The gift of my blood

In January I decided to kick off 2017 by doing something I’d always been too afraid to do – donate my blood. The logical side of me knew that thousands of people regularly donate blood, that it’s incredibly important for so many people’s survival and health, that the chances of the donation process harming me were low to none… but I was still scared and squeamish with the thought. I don’t have a problem with needles – three tattoos and probably more to go proves that – but I never enjoyed getting blood drawn or getting vaccinations. The feeling of copious amounts of liquid entering or exiting my veins is not at all a pleasant one. And so previously in my life I’d told myself that there was no reason for me to do something, potentially the only thing, that made me so incredibly uncomfortable.

And that’s the reason I decided to do it. The last ten months or so were full of life changes and overall pretty rough for me – the end of a relationship, a cross-country move, a new job… I wanted to consciously challenge myself in this way, to prove to myself that I could do this thing I was afraid of, that I was stronger than that fear – that irrational fear.

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The American Red Cross was hosting a blood drive on January 4th, right within my office building. I signed up and researched what to expect and how to prepare. Hydration and big breakfasts were important, I learned. I regularly empty multiple quart-size water bottles throughout the day, so felt pretty good about my hydration situation, but attempted to increase even that in the days leading up to my donation. I ate more iron-rich foods, avoided caffeine, and finally downed a breakfast of two peanut butter sandwiches and a banana instead of one peanut butter sandwich and a banana.

The staff and volunteers were supportive when I told them it was my first time donating. I provided my information and the needle was inserted into my vein without incident. Apparently my blood runs slow and/or the newer staff member didn’t insert the needle as accurately as he could have, because after a few minutes he called over the resident expert – she fiddled with the needle in my arm until they were both satisfied the blood was gushing as needed.

As time passed and the blood drained from my body, I began feeling incredibly and uncomfortably warm. I started sweating, and as soon as I mentioned the boiling temperature, I was immediately surrounded by people placing ice cold cloths on my forehead and neck. I cooled down, but still was feeling a little faint and nauseous by the time I successfully filled my blood bag. The staff had me remain horizontal while they brought me juice. When I felt better I sat up, only to decide I had better lie down again for a bit longer.

Finally I felt well enough to progress to the recovery table, the table where blood donors sit and eat snacks before continuing their day. After five minutes, I felt faint and needed to rest my head in my lap – to which the staff responded by having me lie down. This cycle repeated itself, causing me to miss my team meeting. My boss came up to check on me once it was finished and I was finally allowed to return to my office with her accompaniment, the whole humiliating ordeal coming to an end. I felt much better – no longer dizzy, but still weak. She pretty bluntly told me I looked terrible and should take the rest of the afternoon off, to which I resisted at first, but finally agreed to.

Apparently, where I potentially went wrong was my morning workout… everything I read said not to exercise after you give because your body is weak and recovering. Nobody mentioned exercising before the donation! But a friend who makes a point to give regularly every eight weeks, a friend who also works out daily, says the only days he skips his workouts are the days when he gives blood. You CAN exercise before the donation, he told me, but “you’ll just feel like shit the rest of the day”. As I did.

I am still unsure if I’ll be giving blood again any time soon. But I am incredibly proud of myself for doing it.

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Look at that huge bag of blood! That’s me! I did that!

Dorchester Brewery Yoga

One of the #ktbdayweek activities this year included a yoga class at a local new brewery, Dorchester Brewing Company. I’m very much enjoying all of the local business collaboration we’re seeing more and more often these days, and this event was no exception. Dorchester Brewing is so far doing a great job of integrating and including the community into their new space. A few weeks ago they released a new brew they called Station House 21, a beer here named for the fire station on block away, and the fire fighters all joined for the release party! Every Tuesday, they have a Pups on the Patio event, inviting local dog owners to bring their furriest friends as their dates for the evening. And for the first time, they had a yoga class taught by Mark Taylor.

While the yoga was a little more gentle than I generally enjoy, it was an excellent class overall and Mark uniquely incorporated the beer tasting in the yoga moves. We took a quick break from our positions to grab our tasting glasses before moving back into Warrior II and Reverse Warrior, carefully sipping without spilling as we moved from one to the other. I’d done one brewery yoga class before at Momentum Brewery in Bonita Springs, and excellent as it was, it did not include this unique move!

#Brewery #yoga done right. Thanks for starting #ktbdayweek off right, @dorchesterbrewing! #realwarriorsdrinkbeer

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It looks like Dorchester Brewing is hosting another yoga class next month, and you can bet I’ll be there!

Different Pure Barre Studios

About one year into my Pure Barre adventure (and three months into my everyday Pure Barre adventure), my body and health has changed drastically. I fit into clothes I never thought I would again, and I have visible abs for the first time in 27.5 years. At this point, while I am willing to pay the high Pure Barre prices for the admittedly incredible results, I also do have my standards for what constitutes a good Pure Barre studio/teacher/class.

  1. Technical expertise. It is important (surprise surprise) that an instructor is familiar with the curriculum and the subject matter. Obviously no one is perfect, and everyone will make mistakes, but I look for instructors who do make form corrections throughout the class, who ensure we get the same balanced workout on both sides of the body, and who are in-tune enough with the music to blend exercise changes seamlessly with the beat.
  2. Energy. For me, the most important thing other than technical expertise is the energy and enthusiasm the instructor brings to the room and the session. And this, unfortunately, is one of the things I’ve had trouble finding at some of the new studios I’ve visited. How am I supposed to be giving it my all and enjoying myself if the instructor is clearly not giving it her all nor enjoying herself? The instructor has the power to change the entire energy of the room, and that of each and every student, and you can feel the difference.
  3. Community. Now, I’m not working out to make friends or to socialize, but when you spend more than an hour each day every day at the same place with the same people, it’s nice to feel known, recognized, and appreciated. Not all studios greet or even acknowledge you when you walk in, and many instructors don’t make the effort to encourage students by name throughout the workout.
  4. Facility. At this point, the set up and cleanliness of all the studios I’ve visited has been excellent, so I don’t have much to say here. I’m sure I would not visit a second time if I happened to discover a dirty or uncomfortable studio. I should say that I do enjoy the studios with fans in them more! It’s nice to have some airflow within the sometimes stuffy and steamy exercise room.
  5. Musical Mix. I’m much more motivated by songs with lyrics, I’ve realized. A background electro-funk beat doesn’t inspire me to push harder and tuck longer the way a lyrical story does. The mix can really make or break the class, and so I always do my best to tell the teacher when I especially love a mix with the desperate hope that they’ll do something with that feedback… I think different studios and different teachers may take different artistic freedoms with the music choices, though.

So far, my amateur hypothesis based on this very small studio sample size is that the regular presence of the studio owner, especially a studio owner that also teaches classes on a regular basis, can make or break all of the categories above. It makes sense that this would be the case – the regular presence of the head honcho keeps other employees on their toes and can reinforce the sense of importance and sense of community for not just the customers, but also the teachers. The same way an instructor can affect the energy of a class, the studio owner can affect the energy of the entire studio.

Basically, I am missing my Pure Barre Naples home, but change can be good and force us to grow… so… I will keep #tryingthenewthings.

  • Naples, FL
  • Estero, FL
  • Boston, MA
  • Wellesley, MA
  • Fort Collins, KY
  • Nashua, NH
  • Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
  • Central Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ

 

Pop Up Asana at Mill River Winery

This past Sunday I tried TWO new things! I attended my first event with Popup Asana at my very first winery.

I wrangled my sister and mother into joining me on an absolutely beautiful Sunday morning in Rowley, Massachusetts at the Mill River Winery. We joined about 30 other women and one gentleman on the grass overlooking the winery’s grape trees, lay down our yoga mats and towels, and sipped on water as we waited to get started.

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