Monday, April 30
Tuesday, April 24
See previous Life Experiment here.
Now that my morning routine is well established, and that I've been tremendously enjoying a steady stream of poetry along with my coffee, it's time to tackle another project. This one will involve much less fluffiness and a whole lot more fierceness: yes, it's time to get in shape.
I feel there is really no need to go into a long explanation of why this is a necessary step--I'm sure you can relate. Suffice it to say that I could stand to lose a few pounds, not so much because of the way I look--though there is that--but mostly because of the way I feel. Caring for a toddler is a workout all on its own, but it doesn't provide the endorphin payoff of just bringing it on the treadmill while Madonna or Florence + The Machine are belting it out in my ears. (And, more than just occasionally, INXS. Don't judge.) Since the beginning of the year, I have let my gym membership lapse, and have really felt the effects of not showing up there. I'm all squared away now, and I'm so, so very thrilled to be back.
My routine there is twofold: one, I sneak into one of the free racquetball courts, roll out my mat, and do about 20-30 minutes of yoga, with some strong vinyasa and core strength elements. (More on that below.) Then, I hit the treadmill, fire up a C25K app on my iPhone, and go. I plan on adding a weight regime in the next few weeks. Despite the fact that I often feel anything but, working out at the gym makes me feel strong, beautiful and capable. It's a great feeling--and that great feeling is more valuable to me than any weight loss (although that would be nice, too.) Karen Walrond wrote a great post on this subject over at Babble: check it out.
I spend this past Saturday in a workshop with yogini extraordinaire Sadie Nardini, and I've started her online 14-Day Yoga Fat Burner course, which consists of doing the following 20-minute practice everyday, along with some weight loss and healthy eating tips. The sequence is challenging, but totally do-able, and safe for most people.
I'm also taking a long hard look at my eating habits. Not so much what I eat, but how. We have a pretty healthy diet at home. I do a lot of cooking, almost entirely from whole foods: lots of quinoa and kale, you know the drill. But I have a strong tendency to fall prey to emotional eating, and mindless snacking. To help me notice, identify, and change those habits, I have been reading Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays. I'm only a little bit into it, but so far it's been really eye-opening.
Just setting foot on this path gives me a calm feeling of strength and possibility. I feel I have really come at a point where I am ready, physically, emotionally and intellectually, to do this. I'll keep you posted on my progress! In the meantime, I'd love to hear about YOUR life experiments, especially those relating to exercise and eating. Are you going Paleo, or sugar-free? Training for a half-marathon? Leave a comment, or a link to your own blog below.
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PS I have removed the feed for my 365 photo-a-day project from the main page of the blog; you can still see my daily images by clicking on the tab above, which will take you to my Posterous blog. I'll continue to share a couple of images on here each week, just not everyday.
Sunday, April 22
friday: stay-in date night with the mr.
take-out thai food, the descendants and honey butter popcorn
saturday mama got her core strength vinyasa yoga on
with miss sadie nardini--longest yoga workshop I've done
since before I was pregnant, most definitely in a different place
physically, mentally, emotionally
loved to see my old yoga peeps, but realizing
I'm not really part of that community anymore
which is both sad, and ok
sunday, oh glorious sunday!
splendid weather, time for two cups of coffee
sitting practice and sun salutations on the back porch
before migas for brunch with silas' grandpa and jj
groceries for the week, and a cupcake run for mama
while baby fell asleep in the car, me knitting all the while
after mama had a nap, and baby didn't
there was lots of cooking for the week:
egg salad, black bean salad, granola
feel ready to take it on with a stocked fridge
long yin practice at dusk
ready to fall into bed spent and grateful
how was yours?
linking up with amanda
Tuesday, April 17
Each evening, after tucking into bed, I grab my iPhone, review the pictures I took that day, and choose one for posting to my Project 365. And here's something that I notice, over and over again: for each day, there are either a ton of pictures, or hardly a handful. Feast or famine.
If I look closer at the days in which lots of pictures were taken, I notice that the shooting began early in the day. Maybe there is a shot of my mug of coffee, or of the way the light streamed through the bedroom windows. But it tends to go like this: a small moment of pausing and noticing early on will usually lead to many more such moments during the day.
Conversely, if I look in between the few shots taken on an image-poor day, what I'll see is a busy blur, a day in which there is little room for breath, for grounding. A day unobserved, as it were.
There will be days of smooth flow and fulfillment, and days of utter hair-pulling frustration on either end of the spectrum. There isn't a direct correlation between happy days and lots of images taken, and vice versa. Some very challenging days end up being well documented. Those are days when I have paused to appreciate the beauty lurking in the chaos and confusion of life with a toddler.
And that is the main point: the pausing. In my kitchen, I have a blackboard on which I have written remember to pause. I face it when I stand to prepare food, which is several times a day. I wrote it there as a shorthand, a mantra, to remind myself of these powerful words by Pema Chodron:
Before trying to get back on solid ground by following the habitual chain reaction, you can pause and breathe deeply in and breathe deeply out. Never underestimate the power of this simple pause.This simple pause, that moment to breathe and notice and ground myself in what is happening in front of me: that is what I get when I take a moment to fish out my camera, fire up my favorite app (here is another mindfulness practice: being patient while waiting for Hipstamatic or Cameramatic to load!), and snap. What I buy with that gesture is a chance to reframe my point of view, to see the beauty in the difficulty, and to appreciate the gift of the present moment.
The above picture is a great example. These days, my toddler is a wily and picky eater. He scorns the food I offer, subsists on bananas, cheese, grapes and crackers or, as my friend put it, "on love and air." This new struggle is unexpectedly vexing to me. I'll be honest: it's driving me round the bend. The picture you see is the aftermath of a tenuous and losing battle to get food into my kid, the array of bright plastic dishes he spurned. But by taking the time to photograph the scene, to see the bright colors and shapes, I changed the story of that moment. It is now a thing of beauty; the image, a reminder of what was real about my life that day. The picture becomes a document of my being mindful in a moment in time. Mindfulness means a moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness of what is happening in front of you. Without my camera, without the trained habit of looking for light and shapes and colors that photography taught me, I doubt that moment would have seen such transformation.
And so, add another mantra to my list: shoot early, and shoot often. To document the days and moments of my life, yes. To share with family and friends and Instagram, yes. But shooting mostly as a way of training my eye to see, and of teaching myself to pause long enough to breathe, to choose to be present, to attend to what is before me. Never underestimate the power of simply pausing to press the shutter. Click.
Friday, April 13
::seeing:: big bright hibiscus blooms
::hearing:: birds at dawn, cicadas at dusk
::feeling:: like I have new reserves of patience
::smelling:: freshly roasted coffee; cut grass
Wednesday, April 11
I like to think of meditation as the practice of starting over. The basic instruction is this: focus your awareness on the breath. Count your breaths, from one to ten, and when you reach ten, you start over.When your awareness wanders, with as much sweetness and gentleness as you can muster, you simply bring it back to the breath. You start over. Over and over. The gauge of a successful meditation isn't whether your mind has wandered--it's assumed that it will--but rather, it is the spirit of gentleness with which you bring the mind back to the breath. Over and over.
It's one of the reasons why I think meditation is such a beneficial practice for mothers: it trains us in the art of starting over. Silas and I had a crappy morning today, fueled by crappy sleep. But a bad beginning need not be anything else: it's not necessarily a prescription for an entirely crappy day. It's assumed that we'll mess up at times; it doesn't mean that we're stuck there. So we went outside; we walked. I pushed Silas on the swing while playing The Head & The Heart on my iPhone. (Lord have mercy on my rough & rowdy ways) I baked muffins. The clouds parted a little and we breathed deeper. We became a little more at ease with ourselves, with each other. We got a fresh start. The instruction is the same when our minds and when our days veer off course: being sweet and gentle with ourselves, we give ourselves permission to start over. We come back to the breath, where space and ease are always available. Repeating as necessary. Over and over.
Monday, April 9
Now that our night life is a somewhat less wild, and our mornings are smoother and more pleasant, I feel it's time to reconsider a morning routine. I've been inspired by Tsh of Simple Mom, who in her book One Bite At A Time, encourages us moms to "treat ourselves to a little order and sanity before the chaos of life begins."
Choose five things, and plan to do them first thing in the morning. Pick the things that fuel you the most, and faithfully treat yourself to those things, in the same order, every day... Discover a sweet morning routine that fills your cup.
After careful consideration, I have settled on the following five things:
::tend:: This means splash water on my face, make my bed, maybe even get dressed. I don't feel myself unless my body & my bed are dressed and presentable.
::stretch:: A few yoga stretches to work the kinks of the previous day and night out of my body, to root, energize and oxygenate myself, to begin the day clear and peaceful
::coffee:: Need I explain? My idea of a perfect morning is to drink my big Orla Kiely mug hot down to the last sip without having to reheat it. This rarely happens. Still, I love me my coffee.
::read:: See list of authors above. These days it's been Everyday Blessings by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
::write:: Now here, what I mean is to write up a little list & plan for the day ahead. There is no time for morning pages or any involved sort of journaling, but it will mean pulling out my Moleskine notebook and putting pen to paper. And that is sweet enough for me.
Hopefully I can get all this done between waking and the end of Sesame Street, and then I will be ready to take on a day with a toddler. Sure sounds good.
Do you have a morning routine? Might it be time for you to consider something similar? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!
Sunday, April 8
so glad to find ourselves just a family of 3 after an extended parents' visit.
enjoying both my boys so much.
friday we began the revelry early, meeting some good friends for a late lunch up in Austin.
quiet drinks on the back porch, writing until the dark of dusk permit writing no more.
mosquitos be damned. mad men and popcorn.
saturday--unusually free from teaching yoga classes--met with friends and kiddos at the farmer's market
for an impromptu easter egg hunt. iced toddies and luscious chard. after baby's nap, family errands around town, picking up more veggies and herb plants, and the stuff needed to tend to those plants. playing in the water before dinner. after dinner, more of the same: drinks, writing until dark, Netflix, knitting and popcorn.
sunday morning sleep-in. then, hunger and industry collaborated to deliver the best pancakes I ever made (thanks Heidi), and crappy bacon, but even crappy bacon isn't all that bad, you know? sweet flow-y practice, baby nap time allowing me the time to write this down. then, later, repotting plants, playing in the dirt and water, getting dirty and happy. drinking in the rare short days of spring in Central Texas.
how was your weekend? (playing along with amanda.)
Friday, April 6
::hearing:: birds all around, all day; The Head & The Heart; The Rolling Stones.
::seeing:: new wildflowers: winecups, Indian blankets.
::smelling:: floral wafts from the chinaberry trees.
::feeling:: the fleeting delight of these exquisite spring days; freshly-made bed with fragrant, crisp sun-dried sheets.