Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My New Journey

Breast Cancer Awareness month takes on a whole new meaning for me this year. As many of you know, I was diagnosed with what I like to call a “touch of cancer” in April of this year and it has been quite a journey. When I was first diagnosed my two biggest questions were “What does this process involve?” and “How do people deal with this?” One of the most helpful things for me in answering these questions was to hear the stories of others. So, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month and the many other women faced with this question, here is my story.
It began with a routine mammogram, as so many stories like this do. Two days later, I received a call asking me to come back for more pictures.  This obviously made me a little nervous, but I know many people that have gotten “call backs” which have turned out to be nothing.  I resolved not to give it too much thought and went into “keep calm and carry on” mode.  When after 12 (yes 12!) more pictures they told me I had to come back the very next day for a biopsy, I knew that cancer was a real possibility. After the biopsy they scheduled an appointment a few days later for me to come in and hear the results in person.  It was definitely the scariest doctor’s appointment I’ve ever gone to in my life.  My husband, Doug, and I went in and I was diagnosed (I’m being specific here because there are so many different types) with invasive ductal carcinoma.  This is a good diagnosis; it was a small stage 1 breast cancer.  My friends and I had been saying “if it is cancer let’s hope it’s the "Sheryl Crow Cancer” and this is pretty much what I got.  Still…I was wracked with fear, anger and blame. How could this happen?  What did I do wrong?  I’ve always exercised and thought I was eating healthfully. Although I was surprised, perhaps I shouldn’t have been because both my mother and her twin sister are breast cancer survivors and I’ve learned that about 230,000 women are diagnosed with it each year. After the diagnosis the next part happened so fast: two weeks after the biopsy I had a lumpectomy and two weeks after that I began radiation. 

I healed from the surgery fairly quickly and was able to get moving a few days afterwards, beginning with walks and taking it day by day from there.  I am still working with tightness in my arm and chest (which may be with me for life) but have completely regained strength.  I tolerated the radiation well and was able to maintain most of my usual activities.  There are a lot of options these days when it comes to care, both for cancer and general health and I learned that I had to be proactive in gathering information. Perhaps even more importantly, I really had to trust my instincts because I didn’t have time to waste questioning whether I was making the right decisions or not.  As a side note for people navigating the breast cancer labyrinth, I highly recommend that you make sure to bring someone with you to important clinical appointments.  Not just for support, but also to help you take notes, stay present and decipher the information given.  The technical information can be truly overwhelming even without the emotional component which can get in the way of clearly hearing and processing the information.

Once this new reality had sunk in, I had to reassess how I was taking care of my body and mind. I have always eaten healthfully, but now I am even more conscientious about eating organic and whole foods.  I get pounds of local produce delivered on a regular basis, and have cut most processed foods from our diet. We eat a lot more vegetarian meals in our house and juice vegetables daily. My family has taken this journey along with me, and all of our diets have improved.

Dealing with cancer has a remarkable way of boiling things down to their essence so that you can see more clearly what is important and what is not.  For me the priority has come down to relationships; relationship with self, family, friends and community. I have learned that even the people closest to you don’t always know how to react and they may need guidance.  It’s difficult to know what to do for someone in need but it’s also really hard to ask for help for many people including myself,  I have learned how to offer a specific help rather than offering general help for the people in my life that now need it.  I have gotten better at asking for help and being direct about my needs. The process of needing and asking for help has actually strengthened my relationships and helped me view my community in a new way.

I have begun to spend time meditating.  I’ve found a great resource in Yogaglo where I can find guided meditations that fit my time and my needs. I have been working on getting quiet and listening to my body and to my inner voice.  It is definitely not easy (a Dailey Method class is much easier than sitting for meditation!)  and it really is a practice.  I believe that we know more than we think we do and when we pay attention we can save ourselves a lot of frustration.  I have made an effort to have more compassion for myself (which was absolutely necessary while going through this process) and to more truly and actively appreciate my body for all of the amazing things that it does right rather than focusing on the cancer. One byproduct of compassion and gratitude for self is compassion and gratitude for others.  I have found that this has positively affected many people in my life and my relationships with them.

Professionally, I have been doing more of the things that I love, excel at and that support the Method. For me that means focusing on teaching classes, teacher training, workshops and continued personal education. This process has forced me to become better at delegating so that I am free to concentrate on the things that energize me and invigorate the Method. This has enabled me to bring a whole new level of energy and awareness to TDM, which is so exciting!  I am in debt to this Method and to this community; TDM has not only been my passion and livelihood, but it has also played an important role in my physical and mental healing this past year. Taking classes and allowing myself to take comfort in the amazing community that we have created helped me to feel healthy and strong as I was going through this process that had potential to make me feel just the opposite.

Now that the whirlwind of treatment and decisions has passed, I feel that I am both able to address the issue in a more public way (hence this post!) and to consider what good has come out of this experience. There have been many positive ways that my life has been enhanced by this experience and I say this with the full knowledge that I am one of the lucky ones, and because I am one of the lucky ones I feel a responsibility to take these unintended lessons and weave them into the fabric of my life and work. 

This week all of our Studios are holding a donation only 90-minute class to support a couple of Organizations that are close to our hearts: the Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization and To Celebrate Life Breast Cancer Foundation.  I hope you will consider joining us for class or offering a donation so that together we can make a difference.

- Jill

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What My Father Taught Me

This post is in memory of my Dad, John Dailey, whose strength and character has guided and shaped me. Today everyone who knew him is gathering to celebrate him and his life.  I want to do this by sharing a few of the many important lessons he taught me.
• Do your best every day.
• If you don’t try something you’ll never know if you can do it.
• Math is fun.
• If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.
• Finish what you start.
• Hard work builds character.
• Never stop learning (this was to make sure I never believed I knew
  it all. ;-)
• Learn a new vocabulary word every day.
• Pay off your personal credit cards every month; use them like money
  in the bank.
• Food cannot be “healthy” only animate objects can.  Food or lifestyle
  choices can be “healthful.” He was a stickler for grammar.
• That teasing is the way some people show they love you.
• That I was truly loved (obviously therefore teased a lot).
• That laughter makes us feel better.

I will sorely miss him, but his spirit will be with me everyday.  His memory will live on in his namesake, The Dailey Method, which thrives because of so many of the lessons I learned from him.

I love you Dad!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Always Be A Student

Last month I was fortunate enough, once again, to attend the Wanderlust Yoga and Music Festival in Lake Tahoe. I loved and appreciated the experience of being a student and learning from some great teachers. It got me thinking about the importance of being a student. My business would never be where it is if I didn’t strive to remain a student. There are so many amazing teachers all around me and I find that by experiencing their classes and lessons, I get better. Sometimes it improves my teaching and sometimes it helps me improve my personal, everyday life.

Anyone can be your teacher. When my 9-year old daughter, Nicolette, makes mistakes, she says, “mistakes = information.” This valuable lesson is so true and I think about it often. Another of my favorite teachers is my friend Mindy. She says, “I have no problem making mistakes, I just want to make sure I only make new ones.” Both of these ideas help me to feel legitimately better when I do make mistakes both as a teacher and a student.

I learn something in every class I take. Whether it’s dance, hula hooping (yes, I went to a hula hooping class recently!), yoga, cooking, music together or mommy and me gymnastics. Sometimes I just get to laugh, but oftentimes I hear an amazing cue, learn a new movement, feel something in my body deeper than I ever have, make a friend, hear something that makes me feel bright, or realize something that helps me be a better, more thoughtful person. Even though it’s often tough to prioritize time away from family and business, I always try to make time to be a student. It’s these experiences that help me continue to personally expand which is important not only for me, but for my family and my business as well.

During my three days at Wanderlust I took 9 classes from 6 different Teachers and I learned something from each of them. John Friend, the founder of Anusara yoga, stressed proper sequencing as “attitude, alignment, action” a progression that is useful to remember in both class and life. Nikki Costello, an Iyengar teacher from New York, really drove home the stability and expansion required for correct spinal rotations. Amy Ippoliti, an Aunsara teacher from Boulder, concentrated on using your practice to enhance your life out of the studio and in your daily interactions, which is something that we feel strongly about at the Dailey Method as well. I was also encouraged to go outside my comfort zone and to safely (and with attention to alignment) try some new things. Drop back backbends and handstands! What a great way to confront fears and push boundaries in a safe environment. This is something I encourage my students to do everyday, so it’s great for me to have the opportunity to push the edge a little too!

I learn something valuable from each teacher I study with (even if I don’t realize it until later!) I love the feeling of being excited to go home and teach and figure out how my new inspiration and knowledge can be forwarded on to my clients and all of the amazing TDM Studio owners (whom are also my teachers). We constantly dance between being a student and a teacher—the two are inextricably bound. Be a better student and it will translate into being a better teacher and vice versa.

- Jill

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You Are What You Eat

People frequently ask me for nutritional advice and it's difficult to answer because the field of nutrition is constantly evolving as new understanding of the human body emerges. This is both fascinating and confusing. My answer ten years ago or even ten weeks ago would have been different than my answer today.

Let me preface this by saying I am not an expert in nutrition. However, it's important for me to be well informed given my chosen profession and of course for my own health and that of my family.

These are some of the things I have found work for me and I'm confident they can benefit others as well.

Drink Green Juices: vegetables are the most nutritional part of our diets. Eating the recommended 4-5 servings a day in whole form is optimal, however most of us don’t do that. Therefore what I do is add a green juice whenever I can. In juice form, you absorb the vitamins and minerals quickly while giving your digestive system a break.

Eat Organic (produce, meat and dairy, wheat…) whenever possible, that way you will minimize your exposure to the traces of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics that are so prevalent in our food. Eating organic not only benefits your body, but also the globe. See My Potato Project; The Importance of "Organic".

No Fake Food. This includes all processed foods, artificial sweeteners, soda (especially diet) most store bought cereals, cheetos (duh!), and the list goes on. See "Diet Soda Linked To Weight Gain".

Whole Grains. While we are not a gluten free family, we do moderate our intake of refined flour and try to find alternatives whenever possible, such as: quinoa, steel cut oats, brown rice, barley, sprouted breads. Jamie G. Dougherty, a certified holistic nutritional and lifestyle coach in Berkeley, says: “Whole grains are ideal foods to help combat food cravings and help sustain energy. They are also loaded with chromium and B-vitamins that help balance blood-sugar levels.” Here’s one of her favorite recipes: "Black Bean Pilaf with Cilantro Lime Dressing".

Stay Hydrated. Every single cell in your body needs water. Drinking water on a regular basis definitely helps you look and feel better. I carry a big bottle around with me all day as a constant reminder.

Eat When You’re Hungry. This is an example of listening to your body, which is something you should ALWAYS do. I find my hunger varies from day to day and through the course of the month and eat accordingly. Some days I eat a big lunch and sometimes I replace that meal with a juice depending on my level of hunger.

Enjoy Eating. Focus more on what you will put in your body (make an effort to get your veggies in) rather than what you will not. I won’t deprive myself of something I love. Everything in moderation are words I live by.

Personally the biggest challenge I’ve had nutritionally is giving my family a quality breakfast.

With a time-crunch or a busy lifestyle, cereal, frozen waffles and toast are so convenient. I now make organic eggs and breakfast sausages, oatmeal, granola (with fruit and yogurt) and lots of different combinations of smoothies. Here’s one of my smoothie recipes that the whole family enjoys:

Jill’s Peach/Ginger Smoothie Recipe:

3 cups coconut water

1 bag organic frozen peaches

2 scoops whey protein (I like Tera’s)

Almonds (or substitute 1 c. almond milk for 1 c. coconut water)

2 tsp grated ginger

1 banana.

*Sometimes I add flax, chia, or hemp seeds.

**I give the family their portion and then add spinach to mine.

Even small changes can make a difference in our health, energy levels, beauty and wellbeing. Food is an important component of a healthy life and can be used to nourish mind, body and soul.

- Jill

Saturday, May 7, 2011

No Excuses

I am very happy that I can finally announce the arrival of The Dailey Method DVD. This project was a huge leap for me, but one I’m incredibly grateful I took.

I’m not sure if it was Eleanor Roosevelt or lululemon that first coined “do something every day that scares you” but I totally agree. (I really do know who first coined it but lululemon gets credit for it becoming mainstream!) When we do something we fear there’s a sense of accomplishment that helps us become braver, more confident and stronger whether it’s inside or out.

I chose the title “No Excuses” because I really made this for my clients who want their Dailey Method class while they’re traveling or on the days that the kids are sick or the car won’t start. Of course, the value of being in an actual class- the energy, camaraderie and hands-on personal corrections by instructors- is unbeatable, but sometimes that isn’t an option. Here’s the next best thing.

I have acknowledged that the title was relevant for me as well. For 10+ years I’ve had people constantly asking me to produce a video and WOW did I come up with excuses. I finally realized that the excuses were primarily to protect me from my own fears. This class and business have extended way beyond what I ever expected and I felt that I owed this video to the clients that have supported me for all these years and the incredible people that have taken this business on as their own and made it a part of their communities. I also did it for my Mom. She’s always wanted to be able to do the class at home by herself.

My goal was to make the classes and experience as close as possible to taking a Dailey Method class from me in the Studio. It wasn’t overly scripted and rehearsed so that the real environment of the class is portrayed. There are some imperfections but that’s what real life is. I also chose some long-time clients as my demos along with Instructors. Katina and Maggie, who are upfront, are my master teachers and trainers. Everyone involved is someone that has practiced the Dailey Method for years and has been empowered and changed by the workout and culture. In addition, each person in the video is someone that I love and receive tremendous support from in my life. That was exactly the environment I needed to create in order to push myself through this, and I am so glad I did!

I am excited for people to see what this Method really does for each body and that although we are all different, we can each have OUR best body: a body that is strong inside and out. I hope that this video will motivate each person that sees it, challenging them to reach new levels of fitness and focus, while becoming a little stronger, braver and more confident every day.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year, New You

This is always such an interesting time of year. I love the Holidays. I really enjoy the giving process, the quality time with family and the celebrations with friends. But I must admit that I’m relieved when the tree is taken down and the kids finally go back to school. I appreciate it when my life and house get back to a semblance of a normal schedule.

I just arrived home from the ideal way to begin a New Year- participating in our first Dailey Method weekend retreat. It was held at the Solage Resort in Calistoga, which is relaxing, beautiful and has great service and amenities. We offered TDM classes taught by myself and Sharon Lucheta and spinning classes and Chinese Medicine education by Mary Arnold. Everyone treated themselves to spa treatments, saunas, mineral baths and amazing meals. Also a majority of the attendees replaced one or two meals with fresh juices to give our digestive systems a break and help to press the reset button on some of the habits or cravings that we incurred during the Holidays. I LOVED it all and am hoping that this avenue continues so others can experience this rewarding way of nurturing ones mind, soul, and body.

I’m not one to make New Year’s Resolutions. Sometimes the wait for the resolutions start date incites continuing behavior that we don’t feel is ideal for ourselves. I want to constantly be working on the qualities I want to improve. The prouder I am of my actions and myself and the more confident I am in my path the better my life experience is. This takes constant and never ending work. Fortunately I enjoy the process.

This New Year is an exciting one for the Dailey Method. We had our Studio owners retreat in November and connected with all the amazing minds and bodies behind this company. At the retreat there were some changes put into place that have survived the trial period and exceeded all expectations for improving an already amazing class. These changes include increased neutral spine work, some cuing that helps hone in on clients understanding of the deeper more intrinsic muscles that are so important for our strength and stability, and a shift of the barre stretch component of class to help balance out the work and flexibility of each muscle. Over the last few months months I have gotten so much positive feedback from clients and I have also seen bodies change even more than ever. It’s so exciting, and makes me incredibly proud to be part of a culture that is so dedicated in helping people be, feel, and look their best.

Happy 2011 to everyone. May you have core, stability, alignment, confidence and love all year long.