Free Bird Anxiety

May 20, 2012 § 14 Comments

Today I need to escape my kids, my husband, my house, my routine, and the repetition of the life I’ve created.

My head tells me that it’s a good thing.

Sunday morning yoga class is always good.

A trip to the toy store for a birthday present without my four-year olds in tow is great.

I’ll pick up the wrapped end of year teacher gifts without having to rush.

I want to sit at Starbucks where I’ll drink an iced Venti unsweetened green tea and get some undisturbed work done.

I don’t know on what. Maybe I could make sense of the Adsense craziness that is a new blog issue? Maybe I’d finish up my yoga article? Maybe complete the cover letters to publishers?

My heart tells me to stay; that it’s selfish to leave.

I shouldn’t be this eager to leave.

Maybe it’s my own fault for the way it’s been set up?

I’ve never gone out for girls night.

I’ve never left my kids overnight.

I co-sleep.

I am the one in charge of the children and I don’t have control over whether or not they are stimulated and played with and loved while I am gone.

And upon my return will the house still be standing or am I setting myself up for an afternoon of double duty; double kitchen cleaning, double toy putting away, double the mess removal?

The directional pulls to go or to stay fight me as I type.

Time has ticked too long and I know if I don’t move now I won’t go.

I’m off to shower to get ready for this day.

Still, I can’t help but wonder, do free birds really feel free when they are let out of their cage or do they fly around in circles waiting to get locked back inside where they know that they’re safe in the familiarity of home?

Wish me luck.

freedom

Caged Bird by Laura Hughes.

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Maxi-Million

May 17, 2012 § 7 Comments

A few years back I decided I’d try a maxi dress. I found a great one at Forever 21 that cost next to nothing. It was stretchy and comfortable and cool (in both style and temperature), slim to the knee and finished with a two foot gathered hem, which spoke loudly to my inner Mother Earth.

But as happens when I take fashion risks, I got it home, tried it on, and lost my nerve. The rules for an apple-shaped girl with boobs and skinny legs screamed, “NO!”

Fitted is what works. Tent like is tough, so back it went (and fast).

With the resurgence of warm weather the maxi dressed mammas have re-appeared. They are at pre-school and the grocery store, walking down the street and playing in the park. I eye them with a mix of envy for their ability to pull of the fashion risk and hope that I might find one (one day) for my frame that would allow me to play in the game.

There’s a bunch that I like that I’ve seen and so I’ll dip my toe into maxi-million territory by posting some of my favorites.

Who knows, though? With all of the evolving that’s been going on lately, a maxi dress just might act as the finishing piece to not only round out the warm weathered wardrobe, but be the catalyst for a summer of self acceptance (I will like myself in this tent, I will like myself in this tent).

The more I think about it, the better it sounds.

Monochrome Maxi Dress

Monochrome Maxi from Cheap Monday at Asos.

maxi dress

Anthropologie Maxi. This is way chic, but sadly, I don’t do strappy.

Red maxi dress

This I would do. Sleeves, yes. Color, yes. Still a bit sack like, yes. But I like it.

Holy Maxi Dress, Women, Dresses, AllSaints Spitalfields

Holy Maxi Dress AllSaints Spitalfields. I doubt I’d have a place to go where this would be appropriate and I’m note sure that it would work on my shape, but in my dreams I am wearing it with a pair of flat golden sandals and hair that’s been coiffed and set with flowers. I love it that much!

Splendid. Could easily be a part of the mommy clothes board on Pinterest.

Ella Moss. A little ikat, a little space dye, a little tribal. Love it!

Nettie Silk Lace Up dress at Calypso.

It’s for Robin ~ A Lesson

May 14, 2012 § 2 Comments

My mother Peach went to a cocktail party the other night.

During our day after recap where I asked the pertinent questions (who was there, what did you wear, what did you eat, how were the littles, etc.), she added that she and our dear friend Robin discussed their particular pet peeves in regard to commonly made punctuation mistakes.

Being raised by Peach it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we love punctuation and grammar and share a loathing over the errors made with subjective versus objective pronouns (she and I, she and me, etc.). I’ve blogged about it here before.

The biggest offender for Robin (so it seemed) was the often improper usage of it’s versus its versus its’.

It’s for Robin that I write this post!

I’ve done some research and shamefully admit that I have allowed the computer to fix my itsisms without consistently checking their accuracy. I live a bloggers life, after all. Perfectionism gets trumped by time constraints. It’s sadly a part of the game.

This then shall also serve as today’s repentance. I love a good punctuation confession. I always feel relieved.

it’sis a contraction. A contraction is the creation of a new word by combining two words to make one. The apostrophe takes the place of the missing letters. In it’s case, the two words could be it is or it was or it has. Contractions are fun and it takes no time to read a sentence back to yourself to know if you are using them properly.

its – is a possessive pronoun and unlike the contraction version, its is also little more confusing.

Possessive pronouns are usually created by adding apostrophes before an s to imply ownership.

For example…

Sophie’s friend C threw mulch down her jumper on Friday.

Grace’s friend K talked her into playing dead princesses on the playground today.

Mommy’s daughters are causing lines to appear on her face earlier than she had expected!

For its however, that sweet little floating hash mark disappears. It’s like a glitch in the rules. That poor apostrophe is all alone out there in the punctuation atmosphere (probably kicking itself, wishing it was a contraction).

Apparently some folks use its’, too, with the apostrophe at the end. This is just wrong so if you see it take note. Bad, bad, very bad and wrong.

For a writer or an educator bad punctuation and grammar are the stuff of nightmares. If mistakes have haunted your sleep, I do hope this little post helps.

For my Peach and our Robin, you two can sleep more soundly tonight knowing that I’m here on the case to remind the land of those rules so easily forgotten.

For you two, it’s my absolute pleasure!

xoM

It’s and Its…..

Punctuation

My truth.

It’s-It. A San Francisco tradition since 1928.

A Little More Om

May 9, 2012 § 5 Comments

I love Christina Hendricks.

I love her because I see myself in her.

The space from the throat to the hips? We could be twins.

When I saw this picture I was reminded of our similarities.

I think she’s beautiful.

It’s curious then that our similar proportions cause me strife and frustration when I see them imaged back in my own mirrors and photos.

It’s days like this when I wonder if my weight struggle, my calorie counting, my faith in pre-packaged foods are masking a bigger problem.

The problem is self-acceptance.

Maybe I need a little more om in order to get a grip?

Maybe a more peaceful less judgemental approach will make my day-to-day naked hop into the shower a little easier?

Maybe I should ask Christina where she buys her bras?

It’s worth a try.

Another day in the evolution of me.

MINTY FRESH  photo | Christina Hendricks

Christina Hendricks.

Girls in the Sun

April 19, 2012 § 16 Comments

When I was fourteen, after a fun-filled day with my friends where we slathered ourselves in baby oil in an effort to get Ban De Soleil brown, I walked home and flattened my towel on the grass in our backyard. The sun had moved from its place high in the sky and I lay stomach down dozing in the warmth of the afternoon.

I still remember the prickle of the grass coming from underneath my towel. When I woke, my head was turned to the side and it took a few minutes to find my focus. Blinking lazily I watched my beach bag and listened to the sounds of the ocean waves in the distance. I was rested and warm even though the sun had moved over the house. Content, I stayed there for a while embraced by the end of a beautiful summer day.

I think about this often, because it’s one of those times where my pleasure filled every last cell of my being. How many times are we granted a memory like that? A memory attached to pure bliss that stays with us forever.

It seems ironic now that my memory was really truly being etched into my cells. Melanoma must have begun during those years and didn’t show its face until my pregnancy hormones (and maybe the infertility drugs, too) sent my body into cancer cell turnover overload.

As summer nears closer, as the weather warms, and as the Internet is inundated with (Oh my gosh I want everything) summer fashion, I am reminded of the importance of caring for one’s skin.

We should all be wearing sunscreen. Melanoma is a gene and you can have deep gorgeous African skin and you can still get the disease.

To all of the beautiful moms across the Earth, I implore you to teach your kids about the dangers of the sun. It’s not a lesson that they will hear, though if you spend your own summer getting cooked to a crisp. You can chase them down with Coppertone, but if I learned anything from my years teaching other people’s monsters, it’s that kids learn by what is modeled.

Wear a beautiful hat. Be chic in a gorgeous long caftan. Get sporty and adorable in an Athleta rashguard or J. Crew’s fab striped board shorts. Boden always does great tunics. Free People and Georgie make amazing beach pants and even Lululemon does UV running tops. The choices are endless and your skin (and dermatologist) will thank you.

As a result of my sun soaked adolescence, I now have a hideous scar (one of many, but the one most difficult to conceal) across my back, near my neck. I try to hide on a daily basis. I have hated it for the over four years I’ve had it and have endured steroid injections and laser treatments hoping to make it disappear.

It isn’t going anywhere.

A few nights ago after watching episode two of The Big C where Laura Linney’s character (in the last stages of her own melanoma fight) tattoos a large C over her scar, I’ve decided to do the same.

When you see it, please ask me about it. I’m not afraid to share. I want to feel proud and I think it will help.

Would I change that dreamy afternoon memory (or any of those delicious days cavorting in the sun) if it meant no cancer?

No way.

The only thing I would change is my insecurity about not knowing who I was and my inability to feel beautiful in my own….. skin.

My wish for the fourteen your old me and what I hope for all girls everywhere is that we can find the beauty within ourselves to not have to change what God has given us.

Oh yes, and I would have slathered my unblemished skin with sun cream.

Hindsight is so twenty twenty!

Calypso Yellow Cotton Terry Caftan.

Buddha Beach Pants

Buddha Beach Pants. It’s not funny how badly I want these.

Calypso cotton sarong. Wear over shoulders or over knees when sitting on the beach.

Wide-stripe board short

J. Crew Striped Board Short. Even I realize that it’s unreasonable to be totally covered all the time. A good dose of sunscreen and a few hours in shorts is healthy. Just re-apply.

Athleta Intrepid Sun Shield. Comes in five colors. I like the zipper to help cool your body when it gets really hot.

Athleta Summer Shape Tee. I have these in a few colors. They are UPF50.  A staple at Althelta, you can always get them on sale.

Real Board Short from Girls4sport.net. They run a little small, so go up a size. Great for teenage girls; they’re kind of cool looking. I’m no teenager, but I have these and they’ve lasted a bunch of seasons.

Gap Sunhat. I tried this on in the store and was surprised by it’s cuteness. The big brim and the fact that it isn’t too floppy make it a winner.

 Whole Hearted Rashguard - Roxy

Roxy Rashguard. Zexy, I think!

caftan! caftan!

Caftan. How cute is this?!

beach pants

Billabong Beach Pants

Tunic #beach season

Emerson Fry New York Beach Tunic.

Stand Like A Mountain

April 6, 2012 § 11 Comments

When I first began yoga it was simply out of curiosity. I started slowly and only went to classes that were labeled as beginner.

After a few years and upon my move to Maine where I was back in college for  an Elementary Teacher Certification I started to practice more on my own. With Coldplay and David Gray on constant rotation and a good amount of incense burned, yoga became as important to me as the other most loved parts of my life.

My knowledge base had grown enough to comfortably engage in a fulfilling home practice, but I continued to learn through the wonderful teachings of June at Nataraja Yoga, in the old building on Route 1.

I heard June’s voice come to me yesterday. I still hear her voice when I need to slow down in my life and on my mat. It’s funny, because I never made a connection with her outside of class. I’m not sure she’d recognize me if we bumped into each other on the street. Good teachers stay with you always. It’s a part of their gift.

I was asked recently by someone who has never tried the ancient practice where they should start. My advice is always the same.

Start slowly. Begin with teachers whose goal is non-judgement and never ever push into anything that doesn’t feel right. That’s how you end up getting hurt and I know plenty of people whose type A led them down that road. They quit without discovering the powerful centeredness that yoga creates within one’s being.

It’s a terrible shame.

As I embark on a weekend of Easter Bunny goodies and in an effort to locate the balance (missing as of late) I wanted to share one of the easiest yet often passed over poses; Mountain.

Often in yoga Mountain Pose is used as a resting point before venturing into the next flow. Its like hitting the pause button to catch ones breath before diving in to another round of sun salutations or triangles or any other sort of asana that the body is calling for.

Really, though, it is the beginning. The place where we should start.

With toes pressed evenly into the ground, heels cemented and teetering back and forth for a moment, find your balance.

Breathe.

Let the arms fall straight at your sides. Bend them a little, shake them out until they settle with fingers facing toward the ground. The hands should feel a charge. “Yoga hands,” they’re called, not wimpy or lax. Upper arms and shoulders can roll back and hands can open to the front of the room. I find more energy inhabits the arms when I open them, but I think it’s a personal preference.

Breathe.

Visualize the knee caps raised to the sky, the inner thighs rotate inward. Rock back and forth a little to check your feet. Really check them out. Are they solid? Are you grounded?

Breathe.

Gently tuck your pelvis and tighten the belly as you roll back your shoulders. Feel your chest raise and your neck lengthen. Legs and arms should still be strong.

Belly is still tightened, but soft. This can seem contradictory, but it’s not. You can feel the power deep in your belly, while thinking about softening it. It takes practice, but can be done.

The neck begins to straighten more, the shoulders drop, and by imagining a string being lifted straight from the crown of your head, the tip of your being is pulled to the sky.

Your face should be soft. Imagine the tongue resting in your mouth. Your cheeks are soft; your face looking straight ahead.

You can close your eyes.

And breathe.

In through the nose and out through nose.

In through the nose and out through the mouth if big energy needs to escape.

Continue to stand like a mountain and check in with your body for subtle adjustments to make yourself tall and strong. The challenge is to stay there. Still, yet strong. Fired up, yet calm.

The challenge is to see if you can find your mountain while off the mat; while standing in the grocery store or listening to the screaming of a four-year old whose every pair of pants are tickling her (OCD?).

As I mentioned earlier, my certification was in Elementary School teaching. It was never a certification in yoga. Since I’m not a certified teacher, please take this lesson with a grain of salt and most certainly don’t try this at home unless you are sure you won’t hurt yourself.

If you do think you’d hurt yourself in mountain pose, I would strongly suggest you get yourself to a class where you can be monitored by a professional.

You won’t regret it if you follow a plan that is similar to my own careful and richly rewarding beginning.

Before you know it you’ll be standing taller and breathing easier and singing “Om” without a giggle.

When that day comes you’ll understand all the fuss!

Om shanti shanti and namaste (with hands folded at heart center).

Happy Easter.

Drawing of Mountain Pose from yoga.prevention.com yoga to the rescue.


A Visit From My Sister

March 29, 2012 § 9 Comments

 

My sister converted to Islam less than four years ago.

I hadn’t seen her since my girls were a month old and our relationship has been tumultuous as she’s transitioned into her new life.

I was scared for her.

I didn’t understand why she would choose something that was so misunderstood in our country. I viewed the head covering as an adverse action toward the rights of women. I was confused and worried. I thought only the worst.

Her new life is simple and busy. Her children are happy and healthy.

She’s happy, which is all anyone wants for the people they love.

I asked lots of questions of her and her husband, a Bangladeshi Imam. Once I got past his dress I found him to be a genuinely lovely person. He’s a good father. His beliefs are not so different from some of my own.

So, what was I really scared of?

The unknown?

They left this morning and I got call from Peach as soon as they drove away.

There were no tears. It was a good trip.

I think we are all relieved.

Me and My Sister.

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