Archive for the ‘Relaxing’ Category


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.

7 Deal-Breaker Movies…

July 23rd, 2010 by Jane

Over wine some weeks ago, several girlfriends and I were catching up. A few of my friends have children that are older than mine and I pay special attention to their successes and stumbles with their children. I’m taking notes on how to deal with the next stage before my kids get there. I’ll keep you posted on how that works out.

One friend with a teen-aged daughter was talking about watching a family-favorite movie and how relieved they all were when the daughter’s new boyfriend “got” the movie. They use this as a screening tool for who will make the cut or not. Some have failed in recent years.

This inspired a long conversation about movies that we loved and why. It seems everyone has a movie, or five, that are more like family anthems and are a litmus test for how you will relate to others. Kind of like dog people who can’t be married to non-dog lovers. Here are some movies on our collective list. What are some of yours?

1) Monty Python
This one has eliminated several unworthy boys for my friend’s daughter.
Update: my friend said for this test, they use Life of Brian and The Holy Grail. Lately, they have been watching Spinal Tap as a “no fail predictor of longevity.” She would like all of you to take responsibility for choosing your own family movies, as she would not be held liable for any unfortunate pairings. She’s a smart cookie that way.

2) Fargo
My husband and I used to know a poet who took all of her dates to see this movie. If they didn’t like it or didn’t laugh at the appropriate times, she wouldn’t go out with them again. She had seen it seven times at the theater and thought is was the funniest thing she had ever watched. I think only two of five guys made the cut. We lost track of her, so we don’t really know how that worked out. We call this the Fargo Test.

3) St. Ralph
Another friend cited this movie as one that is beloved by her whole family. I haven’t seen it yet. I hope I like it, so I can stay on the roster!

4) Strictly Ballroom
This would be one on our list. My husband and I love this early Baz Luhrman movie. It is funny, sweet and campy with lots of spray tan and glitter. Who doesn’t love that?

5) The Princess Bride
This would make the list, as well. A fairy tale for grown-ups and kids alike.

6) Home for the Holidays
We watch this every November to prepare ourselves for the crazy train that pulls into Dysfunction Junction for the holiday season. Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr. before he turned his life around: hilarious.

7) Love Actually
I have told you before about my love for this movie. I recently found out that a friend of mine doesn’t like it at all and I can barely look at him anymore. I’m working through it as best I can.

7 Quotes on Being

March 22nd, 2010 by Jane

1) If you want to be happy, be.  ~Leo Tolstoy

2) I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself. ~Maya Angelou

3) The white light streams down to be broken up by those human prisms into all the colors of the rainbow. ~Charles R. Brown

4) We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have-for their usefulness. ~Thomas Merton.

5) Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit. ~William James.

6) We could say that meditation doesn’t have a reason or doesn’t have a purpose. In this respect it’s unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don’t do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment. ~Alan Watts

7) You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. ~The Buddha

7 Small Happinesses

February 21st, 2010 by Jane

In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.
– Edith Wharton, pictured above

The above quote is my second favorite quote ever. If I had to choose a personal motto it would be the famous quote from Ghandi about being the change you wish to see in the world and this one.

Really, I think about this a lot. My life, as most, is full of irritations that I could let grow from minor to excruciating and to be honest, on some days I do.  But, as a student of yoga, I have learned to be a little more aware of everything and that means the good stuff as well as the squeaky parts. It is extremely easy for me to focus on the squeaky, because there is a genetic disposition for this in my lineage. I’m trying to stop the cycle, but that’s another post.

I really believe that what you think about informs your behavior and your attitude. Amy says that what you do every day becomes your life. So. Today I thought about how I am happy in small ways, and I have shared a few with you below. Let me know what your small happinesses are, if you want to share!

1. The Olympics
I have been a fan of the Olympics since I watched Mark Spitz win his 7 gold medals in 1972, when I was in second grade. I have not missed watching a summer or winter games since. They are a complete source of joy for me. I wrote an exuberant post in tribute to my love for the Olympic Games and I was ready to publish it on the day of the opening ceremonies. But, I just could not post it when I heard about the death of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili. I hope that his family know that there are many around the world who are heartbroken about his death.

In spite of the tragedy, I have caught myself standing and cheering, grinning ear to ear when the winners cross the finish line, crying with their parents who are jumping up and down in the bleachers and sobbing when the national anthem is played for each athlete. Two weeks of joy and hope, that’s what it is.

2. Magazines
I have posted about my love of magazines before and that has not dimmed, even as the choices of shiny publications continues to diminish. I got to read a few this weekend.

3. Chocolate
Again, you already know about my love for dark chocolate. I have been cutting back on it lately, so I have been making a few chocolate-covered strawberries a few nights a week to get my fix. I don’t use very much chocolate (in the form of 60% cacao chocolate chips) and I melt them in the microwave. Dip strawberries (washed and dried) into the chocolate, put them on some wax paper and place in the fridge. You get fiber, vitamin C, anti-oxidants and a chocolate fix all in one.

4. Lotion
I am out of my favorite lotion and now I cannot find it anymore.  Any one know anything about TeaSpots Lotion? My favorite was the Chai. I kept the bottle for a while, just to smell it occasionally, but that seemed pathetic.

5. Sensory
Can you name something that makes you happy in each of your senses?. Visually, there are certain colors I just want to live in. Literally, I want to move into the color or painting and take my belongings with me.

Singer songwriters with a way with words and a rasp in their voice make my ears and my brain happy: Bruce Springsteen (you knew that, didn’t you?) Kasey Chambers, Bob Schneider, Jon Dee Graham, plus a few others. The happy sounds of my children drifting from another room, the nightly hooting of the owl that lives on our street, cicadas in the summertime, the sound of my husband’s voice when he is teaching one of the girls something; all good sounds to my ears.

The smell of soup simmering on the stove makes my nose happy. So does the chai lotion mentioned above. The scent of my children when they are clean. The scent of my children when they are dirty. Old roses and fresh herbs. The smell of salsa, pretty much any kind. The peculiar scent of lipstick. The scent of welding flux always reminds me of my dad. The overpowering smell of garlic reminds me of my grandmother, who took garlic pills everyday before you could buy the unscented kind.

I have a lot of tastes that make me happy, but I will narrow it down to one for today. A few days ago, I went to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant and I ordered a Soda Chanh. This is a limeade soda, made fresh to order that has lime, soda, sugar, salt and sometimes mint in it. It is sweet, sour, salty, bitter and bubbly at the same time. Yum.

When I am shopping for clothing, bedding or furniture I am attracted to an item first by its color. But before I buy it, I have to touch it. Nothing that is scratchy comes home with me. My husband has some twenty-year old t-shirts that I like to wear. They are just about right.

6. Writing
I love writing. Really.

7. Little Surprises
This morning, our twins woke us up with a puppet show. Their ten-year old sister got in bed with us and the three of us watched the two of them put on a show at the foot of the bed. Good stuff.

7 Things on My Mind

December 29th, 2009 by Jane

I’ve got a lot on my mind lately and not enough cubbies in my brain to organize all of the flying thoughts. One reason Amy and I started this blog was to give ourselves a place to dump our brain lint. Sometimes I find shiny bits that are keepers, but for the most part it is just so my cerebral cortex will not catch fire.  Take a look…

1. The Boss Gets His Props
Tonight on CBS, Bruce Springsteen, my personal poet, will be honored by the Kennedy Center. You know where I will be.  With popcorn.

2. My Sister’s Birthday
My baby sister is beginning her last year of her thirties today, so I am thinking about her and what a great sister she is to me.

3. The Middle
If I live until the age of ninety, then I officially just became middle-aged. Naming and claiming this gives me pause. I’m going to choose well for my crisis. My husband got an old Porsche he had been wanting, but I don’t think it will be that simple for me.

4. Feng Shui
At this time last year, I spent a few days cleaning out my closets, corners and cupboards. According to the practice of Feng Shui, we should all clean out areas of our homes that have dirt or clutter build-up because they cause stagnation. If you want to have a good year, with lots of positive energy, then get to sweeping and throwing out! Check out this site for more tips.

5. Movies
I could spend an entire day at the movie theater just going from one to another. Robert Downey, Jr. is calling my name, I am certain.

6. CDs
Should I go ahead and import all of my music to iTunes and sell the discs? Anyone got an opinion on this?

7. What Next?
I am still mulling over what to fold into my life next. I feel the need to do something more, but am not sure how to fit it all in. I am working on a few projects and I hope I can focus enough for them to come to fruition. I’ll keep you posted.

7 Thoughts on the Twilight Phenomenon

December 11th, 2009 by Jane

In my defense, I did not want to go see it. I have been fickle with vampires.  After a preoccupation with Dark Shadows reruns during elementary school, I left them behind. I never bought into Interview with the Vampire book series or the movie that starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

When my sisters and I went to my aunt’s house after school on the random day when my mother had an appointment, we would hibernate in the den and watch illicit television shows. This was before cable so by illicit, I mean soap operas. Heady stuff to a third grader. If we were lucky, we would get there in time to watch the vampire soap Dark Shadows. My menopausal aunt kept her house cold enough to store a side of beef so we would cuddle together under her crocheted quilts and proceed to get the bejesus scared out of us by Barnabas Collins. The excitement and a supply of contraband junk food made it the most decadent of afternoons.

I had forgotten about those times until today after I saw The Twilight Saga: New Moon with a friend. I watched Twilight over the Thanksgiving holiday because I promised my 10 year old daughter that I would view it and give her an estimate of how old she would need to be before I would let her watch it. I agreed with some trepidation, but was prepared to waste 2 hours for my daughter. My husband and I work pretty hard to make sure that she does not grow up too fast and tween movies are an issue that we police pretty vigilantly.

I thought I would hate it. I didn’t. In fact, I liked it a lot. I’m not letting my daughter watch it until she is at least fourteen, but I really enjoyed the movie and the storyline. And, while I did not think the second was a good as the first movie, I guess I still have a little vampire crush. I’ll just have to keep watching the movies to see how it all turns out!  Here are some thoughts in case you are considering watching the movies.

And, it seems that Tim Burton is filming a Dark Shadows movie next fall starring Johnny Depp (ahhh, a sexy vampire who is my age!)  I’m all in.  Just sayin’.

1. Robert Pattinson
He will make you want to be 20 years old again, if just for a few hours. What can I say? Skinny and pasty work for me. If only he spoke in his natural British accent in this movie.

2. Taylor Lautner
This sixteen year old put on thirty pounds of muscle for the new movie and it might make you wish you were underage again. That doesn’t appeal to me, but it might to you.

3. Kristin Stewart
As Bella Swan, she seems perfectly normal and average, which is the point, I think. She could be any young girl and that appeals to the masses of tweens/teens flocking to her movie.

4. A Light Kit?
Except for the thirst for blood, the vampires could be mistaken for victims of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

5. Feminist Sensibilities
Bella Swan wants to give up her very soul for love. At forty-something, I can see this for what it is: naiveté, hormones, loneliness, fantasy, romance and mostly, fiction. At fourteen, I could not tell the difference. Spoiler alert: New Moon ends with Edward asking Bella to marry him. You hear her quick intake of breath and the screen goes black. I need to call Gloria Steinem and repent.

6. Vampires Are Pretty
In the sunlight, the Twilight vampires look as if they are made of diamond dust. These movies are like Harlequin Romance novels only with blood and more sexual tension.

7. I Dreamed A Dream
Stephanie Meyer has said that she dreamed this story that has resulted in millions of girls talking about BOOKS. Wow. I know I will paying much more attention to my dreams from here on out. I’ll keep you posted as to how that turns out for me!

7 Things I Would Rather Be Doing

November 2nd, 2009 by Jane

I was sick last week and my children the week before, so today is a catch-up day. I need to sort piles of paper, laundry, socks (yes, this is separate from the laundry) as well as do some writing and marketing work for my paying jobs. After being prostrate for the better part of a week, I seem to have lost my motivation. I realize it will return, but not without some deep digging on my part.

Here is a list of things I would rather be doing-maybe I will reward myself after I finish sorting through piles!

1. Getting a Massage
It has been waaaayyyyyy too long!

2. Going to a Movie
Maybe Good Hair or Coco Before Chanel. The Men Who Stare at Goats releases on Friday and I can’t wait to see it. I laughed so hard during the trailer that I embarrassed my friend who was with me. Besides, two hours with George Clooney is never a waste. Or Jeff Bridges.

3. Getting My Hair Cut
I desperately need a hair cut and possibly an overhaul. I am considering a new style, but I am lazy when it comes to styling my hair, so my options are limited. My hair tends toward the Roseanne Roseannadanna style and I just don’t have the facial shape to pull off that look.

4. Reading and Lingering at a Bookstore
Although, I did manage to finish a book while I had the crud last week. I am now hooked on the dark thrillers from Sweden by Steig Larsson. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire were great reading, in large part because of the compelling title character. There is only one more book in this series (to be released in May 2010 ) because the author passed away after turning in the three manuscripts.

5. Chillaxing at a Yoga Class
Chillaxing is my 9 year old daughter’s new favorite word. My regular yoga class is 45 minutes away, so it is not an activity to be done on impulse.

6. Eating Yogurt
We have a new frozen yogurt place in our area and it is fabulous, if a little pricey. The raspberry is the best I have ever tasted. They don’t have a website, or I would tell you more!

7. Nothing
We all get so caught up in making sure that every minute is productive that we forget the intrinsic value in doing nothing. Go ahead, give your brain a rest for fifteen minutes! Watch the clouds or trees move with the wind. Put your head back on your chair and listen to your breath. Stretch. There, isn’t that better?

7 Scraps Of Praise For Messiness

October 8th, 2009 by Amy

Ever notice the fact that Jane and I have over a hundred entries in “Appreciating” and barely a dozen in “Organizing?”


That’s just the kind of gals we are.


Today I came across the book A Perfect Mess online and while I haven’t read it yet, I’m already in love.


Mostly because it seems like it will be validating.


Suddenly all this messiness on my desk and in my home has the potential to be recast as functional.




Here’s an unorganized collection of seven catchwords and sentences I found insanely uplifting from A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder – How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and on-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place:



1.  “Chemist Stephen Berry, a recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant award, works among a landscape of 18-inch-high piles which have harbored individual documents for as long as two decades.”


2.  “beneficial mess”


3.  “In general, a messy desk tends to end up so that the more important, more urgent work stays close by and near the top of the clutter, while the safely ignorable stuff tends to get buried near the back–which makes perfect sense.”


4.  “A messy desk can be a highly effective prioritizing and accessing system.”


5.  “Actually, messy homes can provide a far more inviting and nurturing environment than highly ordered ones.”


6.  “pointless home neatening”


7.  “A Perfect Mess shatters the myths and misunderstandings about messiness and disorder that have led to an often pointless, counterproductive and demoralizing bias toward neatness and organization in our society.”

7 Features Of Friendship

October 1st, 2009 by Amy

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours sitting around with some gal pals laughing and trying to keep from peeing my pants.


To the untrained eye it didn’t look like much – a little gaggle of 40-something moms lettin’ it all hang out – but if you looked closely, it was the of picture of friendship.


Seven Features of Friendship:


1.  Understanding

Appreciating complementary skill sets, realizing you have much to learn from one another, and brainstorming together are all hallmarks of a flourishing friendship.


2.  Self-disclosure

Give some, get some. Not necessarily secrets, but hopes, dreams, and opinions. Even if they differ, you’ve traded something important.


3.  Reciprocity

This give and take allows both friends to wear all the hats in the friendship. Sometimes you get to be the one scraping a friend off the ceiling and sometimes you are stuck there yourself. A good friend makes sure the mess-to-cleanup ratio doesn’t get skewed.


4.  Trust

The exchange of sympathy and empathy create trust … as does honesty.


5.  Social Identity Support

Sounds heady, but basically the best of friends are those who understand and support each other not just as individuals, but also understand and support each other’s role in society. Otherwise known as being a mom … to another mom.


6.  Interaction

Good friends write, call, email. No matter physical proximity, good friends take the time to catch up. Turns out that the content’s not important, it’s the act of communicating itself that creates the closeness.


7.  Pleasure

Sharing the ups and downs of life is what friends are for and In my book, keepin’ it real isn’t necessarily being negative. That said, the net gain from a relationship needs to be pleasure. While there may be little storms along the way, good friends ride it out together, trusting the clouds to clear and the sun to come out again.

7 National Parks to Visit

September 28th, 2009 by Jane

Did you see the new Ken Burns documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, on PBS last night? The brilliant Burns brings his passionate lens to our national parks systems. As with his previous films, there is much to learn about the subject he explores. But the gorgeous cinematography makes this film rise into the realm of spectacular. And spectacular is just what Burns wants you to think when you watch. After your first viewing of his documentary, you could  mute the sound and use this as a stress-relief video. Really.

When I was a child, our family vacations were spent at state parks. These were fun trips, but I have never been to any of the national parks in this film.  They are now on my to-do list. Especially with my children.

Take a look and fall in love with the natural beauty of our nation.

1. Yellowstone

Yosemite is the first national park in the world.

2. Yosemite
I did not know this park was so immense.

3. Mesa Verde
Cliff dwellings that look like elaborate sand castles.

4. Grand Canyon
Until I can get there, I think I will watch the movie again. It is one of my favorites.

5. Acadia
I did not even know about this park. How dumb am I? Don’t answer that.

6. Great Smoky Mountains
Someone I used to know loved the Smoky Mountains. She said that they are old, feminine mountains.

7. Kenai Fjords
Fjords! In America! Don’t you love to say “fjords?”

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