- Associated Press - Thursday, May 29, 2014

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - A year ago, tired of feeling frustrated, noncommittal and stuck, Deidre Norman turned her life upside down.

Literally.

She began doing at least one handstand a day, documenting it with a photo and posting the image on Instagram and Facebook. She got the idea from a friend in North Carolina who was undertaking the same endeavor.

As a yoga instructor at Inversion, Norman has been doing handstands for at least the 15 years she’s been practicing yoga. Inverted poses like handstands “flush out all the organs,” she said, and “give you a burst of energy as well.”

Since the first day she did a handstand on the highway while stuck in traffic on the way back home from Mexico, Norman has done handstands in the snow, sand and forest. She’s done them on boats and airplanes and on a stand-up paddleboard. She has flipped upside down in Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, California, Canada and India.

Because many of her handstand photos relied on a timer on her iPhone’s camera, she’s done thousands of handstands and taken thousands of subpar pictures.

“Sometimes I’ll do 20 handstands trying to get the photo,” Norman said.

When someone else is taking the photo, complications include the person not composing the frame well or being unfamiliar with the phone. Norman asked a stranger to snap her photo while on a small plane traveling back from Alaska.

“The guy was so scared he couldn’t figure out how to take the picture,” Norman said. “He was like, ‘I don’t think this is allowed.’”

The social media component of the project helped keep her accountable, Norman said. If she didn’t post a photo that day, people began messaging or emailing her demanding to see it. Her online community also encouraged her, she said.

“So many people seem to be inspired by it,” Norman said. “People have emailed me, saying how cool it is, how they’re now doing handstands. It’s kind of cool to see so many people doing something positive.”

Continuing the habit each day for a year built Norman’s confidence in her ability to commit to something. Even on days when she was sad or ill, she had to do at least one handstand, and she invariably felt better afterward, she said.

“The biggest emotional lesson I learned was that I am 100 percent responsible for my moods, for my happiness,” Norman said. “Doing handstands every day showed me how it easy it was to change my mood from negative to positive. Now I know that if I am in a bad mood, feeling depressed, sorry for myself, sad, etc., I truly know I do not have to get stuck in it. It’s all a choice.”

After doing her 365th day of handstands on Sunday with friends on a beach in Mendocino County, California, Norman has begun a new project. It’s a more private challenge of meditating each day for a year, and photos aren’t part of it. Still, the idea of committing to a plan was so powerful she feels compelled to do it again.

“It really helps to keep me motivated,” Norman said. “It’s so easy to have good ideas, keep doing them and then just give it up. (A challenge) really keeps you moving forward. I feel as you get older it’s easy to get stagnant in your life.”

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