’ll all be better off for it in the end!

2) Memorizing Sun Saluation B. They girls have been practicing yoga with me for a while, but our practices are more whimsical and silly, than organized. Helping them learn Sun Salutation B will teach them how to wrap structure around their personal practice. And maybe, just maybe, they will even teach their friends! We play dance music to make the experience fun, and crack lots of jokes, so it feels more like a game than a chore.

3) Talking about how yoga philosophy complements our Christian faith. I have been reading snippets of Patnajali’s Yoga Sutras to the girls for the past few weeks, and it’s started some really important conversations about their friendships, their goals, and their personal habits. Concepts like ahimsa (non-harming) help them understand to choose their words and behavior carefully, santosha (contentment) teaches them to be grateful for their blessings, and bramacharya (non-excess) teaches them the importance of everything in moderation.

These are just a few of the crazy, but healthy ways we will spend our icy days at home. I think it’s some of the best things we can do for our kids right now, because, as Andy Stanley recently said, “In the areas that matter most, you can’t make up misspent time.”

Truthfully, part of me wants to park the kids in front of the TV, and curl up in bed with a good book. Mama could use a day off, now and then, too. But I won’t. Because time matters, and those of us in the Deep South have been given the gift of a whole lotta extra time to kill this week…and my crazy healthy family is going to make the best of it.

 

Aside

Crazy Healthy Halloween

Before I got crazy healthy, I couldn’t wait for Halloween candy to hit the store shelves, so I could purchase a huge bag of treat size M&Ms, without feeling guilty. I told myself that they were for the little ghouls and goblins that would grace my doorstep on All Hallow’s Eve.

But, somehow, every single year, that bag would disappear long before Halloween. Having it in the house was just too tempting! I told myself that we had more than enough candy for trick or treaters, and it would be ok, if I just had one little bag, just this one time. That one bag would lead to another bag the next day, and the next, and then maybe two the day after that, and before I knew it, the bowl would be empty. And I would tell myself it didn’t matter, because it was Halloween, and candy is just part of the season.

I’d buy another bag of treat-sized M&Ms around the 15th of October, and promise myself that the new bag would stay sealed until Halloween. I’d do really well with this plan, until I had a bad day at work, or PMS struck, or my husband “accidentally” opened the bag when I wasn’t looking. And then it would start all over again, and I would be back at the store, on October 30th, picking through what was left in the Halloween aisle.

All of those little indiscrections added up. Before I knew it, I was sick, tired, and I couldn’t zip up my skirts. Worst of all, I felt bad about myself.

What was wrong with me? Why did I keep making the same mistakes, year, after year, after year?

I didn’t understand my lack of control then, but I do now. It was all about what I believed about food back then–that it was my right, and my reward. That I deserved it. But now that  I have changed what I believe about food–that it is mostly fuel for my body, and only rarely a reward–I enjoy Halloween more than ever before.

Nowadays, instead of turning my attention to the treats and sweets of the season, as I used to, I think of Halloween as an opportunity to let go and have fun. It’s the one day out of the year that we can be silly, sparkly, and uninhibited in public, without scaring off all the neighbors!

Of course, this change in attitude was cultivated on my yoga mat. Regular yoga practice made me aware of my attachments to food, and how they sabotaged my health goals. This awareness helped me realize that food is just food–it does not have power over me–and that I can change my behavior by shifting my attention. Yoga also taught me to be more aware and intentional about how I spent my time and energy, and that I didn’t have to be just like everybody else. And that changed everything.

Instead of thinking about, and talking about, and feeling bad about eating candy, I purposefully turned my attention to how we could have more fun. What crazy healthy traditions could we start for our family? What healthy foods could we create, that would be more interesting, but just as satisfying, as candy? It was fun, to explore the possibilities, get creative, and realize that Halloween could be anything we wanted it to be.

I decided that my favorite thing about Halloween, besides the M&Ms, was dressing up. So, as soon as our girls were old enough to understand the meaning of “group costume”, we starting creating family themes for Halloween. We began the discussions in early September, asking the girls what they might like to be, and trying to make a plan that would work for everyone. We never forced them into it, but we did try to talk it up, because we knew the kids would ultimately enjoy it. Which they really, really did.

The first year, we were The Wizard of Oz:

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And then, Alice in Wonderland (my sister-in-law was visiting from Colorado, and gladly played along!):

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My favorite was the year that we were superheroes (truth: I just loved wearing the boots):

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But it was also fun to be Peter Pan last year.

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If you want to have a crazy healthy Halloween, change what you believe it means. Candy has no power, unless you give it power.  When candy appears, walk in the opposite direction. If it still ends up in your hands, give it to someone else immediately, or put it back when they aren’t looking. If you just can’t resist it, take one bite, and then throw it away. It’s better to waste food (that really isn’t food in the first place), than feed your addictions. Most of all, believe that you can just say no. Because you can, and the more often you do, the easier it gets.

As for the trick or treaters, and their expectations? Why not give out stickers or toys, instead of candy? I let my kids pick out toys from Oriental Trading Company, for us to pass out this year. Here’s what our visitors will add to their loot (glow in the dark vampire teeth and glow in the dark martian fingers):

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And check out some of the amazing healthy food ideas on Pinterest. We’re making these treats today (bananas with orange juice, raisins, chocolate chips and coconut):

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If you feel like you absolutely have to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, then don’t buy your favorites–buy the candy you don’t like! A moment of pain at the store will save you a lot of frustration and guilt down the road.

And as for the candy that comes home in the loot bag, we let the kids examine it all, enjoy two pieces on Halloween night, and one piece each day afterwards (if they ask for it–I never offer!). I keep the bags up high, because out of sight means out of mind, and they usually forget to ask for their candy about 2 weeks into November, and I donate what’s left in December.

This year, the girls are asking if we can do the Switch Witch, so I think I might just do that instead of the daily treat…it seems much easier and healthier! All we have to do is leave the candy out on the front porch at night, and the Switch Witch replaces it with a toy, or other non-food treat while we sleep. We can make up a story as to where the candy goes, so the kids feel good about the decision, or you can just tell them the Switch Witch eats it all. A pretty easy and efficient way to stay out of the candy, don’t you think?

Just because you have always acted a certain way in the past, doesn’t mean you always have to act that way. Halloween is just another day, and we have the power to control what it means for our crazy healthy lives. All we have to do is BELIEVE.