Pieces

Pieces

Trusting myself enough to let go, in an effort to better connect and grow.

 

I returned from LA a few weeks ago.  What a fantastic time with The Vintage Pilates staff, and other “Work” participants.  I feel so blessed to be a part of this beautiful like-minded yet diverse community. My understanding of how I can use the method of Pilates to better myself in “The Work” is coming together and I know this is just the beginning.  In this post I will be reflecting on the idea of connection; how can we better connect all our pieces to what or whomever we are interacting with, to better understand ourselves?

Jay Grimes, Pilates elder, along with the amazing Vintage Pilates Teachers for “The Work”, will usually never end a session without first saying; “do not neglect your ‘partner’” (meaning the apparatus; whether that be the reformer, the chair, barrels, cadillac, guillotine, ped-a-pul, etc).  Jay would then typically follow this statement by saying “KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT and JUST MOVE.”

Although not a Jay Grimes nor a Vintage Pilates saying, this next quote(also a favorite of mine from the movie “EAT, PRAY, LOVE”) complements what I believe Jay and my teachers for “The Work” are saying…

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person that you will ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. Soul mates, they come into your life to reveal another layer of yourself to you.”

I think Jay and my other teachers of “the Work” would agree that their idea of a ‘partner’ is our ‘soulmate.’  We should then treat the apparatus we are using with that awareness and allow it to teach us something about ourselves.   The more connections  we make with our ‘partner’ the more lessons we should receive.  Hopefully, we come away from our workout or our interaction having learned something about who we are.  Perhaps also discovering something we need to work on.  Can’t have one without the other.

I believe finding more connection is different for everyone.   Perhaps for some of you, the struggle lies in concentrating on connecting to your “partner”; for others it is trusting what your partner is revealing to you and giving in to this trust as you continue…   Personally, after this past trip to LA, I am discovering that when I trust more in my “partner” and act more instinctual I am able to make stronger connections and learn more.  Listening and trusting what I feel is right and acting accordingly is definitely hard work, but I believe a challenge worth fighting for.  Be persistent and listen to yourself!

How about you?   How do you stay connected to your “partner?”  Do you need to trust more in yourself to connect all your pieces like me?  Maybe you just need more of a steady effort?  Some need more of one than the other.   We all need to find our own ratio.

I hope you all can trust your “partner” and continue to strengthen and make new connections that bring meaning to you.  Every day is a new day and another opportunity to expand your awareness and your connections and put the little pieces together one by one.  If you feel disconnected and loose your pieces trust your partner more!  Can you trust and listen to what your connections are telling you and act accordingly?  Takes a lot of courage to follow through!   You can do it!  I believe in you:).

Do it right, keep it tight!

Brooke

ps – check out the song “Pieces” by Andrew Belle

 

I’incompris and Le Bureau?

 

l’incompris?

I first came across this beautiful french word, while tasting a bottle of muscat named “l’incompris” at a cellar in the french town, Chateau Neuf du Pape. I was instantly attracted to this bottle of wine for its’ english translation, “mis-understood.” It was love at first sight! It possessed unbelievable undertones of white currant and had just enough spice to keep you guessing. Delicious? Complex? YES! However, I will always love this wine more for it’s name.

I think we all can relate to being misunderstood. Can’t you? Daily arguments, conflicts, and disagreements, in my opinion, are simply a miscommunication. As a Pilates teacher and movement lover, I also believe, the issues and conflicts that reside within us are also a miscommunication. Take exercise, for example, many of us, may think we are doing an exercise properly and should be getting better results. Unfortunately, maybe you find that there are no shifts, no little transformations, no results! Worse, maybe you feel as if you are creating more tension and un-ease in your body. What is the problem? Is it because you are simply getting older or is there an underlying reason? That is for all of us to decide and figure out for ourselves as we create our own story.

What do I believe? I believe as we age, yes, we will need to be more accountable for what we do and also value how we live and live our lives with purpose. The earlier we start this process the better. I try to incorporate things in my life that support me to live better, feel better, and fill me up with joy.

So, getting back to my question of why a strong willed practice may not yield any positive results…maybe chew on the following:

-Perhaps, you are not executing the exercise in your body the way you should be?
-Maybe, you are performing an exercise too much and creating more imbalance rather than balance in your body?

I have been really good at the above! I am guilty of creating a lot of my own imbalances in my body and in my life. It has taken me a lot of practice to learn and better understand my nature and to navigate my body. Looking back I can say it was part of the process, but maybe I could have streamlined the process:)>. Imbalances that I have contributed to are a cause of not doing the ‘right work’ for me! Maybe you can agree with me when I say, it’s fun to be good at something, and in my case, I have been good at “doing” and “doing more.” I rarely paused and asked myself, if what I was “doing” really necessary? helpful? In fact, I can say that I have been good at overdoing things all my life. Not just with exercise, but with many aspects of my life. I call it the “Bendock (maiden name) phenomenon”. I am sure my brother and sister may get a ‘kick out’ of this statement! Luckily, I am also very strong willed and persistent, and I do not mind humiliating myself sometimes in search of the truth.

Reflecting upon and becoming more aware of my unique tendencies and who I am, I know “my work” is to be aware of my tendency to overdo something (just because I can) and instead pull back. With this self-knowledge I have been able to unravel and untangle myself from some of my own messes. Although, I would like to say that I am done with all the listening and practice, I know that this is a process that will continually challenge and inspire me to learn more as there is always more ‘right’ work to do.

If you ‘step outside’ yourself and reflect on your nature, habits, and movement patterns what does it tell you?

Le Bureau?

My studio name is Le Bureau (the office in french). Why a french name? I love France, the language, the people, the food, the smell, the Gauloises, the je ne sais quoi. I lived in France for a year in college and it was a time in my life that I was on my own, out of my comfort zone. I had no choice but to get to know myself and more importantly believe in myself so I could navigate in a foreign land. In France, I discovered that I was the only person in charge of me, and that I should worry about myself instead of being so concerned with what others were doing! Being in a foreign land is very similar to building a rapport with oneself. It takes steady fluent communication and a lot of persistent WORK to know yourself….what a task it is!

I hope that my clients can feel safe to “work” on themselves in my “office” and be certain that they are doing what is right for them. I hope to help in your efforts to streamline your process of knowing yourself. It takes work to listen and be aware of your own sensations and neither I, nor anyone else, can feel the sensations you have, nor do your work for you! I hope I can be somewhat of a translator for you as you continue to deepen your own self discovery and, yes, steer you back to the midline if you stray off course.

Ultimately, as you continue to practice at Le Bureau, I hope you continue to listen to yourself and feel more and more self-reliant in your practice. My hope is for you to be able to unravel your own mis-understandings within you and learn what feels right and what you should and should not do!

“Do it Right, Keep it Tight”

Brooke

BE COURAGEOUS…

Desiree Rumbaugh, one of my favorite yoga teachers always says, “LOVE IS STRONGER THAN FEAR.” Although sometimes this statement may not always be easy to live by, I do know that if I stay connected to my heart and to the people and the things that truly inspire me, I find that I can agree whole heartedly! I know from my experience that when something ‘feels wrong’ it probably is! Just how when you have unease in your body, usually everything in life is somehow also troubled and uncomfortable. These sensations tell you that there needs to be a change! However, I also know that it is fearful to change and simply easier to keep up the same routine. However, is ‘staying’ really serving you, if you feel it’s not right? What could happen if you have a little more courage and follow your heart?

Recently I withdrew my commitment to teaching at a club I had been strongly part of for over the past 4 years.

Just to give you some background….Over the past 14 years I have worked in several fitness studios and fitness health clubs from Des Moines, Iowa, Toledo, Ohio, Redondo Beach, California, Salt lake City, Utah and also here in my home town, Seattle Washington. At all of these places I had magical experiences! I met incredible people, learned amazing things and for the most part enjoyed the ride. I strongly believe magic is always present and ready to show itself if you are allowed to breathe, are passionate about what you do, and also, are not confined to the “clock in and clock out” mind set!

Uprooting and rerooting myself with all the moving has given me great opportunities to start anew several times! What a gift that has been! This has supported my transformation and growth in becoming a better person and teacher. I am passionate about teaching (and always have been and always will be), but also having the opportunity to enter a new community with a different environment challenged yet also allowed me to fine tune my skills as a teacher. Having many different teaching experiences has empowered me to know when to adjust and also how to accommodate different situations and different people.

My most recent change is actually the most exciting one. I am not moving to a different state and I do not need to say good-bye nor am I changing my position and moving to a different gym/studio facility. Rather, I am choosing to focus my teaching solely out of my home studio, Le Bureau! It’s my studio, I make the rules, and there are no procedures such as “clock in, clock out”! Most importantly, I felt it was time to move on. It did not ‘feel right’ to stay at the club any longer. I could give several reasons why I should have stayed, but it was not ‘right’ for me any longer.

I feel very lucky and fortunate that I can choose to work out of my home studio. After having more time to reflect after my recent neck surgery I learned that I wanted to streamline my efforts as a teacher and teaching out of my home is the best option for me now. This is the next step to opening a studio on larger scale which has been a dream of mine for some time. This change, I know will bring many new challenges for me, but I know it is worth the effort as long as I stay connected to my heart and what ‘feels right.’

Change can be exhausting with all the unexpected circumstances it may bring. However, when change is a result of listening to your heart I argue that one will gain a better understanding and brighter perspective that definitely makes up for any feelings of unease! Personally, I have learned that it is best to be humble and open to experience new ways of doing things. I know that if I do not listen and treat every person and situation with respect I will miss out! Every new place and experience has taught me something more about who I am and the importance of being courageous and taking time to listen.

I hope you all have several opportunities in your life to be courageous and allow you to do the things that make your heart beat and your eyes smile. Maybe ask yourself, ”does it feel right”?

Life in Control?

How was my last experience with THE WORK in LA?

Besides being a nice excuse to get away from my daily routine, soak up some needed warm sunshine, and reconnect with some wonderful inspiring people, this time I was not so thrilled to be doing “The Work…” I left Seattle in pain and knew I could not cancel my trip, and still stay in the program due to my pain. It would also not be sufficient to just go and observe. I know that they expect to see us participating, moving, and working! If I did not go and experience first hand the work in my body I would have to drop out of the program. I have worked hard to get in and stay in the program thus far, and their philosophy, which I also believe in, is that you have to experience something if you want to teach it.

What was my pain?

I had intense pain in my left neck, trapezius, and shoulder. At the time I did not know that my pain was due to a big herniation between C6 and C7. Just found out this past week (1 full week after completing my week in LA).

How was my experience?

One word can sum up my last trip to LA for “The Work,” “OOOUCH!”

How did I get my herniation?

What can I say? It’s always a dynamic! As we all know, life is just that, one messy but beautiful dynamic. Whether we like it or not it usually makes sense, if not right away then it will down the road of life. Personally, after contemplating how I got so badly injured, I would have to say that its my own damn fault. For starters, my injury has been accumulating all my life and I have done my fair share of slouching! Also, having broken my back when I was 7 at L1/T12 (another story) does not help either. I have always felt an unrelenting stickiness in my low back that I constantly try to pull out of. Maybe that’s why my love for yoga grew at such a young age? Unfortunately, my stretching efforts to get out of my low back usually only manifest up at my neck. My husband can confirm this as he hears me crack my neck every night before I get in bed after my nightly yoga stretch routine. He always warns me often that I should not crack my neck so much and that “cracking” was not a ‘good’ thing but it felt good to me and I never thought I would be where I am now.

More recently, around the beginning of February I also fell on my head. It was a nice fall, but none the less, it did have some impact and I felt the consequence in my low back and my neck the following day. If any of you Pilates Enthusiasts are familiar with an exercise called the ‘squirrel’, I was doing a variation of just that on the Cadillac with my feet in the fuzzies, except I was in a backbend and to what I recall a bit twisted. I cannot even remember how I got in that position to be honest. I was in my bi-weekly pilates session and at this particular moment I was just playing and having fun. My Pilates sessions, to be honest, are usually my “recess”:). Simple fun!

Almost 2 months after my fall, and I was still feeling a nagging tightness in my neck and upper left back. Part II of The Work was soon approaching and I was a little nervous because I knew my body was not feeling the best. I was convinced that it was just a rib or part of my upper thoracic that needed to be adjusted back into alignment. My husband, Pontus, as most of you know is a Doctor of Osteopathy and can help me time to time if i’m nice of course! I was nice(he’s usually nicer), so he did try to help me on several occasions. He was not able to manipulate what I was sure I needed to be manipulated and was blown away with how tight my left trapezius muscle and levator scapula had gotten. He advised me not to mess with it any more and just do gentle stretches and ice as he thought I had a nerve pinched.

I however, being stubborn and wanting “a fix” decided to go to a chiropractor I had seen before for iliocecal valve difficulties when I was having trouble with digestive issues. I was able to make 2 appts back to back right before I were to leave for California for The Work. I was so happy that I was able to get in and I thought I would finally be able to get some relief before the MAT portion of The Work(the most challenging module as you do not have any support from the apparatus). I had worked hard on my homework and felt prepared but I also wanted to feel better in my neck and shoulder before going into the big demanding week ahead.

My first chiropractic appt went well. The chiropractor was able to adjust my low back and also my upper thoracic. I felt some relief, but still had the nagging pain in my upper neck and left shoulder. I went back the following day and before I left Pontus said to me, “do not let him touch your neck!” However, when I arrived at the chiropractor, I said I was still feeling tight and stuck in the same places. He listened and told me that he thought he could help as he just returned from a course that was all on the neck and upper traps so I said, “ok, see what you can do.” Well, I know now that saying that was a BIG mistake! Right away I felt and heard a huge ‘POP.’ I did not know what to think…so what did i do? I continued with my day in auto pilot and even went to a yoga class and did Headstand(how stupid am I?). I should have iced! That night I was in so much pain I barely slept as my left trapezius and neck were hurting more than ever.

I left to teach that morning before I left that afternoon and was in pain the whole time and realized I even had a hard time bending over and tying my shoe laces! I called Pontus at work and asked him, “what should I do?” He said, “Brooke you will be okay, just take some pain meds, turmeric, anything to reduce inflammation and ice.” I am thinking, okay, I will be okay, just take it easy.

IN LA…

The following day, my demanding schedule was looking straight at me! On average I had 3 Pilates sessions/lessons a day. On Saturday and Sunday it was an all day MAT workshop with Jay Grimes. We must have performed the Mat sequence at least 5 times each day. It was actually okay when I was warmed up and moving and continuing to reach and create my own traction and length, but very painful to just lie down and put pressure on my back or the transition from lying to seated to standing etc. IN between moving I iced and lathered on arnica gold cream and red tiger balm like never before! Everyone knew I was not feeling the best and asked me if there was anything they could do, I thanked everyone for their concern. There were several others who were also going through some their own issues they were working out as well. One individual had a torn rotator cuff and there were also some other interesting cases! We were all in it together and I think just knowing I was not alone helped me in addition to just continuing to breathe, believe, ice, and take epson salt baths in between my sessions as I counted the days till I could go back home!

So what got me through probably the most painful week of my life(beside child birth of course)!

I know I was in pain and I needed to come up with a plan to hep myself get through the intensive week and Mat workshop with Jay Grimes. Besides reminding myself to “take one day at a time” and also calling my husband and hearing him reassure me “that everything will be okay”…I knew it was important for me to start my day off right. Some of you that I teach may here me say, do not rush, take your time, and most importantly set yourself up for success! I used this for myself and this helped me in my misery! Here’s a look at my morning routine and how I set my day up for success.
-literally rolled out of bed at 6am. Sat and on my bed and breathed deeply to create and find space in my back and neck.
-Drank my morning ritual of warm lemon water and and also some l-glutamine as I caught up on the morning news briefs and iced my neck.
-I followed with my bullet coffee(I brought my inversion blender with me) and my berries and a coconut chocolate drink with bone broth to kick start my day with sustained delicious energy. UMMMM, so good.
-I would then normally do a 15 minute full body yoga routine to help wake me up and uplift my body from the nights sleep. Unfortunately, the routine was too painful and instead I did some light stretches targeting my upper back, chest, and neck all while I held and gently lifted my head to create traction for my compressed hurting neck. I usually stood up against the wall in my room just breathing and lengthening my back in and up against the wall. This would help me align myself so I could work on melting my front body into my back and the wall to give me support all the while lifting my spine and creating more length in my neck out of my shoulders.
-9am – walked 1 mile to the studio listening to some Hawaiian happy reggae to continue my beautiful day.

Some of my mantras that were particular useful to me were…
take care of me
start with a good position
be present and observe
less is more
work smart
control and contain self
release
let go

We cannot always control the ‘life’ that is presented to us whether that be a particular situation, disagreement, argument with family or friends, problem at work, or personal challenge possibly with the state our body is in. Regardless, if there is a reason, deep down we know that there always is (whether we like it or not)….we do have a choice to control our mind and our actions to help better our situation. This in a nutshell is Pilates….the art of Contrology. THE ART OF CONTROL. I hope, that I can continue to fine tune my Pilates in and out of the studio to better serve my life and as a consequence the lives that surrounds me. I am so grateful.

LOVE,
Brooke

stay tuned on what comes next…:)

GRATITUDE!

As 2016 soon comes to a close, I naturally spend time reflecting on the opportunities, obstacles, choices and experiences that have filled the year. 2016 was a busy year! Starting my own business, Le Bureau, was a big experience for me that I am excited to continue to grow and develop moving into 2017.   Thank you to all of you who have supported me and contribute to making Le Bureau such an amazing space to work on yourself!

Another big part of 2016 was ongoing struggles with some health issues (Gastrointestinal) dating back to 2012 (when I suffered from 2 severe cases of food poisoning back to back). Since 2012 I have experienced and sometimes suffered through several treatments, seen numerous doctors, and tried countless natural remedies. Through my experiences I have learned a whole lot! Although, I would prefer not to experience the feelings I have had and continue to endure, I am also so grateful for the pain and unpleasant feelings as it has not only helped me gain a greater perspective on life and what is important to me, but it has also taught me so much that I would otherwise not have been exposed to.

The difficult times and experiences has given me greater knowledge and has ultimately made me a better person, not only because I have become more aware of what I do, and how integrated and beautifully dynamic life is, but also how this obstacle has helped me connect and relate to more people who are also suffering in body or life. With that said, I have much gratitude for the lessons I have learned and the people who have helped me along the way. As always I have much gratitude for my loving husband, Pontus, who not only continues to believe in me and my abilities, but also helps me remember that life is too short not to go after what we really want to do!

With what ever triumphs or challenges you have experienced or continue to experience, I hope you are also able to hold much gratitude for your journey as I have mine.  Just remember to, get up, keep moving, stay integrated in your purpose, and as Pontus would say… “Just do it!”

It takes a lot of WORK!

It takes a lot of work…

to recognize that…

“We’re not perfect, and it takes a long time to get there!”

I hope you can laugh and love this phrase as much as I do.

Jay Grimes, first generation master instructor(learned the method of Pilates from Joseph Pilates himself) said this to over 50 classical pilates instructors this weekend at Vintage Pilates in LA. What a great weekend! As some of you may already know, I am hoping to be accepted into Jay’s Pilates Master Program, called, “The Work.” I performed my assessment on the reformer this weekend and overall, I believe, I had a strong performance. I will find out in November wether or not I am one of the few chosen to participate in his program. The program is an intense 1-2 year graduate program for certified teachers who desire to go beyond Pilates workshops and truly understand how all the Pilates exercises and the apparatus work together efficiently and effectively.

Back to, “we’re not perfect, and it takes a long time to get there!” I love this saying as it reminds me that making any shift/change in my attitude, in my body, in my actions takes time. It takes a lot of “WORK” also. WE need to choose and become consciously aware of our actions and recognize what we can do to ease the discomfort. Being disciplined and steadfast in your actions will hopefully affect your realistic goals:) you set for yourself. Doing all of this we will still have more, and more, and more to work on. Enjoy your journey, learn from it, love yourself, and repeat!

Ciao,

Brooke