Back to the basic$ of financial neuroplasticity.

    After several months of implementing the principles of Feldenkrais to help us move more easily through our financial environment, we were ready to enjoy the fruits of our effortless saving. It was time for a few home improvement projects.

    We carefully planned a few things, including our projected budget for each project.  First on the list was updating the master bathroom. What girl doesn’t just love the idea of a new bathroom? Since the plumber was coming and the dogs were safely tucked away at Little Doggie Day Care, we arranged for a window cleaner to come the same day. To round off the day, we had the electrician come to give us an estimate on two small jobs. What fun!

    I was having a great time until we received a shock. A really big shock. You may even say an electrical shock. It appeared that our fuse box had to be replaced and the entire house rewired. Yikes! Our electrician meticulously explained the problem to us and showed us where we had already had something called a burn. I didn’t understand what that meant, but I knew it didn’t sound good. What I did understand was that my new bathroom just went down the toilet. But at least my house would be safe, from an electrical stand point. And my windows were clean. What more could I ask for?

    The cost of the work left me speechless. Which has not happened more than a few times in my life. But I recovered from the shock (so to speak) and was ready to move forward. You would think that such a huge expense would break the bank. The truth is, it did take a hit. But, thanks to our new sense of financial neuroplasticity and our new habits of saving and spending, I could figure out how to recover. I went back to the drawing board. Time to make a few adjustments. I looked back at the budget I had written up last summer. I made a few changes, still allowing for the most important things like food, gas, wine and hair color.

    The good news is that our electrician told us that if we had been considering replacing any light fixtures, now was the time. Since they had to pull all of the fixtures anyway, they would replace any upgrades free of charge. Keep in mind “free” is a relative term considering the cost of the entire project. Hmmm….time to go shopping, at least if it fits in the budget. I may not be getting my bathroom as of yet, but I’ll get a new light fixture and I already have a clean window. At least I’ll see my bathroom in a whole new light, so to speak. That’s a start.

    When one of my sisters commiserated with me, she assured me how pleased I would be that the work was done. But, unfortunately, for all that money, I wouldn’t even have anything nice to look at. Oh, contra ire, I told her. Once all the work was completed, I was going to go through the entire house, turn on every light, go outside and admire the show through my sparkling clean windows.

    So, just in case you see a strange light from the Rocky Mountains, no worries, it’s just me enjoying my home improvements. And, don’t worry, it will be a brief light show that doesn’t last long. After all, I am on a budget!

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

I can see clearly now….

    Spring cleaning started a little bit early this year. Well, I have to be honest. This is only the second consecutive year that I have subscribed to the idea of spring cleaning. But that’s another story.

    Anyway, one of the first items on my agenda were my windows. I have cleaned them before, of course. Or at least, I’ve tried. Many times. But instead of getting them clean, all I’ve ever managed to do was to rearrange the dirt and grime. But I kept trying.

    Taking the windows apart to clean them was difficult enough. Putting them back together was a nightmare. And yet I kept trying, doing the same thing over and over with the same grime streaked results. Finally, I gave up. If my windows were gong to be dirty, at least I had the satisfaction of doing nothing about it. But then the glorious morning sun would come beaming through my windows, clouding my view and mocking me at my failure to get them clean. I thought about getting professional help.

    I once mentioned in front of my father that I needed to hire a professional window washer. He was horrified. He said “You’re kidding me! Can’t you clean them yourself?” Apparently I can’t, which is why I was considering having a professional clean them for me.

     But he did get me thinking. Why couldn’t I clean them myself? Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough. Maybe I was doing something wrong. Maybe there was something wrong with me. My windows were representing a part of my belief system and my self image that I am not a very good housekeeper. It sounds silly, but it really bothered me. So, I quadrupled my efforts and tried again. And still I failed.

    I finally hired a professional window washer two weeks ago. And he did a wonderful job! My windows are clean, crystal clear, with not even a streak left behind. The morning sun coming through my windows is beautiful, giving me a clear, uninterrupted view. So much light is coming through, I can see the corners of the house that need to be cleaned. And I am attending to them with a new sense of enthusiasm and awareness.

    Life’s a lot like those windows. Sometimes we get layers of muck that we simply can’t clear away on our own. Sometimes we can’t see clearly through the layers of dirt that we have accumulated through the years. We get stuck in patterns and we can’t find our way out. It may have a negative impact on our self image, even if it seems trivial to someone else. And it takes away our ability to really enjoy the most simple things in life. Sometimes we all need a little professional help to improve our awareness and see through our problems more clearly. All we have to do is remove the judgment, stop worrying about what other people may think of us, and open ourselves up to new possibilities.

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

Mid-March Resolutions.

    I drove past the local health club a few days ago and noticed their sign boldly advertising, “Resolutions? Join today!” That was strange, considering it is already mid-March. Maybe it was a mistake. A few days later, I noticed the sign had changed. It now proclaimed, “A New You in 2012!” Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a mistake.

    But, it’s the middle of March. It’s St. Patrick’s Day. The New Year’s resolutions have long been forgotten. The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and people are coming out of their winter hibernation with the promise of spring. Everyone is dusting off their bicycles, pulling out their golf clubs, signing up for runs, pouring into the local parks, and dreaming about picnics and cookouts. Why in the world would anyone chose joining a stuffy old gym over the seduction of a beautiful spring day and outdoor activities? It seemed like an odd marketing and advertising strategy to me.

    Then I started thinking about it. Why do we set our New Year’s resolutions on January 1st, anyway? Is it just because it’s the beginning of a new calendar year? Or maybe it’s because some of us are feeling  guilty about over indulging during the holidays. So, we set lofty goals that sound pretty good during the mad rush of the holidays, only to face the harsh reality of squeezing into spandex, braving the cold harsh weather and short dark days to get to the gym. As an extra bonus, we will be surrounded by those folks who kept their New Year’s resolutions from the previous year. Yikes!

    It’s a recipe for disaster, and almost a set up for failure. No wonder why we throw in the towel after a few weeks. But, I have another idea. Wouldn’t it make more sense to hunker down, snuggle in, and slowly recover from the holidays and enjoy the long winter nights? Rather than setting unrealistic goals for ourselves, maybe we could take some time to nurture ourselves, and carefully plan moderate changes over the next three months. We can begin to implement these changes at a reasonable pace. Then, when spring arrives and the days start getting longer and warmer, we can address our resolutions with a renewed energy and enthusiasm. And, increase our chances of success.

    So much for my skepticism about the wisdom of the health club and their marketing strategy. This health club may be on to something. They certainly got my attention. The problem is, St. Patrick’s Day Resolutions doesn’t have the zip that New Year’s Resolutions does. March Madness is already taken. April Fool’s hardly seems appropriate. The truth is, it doesn’t matter when you begin, as long as you start moving in the right direction. Remember, if it’s physical, it’s therapy!

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

Live and learn….

What a wonderful weekend I’m having! It started last night with a fantastic instructor training class at Kusa Dojo. Okay, so it was a bit difficult to get to the dojo on a gloriously beautiful spring evening, especially being Friday evening and everything. To make matters worse, I had to maneuver around all the revelers getting an early start on their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the local pub. But it certainly was worth the effort. It’s amazing how much you can learn about how you move when you really slow things down, listen to the quality of your movement, and go back to the basics. Oh, and it also helps to have two highly skilled teachers coaching you.

I was able to find where I was making my mistakes and now have the opportunity to work on them, on my own, without judgment, but in the spirit of interest and curiosity. When I practice on my own, I can slow down my movement patterns even more so I can interrupt the habits I have developed that are holding me back. In the context of learning, slowing down and doing less helps you feel more. I could feel new synaptic connections developing in my head. You’d think I’d be exhausted after that, but I was strangely energized as I picked my way around the party goers from the pub after class. Hmmm….this sounds really familiar, like something else I know.

I didn’t think my weekend could get any better after last night. Until this morning, when I taught a two hour Feldenkrais workshop at my office. Watching my students discover new movement patterns as they moved slowly through the lessons was fascinating. And extremely rewarding. Listening to their experiences of the movement lessons was incredibly enlightening as I felt more synaptic connections making contact in myself. And I could once again appreciate the close relationship between  martial arts and The Feldenkrais Method. What fun!

So, it begs the question, both from the perspective as a student and as a teacher….am I teaching to learn or learning to teach? I think they go hand in hand, and are reversible, just like one of the principles of learning in the Feldenkrais way. Recently I was explaining the principles of Feldenkrais to a friend of mine. I explained how it was based on the science of neuroplasticity, that we are always able to learn new things during our entire lifetime. She responded by saying she was too old to learn new things, and she meant it. I felt sorry for her, because that is part of her belief system and her self image. Not only is that sad, but just think of all the fun she’s missing out on!

Anyway, it’s been a great weekend, full of wonderful experiences and discovery! And just think….it’s only Saturday afternoon. Who knows what the rest of the weekend has in store!

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

Ballet Master

The house lights grow dim, it’s opening night!
The audience quiets. Enter, stage right.

A spotlight appears, a bright, shining light.
And follows the movement of one special life.

Of a Ballet Master, mentor and friend.
Artist, dancer, elite gentleman.
His ageless elegance, style and grace.
A quiet reflection of a more gracious place.                                                      

Firm and determined, and true to his art.
He follows this truth with a compassionate heart.

These are the rules, there are no exceptions.
There are no excuses in this quest for perfection.                                                             

His students adore him, with respect, love and fear.
And they keep learning with each passing year.

Of all of his students who have gone before,
The last of his students could not love him more.

We continue to work each tendue, releve.
As we remember his clean precise way.
The curtains now close, we walk into the night.
Our lives so much richer. Exit, stage right.

For Mr. Boyette, from a loving and grateful heart.
Cheryl Ilov, March 2005

Sunshine, solitude and AAA.

    Don’t you just hate when things don’t go as planned?

    Last week my car wouldn’t start, leaving me stranded after ballet class on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. By the time I got in my car and realized it wouldn’t start, the last dancer had already driven away. I was alone, and I was stuck. I called my husband on his cell phone. No answer. I tried the home phone. I got the answering machine. Frustrated, I tried starting the car again. Nothing. Oh, well, at least the radio worked.

    I listened to some music and noticed how blue and clear the sky was, and how nice that I was stranded right next to a park. I could see the high mountain peaks covered with snow, and I marveled at the contrast of the sunlight, blue sky, and blinding white snow capped mountains. Finally, I realized I was in a rare state of inactivity, so I came out of my reverie and called AAA. Well, at least someone was answering their phone. They told me a truck would come to my aid in less than one hour. Help was on the way, eventually.

    I was alone, I couldn’t go anywhere, and I was stuck. Or was I? Once again, I noticed how beautiful the sky was. I listened to more music, and enjoyed the warmth of the sun on a cold, crisp day. I had a full half hour of sweet, uninterrupted solitude. I was  alone with my thoughts, my music, and a bright blue sky. I spent the time nurturing myself in quiet meditation, and hitting the refresh button on my personal computer, my nervous system. All of a sudden, I saw the world through new eyes. I was almost disappointed when AAA showed up.

    Don’t you just love it when things don’t go as planned?

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP