Tammy Schmidt, Montreal
Christmas is quickly approaching and I am in a bit of a funk. I guess this is what happens when you put together the following:
You might suppose that I am over-thinking the whole thing. I can hear a voice say, “… but it is only a few days… you can easily work that off in a matter of weeks… you are so good most of the time!” Well, I hate to admit it, but the holiday eating usually lasts for more than a few days. Getting back into shape is not always an easy thing. I keep in mind that I am a habitual person; if I become accustomed to eating sugar everyday, then it is really difficult to make the change back to not having a daily dose of sweets. This is not just me. Overall, the traditional holiday eating has simply become too much. It can become sugar overkill once I add up my family’s special treats, my partner’s and friend’s special treats, and so forth. And really, this does not do anyone any good.
In some ways, however, I might not have the same problem this year. First of all, I am now running a business. My business really keeps me occupied, and so I don’t have the same amount of time to think about creative culinary pursuits. Bye, bye Martha-Stewart-me! As well, I have seriously started to crave daily exercise. Most days when I think, “Oooo, I should start baking!” I have to run off to a dance class. All of a sudden that baking is not as important to me. Oh yeah, perspectives change in the process of running, jumping and moving about. Being fit quickly becomes very important to me because I simply want to enjoy growing further in doing what I love to do. Since this year’s Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are on the weekend, I also think it will be a shorter celebration that will not last for days and days.
One thing that helps me feel alright about dropping some of the supposedly necessary, but not very healthy traditions is to remember that it is the people that keep traditions alive. We all share the power to make this year happen in so many different ways. We can make our traditions something that is beneficial to ourselves and to our loved ones. I think realizing this truth has been hard work for me this year. I have never faced all of this with such honesty! Wow! I know professionally what my clients need to hear when they face certain health problems, and I know how to put together 12 kinds of cookies and squares for the holidays. But I am finally letting each of these types of knowledge come face to face. Viola: the funk!
So, back to the drawing board I go! My friend Chitra says, “don’t bake anything this year!” I am not sure I am ready to do this, but I am ready to do the following:
Tammy Schmidt, Montreal.
Fleurbain is no longer only a dream and a website… Fleurbain is a site.
We will have a grand ouverture and vernissage soon (probably in early November), but in the meantime we will have small open-houses, host workshops, and meet with our clientelle in the realms of herbalism and art. In coming weeks we will announce regular opening hours, but for now we are available by appointment.
Tammy Schmidt, Clinical Herbal Therapist, is available for appointments through tammy.schmidt.herbalist (at) gmail.com and Natasha Henderson Artist and felt-making crafty Workshop Instructor is available through email@example.com. We can both be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org!
See you soon, Montreal!
Tammy Schmidt and Natasha Henderson, Montreal
I just walked past the 21 Balançoires at the Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal. I have to say, it is something that made me smile and enjoy the brief moment of nice weather this afternoon. It seems to have this effect on many people who try them out. It is the random music, it is getting on a swing, swinging next to people you don’t know, making a small connection. It is a bit of fun in our urban setting. All of a sudden you are laughing and making jokes about bathtubs and seeing things in a new light. You are also getting lost in the music you help to create and wondering how does this work?
When I am at my African dances class lead by Claudine Malard, I sometimes think about how I am pretty static most of the time. I am sitting at my desk, sitting on the metro, sitting as I read the news or read a book, sitting to watch a movie and sitting when I chat with friends. It is almost like I became an adult and all of that fun in kicking it up, as kids do, went out the window in the name of responsibility and being mature. My dance class is recreation and re-creation. I unload my mind, I learn new moves, I laugh a bit and for sure, my day gets a whole lot better. The same sort of thing happened at the swings today too.
So, if you have a chance, get out there and try those swings BEFORE May 23rd. You will love it!
Tammy Schmidt, Montreal
I just got back home after almost two hours of Hip-Hop Dance class. I’ve never really listened to Hip-Hop music, I’ve not paid much attention (outside of some sideline, “Oh, wow look at what that person just did, so bendy!”) to Hip-Hop Dance or Music videos, and I’ve not taken a Hip-Hop Dance class, ever, before this year.
A bit of a background: When I was five years old, my mother asked me if I’d like to take dance lessons. I said “yes”. Or, I assume I did, because I was soon enrolled in them. We did Tap. I took Tap Dancing for six or seven years after that. I also began Jazz Dance lessons from about age eight. When I was eleven years old, I stopped taking dance lessons. My feet had reached size 10, and, where I lived, low-heel tap-shoes were not available in a size above 9. I was not going to Tap Dance (let alone walk) in high heels when I was eleven years old. I didn’t get a pair of “heels” until I was in my twenties, for that matter.
So, I stopped dancing. I went out dancing from time to time in my late teens to early twenties, and jiggled around the dance floor a bit… but I always felt oversized and uncomfortable. When my bar-going friends mostly moved away, and I was a professional, busy working person, I stopped dancing altogether.
Last summer, I took a few African Dances classes. I liked it, I felt good after the classes, and they made me move. I still attend at least one of these classes every week. I am very comfortable with it now. I feel free and alive when I dance in that class. It is unlike Tap or Jazz Dance, but I do see some basic dance connections.
For fun, and with my friend’s encouragement, we took a Hip Hop Dance class one night this January. It was… a challenge. It was so different in structure and movement from dance I’ve done before. Despite all that, I found it to be fun!
Now I’ve been back to that class about four or five times, whenever my schedule allows. It is still a big challenge, and I do admit to feeling a little frustrated with that. However, I feel physically better after having done the class, and I recognise that the mental and physical challenges of extending my own comfort zones is a real benefit to me. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to take a range of different classes at my local YMCA. I didn’t have this opportunity as a child; who knows how different life would have been if I’d had a chance to dance wearing sneakers (Hip Hop) or barefoot (African Dances) !!!
It is never too late to start.
Natasha Henderson, Montreal
A few years ago, I decided to kick up my workouts during the winter so that I would feel great during that dark season. And guess what? It worked! My moods were great with the addition of a magic ingredient called exercise. For about an hour each day, I worked out in classes that I enjoyed. It helped me lower my stress levels during the day and I slept better at night. Suddenly my digestion began to improve. Among other things, I also got into shape for the summer.
I think my experience is somewhat universal; at least this is the case where I workout. Something I noticed happening in most classes is that people walk in looking like zombies. Okay, no, maybe they are zombies: slow moving, often frowning, grunting and a little out of it. By the end of the class, everyone has livened up. People are laughing and chatting. You can tell they just received an energy boost.
It can be difficult to place workouts into my schedule; but experience has taught me that when you make the time for exercise, you get the reward of more energy and efficiency. This has a positive impact on everything in the rest of life.
If I feel really run down, then I can choose a more restorative workout such as yoga or meditation. If I am sick, I respect others’ health and choose to do this at home. If I am just a little tired, then I go to class, take it easy and listen to my body.
Other things that help me feel great in the winter are fish oils high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Low blood levels of Omega 3 fatty acids can contribute to depression, so I make sure to get enough of this. I prefer to get this through the food I choose to eat. In a pinch, I can resort to supplements. In terms of supplements, I take vitamin D3, around 2000IU per day because studies show that it can help.
Eating right can go a long way to improving moods. For me, I feel best if I eat lower carbohydrate foods. I take particular care to avoid sugar, gluten and dairy. I also minimize alcohol consumption. I do focus on eating plenty of good quality protein along with green and brightly-coloured vegetables.
Working out in the great outdoors and getting enough light throughout the winter are tried and true methods of improving moods as well.
There are many ways of approaching any one problem. Don’t feel that you have to tough it out. Seek out experts, be savvy and find ways to make it better.
Tammy Schmidt, Montreal
Guest Contributor Beata Sobolewski shares her transformation from a person who takes yoga classes to becoming a yoga instructor.
A few weeks ago I finished a course to become a Yoga Instructor. This journey, which spanned five months, would open my mind to a world of possibilities. From the lessons I learned to the people who I met, I have walked away with a grander meaning of life. I did not have much yoga in my life prior to the course, but now it is part of my daily living.
Yoga showed me the union of mind, body and spirit. Yoga introduced me to the things around us we cannot always see but greatly influence our lives; Einstein and other great philosophers spoke about the great-interconnected world in which we cannot always perceive with our five senses. Yoga allows you to tap into this world of potentiality. I’m beginning to understand that as a human being each one of us is an energy being of pure potentiality.
We have been conditioned from childhood to believe that we are not powerful beings and are meant to live a mundane life of 9-5 five days a week. Throughout the course and what my instructor quoted as “the Unlearning Process”, I began to shake off some of these beliefs. If I had learned some of these attributes in my earlier years, I feel I would have greatly benefitted. However, I still greatly appreciate this knowledge. It is never to late to learn if one is open-minded and willing to stir up some beliefs.
The greatest thing yoga did for me is to allow me to have an open mind. I’ve come to realize that not one person has the answer; this is a journey of self growth. We all have our own interpretations of situations, but by being able to listen to everyone and not always judge, we are beginning to change some of the programming of the Ego self.
The Ego, I learned, is the greatest illusion in our lives. “We are the same being in different disguises” is a quote spoken by my instructor that I always review and keep in my mindset. This quote is powerful, and when repeated frequently changes self-perception and perception of the people around us. The Universe is a living organism with full awareness of itself. The five senses allow us to have the illusion that we are all separate individuals when we are really all interconnected in a web of life.
I’ve learned that life is holographic and when you affect one part of the hologram you also affect all the other parts. We can see the pain, insanity and chaos in the world around us. This is due to the fact that people are lacking self-love and knowledge of who they really are. If we knew, then we would not be harming our planet and ourselves. We are a global family and a new system needs to be implemented to fix some of our errors. I feel Yoga is a tool that can help heal the world we have created through our misperceptions about our reality.
I believe our world is a reflection of what we have inside of ourselves. When we begin to purify ourselves, we begin to purify our environment and everything around us. Yoga shows not to repress our pain, but to acknowledge, accept and forgive it. Truly we are Energy, and energy cannot be destroyed. We are infinite and timeless. It is only the identity in our life that creates the world around us. I began to learn this is for a higher purpose and it is part of the one divine mind. This false ego keeps us trapped in our own delusions and blocks truth from the “real self”, which is not of the physical world. Yoga has allowed me to reclaim some of my true self beyond the physical means around me. We are more than the job, car, money, bank account, and title in society. Beyond the things we think make us happy lies a world of truth. Life has a natural flow and we must give to receive, love to be loved and care to be cared for. Our fears, anxieties and confusions are created due to the lack of knowledge about our true identities. This reality of our true self is kept purposely from us in order for us to rely on a system built of fear of our world and ourselves.
Within five months of my Yoga journey I am beginning to reclaim some of the power I have within me. However, this is not an easy process, it is a life-long work. As human beings on a physical journey, we have many layers that need to be undone and cleansed. I have greatly benefited physically and mentally on my journey to become a yoga instructor. A reward is that once I have started to find my own inner peace, I may then do the same for the people around me. It is a great gift to be able to teach people about this metaphysical world they may not have been previously introduced to.
I will forever be grateful for this experience, and now know the journey will not end here. The choice is ours about who we decide to be in the world, and I am grateful that yoga is allowing me to get to know my true self.
Several months ago I spent a couple of hours in the gym injuring myself. How did I injure myself? In between running on the track and doing some weights, I used a stubborn elliptical machine for half an hour, and then I used a stairmaster afterwards. The inflexible machinery, made for a certain body with a particular stride and length of legs and arms, created a big ball of stress that centred on my knee. This stress was compounded by a tough workout on the stairmaster. I hurt myself from overuse on these machines that day. The injury created an awful tension in my left knee… so I lost a lot of flexibility and strength. I babied it, naturally, so that it became standard for me to limp slightly. I didn’t run anymore.
In the last couple of months, however, I have been attending regular yoga, dance, and classical stretch classes. I haven’t done very much “free elliptical” (that’s my term for the machines that allow you to choose your own stride, rather than having an awkward one prescribed to you) nor have I set my sights on anything like a stairmaster. I avoid the rigidly paced elliptical machine like the Plague. I have been using some free weights and doing a few lat-pulldowns every once in a while. That’s been pretty much it for exercise lately. Anyhow, the other day, I thought that I’d improved enough to allow myself a little run on a treadmill. I booked in about a half an hour on the treadmill, and maybe 20 minutes of that was spent jogging or running.
I went faster, faster, and faster. I felt like I could fly, again. It was a liberating feeling, a wonderful experience. I hope to be able to run through the Parc Lafontaine again this spring… there is nothing quite like flying amongst the blossoms and singing birds. Makes me even more glad to be alive.
Natasha Henderson, Montreal