Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hazelnut Decaf or Mocha-Latte? Just Squeeze my Elbow

 We have all heard the jokes about how we are all, because of our sedentary lifestyles and obsessive computer use, turn into lardy folks with shrivelled, atrophy-ed muscles and giant calloused fingers( good for keyboarding).  We'd be unattractive monkeys.

Of course, we thought that this would just happen to us - we wouldn't necessarily go looking for it.  But would you purposely adapt your body to make you more computer-friendly?  It has been discussed - putting microchips in our kids to track them etc., and then there is this, about a man who took it a little further.  If this is the future, I would like a Keurig coffee machine installed in my elbow, please.

I Love Rock 'N' Pose Music! - Erin's Yoga Challenge

Day 10


Today was my best yoga session to date! I couldn’t get out the door fast enough to get to my 9 a.m. Vinyasa class. I’m really starting to love the effect my regular yoga practice is having on my attitude – and possibly my biceps and core muscles!

I quickly quieted my mind when I settled on my mat this morning, so I knew this was going to be a great session. The class was small, five students at most, and my favorite teacher was leading the class. She’s so much fun and always has a kernel of life knowledge to share with the class. As we began, the teacher announced that she was going to try a new music mix for the class.

Vinyasa requires faster movements than traditional yoga, so I knew the songs would be a little more upbeat than the “classic” yoga music of chimes and chanting. However, as we held ourselves in our Downward Dog poses, I was jolted by these seven words: “WAKE UP IN THE MORNIN’ FEELING LIKE P.DIDDY!” Yes, Ke$ha – and Shakira, Bono, and Mary J. Blige, for that matter – had found her way into my yoga class!

I laughed out loud and had to put myself into Child’s pose as quickly as possible for fear of disturbing the rest of the class. I thought that perhaps the teacher had put on the wrong playlist but she didn’t flinch – she just kept talking about our upcoming pose and adjusting the students. I pulled myself together, hit the pose, and had to work very hard not to bob my head or sing. I run to Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” song and I hate to admit that I love it! I also thought there was a good chance I was the only person in the room who a) knew this was Ke$ha and b) knew every word to the song. For the sake of my yoga practice, it was imperative that I fly under the radar on this one.

This blending of hit music with my newfound love of yoga is the highpoint for me – it just can’t get any better. I left the class smiling and happy. I had the best of both worlds. Which got me to thinking – is Miley Cyrus next?

Namaste,
Erin

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

twin baby boys have a conversation - part 1 ORIGINAL VIDEO

Take a few moments to check out these adorable, hysterical twins deep in conversation! The talkative one is me - the other one (the one shaking his head and motioning "go away" is my husband...) Check it out!!

Erin's Yoga : Coming Clean - or not clean - on attendance

Day 9

OK, I’m going to come clean on today’s yoga session. I didn’t go. And I didn’t go because I didn’t have any clean yoga pants. I had every intention of putting my yoga clothes in the wash last night before I went to bed. However, I fell asleep reading, “Miss Nelson is Missing!” to my 5-year-old. The next thing I knew it was 6:30 a.m. No clean yoga pants means no yoga.

I did make the effort to find something to wear to class. Really. But all I found were clean Life Is Good pajama bottoms and black winter-weight running pants. Neither of those were acceptable options: The Life Is Good bottoms are brown flannel and have little yellow dogs all over them – too hot and too distracting. The black running pants make Mommy Jeans look like a good fashion choice.

My yoga skip day still brought some unexpected goodness my way, however. I figured out that I could hide the ugliness of my running pants under a hoodie so I walked the lake with my smart, witty friend, followed by a nice cup of green tea at Starbucks. I put my yoga clothes in the dryer the minute I walked in the door – so no excuses for tomorrow!

Namaste,
Erin

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Erin's Yoga Challenge - Don't Mock Me...I'm Flexible

Day 8


I am horrified to admit this, but my husband is mocking my yoga practice. I think he has tried to pretend he’s into my newfound obsession and the fun I’m having blogging about my experience. But, truth be told, he’s just not that into it. I find that shocking.

How can he not be enlightened by the life-affirming tidbits I share with him after each class? How can he not be impressed by my increased strength and flexibility? Perhaps I pushed him too close to the edge when I went on and on about one of my yoga teachers, her many lavish tattoos (I think she has at least 10 – one of which is a beautiful lotus flower) and my new appreciation for people who cover their bodies with meaningful art?

I finally figured out how my husband really feels about my yoga quest today at the Paperstore. I was quietly browsing the books in the Mind, Body, Soul section when he came up behind me and said, “Oh, here we go,” under his breath. He then rolled his eyes and said, “Come on; let's go.”

As we left the store, I confronted him and learned that he doesn’t mock my yoga but rather “the funk and cost” of my yoga (his words, not mine). His assessment is that for the $150 I paid for my month of yoga, I’m basically locking myself in a hot room and playing Twister. “You should save me the money, go down to the basement, turn the heat up, and get out the Twister mat.” Oh really.

Then he preceded to tell my I should think about changing my email to namaste@verizon.net and end my cell phone voicemail message with “Namaste.” He has said Namaste about 100 times today. That, my friends, is more than I can take.

So, tomorrow in class when my teacher reminds us to dedicate our practice to someone or something, I am going to dedicate my session to my husband. And I will continue to do so until he stops saying "Namaste."

Namaste (so there!),
Erin


President Obama's Speech on Libya

I tried, I really did - I sat upright on the couch, fully attentive, ready to listen to President Obama's speech.  With a sinking heart, I realizied that I was not going to make heads or tails out of what he was saying - when the President speaks lately, it reminds me of trying to understand the logic of my boys when they were toddlers - "I buried my Tonka truck in my covers because I want cookies with my lunch, Mommy!"  I feel the same way with our President, each and every time he speaks.

We went into Libya because of atrocities aimed at the citizenry of Libya, but we are not going to complete the mission, and this is not a war?  Apparently, we have basically "stopped by," with no real goal other than ending atrocities (sounds great, good press bite) and NOT being in an actual war.  Ask the soldiers who are on both sides - I'd bet they would call it a war.

Mr. President, be honest with us - at last.  If I were on the President's advisory team, I would have 1) gotten him over to a safe city in Japan, to visit our ally in their time of need, 2) put the kibosh on the NCAA picks in public (it's just annoying), and 3) encourage this man to define the mission, and define why he went into Libya.  What about the Congo?  What about the rest of the Middle East?  Don't they fit the parameters of American intervention that he laid out?  If he is in Libya, and fears for the people of Libya, then take Ghaddafi out.

Oh, and on our economy?? A lot of us are drowning, sir, so when you have time...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Erin's 30-Day Yoga Challenge Continues...

Day 7


I had quite the epiphany today in class: I think the yoga teachers and studio owners of the world should band together to hire an international marketing rep to help them get the REAL message out about why we should all do yoga – it’s a multi-tasking opportunity not to be missed!

For example, I’ve started slathering on a very heavy moisturizer and lip balm each morning as I head out the door to the hot yoga studio. The temperature in the room is at least 95 degrees – comparable to a sauna in my opinion. So, I’m thinking that the heat will help my skin open up and completely absorb the moisturizer – a la mini facial while I’m stretching, breathing and enjoying some Erin time.

I also pick up some great parenting tips during class – another unexpected bonus! Today my teacher made quite the statement as she was trying to convince us that folding our chin onto our ankle was a good thing: “Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it isn’t good for you.” I immediately thought of broccoli. And then I thought of my 12-year-old son who hasn’t had a vegetable since it was in a Gerber baby food jar.

I shared my yoga teacher’s theory with my son the minute I picked him up from school today and how I thought this translated nicely into his borderline psychotic dislike of vegetables. “Fine, I’ll try broccoli tonight,” he said. “But I have one question before I do – how many days left of this yoga challenge?”

Namaste,
Erin

What Next?

"Abercrombie & Fitch's preppy style has made it a favorite with teens and tweens. But the fashion chain was the subject of outrage today after it released a range of bikinis for eight to 14-year-olds with padded cups. The Abercrombie Kids 'Ashley push-up triangle' top, which retails for $24.50, features thick padding in the cup to give the illusion of a larger chest size. "

Padded bikini tops for seven and eight year olds??  Isn't this almost child porn?  When are we going to stop acting like sheep and rise up against this garbage - for the sake of our world's daughters? 

I can't imagine any father letting this stand for one minute, when he sees his little girl, who still plays with Barbies and just lost a tooth, parading around in a padded bikini top.

Let this corpoation know how you feel by email or phone.  And we have GOT to be more vocal, to the point where a company wouldn't dare try to sell this crap to us, because we are finally wide awake.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Erin's Yoga Challenge...Soooo Tired!

Day 6

I had very low expectations for myself as I entered the yoga studio early this morning, as I had not quite stuck to my anti-hangover drinking strategy last night. Instead of following my wine/water/wine/water plan, my pattern last night looked more like wine/wine/wine/water/water. As I lowered myself onto my yoga mat and quickly became overwhelmed by the 95 degree heat in the room, it was obvious to me that front-loading the evening with wine and then trying to play catch-up with water was not a successful yoga-preparation strategy.

Still, I was there at 8 a.m. -- which was more than I could say for my dinner party friends. I will be honest – I struggled the entire class on all fronts. I was tired, dehydrated and hungry. Instead of thinking about my breathing, I kept wondering how long the line was at Bagel World and whether there would be any Bagel Energy bars left. I thought about coffee and how I desperately needed a Venti Pike with skim milk – STAT. I thought about the busy day that lay ahead of me and whether I would be lucky enough to find time for a quick nap.

When I heard the teacher finally utter the word, “Namaste,” I bolted up from my mat, said a few quick goodbyes to my fellow yogis, and headed first to Starbucks and then to Bagel World. I was lucky enough to get the coffee but not the Bagel Energy bar – so I settled for a few bites of my daughter’s chocolate glazed donut and called it a day.

Namaste,
Erin


Saturday, March 26, 2011

ERIN'S 30 DAY YOGA CHALLENGE

Day 5
OK. Truth be told, I did not go to yoga today. My third “skip day” wasn’t due to lack of motivation or drive, however. No, my lack of attendance was due to hockey, lacrosse, and the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie. Yes, things were back to normal on Saturday as I reclaimed my usual spot on our family priority list – the bottom!

I must admit that I was a little relieved when I realized that my yoga class times coincided with my kids’ Saturday plans, as I’ve developed quite a strong ache in my left chest muscle – I think I’ve done one too many high-planks.

Although I didn’t get to class, I did try to employ the breathing techniques I learned while I drove to the movies and found myself engulfed in giggles, screams and a much-too-loud Lady GaGa. My deep and focused in-and-out breaths didn’t quite get me to my happy place during this chaos, but I came close enough for a busy Saturday.

As for Sunday, I am on the list for the 8 a.m. class but here’s the reality – if I don’t follow my tried-and-true wine/water/wine/water strategy at my friend’s dinner party tonight, a hangover and sleep deprivation will take their rightful place at the top of the family priority list – and I’ll be stuck with two well-intentioned but yoga-less days! Fingers-crossed... I hope I can stick to my guns!

Namaste,
Erin

What Men Need

Quote of the day:  My mother just said to me "I don't know what it is, but men just need to go up on roofs.  They just need to do it."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hey, That's a Bald-bend!

Day 4


I’m a little taken aback by an unexpected side effect of my 30-day yoga challenge: I’m now a bragger. I am simply giddy when I can boast to my family (and anyone else who will listen) about my newfound flexibility.

Case in point: My husband asked me how my yoga challenge was going (is he NOT reading my blog?!?!) and I boasted that I could still do a backbend. To which, he replied -- laughing I might add -- “You CAN-NOT!”

I immediately dropped to the hardwood in my living room, placed my feet flat on the floor, bent my arms backward and placed my palms securely on the ground near my ears, pushed my legs and arms up – and voila – contorted myself into a backbend.

“Move over,” he said. “I can do that, too.” Now, I’d like to point out that my husband is 5’10", 220 pounds, and beautifully bald. He desperately tried to mimic my swift moves, but he was less than successful.

“See, it’s not that hard,” he said, as he rested his entire body weight on his feet, hands – and bald head.

“That’s not a backbend,” I said, “That’s a bald-bend!”

He then tried to redeem himself by doing pushups with my 5-year-old on his back but I was clearly the victor in this physical challenge and he knew it! Which got me thinking . . . maybe there’s an undiscovered sport here: competitive yoga. Yogis could compete to see who can hold each pose best. The prize -- a bumper sticker that simply reads, “My Downward Dog is better than yours.”

On to Day 5!

Namaste,
Erin

Ray LaMontagne - For The Summer

Do yourself a favor this Friday morning, and listen to this song. I feel like this artist is a mix of Dan Fogelberg and Joni Mitchell - whatever he is, he is awesome. Enjoy!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ron Swanson talks about government and Chuck E. Cheese



Love Ron...I AM Leslie Nope!  I work for the Chamber of Commerce and no one can get me down!

Erin's 30-Day Yoga - Day 3



Truth be told, I wasn’t feeling very “yoga-y” this morning as I headed out the door to class. My husband and I had a “disagreement” early this morning and I needed to resolve my 5-year-old’s fashion crisis. Then, on my way to the studio, I found myself stuck behind a driver who was waiting for a formal written invitation to make his way onto Route 28 south. Not a good start to the day.

But then, as I entered the studio, I decided to clear my head, work on my breathing, and get what was coming to me: peace of mind and re-energized muscles.

I really paid attention to what the teacher had to say in class today – usually I’m just worried about losing my balance or fixing my pants. It’s amazing what life lessons can be gleaned in a 90-minute yoga class when you slow down and just listen:

Lesson No. 1: I Need To Quiet My Mind's “Observer”

My teacher explained today that everyone’s brain has an “Observer” – he’s a bastard, that observer. He clogs your brain with worry (Do my kids put too much pressure on themselves?) and garbage (I can’t forget to put the whites in the wash or no one will have clean underwear tomorrow!). Life will be easier if I simply learn to put the Observer in his place – the corner!

Lesson No. 2: When Things Are Crazy, Just Breathe

I tried Vinyasa yoga today for the first time – I liken it to speed dating. All the same moves and motives as regular yoga, just much faster! I questioned the teacher before class about whether she thought I could handle it. She simply replied, “If it gets crazy in there for you, just breathe.” Easier said than done, but certainly applicable to life outside the yoga studio -- I must keep this in mind!

Lesson No. 3: I'm Way More Flexible Than I Thought!

I can still do a backbend at age 41 ¾ -- yes, I’m still counting my age like my children. Much better than rounding up!

Namaste,
Erin



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 2 - Erin's Yoga Challenge

Day 2


I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning and realized something: I could not get out of bed. Every muscle – big and small, known and unknown – ached tremendously.

My next thought brought a moment of panic: How am I going to yoga TODAY when I can’t get out of bed from my class YESTERDAY?

My last early morning revelation, thankfully, brought a moment of relief: Yes!!!!! I have a dentist appointment at 9 a.m. – the perfect excuse for not attending my morning yoga class. Despite the tooth scraping and gum pain that awaited me, Day 2 was looking better already – I could play hooky and I had written permission to do so!

I finally did resurrect myself out of bed -- granted, it was one body part at a time. And once I got moving, had some coffee and got the kids to school, I had recommitted to my 30-day quest. I grabbed two Advil, a Nalgene bottle full of ice-cold water, and signed up online for tomorrow’s 9 a.m. class.  Day 3; here I come!

Namaste,
Erin

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ERIN ,HERE...IT"S ON, BABY!

As Deirdre has asked me to do here at Blend of the Day, for the next month I am going to share my self-imposed 30 days of yoga.  I have told everyone I encounter, from dear friends to strangers at Whole Foods, that I am doing this.  It's ON!  So strap on your yoga pants, and get your mind clear, because here we go!

Day 1:


I awoke this morning with the joy and anticipation of a child on Christmas morning: Today was Day 1 in my personal 30-day yoga challenge. (Actually, it's Day 2 but let's just pretend it's Day 1, as I had my epiphany about wanting to do a 30-day yoga challenge while having a yummy Cosmo (or two) with friends on Sunday night. I was in no shape for yoga on Monday morning).

Why commit to such a thing, you ask? Well, for me, it really comes down to three things: my knees, my butt and my disposition. My knees are really starting to bother me from running. My butt has expressed some serious dissatisfaction with being on a spin bike all winter. And my usually sunny outlook on life and my love for fellow man needs some re-tuning. Time to regroup -- for me, a personal 30-day yoga challenge is the way to go.

Day 1 -- I am happy to report that I didn’t fall over or pull a muscle. My friend Sandy and I were fully engaged for 89 of the 90-minute session. That is, however, until we were told, "Cross your right leg over our left knee and then grab your right foot with your left hand -- and then do the same with the right leg." Giggling, we looked at each and mouthed, "What?" "Like bicycle handlebars," said the teacher. "OHHHH!” Easy as criss-cross applesauce. Mission accomplished!

I had a skip in my step when I left the studio today -- I felt happy, lighter, cleansed. I was determined to feel this way for the rest of the day. Not even the ever-present, mile-high pallets clogging the aisles at Market Basket or the lovely sticky note from my husband stating the cat's litter box was nasty and needed attention would bring me down. Looing forward to Day 2!  (Unless something better comes along.)

Namaste,

Erin

De-Fund NPR?

There has been a lot of talk lately about de-funding National Public Radio, or, as all of the free world knows it, NPR.  This seems as foreign to some as de-funding McDonald's, or de-funding Grandma; many have listened to NPR forever, and can't imagine life in the car without it.
First thing: saying that you heard something on NPR makes you sound smart, and gives whatever you are saying both panache and credibility.  Let's try it:  first, say this sentence: "I heard that Jennifer Aniston has had some work done.  I read it in People."  Now, try this sentence: "I heard that our culture is slowly erasing our personal identities by molding our faces into younger, almost pre-Mayan images of our younger ids, egos, and super-egos.  Even popular icons like, say, Jennifer Aniston are going Mayan. (ironic chuckle.)"  See?  The second one is definitely smarter-sounding.

Here is my take:  as someone who has been involved in marketing for years, I first look at what something is titled, be it a book, a product, or a radio station.  This network is called "National Public Radio."  It is supposed to be for everyone, but we all have been in on the secret that it is a very liberal network.  (Just because you add Garrison Keillor to something doesn't make it folksy.)  The viewpoints are liberal, the guests are liberal, and certainly the staffing is liberal - right, Juan?

Like everything else we encounter these days - healthcare, fast food, Charlie Sheen - it just needs some modifying, not complete dismissal.  We are so eager - I'm talking to you, conservatives - to get rid of what irks us, or scares us, instead of working with it; crafting it into something infinitely better.  Make half the program available to more conservative viewpoints, and keep the other half the way it is - more liberal, very diverse, and truthfully, sometimes quite boring.  (But hey, that's just me.  There are probably many people who want to hear a half-hour on salmon runs.) 

One thing we can all agree on - Garrison Keillor.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Party Like It's 1999!



The President is in Rio de Janeiro while 1) Japan continues to suffer and reel, and 2) we attack Libya as part of a multi-national force to stop Ghadifi from inflicting pain on his own people, among other objectives.  (Note: while this seems noble when it is Obama's presidency that is ending human suffering, the Bush administration suffered slings and arrows when they dared to bring this up as a good by-product of going after Saddam Hussein in a WMD hunt.)  Anyhoo... the President's press secretary, in answering a correctly-put question about whether the President should be away during the Japanese crisis, bluntly said something to the effect that "let's be clear...this is a crisis in Japan - this is not a crisis in the U.S." (Paraphrasing.)

As a private citizen, and not the leader of the free world, if one of my best friends was suffering what would be the crisis of her life - gravely ill child, sudden spousal abandonment, death of extremely close family member - and I continued my trip to a workshop where, yeah, I might learn a few things, or improve my own workload, but on the whole could have re-scheduled and gone at another date,  I would be considered not only a bad friend, but possibly incapable of true loyalty at all.  And if I further related that to be completely honest, this tragedy had not happened to me, but to my friend, well...I might be viewed as extremely heartless, or possibly even dangerously obtuse to the world around me.

Japan...18,000 possibly dead in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.  Tragedy for a gentle nation and true friend.  They deserve better.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vroom! Vroom!

You know, people sure are quick to get cranky.  Ths week I was driving down to Cape Cod when my muffler blew on my car.  I'm not sure what a muffler does, first of all, but I KNOW it muffles sound, because when it's not on, or working, or whatever, it gets really loud. Like, help-my-ears-are-bleeding loud.

It is interesting how loud noise affects people - everyone on the highway was very, very mad at me, without ever meeting me, hearing my voice, or understanding the particulars of my extremely noisy situation.  People would pass by and give me a sneer, or the hairy eyeball, or even the finger.  Do they think a lady in a somewhat nice car, dressed up in a blazer and blouse and cute earrings wanted a car with a sound like a descending hovercraft? (One exception; teens and kids loved it.  They gave me the thumbs-up and other signs of respect.)

At first, I ignored everyone in the lanes to my left and right.  Then, after the first hour, I was cranky and lost and partially deaf anyway, so I started waving back at the annoyed drivers.  Then, I started making very obvious happy gestures, like this is great!  Rock on!

In a lesson in behavioral sciences, it is funny what people do when presented with confidence - even if confidence is totally unwarranted.  People looked shocked at my happiness, then confused, and then they just - looked away.  That's right; look away, road snobs.  I am loud and I like it.  (Not really; I was miserable and my ears were ringing.  But it's fun to play with people on a long, loud drive to the cape.)

In closing - hug a muffler today; even if it means going under your car to do it.  They are the most under-appreciated part of your vehicle.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Winter-World" - a Kevin Costner Production

A remarkable, amazing, totally unforseen thing happened just outside my window today, and I am still rubbing my head and wondering if it was all just a crazy dream, or if this really did happen: the birds came back.  I'm not kidding; they did!

I had assumed that here in New Engand, we were in never-ending winter.  I have gotten used to slipping on ice, looking for my snow boots, and ruminating on the color grey - which is what the sky always is, around here.

I had accepted my post-apocalyptic world, a world Kevin Costner could perhaps make a bad movie about - and also had accepted a life of big sweaters, by-now-grungy mittens, and loads of diet hot cocoa. (Note: what's the point of this product?)

And suddenly, my viewpoint was turned on it's axis - I saw a group of tiny birds, just like the ones in this picture, sitting and eating berries from one of my shrubs, a shrub that is grossly deformed from the snow that has covered it for months, and is now in the shape of a banana.  I knocked on the window excitedly, just to say hello.

They cocked their heads in that adorable, bird-like, warm-weather way, and then kept eating.  Not deterred, I gathered up the hem of my flannel "Little House on the Prairie" granny gown and flew to the front door, and then through it.  I ran to the shrub, meaning to hug the birds in a gesture of welcome and gratitude for their message of spring.

Note: birds do not like to be hugged.  At all.

Anyhoo - like the Who's down in Who-ville, I want to say: Welcome, Spring!  Ya-who-door-ay!  (Or whatever it is that those Who's are trying to say!)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Getting to the Core

In a world that is increasingly complex and on-edge, it is hard to maintain your center of balance; that core you draw from to respond to the events in your day as well as events around you.  How do you maintain that "core", that center, which actually determines how you relate to the world?

In our culture we have a lot of things that temporarily fill the anxiety that current times bring us as well as filling the holes - unfulfilled longings, disappointments, malaise or even just spiritual exhaustion - in our own lives.  Food, alcohol, reality TV, obsessive talk radio  - and even "healthy" pursuits like televison sports viewing and computer games sometimes mask our inability to actually take a deep breath and just do nothing; just be. This is how you build and strengthen that core; with the whisperiest, quietest of pursuits. Try it - close your eyes, lean your head back against your seat, and take three good, deep relaxing breaths and exhale.  Doesn't that feel foreign?  Peace of mind, soul and body is a task of self-care; it takes a small commitment from you, for you.

When I do this, I pray.  I take those things that live so deep - long-standing and short-lived concerns, longings, worries, or hopes - and I say to God, I can't carry all this; it's so heavy and my tank is empty.  Would you take them?  I will release them, because you know what?  They drag me down, and there is nothing I can do about these things.  And I know that you know what to do with them.

Others may just take a few minutes of quiet, or pray to their own sources of strength.  It is a little thing, literally taking just moments, but it has really made a difference in how I approach the day, and the happy focus that comes into each day because of this small practice.  It widens your mind and reminds you that you have a core, and that it is real, buried there deep inside you.  It is you.

Just breathe.  Three deep breaths, eyes closed, head back, mind emptied, or alternatively really focused on your source of strength in a trusting, open way.

Feel blessed; if you are here on earth then you already are!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

ALERT: JAPAN WAS TRUE ALLY AFTER KATRINA

AS YOU KNOW BY NOW, A HUGE EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI HAS HIT JAPAN, AND AFTERSHOCKS KEEP FLOWING.  But did you know: Japan was a true ally in assisting the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina both through their government, and in private citizen donations and corporate donations, sending a virtual "tsunami of assistance" to the victims of Katrina. We need to return this assistance during this crisis and help this suffering nation by taking a moment to visit www.redcross.org, or even easier, simply text REDCROSS to 90999 to send just $10 from your phone.  DO IT NOW!

The United States government has a webpage that details the Japanese contributions to Katrina aid. Here's part of what the page says:


15 September 2005

Japan Proves Truly "A Friend Indeed" After Hurricane Katrina
By Jane Morse

Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- If the saying "a friend in need is a friend indeed" is true, Japan is one of the best friends the United States ever could have to provide support while so many Americans are suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Japanese private citizens and the government alike have sent a virtual tsunami of assistance to the victims of Katrina, which devastated 90,000 square miles along the U.S. Gulf Coast in August. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes and hundreds lost their lives.

Japan has pledged more than $1.5 million in private donations. The government of Japan has donated $200,000 in cash to the American Red Cross and some $800,000 in relief supplies -- from blankets to generators -- already are arriving to aid the most needy. Japanese firms with operations in the United States have donated some $12 million in total, including Honda Motor Corporation ($5 million), Hitachi ($1 million) and Nissan (more than $750,000).

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo was overwhelmed by the generosity of one Japanese individual -- Takashi Endo -- who donated $1 million from his personal funds to Katrina relief efforts. Endo said he was moved when, during a business trip to London, he saw a televised report about a mother separated from her children in the chaos of the flooding in New Orleans. The story so disturbed him he could not sleep that night; the next morning he resolved to do something to help.

Yuji Takahashi, president and chief executive officer of the Japan Petroleum Exploration Company Ltd., which has operations off the coast of Louisiana, donated $100,000 to U.S. federal government hurricane relief efforts. Takahashi said that when he learned of the destruction caused by the hurricane, he felt as if his own family had been affected.

Source(s):
http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-engli

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

College Break

My son Matt is home for college break. (That's him, looking at his laptop.) It's so good to have him home - I love walking by his bedroom door (let's face it, it's usually noon or so) and knowing he is behind it, sleeping.

When the kids were younger, school breaks were fun, but tough - by Wednesday I'd be pulling my hair out from too much fast-food, too many museum attempts, and too much sheer time alone with three active sons.  Now, Matt is a man - he comes and goes as he pleases, he can meet me for lunch or drive in to the city to see friends.

Ahhh, time...you can't get around the passage of time.  I panic when I realize that I can't remember exactly what Matt looked like at age seven or eight, and then, triggered by some unrelated little thing, I'll be instantly back in my old backyard watching him play army men in the grass, sun shining on his wheat-blond hair.  We were close then, and we are closer now, if possible.  He is one of my best friends, a trusted confidant, and a beloved son.

Middle children live in the exact middle of your heart.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Charlie Sheen...









In today's attempt at being topical, I am blogging about the ridiculous, harmful, and mentally ill character that is Charlie Sheen at this moment.

 I will note that he is apparently genuinely ill, that children all over America and the free world are familiar with his antics (including the Goddesses, his children being removed, and his sweaty, pale, crazy rants), and that we have sunk so low in this country as to idealize and pedastal-ize a sad, ill man who has not worked in years on anything decent.  Two and a Half Men is a...well, it's a show, or something, and you can count on seeing the now-teenage "half-a-man" actor (who is the highest-paid teen actor on tv) in Sheen's shoes in a few years.  Charlie Sheen was a handsome, really pretty decent actor some years back, so anything can happen, and maybe he'll return some day from the Planet Pluto.

I am further commenting on the fact that now Sean Penn, another American-made would-be journalist/playah/actor, is gong to unleash Sheen on Haiti, in an effort to capiltalize on Sheen's sudden fame and the sheer amount of Twitter followers he has (note to Penn: the kind of folks that follow Sheen's tweets are probably not the kind that hand over money from their pockets for charity.)  Has't poor Haiti suffered enough? Do wehave to unleash the rotten parts of our culture on it, too?

What else can I offer you on this Sunday?  Well, I guess only the idea that this, too, shall pass, and that our culture is increasingly one to turn away from, and that that's all right.  (Turning away from cultural influences is not, after all, turning away from the country itself.) I am no paragon of virtue, by the way - I am looking forward to The Apprentice tonight, and love American Idol.  But I am trying to recognize what is really hurtful in our culture, and keep it from my youngest son, who is just 11 (almost 12!)  Soon I won't be able to, though, so we have to talk about it.

So, carry on, America.  Maybe like alcoholics and drug-abusers, we truly have to hit rock-bottom before we see the light. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Deer in the Morning

The other day I was leaving my neighborhood in my car, heading to work. I was preoccupied, checking to make sure I had my phone, finding my favorite radio station, pulling my seatbelt over my lap.

I turned a corner and gasped, touching the brakes.  In front of me in the road stood four or five deer, looking at me calmly, necks high, eyes wide, one hoof pulled up; hesitant but not scared.

They were beautiful.  We just stared at each other; like a kid I longed to go up to them and stand with them; say something to them that they would understand.  Deer make you feel strangely isolated; they will rarely let you get close enough to touch them or pet them, and they are shy and aloof.  Their eyes are huge; I hadn't realized how big their eyes were.

They come to the neighborhood we have recently moved to a lot, I hear; we are close to conservation land and they make appearances as their woods disappear a little more each year.  They looked vulnerable and stiff on the asphalt, but still beautiful, and wild.

It was 7:30 am, and my day had already been made.  Stumbling on amazing nature when your mind is elsewhere is always the best kind of high.