Healthy Cruising ~ First Things First

When I first proposed a health and wellness column to Bob, Jody and Sue their initial response was “okay, but we want you to write like you talk.” Guess they think I am entertaining or something. I thought to myself “no problem, I am always cracking my students up”, then realized it is because I sometimes stumble over my words in class. I have been called anatomically dyslexic as I instruct my students to grab their left wrist with their left hand (yes this happened just this morning) or to lower their hips and bend their nose. Consequently there is hesitation and confusion, until I realize what I have done, point it out, and offer myself as a sacrifice all in the name of laughter. (Which is by the way a wonderful healing tool… I do it for the students! Really!)

As I sit down to revise my original writings on a subject that is in fact a life or death subject, I hear myself teaching the simple truth that while some things in life are important, in reality, nothing is serious. One of the rules I have my students follow in class is to find that balance between having fun while remaining focused. As I begin this journey with you we are going to have as much fun as possible as we explore different ways to be healthy and live well while enjoying the cruising lifestyle.

Balance. It is really all about finding a level of moderation that allows you to experience everything life has to offer. Bob speaks of living the decadent lifestyle and I must agree with him, this is something we all deserve. But what is decadent? The dictionary defines it as luxuriously self-indulgent. I would like to add to that a way of being or doing something that makes you feel, well, yummy. Decadence should put a smile on your face and a giggle in your heart, not fill your mind with regrets and should’ves. Unfortunately sometimes we must experience those things that do create regrets in order to appreciate the juiciness of life.

If you have been to any of the Latitudes & Attitudes Cruisers party’s at the boat shows, or have seen the evidence in the magazine, you know I like to have fun. I love to dance and I love rum (like any good pirate should) combine that with rockin’ music, good people and free beer and pizza, well, what choice is there but to indulge a bit. I tell you this so you don’t think I am one of ‘those people’, someone who always does what they are supposed too. Always. Each day is a new day. A day to make choices, some of which support a healthy lifestyle others may not. Each day I, like you, do my best. I make choices about what foods I eat, what activities to participate in, how much physical exercise I get, what information I take in and how long I will meditate. Each one of these choices affects the physical and mental well being of my body, the more conscious the choice, generally the healthier it is.

I have chosen to submerse myself in learning how the body works, learning different ways to make it work more efficiently and sharing this information with others, hopefully paying the bills all the while. Not unlike a good captain who learns not only how the rigging and sails work on their boat, but learns intimately all the little quirks of the engine and electronics, as well as external factors like the weather that will affect how the boat operates. Keeping in mind, that, just like all the boats around, each body operates a little bit differently. I am eagerly looking forward to the day when I will be learning how the engine and electronics on my own boat operate and applying that knowledge to the care of my boat, much like I apply the knowledge I have to the care of my body (most of the time). There really is no reason why one would not take care of this vessel we call a body any less diligently than we take care of our sailing vessels. When you think about it, if you don’t have a functioning life vessel what good is a sailing vessel going to do you?

So, first things first, one of the most basic, absolutely free, accessible ways of healing the body and the monkey mind is to breathe. I know you are thinking to yourself, “Yea, I breathe, everyday, all day, otherwise I’d be dead.” But, how often do you think about it? How often do you sit and watch the breath? Once you begin paying attention, you may be surprised at how often you catch yourself holding your breath. It is said the breath is the bridge between the body and spirit.

Just for fun, sit and focus on the breath for, let’s say ten breaths. That’s all, just ten breaths, in and out ten times, slow and deliberate. Pay attention to each part of the cycle. If you are able to do it, notice how you feel physically and mentally. Or, notice how quickly the mind wanders making this somewhat of a challenge. The first step in controlling the body is to control the breath.

I am a full time yoga instructor and a practicing yogini, as I address many different issues of health and wellness facing those of us that are choosing the cruising lifestyle you will notice that my views may come from this perspective. However, I am also a believer in finding what works best for you and doing it. I am a former aerobics instructor and personal trainer, I understand not only do our bodies have different needs but our minds have different needs as well and plan to offer you helpful ideas to keep you healthy and sailing.

Almost twenty years ago I had the opportunity to be in a near fatal car accident. After seeing what happened to the truck I was in, I realized just how amazing the human body is. The truck was crumpled beyond recognition, but my body was still functioning. It was at this time that I made the conscious choice to take care of my body. I encourage you to not wait until you have your world rocked before making this decision. As Nike says, “Just do it!”

Have fun! And… BREATHE!


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