Sunday, September 30, 2012


After approximately 19, 632 tries, I finally have my forearm stand.

I mean: I have it every time I do it now.  (I just had to resist the urge to knock wood and do the sign of the cross and cross my fingers and...turn around three times and spit on the ground.)

It turns out that finding the sweet spot of alignment really was mostly mental, although not in the way I thought it would be.  I assumed it was fear that was keeping me from nailing it--fear of falling on my face or fear that I wasn't strong enough to hold the pose.

It turns out that what it really was for me was the inability to still my mind and my body INTERNALLY.  I was always really conscious of the music or the chatter or the fact that people were waiting on me as I attempted the pose again and again.  As soon as I learn to still myself from the inside out, I just...HAD IT.
(Videography by Jane (11), who has a hard time stilling HERSELF, too.)

I can think of a lot of applications for this lesson, and if I ever come down from this forearm stand, I plan on implementing them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Elmer Has My BACK, Y'all

I've told you about Elmer before, right?  He's the amazing and wonderful handyman who works on the property doing odd jobs like painting and trimming and weeding and...magic every once in a while.  I wrote about him here and here.  Go ahead and read about him.  I'll wait.

(While we're waiting, I'll tell you an exciting bit of yoga news: today I did a backbend from a standing position!  I KNOW! My instructor had to help me come back up from it, but I didn't even need traction afterward or anything!)

So, anyway, Elmer. I should mention that Elmer's first language is not English, and I have a pronounced Southern accent, so communication between the two of us isn't always easy. Elmer is here today doing some painting and before I left for yoga, I went out to talk to him about what he was planning for today because I needed help on a project. I managed to kill this enormous cactus that belonged to my landlords and it needed to be removed from the pot and disposed of, but it is LETHAL in it's stickeriness, so I needed help. (Yes, I made that word up. WHAT?)

I said, "I killed a cactus and I need some help getting rid of it, if you have some time today. Maybe we could just throw it in the compost or something?"

And Elmer's eyes got soft and concerned and comforting and he said, "Probably the best thing is if we dig a hole and bury him."

I said, "You think so?  Yes, you're probably right.  I don't want the pets stepping on it or anything."

Elmer nodded sagely, still looking concerned.  "I can take care of that for you. Did you have him long?"

And then it dawned on me: Elmer thought I was talking about a CAT.  He thought I'd killed one of our CATS!

I rushed to assure him that it was a big plant and that, honest, if it was a cat, I would be heartbroken and I would not ask him to just chuck that sucker into the compost.

It's good to know that if I have a corpse that needs disposal, Elmer has my back.

RIP, Cactus.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Meditation and Racing

So, my husband ran a little race yesterday.  I say "little" because it was just a four mile race and he usually runs more than that with the dogs in the mornings. (It's four miles more than I can run so I am not discounting the effort!)

I took the girls to cheer him on.

Coop sees the girls.

A really sweaty hug for Jane and a high five for Katherine.

Katherine says, "Go!"

Coop says, "You could do this with me next year."
I haven't missed a day yet in the 30 Day Meditation Challenge.  (Which I keep typing as the Mediation Challenge. I hope that's not next.) I started out on a true high note on Thursday, September 6th when I stayed after yoga and my instructor Yvonne led me through some breathing exercises (pranayama) and then we silently chanted using the japa mala beads to focus our minds.  Then we meditated for 20 minutes.  It was a transcendent experience, and really made me realize how much I want to make meditation--that kind of meditation--a daily part of my routine.

It was a little disappointing when, the next day, I fell asleep within about two seconds of sitting down and focusing my mind.

On the third day, my husband helped me clear out the room in the pool house to create a dedicated space for meditating. I meditated there using an iPhone app called Simply Being.  (There's a link on the Meditation Resources page.)  Then today, I sat using the app again, but I was less successful because Katherine interrupted me to ask if she could turn the router back on.  (The answer to anything when you interrupt me meditating is NO.)

Edward approves of the new space, though.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

30 Day Meditation Challenge

So, the thing is...I'm really terrible at meditating.

REALLY terrible.  I actually wrote about how terrible I am at meditation back in 2007, and nothing much has changed.

Only, I have this very strong sense that I'm SUPPOSED to be meditating--that's its a key part of achieving the kind of inner calm I want.  That's it's vital if I'm ever to achieve this different way of being that I'm looking for.

So, starting today, the first day of school in my neck of the woods, I'm committing to 30 days of daily attempts at meditation.  Even if it's only five minutes, I am going to sit and clear my mind and just see what happens.

If you'd like to join me, I'd love the company!  I have a new Facebook Page for the 30 Day Meditation Challenge, or we can just hang out here in the comments.  Today, I'm going to stay after yoga and meditate with my instructor who knows a LOT more than I do about this meditation business.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Sixth and Ninth grades--it hardly seems possible!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

How to Fail at Summer

This summer, we tried something different with our girls.  Rather than schedule them within an inch of their lives at camps and other enriching activities, we planned one short trip, one two-week camp experience each and a WHOLE LOT of down time. My theory was that kids need some time to get bored, and in that boredom, new interests and passions and friendships are forged. That's how it worked for me, anyway. I found friends on my street and we played outside all day. Or I spent the summer trying to wrangle invitations to swim at other people's houses. (We didn't have a pool.) It was the unstructured time that let me find myself.  And by the time school came around again, I was SO HAPPY to be going back.  I thought it might work the same way for Katherine (14) and Jane (11.)

Yeah, you can already tell this isn't going to end well, can't you?

After the first week of 12-hour daily internet usage and slothdom, I really couldn't stand it anymore. I mean, we have this fabulous pool in the backyard, my husband bought a boat this summer, and we live in this adorable village with lots to do and my kids were inside the house, sitting on their rear-ends, totally plugged into various electronic devices. It's been shown that physical exercise is a part of healthy brain development, not to mention a good combatant for hormonal craziness, and I couldn't get my kids to DO ANYTHING.

So, then I came up with a different plan.

Each morning, I unplugged the internet and went to yoga from 9:30 -11:00.  When I got home, I taught the girls a beginner yoga class from 11:30 (ish) to 12:45 (ish) and if they hadn't complained TOO much, I plugged the wifi back in and let them have their way with screen-time. (Lest you think I've totally lost my control freak tendencies, we have very rigid filters on our router to prevent the girls from straying into anything too sordid or scary.) Since I was so tired after all that yoga, I had a big nap and then we all met back up after dark for our latest obsession: Dr. Who episodes streamed through Amazon Prime.
Perhaps I would have had more success if I'd geared the class toward Thomas. Fat Cat Yoga (TM)

This lasted for about three or four weeks, and then Jane flatly refused to do any yoga ever again. I think this was at least partly my fault, because I wasn't very patient with all of the fooling around the girls did during yoga, especially the conversations and the fake falling down. I wanted them to take it seriously, but that sort of squashed the fun out of it for the Hurricane. (Katherine found she really likes yoga, but she doesn't like my music. We still do yoga together about once a week and she brings her own music. You can really work up a sweat to Zombie.)

So, since then, it's been a real struggle to get the girls to get in a minimum of exercise --a minimum of LIVING-- before getting on their various screens.  Most days, Jane swam laps in the pool, and Katherine, who has a newfound aversion to swimming (even though, truly, she is a breathtaking swimmer,) has given me an apathetic 30 minutes on the exercise bike.  Both girls played softball at the beginning of the summer and have done the occasional bike ride and in Katherine's case, long-boarding (which is a type of skateboard riding.)
Katherine rocking out on the new uke.

We did some other fun day trips and activities (Jane is becoming an avid golfer and Katherine has taken her guitar playing to a whole new level, plus she purchased and mastered the ukulele in about three weeks!) but I can't help but feel like my girls missed a valuable opportunity this summer.  I don't think I'm saying that because my own summers were so different and so much more active. I THINK I'm saying it because the clock is ticking and there aren't that many of these kinds of summer left to my kids before they'll be shackled to a computer and a desk for real.

As for MY summer, it was a mixed bag.  On the plus side, I got to go to yoga an average of five times per week, which has led to a whole new level of fitness for me. (I've now been taking yoga with Yvonne for ten months.  I've lost about ten pounds, but I've gone down SIX dress sizes.  This is not your grandma's yoga.) Katherine and I are closer than we've ever been, which is so miraculous and so NOT what I expected when she turned 14, that I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude.  (And hopeful that Jane and I will get there, too.) I began writing again after a significant period of time when I just kind of didn't, which was a relief. On the negative side, I STILL don't have my forearm stand, I've had some chronic stomach troubles, and I spent an unbelievable amount of time trying to figure out how to address my family's disparate culinary tastes/needs.  There is so little overlap --it's really discouraging. (More about that in another post.)
Now if I could just hold it for longer than a nanosecond.

School starts on Thursday for us and I feel a little melancholy. In the end, I guess I feel like I could have done better at planning this summer for my kids. Maybe we all really did need a quiet summer to recharge and regroup, but it felt pretty unfocused and like we lost a bit of our momentum.  I don't think we'll do this again --not to this extent anyway. I am already planning for weeks of various camps for next summer.
They look pretty happy, though.