3 Not-So-Obvious Truths I’ve Learned from the Alexander Technique

I’ve been taking Alexander Technique lessons for 12 weeks now, and it is starting to seep in to my subconscious.

The Technique is a combination of body awareness, mindfulness, cognitive behavior, and biomechanics. I started taking lessons because my on-again off-again neck crick was stuck in the permanently on position, and visits to the chiropractor and massage therapist were only making it feel better for a day, max.

Then I was assigned an article on the Alexander Technique for relief of back pain, and I asked my expert source how to tell if the technique might be right for you. She said, “Any time you see a chiropractor or get a massage, but the benefits only last a day or two.” Ding, ding, ding. I did some Googling and contacted a local teacher the next day.

Fast forward three months, and here are my biggest takeaways: Read more…

Should, Schmould

Sometimes doing the things you know are going to make you feel better about yourself feel like drudgery. I know, because I’ve tried several different times to quit doing the things I know I need to feel like a sane, vibrant, intuitive person, because it was all feeling like too much. And each time, all the energy I thought I was saving myself I ended up spending on feeling like crap, and on wishing that I didn’t feel like crap.

Each time I ended up there, I had to figure out how to drop any sense of obligation I felt to do all the things I’ve learned it takes to keep myself humming, and remember that I do this stuff because I love the way it makes me feel.

Here’s my current list of things I do to take care of my mind and body, and the connection in between them. In no particular order, they are: Read more…

Be More Creative: An Interview with Makearoo.com Founder Toni McLellan

You know I’m all about getting your mind and body on speaking terms so you can hear what you truly want, right? (Right?) Well, it’s not the only way to make sure the decisions you make and actions you take jibe with the real you.

My good, old friend — she’s not old, our friendship is — Toni McLellan offers another way: by being creative. She’s not picky about how you fly your creative flag. She’s only adamant that you do something inventive on a regular basis. That’s why she founded the fabulous Makearoo: Creativity Camp for Grown-ups (where I was proud to be a virtual presenter this past May), and blogs at Makearoo.com. It’s also why she has blackboard paint on the wall behind her desk, and once took a photo of herself every day for a year — but we’ll get in to more of those specifics in a moment.

I asked Toni to be interviewed here because I know even the simplest crafty-type stuff — starting seeds, fingerpainting with my kids, cooking — scratch an itch down deep in my soul, and yet I don’t leave much time for them in my life. I wanted to know: Why is she so in to creativity? What’s her story? How can scrapbooking lead to inner peace? All these questions and more are answered in the following Q&A. I hope you enjoy it! Read more…

Listening Meditation: My Office. Summer.

Today’s listening meditation comes to you straight from my home office. (How exciting!)

On this glorious summer day, you can hear whir of the fan, birds, a passing car, and occasionally, the shade tapping on the window sill when it’s stirred by a nice cool breeze.


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If You Want to Nap, You’ve Got to Lie Down (and Other Life Lessons I Learned on Vacation)

We’re just back from a fabulous week on Block Island — a small (3 miles by 7 miles), under-developed island 12 miles off the Southern coast of Rhode Island. The water is crystal clear, the land is hilly and green, and with old stone walls everywhere, the terrain looks like Ireland. This is the view from the backyard of our rental house.

It was our first vacation of any kind in two years, and our first restful vacation since we had kids. This trip was all about simple pleasures: daily trips to the beach, drippy sandcastle making, ice cream excursions, bike rides, the farmer’s market. And I learned a couple of simple lessons while we were away: Read more…

Listening meditation: Blackstone Woods

Here, for your listening pleasure, is a one-minute audio file of the background noise I heard on a walk to nearby Blackstone Woods. You can hear birds chirping, water rushing (the bench I found is on a bluff about 20 feet above the Blackstone River in Providence) and the dull roar of 195 in the distance.

When you listen to it, soften your ears and invite your eardrums to register every little nuance of noise. It’s a simple, soothing meditation. The first of what I hope will be many!

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Plan for No Plans

We didn’t do anything yesterday, and it was divine. Well, I should be clear: We didn’t have anything planned for yesterday. And as a result, we did a number of fantastic things:

  • Snuggled on the couch
  • Played restaurant in the backyard
  • Futzed around in the garden
  • Finished our weekly laundry project in record time
  • Took naps
  • Watched “Chicken Run”
  • Ordered in Indian food for dinner
  • Got to bed at a decent hour

It was just what the doctor ordered, and it didn’t happen by accident.

Read more…

Energy Exchange

It’s summer. (Mostly — as I write this, it is chilly and overcast.) My youngest is now 2. What do these things have to do with one another?

I want my beach body back.

Well, I’ve been wanting my beach body back pretty much since the day Teddy was born, but I’ve been on a long and winding path of emotions. First, I was patient. Then I was too tired to care. Next came a long cycle of denial (“If I just pull up my pants a little higher, voila, le muffintop disappears!”) interspersed with dejection (“My bikini days are over, waah.”)

I wanted to do something about it, I really did, but there were so many other things to do — sleep, work, make dinner for the kids, sweep, do yoga in my closet whenever 20 minutes fell in to my lap. I felt I didn’t have the bandwidth to take on slimming down. Just contemplating working out and eating salads felt so tiring.

A couple weeks ago, I had an epiphany. Exercising and making healthier food choices didn’t have to require a lot of new energy. I was already spending plenty of energy on either willing myself not to see how I truly looked (I can spend a lot of the time in the  mirror poufing my shirt just so) or feeling bad about it. All I had to do was take that energy I was already spending on feeling bad and use it toward healthier pursuits.

Just that shift in how I thought about losing weight has made it feel easy to exercise for at least 45 minutes most days of the week. Or to take 2 minutes to think about something healthier to eat than just making myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because that’s what I was making for the kids. It’s been like trading in a heavy jar of pennies and getting crisp dollar bills in return — same currency, way different feel.

I’m down 2 pounds so far, but shedding those stale beliefs that my only options were to feel bad about my mummy tummy or to pretend it wasn’t there feels like I’ve gotten a pretty big monkey off my back.

And so my question to you is this: What if it were possible to enjoy something you typically dread?


Anxiety, Yay!

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” — Charles Spurgeon

Two weekends ago, we took the kids camping for the first time. We went with three other families, and a couple of the other mothers were completely anxiety-stricken about the trip: Would the kids sleep? Would our cellphones work if something went wrong? What if we can’t figure out how to set up our tents? How do you work a camp stove?

We were only going for one night, mind you, and we were car camping — we weren’t going to be lacking for much (save non-porta-potty toilets). These well-meaning ladies knew there was nothing really to worry about. Yet they couldn’t shake their pervasive sense of dread. There were lots of late-night emails leading up to the trip. Sleeping pills were involved.

(Disclaimer: I get anxiety about lots of things — dirty bombs, making cold calls, lice, cooking meat enough to kill bacteria. I in no way mean to belittle the experience of anxiety. I know it can be very serious and debilitating. This post is about your everyday variety of anxiety.) Read more…

7 ways to do yoga with kids around

It’s oh so tempting to think you have to wait until the kids are asleep or out of the house to do anything nice for yourself. I have definitely fallen prey to this line of thinking in the past. But now I want to go on record as saying: stop the madness. If you wait until the kids aren’t your responsibility to do your yoga (or meditation, or self-hypnosis, or painting along with Bob Ross–whatever gets you in to your happy place), you will be waiting a long time. Too long.

My little yoga haven (aka, "our closet") as seen through it's most important component — the door

There are more holes in this line of thinking than a pair of fishnet stockings. Allow me to point out just a few:

Read more…

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