Monday, November 28, 2011

Home again, home again, dancing a jig

This morning at 10am we were reconnected to gas and electricity and were able to move back in to our apartment. Yiiiippppeee! It has been two weeks since we were cut off and it has been a challenging process to get everything turned back on. Nick had trials today so we moved some things last night. This morning at 7:30am we brought the cats, the litter box and as many other things as we could carry. Nick went to work and I went back to our short-stay apartment; cleaned and packed the rest of our belongings for the final trip back to our apartment to meet the contractor. I am so glad to have all of our things in one spot again. It took about 10-minutes for him to flip all the switches. The electricity came back on right away but the radi
ators weren't turning on. At first I thought it would just take a while for them to warm up but after an hour I was still wearing my touque and mitts. I fiddled around in the utility room
but didn't know where the pilot switch was. Nick came home at lunch and remembered that there was a box in our laundry room and I am happy to say I am snug as a bug in a rug :) Pumpkin, Gizmo and Maggie have been sleeping on the bed all day. The early morning walk over in the cat carriers was very tiring for them, apparently. I am starting to get excited for the holidays and have been checking out decorations at the stores. They have some really pretty and unique things here. I picked up a beautiful cranberry wreath centre piece for the table and we are thinking about getting a small potted evergreen to act as our Christmas tree. Thursday I went for tea with my friend Laura and we picked up dutch Christmas cards. I have been working on them and plan to send them out shortly as I'm not sure how quickly the mail will get overseas especially getting closer to Christmas. Maastricht has a Christmas market in the Vijhof that is currently under construction. I've walked down to monitor the progress a few times and I don't think it will be long now. There is a skating rink, a ferris wheel, mulled wine and vendors from far and wide. I'm really looking forward to experiencing the Christmas Market.
People keep telling me how wonderful it is. We are planning to go to Germany to check out the Christmas market there. They are supposed to have the best Christmas markets. Every day they seem to add a few more lights and decorations to the city streets. They really go all out!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Great Eggspectations

Nick and I are still living at our short stay apartment. It is becoming more of a mid range stay then a short stay at this point. We've been here a week already! We are hoping to be back in our place by the end of the week but who knows???? I am really starting to miss our little apartment. I find it really frustrating how long this whole process has taken. Do I have unreasonable expectations? I just think our landlord should have paid the bill as we have been paying him to do so and that the electric company should have shorter service time, especially in the winter months when they know we can't live in the apartment without utilities. We are currently paying into a new contract but are waiting for the company to come to our place to turn it on. No one can give me a firm date either. Arrrrghhh! That's right, arrrrghhh!
On a more exciting note, this Thursday I am going Christmas shopping with my Canadian friend Laura. I don't really have any shopping to do because Nick and I are taking a trip for Christmas but I love holiday shopping. I'm looking forward to grabbing a tea and just hanging out. The stores are a buzz and the streets are decorated with beautiful holiday lights. We have plans for Saturday night as well. We are going for dinner to Laura and Richard's house. Laura said she plans to make something with pumpkin in honor of the American Thanksgiving. I love pumpkin! A few friends from my spin class also asked Nick and I out for drinks. We have turned in to quite the social butterflies :)
Today was my busy day. I teach 4-classes on Tuesday's and it leaves me pretty fatigued. I finish teaching at 10pm and by the time I get home it's 10:20pm and I'm still wired from teaching. I have to sit and watch tv for a bit to unwind before I hit the pit. I always have great plans to get up early on Wednesday to make the most of the day but I usually need the sleep in for recovery. Tomorrow I would like to start the morning with a yoga class but we'll see how I feel.
Nick made me some delicious scrambled eggs when I got home. What a nice treat! I don't know how he does it but his eggs are way better then mine. They are always nice and fluffy and perfectly cooked. I'm not great at taking the time to eat after I exercise and he knows that I often neglect nutrition when I finish this late. Opting for my comfortable bed instead. I never feel very hungry and when I'm this physically tired I'm not motivated to cook. I realize that it is really important to fuel to keep up my energy levels and to help with recovery especially after teaching this much. I'm all about routine and I find that my eating routine goes out the window on Tuesday's. I eat mostly small snack type meals because of my busy schedule and that I'm eating on the run but today I made a focused effort to have nutritious snacks. I've been feeling a little run down lately and I think it's because I haven't been eating the right things at the right time. Thanks for the scramble Nick, they exceeded my great eggspectations!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Hello blog followers. Long time no chat :( I apologize that I have been MIA but we ran in to a strange series of events that involved us moving into another apartment for a short stay. On Tuesday of last week I taught my regular morning fitness class at Zenden. I jumped into a quick shower so that I could get going with the rest of my day. I had plans to go to the library for the afternoon and then to teach two classes at UM sport and one at Mac social club on Tuesday evening. I had just soaped up my hair when I heard a banging at our front door. The knock at the door surprised me and struck me as very strange because in order to get into our building you need to be buzzed in. The banging at the door persisted so with soap still in my hair I put on my robe and went to the door. There was a women with a clip board and two men with tools. They informed me that our landlord had not paid or renewed the contract with the utilities company and after several written warnings they were here to shut off the water and electricity to our apartment. This caught me completely off guard as Nick and I pay an all inclusive rent for the apartment and had not received any notifications. I asked them if I could give them money to leave it on until we could figure this out but they explained that they are a company hired by the utilities company and couldn't help us. They were kind enough to allow me to wash the soap out of my hair but following my shower I was quickly left in the dark, cold apartment with no running water. I called Nick and he rushed home, we went to our landlords place of business and he was very appologetic. He arranged for us to stay in another apartment until he can get this all figured out. The temporary accomodations are about a 10-min walk from our place, just over the river and a little closer to the University. He paid for a cab for Maggie, Gizmo and Pumpkin to be taken to the new apartment which was very kind. The new apartment has turned out to be a nice get away. It is much larger then our place and the cats settled right in. They love the long hallway and large windows. I would have liked to move into this place but it is 1400 euros a month. Out of our price range for sure! We are hoping to be back in our place by Tuesday but who knows. The people who disconnected our water and electricity said they thought it would be at least two weeks. I was pretty upset in the moment by the experience of having everything shut off but in the end there were some positives as well. The list of positives include; 1) Now we will be in charge of our own bills...a bit of cost savings 2) Pumpkin, Gizmo and Maggie are having fun in the new apartment 3) I had the opportunity to meet one of our neighbours...she offered to help when she learned they were cutting off our electricity and water 4) When I go to the University I don't have to push my bike up the bridge :) We are happy, we are healthy and we are still could be worse, much worse. Some exciting things are in the works since I was last able to blog. I start renting a therapy space in the New Year at the University sports centre. Very exciting! I have been asked to give two workshops for the fitness instructors, personal trainers and sports league coaches for staff training and we are going to Paris over Christmas. I really missed my blog while we have been MIA. It feels good to be back at it :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Party! Party! Party!

On Thursday night we were invited to the inaugural lecture of Professor Luc Van Loon, Nick's advisor. As is part of custom here in the Netherlands the Professor is then responsible for hosting a reception after the lecture and throwing their own celebration party. The party was a real formal event in a beautiful venue with an open bar, food, dj and dancing. Like a wedding reception. I find it very strange that it is a requirement to throw and pay for your own party but it's the Dutch way. They throw their own birthday parties too! I met lots of the spouses and partners of Nick's lab mates as well as his colleagues from the department. I met a girl named Laura from Toronto Canada and her boyfriend Richard. She has been here for 6-years studying and is heading back in the summer. She is planning to start school at the Naturopathic College. She has cats too so we exchanged stories. We plan to get together for a cat date soon :) We have a lot in common.
We had a wonderful time and Luc's friends, colleagues and students gave wonderful presentations and prepared some great movies. They bought him a piece of art that he has had his eye on for some time. You could tell he really appreciated everyone's efforts. People partied into the wee hours; dancing, laughing and cutting loose. Slayer came on at 12am and things just got crazy from that point on. Professors were head banging and slam dancing :) We left at 1am because I had to teach the next morning. I gotta say, I'm getting old! I was tired all day. Not because of the lack of sleep but because of the disturbance in my routine. I guess you could say I'm just a shadow of the party animal I once was ;)
The next morning came early and it was 11/11/11. On Nov 11th in Canada we recognize Remembrance Day and at 11:11am I took my two minutes of silence. We recognize the sacrifice that soldiers made in the great wars and we take the time to recognize current service people and their families. When I was walking across the Vijhof Square on my way home from teaching a class I looked down and noticed that there was a marker set into the stones that marked the liberation of Maastricht in September of 1944. It really hit home! This is where the war took place. My grandpa was here during that time and he was liberated by the Canadian troops. I would really love to see some of the war memorials before we leave. I think as a Canadian it's an important part of our heritage.
Here in the Netherlands (especially the south) Nov 11th marks the start of Carnival, the festive season. Yesterday, there were over 12,000 people in the Vijhof Square celebrating Carnival. There was music, dancing and good old fashioned partying. The young and old were dressed in yellow, red and green and partied all day and night. They wore circus inspired costumes but anything seemed to go. Nick and I got a real kick out of some of the older people's costumes. They are so elaborate and colorful. They really get into it! There was a live feed on tv from the Vijhof so I watched the festivities from home. It was packed. Nick and I had planned to walk down to people watch but after Thursday nights festivities I wasn't feeling up for another party. I hadn't realized what a big event it is. People come from far and wide to attend. We will partake in February when they have the week long party :) Some of my participants let me know that they would not be present for classes Friday morning because of Carnival. In the end it was my class of 45+ women from Zenden that missed class and not the students. Those party animals!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Straight Bizzle...Fo Shizzle :)

Translation...I've started my own business!

It's always been a dream of mine to have my own business and there is no better time then the present. Empower.ed Bohdi! With Nick's support I have developed a logo and a business plan. Let me know what you think of the logo??? It's a work in progress. I've been contemplating the name for some time, since 2007 to be exact. I settled on "empower" because I want to help others to help themselves and the ".ed" represents education. Because I believe education and knowledge are the path to enlightenment or "bohdi", in yoga. Hence the name empower.ed bohdi. Thank you friends who have helped me along the way to come up with a name that rings true to my beliefs and is so close to my heart :) When I was in Canada I registered as a business so that I could work as an independent contractor but this is my first crack at the real deal. I want my business to fill the gap in therapeutic exercise. I think there are great personal trainers out there and wonderful therapists but what about the in between. My mom has COPD and has been struggling to find someone knowledgeable and experienced enough to support her in starting an exercise program. I think I could be this person. With my background in strength and conditioning, my experience as a therapist and my certification as an exercise physiologist I believe I can offer a unique service to an audience that really needs it.
I've been sitting and studying in the library for hours and teaching tons of fitness classes and I wanted something special to work on. I take my breaks from studying and write down my ideas. Free time really does foster creativity :) My goal is to offer fitness classes, therapeutic exercise sessions and manual therapy to a community of learners who need support to take the first or next step toward improved health. I believe that "Anatomy is Destiny! So do some squats, it will change your life!" This is another branding idea I have.
I've been treating a few people, mostly through referrals, but I would like to expand my practice and my business while I am here. I've decided that I am going to start writing about health, fitness and wellness and post articles on my facebook page as well. I have found writing to be very therapeutic and love to share thoughts. I contacted a web developer to start to put together a website and Nick bought me a therapy table for Christmas. My dear friend Pam has connected me with a colleague of hers to discuss branding as well. These are really exciting times and I look forward to seeing where it all leads. No matter what happens I'm excited about the future and this opportunity to help others. Yours in health and fitness. Smiles :) Alana

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Charisma: Nature or Nurture

This photo is of my friend Pam and I at a Fitness conference in 2009. She is one of the most charismatic people I know! Strangely enough charisma's origin is in Greek and she is Greek :)

Have you ever met someone and instantly took a liking towards them? You can’t explain why, but you feel a fondness and being with them makes you feel better about yourself. I am very interested in people that have a strong sense of presence. The kind of people that can light up a room and command respect with their quiet confidence. There is a natural magnetism toward charismatic people and I want to know why.
So I'm sure your wondering why the interest and questions about charisma??? Well, I have been brain storming and working on ideas to start my own small business here in the Netherlands and have been doing research on what makes some small businesses more successful then others. I have been looking at businesses that essentially offer the same services but have very different outcomes. I think a lot of it comes down to charisma of the owner/ employees and connecting with people in the community. So my big question is are these charismatic people born this way or have they fostered it's development? Can we, the less charismatic, become more charismatic?

Through personal social research some of the key characteristics of charismatic people that I have identified are;

1) They smile a lot. The charismatic people that I have met smile a lot. Not in a creepy and excessive way but more in a positive and enthusiastic way. Emotions are contagious so a smile can go a long way. I definitely think that charismatic people have an authenticity in their smile but starting to smile more is an easy behaviour change to make. I have been pleasantly surprised by the response I have received to my smiling.

2) They are interested, open and curious. The most charismatic people are genuinely interested in others. In conversation they tend to ask more questions then they answer. They are great listeners who make others feel comfortable sharing without fear of judgement. There is a curiosity about them and a desire to learn and know more and they view every interaction as an opportunity to do just this.

3) They are fully present. Being present creates an intense focus and a feeling of being centered that is palpable. People are not accustomed to interacting with people who are totally present and it makes them feel special. They are more likely to share and open up. Have you ever really observed Oprah in an interview. In a room full of people, on national tv with a million potential distractions she is fully present. It's as if no one else and nothing else exists when she is interviewing.

4) They are confident. There is a quiet confidence about charismatic people. This confidence is very different then arrogance. Their confidence is on a deeper and more fundamental level and has come with experience from facing fears. They succeed and are confident because they have failed over and over.

5) They are assertive. Often times we think if we are "nice" and go out of our way for people they will like and appreciate us. They may in fact like you but the better question is will they respect and be drawn to you? People who are assertive with clear boundaries and expectations of how people should treat and interact with them are much more successful in relationships then the "nice guy/ girl".

6) They are amused. I know this sounds kind of funny but they don't seem to take things too seriously. They are relaxed and having fun and there is a lightness about them. They recognize what is important and what is not. What they have control over and what they don't. They have a good sense of humour about life.

7) They are socially free and authentic. When you are overly concerned about what other people may think then you often act in reaction to what you think they might say or do. When you are in this frame of thought you can not not be your most genuine and authentic self.

In conclusion, I think charisma can be defined as being along a continuum. I think the potential to be charismatic is within all of us. In my opinion charisma is a product of environment and being exposed to situations that allow it to further develop. Some of us may require a more focused and diligent effort at developing our own charisma but it is definitely possible. I think there are things we can work on every day. Today, in my yoga class I will work on being present :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Puuuuurfect Yoga Practice

I've made myself a list of goals for this year. It's a list of the things that I've wanted to see or do or learn that I've never had the time for. You know, the things that you just keep putting in the some day pile. For example, one of the things on my list is learning to french braid. I know it may seem kind of silly but I have always wanted to be able to french braid. I can still remember being a little girl getting so excited when my older sister Leigh would french braid my hair. Sitting in front of my big sister on the living room floor having her braid my hair and talking are some of my very special memories of our relationship. I thought she was so cool and I always felt so pretty with my hair french braided :) It's been one of those things that I have always wanted to do but have never taken the time to sit down to learn. Well, finally, I sat down turned on a utube video and am happy to say learned to french braid. Isn't utube awesome! This is how I tie Nick's neck tie's too :) One of my other to do's is to attend a yoga class at least once per week while we are here. I think it's important to take time for myself to do some exercise that is less vigorous and more balancing and I also want to continue to improve and grow as a yoga instructor. I think a great way to do this is to expose myself to as many different instructors and styles of classes as possible. To date I have been drawn toward the Vinyasa or Power Yoga classes because they are strongly rooted to the physical. I have a difficult time sitting quietly and getting out of my own head. So this morning I had planned to attend a power yoga class at one of the gyms I work at. A great perk of working at so many gyms is that you get to enjoy the classes for free :) When I sat down at the top of my mat in preparation for the class the instructor welcomed us and said that we were going to focus on Ujjayi breathing and meditation for the first half of the class. What???? I thought this was Power Yoga. She explained that she wanted us to be able to learn to focus on the breath during our vigorous Power Yoga class to improve the quality of our practice . We sat in a fire log posture for 20-minutes focusing on breathing and creating the sound of the ocean in our throats. My feet were asleep, my nose was itchy, my mind was running in circles thinking of all the cool things I had planned to do in the afternoon. My head was everywhere but on my mat and focused on my practice. I was compassionate with myself and kept trying to come back but needless to say, it was a very challenging morning for me. The instructor was excellent and I know there are many things that I can learn from her so I will be back. I plan to make Thursday mornings a regular class for me. I have also decided that I will start doing 20-minutes of my own practice at home each day. In the past it has proven to be a challenge because there are so many distractions at home. The biggest of which are my cats Pumpkin, Gizmo and Maggie. As soon as I put my mat down they swarm me. Pumpkin loves to lie underneath me on her back in the hopes of getting a belly rub. Gizmo squacks at me from the coffee table and Maggie loves to drag her bum across my yoga mat. Yuck! Seriously, it's a magnet for her.
I think I've got a plan to overcome these challenges. I am going to include them in my practice. I thought I was being original but there are dedicated websites to yoga for cats is just one example that I checked out. It is very cute. So I decided to try some of the Asanas with the girls and Nick played photographer; Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) with Gizmo, Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana) with Pumpkin and Tree Pose (Vrksasana) with Maggie. As you can see Maggie has difficulty focusing during yoga too :)