Thursday, December 31, 2015

Checking in on these goals

It's New Year's Eve and for the second year in a row, that means I'm flying back to Seattle tonight. 

For fun, let's check in with those goals I set last year: 


1. Change your mind reading plan, writing a haiku for each book, alternating between Old and New Testament (Genesis, Matthew, Exodus, Mark, etc.) [this will probably take more than a year. I have no idea] 

I've stuck with this one! I am more than halfway done, currently in Ecclesiastes. My haiku are going great and it's been such a rich journey that I can't wait to continue! 

2. Watch t.v./movie only one day per week, and no more than two consecutive episodes 

Ok. I did really awesome with this for several months. And then. Roommates. I don't know - we just like hanging out and the tv is on and it's hard ok? So You Think You Can Dance had a new season.  And Elizabeth got me onto Parks and Rec and if it hadn't all gone to hell before that, it was definitely game over by then. 

3. Go out for a treat/meal/coffee 1-2 times per week MAX (excluding Bible study @Zoka). 

Some weeks were better than others, but I was definitely at least more aware. 

4. January with no refined sugar, February with no sugar (besides fruit) 

100% success. 

All in all, not too shabby. 

I really only have one goal for 2016, and I wrote about it yesterday: one full day completely off every month. It's worth a shot, right? 

This year was really all over the map and although it had a lot of ugly and hard, I can't say I would change it. I really believe in the God who works everything for the good of those who love Him, the God who has made everything beautiful in its time, and the God who is making all things new. The lines really have fallen for me in pleasant places. 

The biggest change this year is my yoga practice, and how it replaced my obsessive cycling/trx/circuit training/running habit. When I look back at the first half of the year, I barely recognize myself. It's almost scary to look at her. I had roommates and dear friends and mentors begging me to slow down. There are flash memories in my head where I knew I was slowly killing myself but I couldn't make myself stop. I am so thankful to everyone who never gave up on me. 

Last night I wrote in my journal, 

"I am so thankful for how my year is ending compared to how it began. Yoga really has been such an enormous catalyst for God's grace and healing" 

I also wrote down some words for the year 


 God used the physical practice of yoga to help me feel redemption all the way in my bones. 

"Moving into this space of embracing our bodies, of living as if they matter, of choosing to feel the anxiety of listening to our emotions, needs and desires as they come to us in physical form requires risk. It's a kind of sacrifice to step into this place, and act of trust that God may, indeed, be interested not in controlling us, but in redeeming us - all of us"
 Tara Owens, Embracing the Body 

And now, my song of the year, that so beautifully expresses my gratitude towards the God of grace

Happy New Year, everyone! 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

6 days slow

When I first went to the chiropractor and did an initial consultation, he told me he thought I was in the 98th percentile of most active people he knew. It's not hard, really, when you teach gymnastics for your job. And you like to bike to work. And often walk to yoga. And oh yeah the yoga happens two or three or even four times a day. Days off might occasionally mean watching Netflix or drinking pots of tea at your favorite haunt between yoga classes but often they mean hiking or subbing or teaching a workshop just for fun. 

Before this break, I hadn't taken a true day off, with no physical activity, since...July? That sounds right. 

With three days off in the last two weeks, it's practically like I've stopped. 

I knew it was coming. I mentally prepared for it, just in case I got anxious when it actually happened. This might sound a little crazy to you, but for me, it was important. I knew I wouldn't be practicing the day I traveled to New York, Christmas Day, or Wednesday in Waukesha (today). I didn't want to be surprised or frustrated or caught off guard. 

New York was such a crazy trip - with tons of walking ( at least one day with over 30,000 steps, according to my phone!) and a 90 minute bikram class every morning. 

And I felt good. I took class in the morning, showered, had green juice and met Tina at the apartment. We had bagels from the place around the corner and made a plan for the day. I slept well in the tiny dark apartment and it was nice. 

Then I went to Wisconsin, where my mom had bought me a pass to try a number of different studios. Of the 30 classes, I'm going to end up using 5. I've slept in. I've taken a nap every day. I've laughed with my sister and cooked dinner with each of my parents. I've watched movies and silly game shows and Jeopardy (which is a game show, but not silly). I've read Ecclesiastes and books on my kindle and explored my old journals and just sat around. I've taken one or less yoga class a day and done just a few restorative poses at home, aside from the attempt to teach my sister Sun Salutations A and B. 

I think what has surprised me is how great it's been. I even made myself ignore work as much as possible - although I was tempted today to ask how practice has been going. Tomorrow night will come soon enough, though, and then I will be in Seattle and I can be on again. This is the longest I've been slow in...I really don't know. Maybe since college? I'm not sure. 

Regardless, days off kind of freak me out a little. They feel lazy and I don't like lazy for more than a few hours. I always end up baking something. Or doing a big project. Or walking 10 miles just because. But not this week. I have rested, in the fullest sense of the word. 

And nothing bad happened. I'm not anxious or bouncing off walls. I don't feel tight or bad or like I did something wrong. 


Maybe there's the faintest whisper of a should or a rebuke but it's so quiet I can barely hear it. 

Because I think I really needed this. I needed it desperately and I refused to give it to myself in my regular life. So I was given a pause. 

A pause, not a pattern. Because this can't be my real life. Because I'm about to go into meet season and I'm teaching workshops two days after I get back and classes will be taught and competitions will be happening. And I love my yoga practice and the studio and the instructors and the community and I miss it and am looking forward to being back. 

There was a moment maybe last night where I thought that I would establish one day completely off every week. But for me, I know that's not realistic. It literally can't happen some weekends during meet season if my teams compete on both Saturday and Sunday. And truth be told, I love my Sunday morning yoga and then a cup of tea and church. And I love walking to class on Saturday morning and coming back in the evening. But maybe I could commit to once a month. Maybe that's what I can take from this. 

Deep roots 

Strong ties 

Slow art

15 in 15

I've been able to read and learn from a number of really wonderful books this year. Here are the 15 that made the biggest mark on me this year 

1. Embracing the Body by Tara Owens. If I could only pick one book for the year, this would be it. It's about the redemption of our physical bodies, the absence of shame, and how the physical meets the spiritual. It met me when I was just learning to appreciate my body again and I am so grateful for Tara's message. If you want a copy of this one, message me and I will get one out to you! 

2. It's Not What You Think by Jefferspn Bethke. This is a beautiful book designed to take you past your assumptions and fears about God and into deep fellowship with the Savior of your soul. 

3. A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman. This is an encouragement to understand your gifts and how to use them. Everyone is an artist; what is your art? 

4. Real Sex by Lauren Winner. I've read a lot of books about marriage and sex and purity, but this one truly shines. Lauren have me words to talk about why I'm a virgin and why it's really not about sex at all. I think this book is valuable for the church as we seek to build a robust theology of singleness, and also for individuals looking to add depth to their personal convictions. 

5. For the Love - Jen Hatmaker. A collection of essays ranging from hilarious to tender to serious, For the Love is no disappointment. I think everything Jen writes is pure gold, and this is no exception. I disagree with Jen on the matter of leggings as pants, but everything else is spot on.  Every time I hear garbage theology, anything related to health and wealth, I think of Jen and the single mother in Haiti. Because if your theology isn't true for the poor single mother in Haiti, it isn't true at all. 

6. The Fault in our Stars by John Green. I picked up this young adult novel from a free little library. I loved it. Times a million. "Pain demands to be felt". See the movie if you hate reading, but both are worth your time. 

7. Coming Clean by Seth Haines. Haines using this book to document his journey towards sobriety. Although I don't know what it's like to have an alcohol or drug problem, I found myself really relating to his story. Sobriety doesn't have to just be about alcohol - it's about living fully awake to reality. 

8. Two Lifestyles, One Lifetime by Les Leventhal. Leventhal lived a wild life until he found yoga and it turned his world upside down. I'm including the book on this list because it has one of my favorite quotes of the entire year -

"The experience you're having inside your  body right now - do you want that? Are you grateful for that? So you've got tight hamstrings; can you be grateful that you have hamstrings at all? Grateful you have legs? Grateful that you even have legs?...When you see people around the room taking challenging variations, can you look at that person and think, thank you? Thank you for expressing yourself. Thank you for showing me something beautiful". 

9. Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman. This book was released the same day as For the Love. I really enjoy Emily's style, which is why she has two books on my list this year. Simply Tuesday encourages us to embrace the ordinary without trying to make it into something it's not. 

10. Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. Here's another breath of fresh air for all who need one, and in this day and age, who doesn't need one. If you read Simply Tuesday and crave more, Shauna will have you covered. 

11. Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller. I found this book when it felt like a hundred things were falling apart. It helped me personally and it helped me love and encourage others better. God has never left you; light always shines in the darkness. 

12. Hollow by Jena Morrow. A tale of eating disorder recovery that's actually helpful. Jena's story is so encouraging no matter what stage you're at with ED. 

13. Hellbent by Benjamin Lorr. This is a fascinating account of bikram yoga. I read it as I was just getting into my practice, and it gave me just enough curiousity to try a bikram class for myself. It's a fun read for anyone with any type of practice though. 

14. Then Sings my Soul by Robert Morgan. This is a collection of hymns with their back stories. I love learning what brought people to pen beautiful songs of worship that have stood the test of time. 

15. Luke. I've been reading through each book of the Bible 20 times in a row. I'm currently in Ecclesiastes. But Luke was my favorite of the year. I loved the detail given to Jesus' birth and ministry. I was so drawn into the presence of God in this book and can't recommend careful reading of this gospel enough. 

Here's to a new year and new books! Recommendations always welcome (especially for quality novels. Fiction is hard for me). 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sorry I quit

Y'all. Picture taking every day is hard. I don't have any excuses or profound reasoning, I just fell off the wagon and have no real interest in getting back on. I will have my yearly books list coming out soon and maybe some other thoughts for you. 

I went to New York. It was amazing. 

And I've been having the best trip home probably ever. 

Thumbs up. 

Sea tac stretching 
Grand central station 
Rockefeller center 

Wicked on Broadway - maybe the star of the whole trip 
Unmatched talent 
Dancing in a blizzard 
My sister doing hand to big toe pose. Kind of. 
Us after uptown abs 
My street! 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

When you love teaching, but it hurts

First off, I will say that I have never been happier with my job and lifestyle choices than I am right now. It is a joy to work with all different kinds of kids - frustrating at times, yes, and challenging for sure - but I sincerely love what I do and feel the weight of the honor and the privilege that it is every day.

But sometimes, it makes my heart hurt.

It took me almost an hour to leave the gym tonight. I was trying to decompress from a really unsettling evening. One of the girls came into practice looking absolutely exhausted. She said she was really tired and she did not look at all like herself. I asked her if she was ok and she hemmed and hawed about it; we were staring at the first 15 minutes of a 3 hour practice so I asked if she'd rather go home. She said she'd wait until break and see how she was then. I kept checking in with her and told her it was totally fine if she wanted to go home. Finally, she looked really stressed and anxious and said, "Coach Kate, the reason why I don't want to go home is because I'm going to Hawaii for a whole week and I can't miss anymore gymnastics than that".

You guys.

I pulled her aside and I got down on my knees and I gave her a hug. I could barely hold back the beginnings of tears as I told her that I know how hard she works and that she already knows the routines and is strong and a great gymnast, and that if she is sick or that tired, she can take a rest and still be totally fine. She looked so relieved. Her mom came to watch practice for awhile, and I asked if she wanted to go talk to her. She did, and came back a few minutes later telling me that she'd decided she wanted to go home. I gave her another hug and told her I thought she made the right decision.

There's a lot going on in my head and heart right now. One is that yes, as her coach and an adult, I have the power to force her to go home. However, if she's not contagious or puking or unsafe, I don't really want to make that choice for her. I am really big on autonomy in coaching - I want kids to feel like their gymnastics truly belongs them. If I make that call for her, she isn't in charge of herself. Another is that I would not have listened to me 15 years ago. I love setting an expectation for excellence but I also need there to be healthy boundaries and times of rest. And finally, I think what's bugging me most, is what happened when I talked to some of my coworkers about it. They just said, "well it's good how much she wants to be here".

That hurts. Like no one sees anything wrong with a nine year old who's afraid to go on vacation with her family and take one day off sick?!

And I get it. Believe me. I am not the poster child for a healthy relationship with exercise or rest or achievement. But I have been learning. Constantly. I am not the same person I was as a gymnast through high school or as a college athlete or even earlier this year. And I just have to wonder, where's our line? How do we encourage kids to work hard and be disciplined and expect greatness from themselves while letting them be kids and teaching them healthy habits of play and rest?

Gymnasts are so hard. I don't have the answers. Right now, I'm going to live these questions. I'm going to do the best that I can and pray my heart out. I think that's all I can ask for.