March 28th, 2011 by Jane

The weather keeps springing back on us, doesn’t it? My husband and I spent a long time working in the garden this weekend, as I’m sure many of you did. The above photo is of my rose tree that is about to explode in crimson blooms.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I attended a conference a few weeks ago, led by one of my favorite yoga writers, Judith Hanson Lasater. She was so generous in sharing her knowledge about yoga and about life. I’m still digesting and absorbing many of her aphorisms. She beautifully articulated, sometimes in a funny or moving way, that life is yoga and how we practice both is up to us.

I thought I would share a few of my favorites with you:

Awareness in Tadasana (basic standing pose) is a life skill.

You can only be
yoga, you can’t do yoga.

We have a tyranny of choice in our lives.

Stability is the first rule of yoga.

Relaxation helps everything.

There is no ease in the edges of anything. Happiness and ease live in the middle.

You can’t be compassionate when you’re exhausted.

Yoga is a support group for people who can’t do yoga.

Give yourself 30 seconds of conscious whining everyday.

How do you define “enough?” The answer will define your life.

Yoga is a strategy for remembering your true self.

Breath is always in the present. You can’t breathe for last week or to get ahead for tomorrow.

Svasana (relaxation pose at the end of practice) is coming home. The post-svasana state is who you are.

Even if you don’t practice yoga, these are interesting to think about. I wrote down many more, and I’ll continue to share them with you. Which is your favorite?

For more of Judith’s wisdom and humor, follow her on Twitter @JudithYoga.


March 21st, 2011 by Jane

We cannot let another person into our hearts or minds unless we empty ourselves. We can truly listen to him or truly hear her only out of emptiness. ~M. Scott Peck (from Brainyquote.com)

Happy Spring! I hope you all are enjoying fabulous weather. Lately, I’ve been thinking about emptiness. Sometimes, you might here someone refer to meditation as “emptying the mind.” That works for some people, but not all. The word empty has a negative connotation for most of us.

Indeed, Merriam-Webster’s entry for empty includes these words and phrases: null, unfrequented, containing nothing, lacking substance or reality, destitute, idle, devoid of sense. You get the idea.

But what if you never emptied or cleared anything? Such as your inbox or your refrigerator? What if your stomach was never empty? What if we kept filling everything up and never felt what it was like to feel that emptiness?

My husband and I joke that our life is so full that our cup runneth over, puddles at our feet and then sometimes we fall down in it. Pretty close to the truth on a lot of days, but it is not in our human make-up to be constantly full. In the stomach this creates indigestion. In a home it creates chaos and a feeling of bursting at the seams. In the mind fullness can foster in inattention and lack of focus.

There is much to be learned from emptiness. Even an empty gas tank or bank account brings a lesson, never forgotten. Is that a negative or a positive?

Emptiness allows space, breathing room, possibility. Do you know the story of the begging bowl? Buddhist monks sometimes carry “begging bowls” with them and what sustenance they receive for the day comes from what strangers put into their bowls. Sometimes they receive a slice of delicious bread or warm soup. Other times cruel people might spit into their bowls. This is a spiritual lesson because the monks must learn to be grateful for whatever is given to them. There are similar stories across all belief systems.

If we accept emptiness as something that might be positive, then we can learn. If we allow our bellies to feel empty, we might find out what we are hungry for. If we empty, or calm our minds, we might experience an unknown peace. If we allow some space in our day, in our lives then we might discover our greatest potential.

What do Jon Stewart, Bruce Springsteen and emptiness have in common? Take a few minutes and find out! Funny, beautiful and wise-my favorite combination!


What’s Goin’ On…

March 16th, 2011 by Jane

Doesn’t it seem like the world has gone crazy? Earthquakes, tsunamis, meltdowns and lay-offs have taken a toll on many; not to mention the toll that Charlie Sheen is wreaking on the collective good humor of his fans.

I’m thankful that our dear neighbors, who have been living in Tokyo while working on a research project, are finally safe in Bangkok. I can’t imagine how they got through the last week and I cannot wait until I get to hug them and their beautiful boys.

In a time of such upheaval, it seems silly to waste time worrying about mundane things, but that is the way of life, yes? The mind finds little bits to worry into bigger irritations and problems than they actually are. It is difficult to set those small burdens down until we are facing large ones.

Our chaotic, messy, vibrant house has become a peaceful refuge from the insanity of the outside world and I’m grateful for it. But, in between mental hand-wringing for the world, I’ve managed to squeeze in some pedestrian thoughts and activities. Here’s a sample:

1) Inflammation-Free
I’m reading several books on inflammation-free eating and I’m working on folding more of that into our daily diet. The good news is that it is not that far off from the way we eat and cook anyway.

2) Farm Box
I recently signed up for weekly delivery from this lovely company. Delicious, locally-grown food on my doorstep every Friday afternoon feels like Christmas. Thanks to my friend, Lindy for the suggestion and to this blogger for the inspiration. So far, we’ve gotten kale, bok choy, mustard greens, collard greens, mushrooms, tomatoes (hydroponically grown), strawberries (we get ‘em early here in Texas!), Texas oranges and grapefruit, a basil plant, cilantro, baby carrots, baby beets, bibb lettuce, spinach and cabbage. A cornucopia in a green plastic bin!

3) Yoga
A few weeks ago, I attended a conference led by one of my favorite yoga writers, Judith Lasater. I was apprehensive to meet her because I have read her books and followed her teachings for more than a decade. I’m happy to report that I learned a lot and she completely lived up to my high expectations. Plus, she was very funny! The upside is that the conference counts toward my next 300 hour requirements, as I’ve decided to go for my 500 hour teaching certification.

4) Organizing
I’ve spent a chunk of time reorganizing the kids’ rooms and working through piles of stuff. I’m pleased with the results, but there is more to do. I feel compelled to do this right now and I think the busywork is the result of my brain trying to work out a knot in a project I’m working on, which leads me to…

5) Writing
I”m working on a book and I’ve hit a few snags. I plan to chronicle some of the process here in the near future. That is part of the reason for infrequent posts here at 7Of, as my creative juices are funneled into my book. I continue to slog through the book-writing process and I hope to hit my stride again soon. As always, I’ll keep you posted!

That’s about it. What’s going on with you?


January 25th, 2011 by Jane

Hello Blog Friends. I know, I know-it’s been a while. Everything is pretty good over here; I just got caught up in the holidays, minor communicable diseases and an organizing jag.

Over the last two months, I have started four or five posts and then left them withering in cyber storage, unfinished. The great ideas I had to wow you with, shriveled when I sat down at the keyboard. I’ve had a lot on my mind and it seems that I’ve needed to mull. In yoga, this is called turning inward.

Forward bends are a certain group of poses that are conducive to this introspection. Whether standing, sitting or lying down, the point of a forward bend is to fold the body over on itself. Head to knees, hands to floor, belly to thighs. In a forward bend, you can’t look around and distract yourself. Turning the head to either side will get you a side view of your knee. Then you turn your head back to center and try to concentrate on yourself, the pose or maybe the intense sensation in your hamstrings. Either way, in a forward bend, you are always called back to yourself. Yoga’s kinda great that way.

Sometimes, the introspection extends beyond the mat and that’s what has been going on in my world. I’ve been feeling a pull toward quiet, toward solitude, toward thought. Those of you who know me personally are probably on the floor, doubled over with laughter. I know what you’re thinking, “What is she thinking? She’s got three kids! There’s no time for navel-gazing.” And you would be right, which is why my psyche keeps pulling me toward the idea of contemplation. I think most of us are more susceptible to that this time of year, you know, new beginnings and all.

I can’t say that all of this introspection has led me anywhere in particular, but it has been nice, the little snatches I’ve gotten of it.  I’ll let you know what bubbles up, until then, I’ll keep mulling. What are you mulling over this year? The following are a few things to mull, if you need some material.

1) Black Swan
I saw this movie over the weekend and I’m still deciding what I think about it. I liked it and it is a beautifully dark movie, full of gray and black and white images.

2) Poser
I loved this memoir by Claire Dederer and I want to be friends with her. Anyone know her? She captures early marriage and motherhood, weaves them together with yoga and feminism to make a complex,  lovely, funny statement on her life and many other women during this time in our country.

3) Spices
It’s been chilly here lately and since I’m in the mood to mull, I think I will apply that to my spice cabinet. How about some mulled cider? Or mulled tea?

Why I Love Tim Gunn…

November 10th, 2010 by Jane


I’ve never met Tim Gunn, but I’d like to. Yes, he is a distinguished sharp-dressed man. As co-host of Project Runway, he has what looks to be a fun job and he gets to hang out with really famous people. But, the fashion, the glamour and the celebrities are not the reasons I adore him.

Everything I have heard him say and the way he interacts with people is remarkable. I’ve co-opted his catch phrase: Make it work! This covers a lot of area, if needed. An article about him ran in the Austin-American Statesman a couple of years ago and I cut out a quote from him that has been hanging on the side of my fridge ever since:

“I’d like to believe that people respond to the fact that I’m a truth teller, but that I’m thoughtful and respectful of who they are,” he says. “I have a profound respect, frankly, for the human race. Am I disappointed by certain aspects of it? Of course. We all are.”

“But I really believe in the right of people to choose, and I believe that we’re not all the same by any means.”

I love his personal philosophy and wish that more of us lived by his motto. I think his respect and humanity come across in the television shows he has been involved with over the years. As far as I can tell from a 2-D experience of him, he tries to bring his highest and best self to what he is doing and he treats others as if they are doing the same.  Think about that. What if each of us treated others as if? As if we were our best selves at each moment.

I recently gained another reason to love Tim Gunn when I saw that he posted a video as part of the It Gets Better Project. This movement was started by writer Dan Savage as a response to recent suicides of Gay and Lesbian teens reported in the media. Tim Gunn’s video is very personal and poignant. Take a look and see for yourself.

New Neighbors…

October 29th, 2010 by Jane

Halloween is huge in our town. Really. Everyone decorates their houses, the elementary schools hold costume parades and the folks that live on the main drag through town will see 800 trick or treaters on All Hallow’s Eve. Yes, 800. These lovely people spend about $250 on candy each year, just to make little kids, and big ones, happy.

Some years there have been life-sized UFOs on lawns, smoking cauldrons with bloody bones scattering the sidewalks and haunted houses set up  in the garages. This year, there are a lot of spiders covering houses and some blow up yard displays.

We live a few blocks from this Halloween hoopla, so we don’t get quite as many treaters. We like to think that we give out better candy! There are 20 kids on my block and we all meet in the street and troll over to our friends on Halloween Highway for some frightfully good fun. Although, it’s not quite as exciting now that Daylight Savings Time comes after Halloween. The extra daylight has diffused the element of danger caused by walking in the dark, in uncomfortable costumes over broken sidewalks. It’s not quite the same without the sounds of candy spilling from plastic pumpkins and children crying.

This year, we have lovely new neighbors across the street from us, Melissa and Lorinc. They are a young couple, without children and are totally psyched about Halloween in their new neighborhood. They have bought candy and arranged it in a cute bucket for the children.

They are flying in (from here, after seeing him) on Halloween night and won’t be around when the tricking starts. They very sweetly asked if we would distribute the candy among the kids on the block and then put the bucket on the porch with a note that reads “Please take one.”

We must look much more trustworthy than we are…


October 24th, 2010 by Jane

I’ve been poking around the world wide web lately and I have come upon some new (to me) bloggers and writers. My favorite sites are those that make you laugh, make you think, are visually yummy and sometimes bring a tear or two.

The following few are just that perfect combination. I’ve marked specific essays that spoke to me, instead of linking to the home page. Can you have a crush on a blog? I do. Check them out and see if you agree.

37 Days
Patti Digh (rhymes with sigh) asks what you would do with your life if you had 37 days to live. No, she didn’t dream this up as a self-help gimmick. She has a very personal, poignant reason for this movement. But she is also very funny and her work is thought-provoking, tender and profound. She’s a wife, mother, diversity expert and writer who has a crush on Johnny Depp, which I get and totally support. Read her Eat on a Door entry and prepare to be charmed.

Kelly Rae Roberts
Kelly Rae is a very successful artist, a new mom and an experienced do-it-yourselfer. Her blog about her life, her art and her home renovations is beautiful to look at and read. Fall in love with her work, her writing and her house here.

Stark. Raving. Mad. Mommy
Her tag line reads, “Losing my mind, one child at a time.” She just might be crazy because she has more on her mommy plate than anyone I have ever seen, heard or read about. She lives in Houston and there are days that I want to get in my car and take a road trip to rescue her. But then we wouldn’t get funny posts like this. Or this.

Wishin’ and Hopin’
If my friend Kelly, who’s in Seoul for two years, ever expands her Random Korea Facebook postings into a blog, then you’ll need to keep some Depends on hand to address the resulting bladder leakage. It’s that funny.  She’s afraid she might cause an international incident, so she only shares her musings with her friends. Maybe when she’s stateside for good…

Something Sweet…

October 12th, 2010 by Jane

My husband loves macadamia nuts. His parents gave a jar of them to him and his sister every year as a stocking stuffer at Christmas when they were growing up. Sometimes they still do.

So, when we got married, I bought a jar of the roasted Hawaiian nuts for Christmas morning. On a trip to Sam’s Club that first year, I found a large box of CHOCOLATE COVERED macadamia nuts. Eureka! A little something extra for him! He kissed me on Christmas morning and told me how thoughtful it was of me.

Chocolate covered macadamia nuts became a holiday tradition. We had a tradition!

When we had been married about 14 years, I mentioned that the chocolated covered nuts were scarce that year. My husband said, “You don’t have to get me any. It’s okay.”

“No, no” I said. “I get them every year, I’ll keep looking.”

He said, “No, really. You don’t have to get them.”

“But you like them so much,” I replied.

“No, I don’t. I don’t like them at all.”

“What?!  But you eat them every year.”

“No, I don’t,” he said.

“Then who does?” I asked, incredulous.

“You do,” he said, with only the hint of a smirk.


7 Changes at 7of…

October 7th, 2010 by Jane

We got a little lax around here while working through some major (and minor) changes in our little corner of the blogosphere.

Take a look at what’s been going on and what is to come…

1) Amy K. Brown
Amy is a student again!  Yes, Amy has gone back to school to get another Master’s degree and her teaching certificate.  She’s going to be a fabulous teacher. Stay tuned for updates.

2) Which Means…
That Jane’s brain will be powering 7of!  Thanks, Amy for all of your wonderful posts.  I’ve had a blast writing this with you! We wish you well in the next phase of your life.

3) Sometimes 7, sometimes not…
I plan to write a 7of list once a week. But sometimes I have something to say, just not 7 thoughts on the subject. So, look for smaller posts several times a week. Shorter and sweeter, so to speak.

4) Mo’ Bettah Content…
I want to write short book reviews. Or movies. Or music. Or whatever.

5) Something Smells Good…
I have some favorite recipes that I plan to share and I’m up for suggestions.

6) Photography…
I’ve challenged myself to use my own photographs for this blog, unless it’s a book or product I’m highlighting.

7) Odds ‘N Ends…
Look for more quotes, words of the day, songs, other websites and blogs, food, fun and more! What would you like to see? Thanks for tuning in!

Thoughts on Perfection…

September 28th, 2010 by Jane

Brenè Brown is staging a prostest. Now, I don’t know Brenè personally, but I’ve seen her speak, read her books, I’m devoted to her blog, and would sign up if she’s ever in the market for a new BFF! So, when she decides to start a movement-I’m all in.

She is protesting perfection. If you are compelled to make sure every detail in your life looks like a magazine spread, to not let the cracks show, to “never let ‘em see you sweat,” then this movement is for you. Not interested, you say? Well, most of us aren’t and we have a pretty good reason for hanging on to our sense of perfection. Brenè believes that we use it as a shield to cover up, disconnect and ultimately hide our vulnerabilities, effectively masking our authentic selves.

Her work as a researcher at the University of Houston is centered on shame-something most people don’t want to think about. She has figured out a few things in her years of study that can help all of us. Such as, it takes courage to be your authentic self. Shame cannot survive empathy. And, empathy and compassion toward yourself can be the most courageous, liberating thing you do. And everyone, yes, everyone craves connection.

Perfection is a stumbling block to connection, creativity, authenticity, compassion and love. Because if you can’t love your perfectly imperfect self, how can you love another imperfectly perfect, goofy soul?

My favorite line from the summer movie Inception, occurs when Leonardo di Caprio’s character tells his wife that he could never have dreamed “the complexity of you with all of your perfections and imperfections.”

Can we look at our beloveds as complex and perfectly imperfect? Can we look at  ourselves that way? Join the movement.