Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cracks

“Do you know why you love those bowls?” she asked, as I gathered them to my breast, the large one, pale yellow with cream colored stripes, and its two smaller companions, pale yellow with cream colored dots. “Why?” I asked in reply. “Because they are from France.” And it was true. I did love them. She could see that. She had loved them when she bought them while living in France as a girl. The large one had a chip that someone had filled in, like a poor dental repair. “Don’t crack, don’t die, don’t leave me” it said. “I can’t easily replace you and don’t want to imagine life without you. Not yet.”

He and I had come to this yard sale, this house sale, one afternoon. Back when I was trying to keep up the fa├žade that I meant something to him. That he meant something to me. That there was something. “Don’t crack, don’t die, don’t leave me. Not yet.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Writing Again

I have these candles in my fireplace, 5 of them, different heights, that I light in the evenings, and again in the mornings before I sit and meditate (which I've been doing for 2 days now.) Anyway, I light these candles and then when I blow them out I make a wish for each one, like a birthday candle. I sometimes wish things for other people - let that work out for her, puff. Let them be happy, puff. Smoke tendrils wander up the chimney.

Then I wish things for me - let this happen, sputter. The flame flickers and doesn't want to go out. I give more of the same breath, it has to be the same breath, and it goes out. Is it a tenacious wish that requires more air? A message that I should reconsider whether that is something that I truly want? A sign that my wish is being denied? An indication that that candle is farther away than the first two and therefore requires stronger breath?

The house is quiet. And slightly chilly. 67. Is that chilly? I forgot to turn the heat up when I came in. I can hear the fridge cycling on and off. No cars. No children outside. No one else is home from work yet.

I will get up, turn the heat on and light the candles when the daylight dims.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ordinary Heartbreak

Photo: author's own. Book: this. Number of black fly bites after this nap: 17.

It's funny sometimes, when you realize how utterly ordinary heartbreak is. When you are sitting in yoga class looking at your toes and realizing that if you tried to put what (and who) broke your heart into words it would just sound so ordinary. So plain. There was this person, and these things and then there wasn't and now I feel like this. What is the story there?

You realize that at the moment your heart is breaking (which comes when you are still for a moment) the hearts of approximately 870 million people are breaking as well. And yours matters to you, for those few minutes while the waves come in again, just as theirs matters to them. But you also realize that while your heart is breaking the hearts of most everyone else in the world are not breaking.

And you realize how perfectly ordinary, and how exquisitely painful it all is. And how the only way out of it is to get through each day, feeling whatever it is that comes up. And how there is no other way. And how there is no magic thing that someone can say or do to make it better. And how people 100 and 200 and 300 years ago felt this same exact feeling and the world just went on.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Self Portrait

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea ~ e.e. cummings

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In the Shop

My car was in the shop yesterday. It had been running funky and was kind of scaring me when I drove to my workshop with Patricia Walden on Sunday (more on that another day). I could have kept driving it with the weird revving, or non-reving and just "off-ness" but I realized that if I just took it off the road for a day to get fixed, it would be much better in the long run. And I wouldn't have to worry about breaking down on my way to a conference on Friday.

We've had lots of days of gray drizzly skies here. I've been feeling off. So I'm taking myself off the road today. I thought I'd work from home, but I think I'm just going to not do that. I'm going to just chill. Maybe do some yoga. Maybe read. Maybe make enchiladas. Maybe write some stuff on a yellow legal pad.

Tomorrow I'll be back on the road. With the danger of a breakdown averted.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hiding

The floor needs sweeping. The dishes need putting away. The coffee needs prepping. The clothes need setting out. The dishwasher needs loading. The lunch needs packing. The junk mail needs recycling. The bed needs making.

A most lazy evening on the couch reading blogs and emails and the newspapers. My introvert recovery time. The quiet, brain resting time I need after last evening was spent on a client conference call, and then some difficult client interactions today. And the prospect of being out tomorrow night networking (with people I love, but it still saps my energy) and then out Thursday night at yoga.

So, tonight was time to crawl inside my little shell (or onto the safe boat of my couch), skip yoga, lose myself in the vast wasteland of words, and just not be present for a bit.

And I'm ok with that.

"We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy." ~ Pema Chodron


Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Meeting With Future Me (and a very large beet.)

(A giant beet next to a normal lemon. The beet was about the size of a baby's head.)

I had a little meeting with Future Me today. She's been getting word of all the changes I've been going through and wanted to give me some feedback. Actually, when I make changes in my life now, her life changes. Sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big ways. It's good since she's from the future and knows stuff.

1. Keep doing yoga. She said this is very important. For my physical health and my mental health. She said when I started doing this, and kept up with it, she instantly felt better, stronger, fitter, younger, happier.

2. Keep up with the mindful eating. She said when I started doing this it made a big difference. In my physical health and my mental health. Funny how those things are connected. She said eating what I want when I want it and feeling what I feel when I feel it is a really good idea.

3. Keep moving into the discomfort. Putting off or avoiding uncomfortable things doesn't make them better. Keep on moving towards those things. It will be so much better in the long run. And the short run. And the middle run.

4. Save a little more money. Where you can, when you can. Just squirrel it away.

5. Speak your truth. And live it. Really. It's the only way to be.

6. Keep making enchiladas. They will get better in time.


These were a mix of chicken, pinto beans and corn with some enchilada sauce and tomatoes with green chilies. Then a little cheese. They were good but could be improved. A few will be going in the freezer with some rice and collards for me to take to lunch later. I think Future Me will be pleased.

I Feel Lucky

I'm sitting here on a gray Sunday afternoon, there are birds chirping outside, I just (mindfully) ate some poached chicken with a glass of milk (vegetables will come later), and I'm reading another Geneen Roth book, Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money, and thinking about my life and my relationship with money and food and suddenly I'm struck by how lucky I am.

How lucky to be alive to have this day.

How lucky that I have discovered people like Geneen Roth, and Tara Brach and to have the chance to improve my relationships with money and food and myself during this lifetime.

How lucky and blessed I am to have a body that functions and moves me places, a mind that is still functional.

How lucky I am to be filled with peace, not because every thing is fine and will be fine, but because whatever happens just happens. And then more stuff happens. And that is how life just goes on. And I'm so blessed to be here for it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You have to be alive...

in order to eat burgers like this.

In order to do so much yoga that your hands start to show it

in order to see all the cherry trees that line the streets of this town. In order to sit in your car and read with your feet hanging out the window and the sun on you. In order to lean forward on your yoga mat and kiss your own knees. In order to stand next to people you love and laugh.

And when people die because of bad choices, stupid decisions and utterly preventable actions it makes me just so sad for all the things they will miss. All the things their family and loved ones will miss while blinded by grief. All the things the world will miss.

And it was to all them that I dedicated my yoga practice at the workshop today.

lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu (May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sometimes...

...the people who annoy me horribly the first time I encounter them, end up being really cool. Like the heavy breathers from my yoga class on Tuesday. It was just the 3 of us in class tonight (and thankfully I was far away from them) but we ended up staying a half hour after class to chat with the teacher about anatomy and shoulder girdles and alignment. Nerds unite!

...I wonder where in the heck my brain comes up with things. Like when my key stuck in the door tonight and my brain flew to "oh, the landlady must have changed the locks and evicted me for some reason. I suppose I am homeless now." Yes, because that's likely. Seriously. What happened to make it skip over "psst, try the other key." It passes in 15 seconds maybe, but why does it even go there?

... I watch the Biggest Loser and cry over the proud parents and people who've succeeded at their goals.

...I listen to the Sarah McLachlan song about being a train wreck waiting to happen and waiting for someone to come pick you up off the tracks and I wonder if that's an enjoyable way to live life or if you just lie there for a while and realize no one is coming to pick you up and you should just really get up. Probably best to not lie down on the tracks in the first place. Also, the husband who used to come pick her up off the tracks? Yeah, they are divorced.

...things like this go through my head.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Intuitive Eating Tuesday

So, here's how my experiment with intuitive/mindful eating went on Tuesday. Intuitive is the "eat what your body wants when you want it" part, and mindful is the "be there when you are eating it" piece.

Breakfast was raisin walnut toast with almond butter. Intuitive score: 90%, I was hungry and it was what I wanted. Mindful score: 50%, I ate it at the couch while reading blogs, but I did stop a few times and notice the texture, smell, etc. Suggestion: go back to the dinner table.

Lunch was prepared at home and brought to work. It was the rest of the broccoli soup poured over the remains of some Annie's mac & cheese and grassfed burger from last night. It was actually very good. Intuitive scale: 90% it was what my body wanted - carbs, veggies, some protein. Mindful scale: 50%. I ate it in front of the computer at work while writing a blog post and then left it for a while while I met with a client. Suggestion: go eat at the little round table in your office. Try eating half the meal there.

There was no snacking at work and lunch left me satisfied. I think bringing ice water helped.

Around 4 I had a snack of the heel end of the raisin bread, and a piece of cheese and a pear. Intuitive scale: 80%, it was what I wanted and I was a bit peckish but I had to eat it at 4pm since I had yoga at 5. Mindful scale: 50%. I ate it in my car, slowly, but while toodling around on my phone. Suggestion: get out of the car and sit on a bench and eat.

Dinner: I got home from yoga at around 7 and checked in with my hunger. Not hungry. Had a beer. Intuitive: 100%. Mindful: 90%. Beer is yummy and the post yoga beer is a good one. Waited to see if I'd get hungry. Decided to have a pear around 8 (probably hunger and a little thirst.) 8:30pm. Slight hunger but everything in my house involves cooking so I'm going to just have a glass of milk. While sitting at the table. Being present with it.

"You can have the other words-chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I'll take grace. I don't know what it is exactly, but I'll take it. "
— Mary Oliver. My favorite poet, talking about my word of the year for 2011.

My Other Yoga Teachers

I have wonderful yoga teachers - Fay, Mary Alice, Kate, Nikki, Tamara. They are wonderfully trained and thoughtful teachers and I learn so much from them. I look forward to their classes and can't wait to learn what they have to teach me.

And then there are the other teachers in my yoga class. The woman who comes in late and plops her dirty mat down next to mine. The woman who sighs and heaves through every pose (which is often a different one than the rest of us are doing.) The other woman who comes to class doused in Jean Nate' perfume.

I thought about whether I should try to learn something from these people. Tolerance. Acceptance. Whatever. They should respect the practice of yoga enough to get to class on time, not wear perfume, clean their mat and shut the eff up while they are breathing.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Intuitive Eating Monday & Removing Labels

Breakfast was served at the kitchen table, sans computer, but with my book. Baby steps people. I did pause and become aware of my raisin toast, the smell of the almond butter, the crunch of the bread, the taste of the milk.

Since I was going to be out of the house for lunch, I had to figure out what to do about the "eat what you want when you want it" since I was preemptively trying to figure out what I'd want. I packed some broccoli soup (with extra broccoli!), 2 slices of olive bread, and a piece of cheese. Chances were high that I would want those things when I got hungry because they are tasty and awesome.

I was right. I got hungry for lunch around noon, and heated the soup and ate it with the bread and cheese. I did eat in front of my computer. And I would say my mindfulness level was about 60%.

It's about an hour later and I'm noticing some slight hunger. I'm also noticing that my lukewarm water is not very appealing, so I fetched a cold bottle from the work fridge. Probably bringing a bottle with some ice in it and keeping it in the fridge will be a good plan going forward.
I have an apple here, too.

There are some deadlines coming up for things that have consequences and I'm a bit fuzzy on some of them and waiting for responses from people has my stomach feeling weird, and my mind going on about things. Making room for and acknowledging those physical sensations and thoughts and moving forward with my work and commitments. The same way I feel the physical sensation of pain and tingling in my arm and hand (not heart attack type) and acknowledge it and move forward. And call the acupuncturist again.

I'm trying to move away from "Oh god this is so stressful" towards taking the label off of things and looking at the ingredients. "Stressful" is the label of something, like tax time. But if you take the label off and look at the ingredients you'll see: due date, paperwork, gathering of information, necessity of hiring professional for assistance, financial outlay, increased financial outlay and increased communication from government entity if due date not respected. You also see that you can deal with each one of those ingredients, and some of them are only optional and within your control.

The same way I try to move away from "Oh god I'm anxious." I just pull of the label and look inside - yeah, your stomach feels weird, your heart is beating faster than normal, your arms feel heavy your mind is alerting you to Danger. WTF else is new? Seriously. Enough of that shit. I've got a life to live.

"You want to cry aloud for your mistakes. But to tell the truth the world doesn't need any more of that sound." — Mary Oliver

How To Wash Your Yoga Mat

While this post was inspired by one of my classmates who uses a once light blue mat, which is now streaked with brown dirt streaks, I'm sure there are more of you dirty-mat folks out there. This post is a tutorial in how, and why, to wash your yoga mat.

First of all - the Whys.
1. Your feet. They are dirty. Even if you showered. Did you go barefoot into the bathroom? Did any of your class mates? Did you walk anywhere a shod foot has fallen? Did any of your fellow barefoot yogis? Those little dirty birdy feet are the thing that most touch your mat.

2. Your mula banda area. If it's anything like mine by the time you are in paschimottanasana you've got a sweaty undercarriage. And now it's all over your mat.

3. Your tears. I know I'm not the only one who has ever cried on my mat. Although tears are clean. But still.

4. Your face. When your face hits the mat in child's pose, or maybe even upavishta konasana if you are lucky, how many days worth of feet and butt is it touching? When you kiss the ground, is it clean ground? (I know I'm not the only one who's kissed my yoga mat when I get my face all the way to the ground...)

5. Do you roll your mat? You've just rolled up hair (gag) and dust and ick onto the clean side of your mat. After class, fold it in half so dirty side touches dirty side and then fold gently a time or 2 more. Also, wiping it down with a damp cloth is nice too.

6. Saucha. Purity of the body. One of the niyamas of yoga. I think it also covers purity of the yoga mat. It is also why one should shower before yoga practice.

Your mat is your scared space. It is not like hiking shoes where the dirtier is the better and gives you street cred. Your yoga mat should be pristine, not covered with street crud. And while you may be proud of the sweat and tears (and blood?) that have fallen there, you do not need to let them stay on your mat in order for them to be imprinted on your soul. Everything is impermanent, but some of it needs our help to wash it off.

Now the How. I wash my mat every Sunday. It's a little ritual and comes after a tough Saturday class, and a frequently tough and sweaty (and at a gross studio) Sunday class.

Plop your mat into the bathtub.


Turn the water on. Hot or warm please.


Use a nice natural soap, this one smells like mint. And is the same kind my yoga studio uses. It smells so good! You can also just use plain water, or some baking soda, too.

You are using all your senses here. The smell of the soap. The sound of the water. The feel of the mat under your hands, the feel of your legs kneeling on the floor.


Spritz a few spritzes of soap into the tub.


After you've put the soap on it, get in there with your hands and scrub it, both sides under the running water.


Continue to scrub the mat with your hands, keeping the water running and rinsing it well.


You should be tired now from all the leaning and the scrubbing. Stay with your task. You are bathing the baby Buddha.


Now hang your mat on a drying rack in the tub, to catch the drips. It will be dry by morning.

Alternate method: shower with your mat after your Sunday yoga practice.

Do you wash your mat regularly? Will you start now?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Intuitive Eating Sunday Part 2

2:15 The Mindful Banana. Did some cleaning and then sat to read more of Women, Food and God. Noticed myself getting hungry. Waiting a bit to see if it was actual hunger. Did mental calculation of food eaten today to see if I "should" be hungry. Decided to have a banana. Ate the banana mindfully - sitting at the table. Looking at the slices (I eat my bananas sliced with a fork.) Smelling it. Feeling it. Then decided to try the same exercise with chocolate chips. Put 10 chocolate chips in the dish. Smelled them. At them one by one, noticing eat one and what it tasted and felt like. And what I felt like as I ate it. Ate a small piece of chedder cheese the same way. Took about a half hour to eat those 3 things. Then had a big glass of ice water.

Thought - this mindful eating takes a long time. How will I do this tomorrow? What will I pack for lunch? Will I look freakish if I do this in front of other people. Note to self: come back to the present moment. Be here now. Also, eat what your body wants when you are hungry. And stop when you've had enough.

What does your body want? When have you had enough?

6:30pm. Home from Restorative Yoga class. 2 hours of bliss ending with a head and neck massage. Having a fresh squeezed grapefruit juice with some Bacardi Gold. Heated up broccoli soup, and made 2 runny fried eggs (from my sister's chickens) to put over some rice. A few chocolate chips for dessert. My belly feels just full enough.

I think my body was deprived of vegetables yesterday, which explains all the broccoli soup. And I began thinking of the runny eggs over rice in a bowl during yoga class.

I ate what I wanted when I was hungry. And now that I feel like I've had enough, I'm stopping. Which I guess is the point.

Intuitive Eating Sunday Part 1.

In which I live blog my Intuitive eating experiment.

Morning, coffee because I love it and it brings me joy. After about an hour I had a slice of raisin walnut bread with almond butter. I thought about how I had 2 loaves of bread delivered on Wed. and they are each about half gone. I thought about how glad I was that they are both still fresh since that's not giving me the "I must eat these fast so they don't go stale" thoughts. The toast was good.

11am. Packing the car up to go to the dump. Feeling a little hunger. Thought "I'd better eat something since I'm leaving the house." Thought about what I wanted, a glass of milk. Sat and drank the milk. Thinking that I'm probably also thirsty so I packed a water bottle to bring on my errands.

11:30 Errands done and back home. Feeling hungry. Had a glass of ice water while I thought about what I wanted. I have 4 broccoli stalks that need to be used. I'm making cream of broccoli soup from Joy of Cooking. All 4 stalks used. Realizing that if I want to eat at the table instead of the couch I have to clear the table and figure out where important papers and binders go.

An inhospitable table, with binder with work stuff, a book for my niece, AAA membership renewal, a sweater, a make up bag, a cookbook, some headphones, and of course the requisite pink piece of construction paper where I write down how much I weigh.

Cleared the table and actually found proper places for everything. Including lunch.

12:29 Done with lunch. I sat at the table with a bowl of soup, and 2 slices of olive bread. The soup was very good. I noticed while I ate what it tasted like, and how full I was feeling. Things I normally don't notice when I'm eating while being on the internet or watching a show. I realized that I wish I'd left more large pieces of broccoli in it, so after eating I added more chunks to the soup, for next time I eat some. Right now I feel 70% full. Comfortable, but giving it some time. My senses feel satisfied. My body feels fueled. My refrigerator feels happy to not have so much broccoli in it waiting to be used.

12:48 Had a second bowl with more broccoli chunks. Now I am 85% full. Still comfortable but not hungry for more. My stomach and my mind are done eating.

Plan for the rest of the day: clean, restorative yoga at 4, eating what I want when I'm hungry. Feeling what I feel when I feel it. Radical.

Books and Food and Yoga (And washing your yoga mat.)

I recently started reading Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth. It's a bit similar to the other book I'm reading Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha. Both emphasize the importance of being present, practicing acceptance of thoughts and feelings and not running away from them and things like that.

Women, Food and God made me think about all the reason I eat (and not necessarily overeat) other than being hungry:
  1. Convenience. It's morning and time to go to work, so I have to eat breakfast since I'm not going to bring a toaster and almond butter to work work.
  2. Because I'm going to yoga or on a bike ride and need to fuel up so I don't keel over during class or on my ride.
  3. Because I'm going out with friends and even though I'm not really hungry now I have to eat otherwise I'll end up having to eat bar food when I get hungry and that's gross.
  4. Because I'm going out with friends and I need some bread in my stomach since I'm going to have drinks.
  5. Because I'm at work and bored.
  6. Because I'm thirsty and don't realize it.
  7. Because the food tastes good.
  8. Because the restaurant gave me a big servings and I just keep picking at it.
  9. Because it's meal time.
  10. Because meal time is a long way off so I'll need a snack to get me there.
  11. Because I just got home from work.
  12. Because I need reach a certain number of calories or points for the day.
There's probably more.

Anyway, yesterday I decided to see what it would be like if I just paid attention to what my body wanted when it wanted it. Here's what I ended up with:
Pre yoga, 8am: slice of raisin walnut bread with almond butter.
Post yoga (driving to visit family. Per W,F & G you aren't supposed to eat in the car, but this was mindful eating) 11am: apple.
At my mom's around noon: piece of cheese and some Annies Cheddar Bunnies.
In someone's yard listening to a band, around 3: a beer.
At my sister's house before leaving to drive home: slice of cold pizza.
At home, before heading to a friends 6pm: slice of olive bread.
At my friend's house 7pm: glass of wine, a few tortilla chips with corn & bean salsa.
At nice restaurant, 9pm: lobster cakes over spinach. Yum. A grapefruit & vodka drink. Also yum.

Apparently if left to my own devices I will eat bread. I didn't feel overly hungry or overly stuffed at all. I was surprised to find that even though I hadn't really had lunch, I wasn't hungry until 4 or so. I had thought we were going to dinner at 8, but when we got there at 9 I wasn't wanting a huge entree. The lobster cakes were the perfect little thing. And I realized that we can go back again earlier if I want something else from there.

I realized that I sort of do the same thing with yoga, doing it sometimes for reasons other than just wanting to do it:
  1. Because now is class time.
  2. Because I won't be able to get to class over the next few days so I should go now.
  3. Because this teacher only teaches at this particular time so I should go.
  4. Because I don't want the teacher to feel bad if the class is smaller because I'm not there.
  5. Because I should.
  6. Because it's good for me.
  7. Because I never regret going.
  8. Because it's what I do.
  9. Because I'm working on a pose and want to get better at it.
  10. Because the studio is closed but I feel like I should do something at home.
Granted, doing yoga when I don't feel like it doesn't lead to feeling sluggish like eating when I'm not hungry does. But it can lead to a sloppy practice. I went yesterday morning due to reasons 1, 3, 5, and 6. I was sleepy. My arm hurt. The woman next to me arrived late and has a light blue mat that is streaked with brown dirt streaks. And she doesn't shower before class. I spent nearly the entire class distracted by how much she bothers me. I wanted to tell her not to be afraid to wash her mat. Or her hair. Although it appears she runs a flat iron through it before class. She wears $300 worth of lululemon to class and won't wash her mat. Or at least buy a darker colored one so the class doesn't have to look at her dirty one.

I decided during class that I don't actually have to go on Saturday mornings if I don't want to. I can find the teacher on Thursday nights at another studio. I won't be as sleepy and I think it will be less crowded.

Intuitive yogaing. Like intuitive eating. An experiment for the week.

Do you eat when you aren't hungry? Do you do yoga when you don't want to? Do you wash your mat at least once a week?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weekend Practice



Saturday and Sunday classes are usually the hardest days. Saturday because it's level 2 with a very good teacher, and because I'm usually out later on Friday nights. This past Friday night found me sitting at an adorable restaurant eating a cheese plate at 10:30pm, so I was sleepy for class. And freezing due to the weather. By the end of it I was awake and properly warm. We worked towards bird of paradise. I was the hatchling version - still curled a bit and wobbly on my feet. More practice of aparigraha (non-attachment to the outcome.) Then I took a 2 hour nap later in the day. Heaven.

Today's formal class was cancelled on account of Jesus rising from the dead, so I found a Shiva Rea DVD for some flow. She's a bit hard to follow, but the flow was fun and creative and I did about 45 minutes. After that I practiced my inversions. Still trying to get all the parts working together to hold me up away from the wall. I might need my teacher to not help me balance, but to watch while I try to do it and give me pointers - hips forward (or back?), toes up, hug in, core in, claw the ground. Something.

The funny thing about this one - this was at the end of a long line of attempts, I said "I'm done" with resignation and then there I am - up, for a few breaths.

Surrender. Aparigraha. And learning lessons that keep coming, since I clearly need to keep learning them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Secret Is At Your Fingertips

Today's class was so lovely. Some nice strong vinyasas to start with. I finally realized that if I dig in with the tips of my fingers I can counter balance my weight when come down from plank to chaturanga and go much slower and actually hover in chaturanga. Who knew the secret to yoga was at my fingertips? (And if they knew, why didn't they tell me sooner!)

We moved into hand stand, where again I tried using my finger tips (in addition to bandhas and core) to balance away from the wall. Working on it. Then on to forearm balance, better balance on that one. I just love that pose.

Now I'm at the office working on slides for a presentation. Hoping the yoga brain settles down a little so the slides don't turn into "just do yoga, it will solve all your problems."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Side Effects of Yoga

My lululemon groove pants are getting too big. I wash them in hot water and put them in the dryer until the cows come home, but all Saturday morning core planks have left them suitable only for home practice. Are there tailors who can tailor groove pants?

We won't speak of the 3 pairs of Ann Taylor pants sitting in my closet fresh from the dry cleaner that shant be worn again, lest we inflict on the world a case of Dumpy Bum and Baggy Crotch. Or the J Crew cords that fit me for a fleeting moment before my bum disappeared into the Sag.

Good bye, dear pants, I loved you well. And I will love your smaller siblings, too, just as I have learned to love all those core planks on Saturday mornings.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fifteen

I put my weight into the Weight Watchers online tracker this morning and was rewarded with a bouncing star which meant that I had lost 15 pounds! (15.2 to be exact.) I have a ways to go but I am practicing aparigraha, which is the sanskrit word for non-clinging. I'm not clinging to the weight, and I'm not clinging to an outcome. I'm not clinging to the fact that 2 summers ago I was a lower weight than I am now. I'm just doing the things I need to do each day that keep my body healthy and happy and properly fueled. I'm just doing this for myself.

Last July I posted about How I Lost Zero Pounds With Yoga (and more). It's true. I didn't start losing until I joined Weight Watchers and really cut back on my food intake (and moved out of the house I hated.) What yoga does do is make all my pants too big even if the scale isn't moving much. And it makes biking better and easier. And it makes life better.

Yoga last night was lovely. We stared with some core work that my teacher loves, then moved to gomukasana (cow pose) to open our shoulders and then worked on pincha mayurasana. My right shoulder felt very good in it, and the teacher helped me balance for a bit. One of my favorite things is watching my friends get up into pincha mayurasana. (Shout out to Sprouts!) It is such a gorgeous pose and too see other people float up into it just brings me such joy.

I have a dozen and a half eggs in my fridge from my sister's chickens, and some asparagus and kale. I'm envisioning a fritatta for dinner. Lunch - leftover chicken and rice from Pa, along with the remaining bits of amazing potato salad that he makes with homemade mayonnaise. And some cut up oranges. Breakfast - english muffin with almond butter and banana.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fathers and Daughters

I went to visit my dad yesterday up in Maine. He lives in a little cabin in the woods and my sister and her 2 children and I went to see him. He was busy cooking for us when we arrived.

I showed him my video of my forearm stand with my feet on the table. "Wow", he said. Then - "you aren't supposed to use the wall."

I suppose one could get annoyed at that response, since my father can't do that pose at all, wall or not. But, I have realized that fathers are just humans, and not imbued with the magical ability to say and do the things we wish they would say.

And I know he loves me more than anything, even though he says "you aren't supposed to use the wall." Plus, he makes us homemade ice cream.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Now I Do This

(The videos look stretchy, but when you hit play they will look normal)

Sometimes I do this now. I figured this out last weekend.



And when I can't balance yet in handstand or forearm balance I try to do things like this, and wonder why my back doesn't bend more, and why that hurts my shoulder so.



Over the winter I did this, at almost the top of a moutain


and looked like this before we got to the top when the weather was nicer.


I've also lost about 16 pounds, although with all the yoga my pants keep becoming too big even when the scale doesn't move that much.

And now that I've figured out how to post videos, I will probably blog more. Because on Saturday and Sunday nights I practice my inversions and tape them so I can see what is happening.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Run Down

So I've been walking like crazy this week. I walked 5 miles yesterday. I just kept going. And every so often I felt like running. So I'd just start running until I stopped. Then I hack up a lung because it was like 30 degrees and windy and made it hard to breathe. Then I'd walk my little heart out some more. Then went back out last night for a half hour walk.

The night before I walked out the door and was hit by such a blast of cold air that I just started running and before I knew it I was half way down the street. Then I walked more. Then ran, then walked.

Today, my quads hurt. Like worse than mountain climbing. And my knees are wondering what I did. And my shins think something might be up. I'm trying not to blame it on age. But I'm thinking we'll take it easy on the running for now. Walking is just fine and I can get the bike out if I need speed.

But I walked 40 minutes tonight. It was so pretty and just the right temperature.

According to my little tracking system I have walked 535 minutes so far this week, and burned 4057 calories. Sweet. Let's see if we can get it up to 600 by tomorrow.

Thank heavens for my jacuzzi tub.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Little Habit

I seem to have developed a little habit. I don't want to jinx it but it appears that I go for a morning walk every morning at 7 (2 miles, 30 minutes) and then when 7 at night rolls around I'm back out for an evening walk (2 miles, 30 minutes, 1 flash light, 1 reflective vest). I have a few routes and they are all exactly the same length and take exactly 30 minutes no matter how slow or fast I think I'm walking.

It's nice. The air is nice now and I like walking in the dark at night. I like seeing the other people out. Soon I'll be able to start seeing people's Christmas lights. And walk when it's snowing which is so beautiful and peaceful.

On the morning walks I tend to plan my day and have epiphanies about work and look at the ocean. In the evening I look at the sky and make up pretend stories about my life and talk to myself.

I highly recommend it. All of it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Yoga Class I'd Like to Take

Enough people in the room so the energy was good, but not crowded. Lights down. Gaura Vani and his band in the front. Harmonium. Drum. Chanting. Then the teacher, and this is the most important part, instead of shouting over the music or talking incessantly through each pose, acts like a conductor - silent, or maybe just whispering the name of a pose and then the students are free to get in it, explore it, breathe. But the teacher is quiet. Silent. Until "tree" she whispers and we find our trees. They sway, they stand tall. "Flow" he whispers and we go where our flow takes us, with the music. "Floor" they whisper. And we make our way to the floor. Bending forward and back, doing what our bodies want all the while the music is playing. "Still" they whisper and we lie there, while they come around and tuck us in and we listen to the music.

And then we all wake up and sing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Things I Love

  • That I can walk around the curve of the harbor to meet friends for drinks,
  • Friends who make me laugh and whom I make laugh,
  • Pomegranate martinis,
  • Walking home and seeing the lobster boats sitting on the water like they are on glass,
  • Seeing faint Christmas lights in the distance,
  • The air that is just cold enough to wear a jacket and scarf,
  • Coming home to a warm house,
  • Coming home.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Strange Epiphanies

Sometimes I'm riddled with anxiety. I could say it was brought on by this or that, but really it lives in my brain along with joy and calmness and elation and sadness and everything else. And sometimes it just bullies its way to the front of the line and says "I'm in charge here! There is danger lurking and I must warn you all what might happen. And remind you of all the things I thought would happen last time. And prepare you to fight fight fight! or perhaps die die die!" It puffs out its chest and grabs its spyglass (it is quite dramatic) and wrestles the wheel from me (we're on a boat, stay with me here) and proceeds to try to steer with one hand while scanning the horizon wildly for the Very Bad Things that are surely out there. And my little boat that was sailing along is now keeling from side to side, hitting waves the wrong way while my anxiety (who I think must have been hitting some sort of bottle while he was below deck) steers the way.

And the little quiet emotions like contentment, happiness, curiosity, joy, and bravery get sea sick and slink down to their bunks to nap and puke. And I hang on and humor the anxiety and try to remember what I'm supposed to do when he's there behind the wheel. Mindfulness? Now? When there is Danger Ahead?! And where was this ship going anyway? And why?

So that's where I found myself today, green on the deck of my little ship and in a government office with my lawyer uniform on picking up some papers. The type of government office where you think everyone will be mean. And not helpful. And rude.

And yet. And yet. Every single one of them was nice. The receptionist, the people who walked through the waiting room and asked if I'd been helped, the woman behind me talking to a recipient of their services who was so nice to her I about burst into tears, the supervisor who came out to help me. Every single person was nice. As though that was their job. And with each bit of kindness that surrounded me, the boat got a little steadier, anxiety loosened his grip on the wheel and stumbled away (spyglass in hand, just in case, but lowered a bit), the map got a little clearer, the journey a little more sure, and I took hold of the wheel again to steady our course.

Kindness. That is the reason for our journey. Not the sort of kindness where I let my ship crash upon the rocks so someone else doesn't need to move, but the kind where if I need to send a letter to someone who hasn't done what they need to, I can write the letter kindly but firmly. If I need to say to someone, "please get off my ship, I have not given you permission to board" I don't need to kick them in the balls while I say it.

Why kindness made the anxiety dissolve is unknown. But just as I try not to question it when it comes, I don't question when it leaves either. It's part of my journey, but it's not the destination and it is not the captain of this ship.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gold Stars!

I'm handing out gold stars today. Just to myself since I'm the only one here, but feel free to award yourself some.

One for making my bed.
One for walking this morning.
One for voting.
One for packing a lunch (rice, roasted squash and plain tofu. Better than it sounds.)
One for having all my November bills paid. On time & in full!
One for having sore triceps from lifting weights.
One for tracking my food.

Big fuzzy things like being a good human being don't get gold stars. Those are a given and done because they are what you do. Like not getting money for good grades when I was in school because of course you got good grades, that's what is done.

And one for shutting the computer off at 8 p.m. and going to lift weights, write, and perhaps even sit.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ends v. Means

So I'm doing that thing again where I think "there's too much around the middle here, it's uncomfortable" and I start walking and lifting my hand weights and thinking about what I eat and tracking it. Etc.

But this time I don't have a scale. I am not measuring success by the scale. The scale is not the end, with the actions being the means. The actions are the end.

When I get up and walk in the morning - success!
When I take some time to pack my lunch - success!
When I come home and make wicked yummy tofu & veggie stir fry over rice instead of macaroni & cheese - success!
When I lift my hand weights at night - success!
When I pack my stuff and go to yoga - success!
When I sit at the table to have a meal instead of perching on the sofa with the laptop - success!
When I have my glass of water instead of a second beer - success!

Hmm, 6 gold stars for me today!

Every single day, multiple times a day, I can and am succeeding. Each of these things is an end in itself. I don't need to wait for one day a week to be told whether I've succeeded or failed. I certainly don't need a number to tell me whether I've succeeded or failed (and if I do, I'll look for that number on my client roster or bank account or Christmas card list) and I don't need anything to say "those things aren't working." Because anything that gets my feet moving and heart pumping works, anything that gets my mind and soul chilled out works, anything that gets more veggies in my belly works, anything that makes my muscles stronger works.

That's what's working well in my brain today. The things that aren't working so well shall be journaled later. After I clean the kitchen and have tea. Ooh, 2 more gold stars.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Un-retreating


It's funny, once I started writing outside of this blog, I stopped writing here. Maybe this was my little haven to write in when I thought I didn't write?

Anyway, I spent a week at Karme Choling in Vermont at a writing retreat, getting to know my characters, myself, my retreat-mates, all that good stuff.

It was a strange, brain swirling time. Alternately feeling like a retreat, like rehab, like high school then back to a retreat.

Bookends

When I arrived, eyes open, heart half closed,

there she was. Ella.

Leading me up the stairs, down the hallway

showing me where we put our shoes,

explaining how to park the car

to make room for others.

Ushering me in.

And though she walked with me,

I knew it was a journey I was going to take on my own.

And when I left, heart open, eyes half closed,

there he was. Jan.

Leading me down the garden path,

familiar now beneath my feet.

Showing me where to wash the kale,

explaining how to put cold water on the wound

to keep the cabbage fresh.

Ushering me out.

And though he walked with me,

I knew it was a journey I was going to take on my own.

What happened in between is like a distant memory.

I know it will return,

but for now I let the pages lie still and closed,

between the bookends.

- me

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More Home

This was my entry way before. A shelf with shoes, since my shoes live by the door, and a basket for hats and gloves, and a thing on top for mail and apparently haphazardly thrown shirts. Lots of white. And the shelf was kind of dirty from having shoes on it all the time. I've been on the hunt for something to go there to hold shoes and coats and things, and not look messy. I thought about one of those large one piece things that has a bench/trunk, with hooks and a mail slot, but couldn't find one that suited me.
I was in my favorite consignment shop that has nice things at good prices and very high turnover (so if I don't find the perfect thing one day, I might the next) and I spotted this beauty. And I thought - shoes! hats! Perfect size! It had no middle shelf, but it did have pegs for a shelf, so I stopped at the lumber yard on the way home for a piece of wood (there would be no "oh, I'll just pile the shoes in there until I get around to finding some wood. There would also be no $8/foot cedar. Yet. This was $1.20/foot pine.)
Winter goods!
And here she is in all her glory. Looking much more elegant and refined. The big white shelf will be going to the "Boutique" at the dump tomorrow so some lucky family can find her and take her home and maybe paint her and put fun things on her.

And, this area of the house is the "career" area according to the feng shui bagua. I think the change was a good one.

I love pretty things.

And I write now. And I walk (two miles this evening.) And I bought a plant. And finally found the weird little light bulbs I needed for the stove, so all the lights in the house work. I am so at peace here. It makes me realize how living in the wrong place with the wrong energy for so long can almost crush your soul. And how a soul can store up all the good stuff it wants to do and wait until it's safe, and all the good stuff will be waiting when you are ready for it.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Messages

From every little corner the message is coming "keep writing." From other people comes the message "don't stop." And so I will write and keep writing. And I will walk and keep walking.

I had my artist's retreat this weekend that I wanted. I wrote. I made a reading corner in the window where I sat and read. I wrote more. I went to the farmer's market. I walked in the dark. I made my goals book. I realized there is a book living inside me that is bursting to get out. I started writing that book. I wrote other stuff.

It's funny how living in the wrong place can suffocate so much out of you that you don't realize was there, gasphing for air, until you are gone. And it can come into the light and the space and breathe.

(And thank you thank you to my readers.)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Something there is that loves a walk

I walk now. Two miles this morning. 3.7 this afternoon. By the beach, through the village, under the pines, around the Common, past the people who exclaim "what a day!" as we scoot out of the way of the cars on the too narrow roads.

And I write. Sometimes I write about how I have nothing to write about. Sometimes I write character sketches based off prompts from snarky emails I send to a friend about a photo on Facebook and I think "Oh, that's the beginning of a story!"
She had those same eyelashes in high school. The kind that can only be obtained by applying 5 coats of mascara and then pinching to make 7 large lashes.
Can't you see the story?

There has not been any napping as of yet, or trying out of the tub, or finding floor pillows or reupholstering or retrieving of the yoga mat.

There is too much to see to nap. But I found a beach that looks like the perfect place for a nap on a sunny winter's day when no one else is there. We could see about yoga tomorrow. My legs want to stretch.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Plans

Here is what I can choose from this weekend, the first in many during which I am not putting things into boxes, taking things out of boxes, carrying boxes up, hauling junk out or hiking up and down somewhere:

Having an artist's retreat in my home, which could consist of reading, writing (with prompts perhaps), putting up poetry in frames as art, walking around outside, drawing and making an effort not to drive anywhere except the bank to put some checks in. And going to the little cafe for coffee and maybe french toast.

Reupholstering a chair. Or at least making a muslin for the eventual reupholsterment. Or putting the new fabric over the old to see what it looks like.

Lots of napping (which I usually just think about rather than do, but it's nice to think about.)

Bring the yoga mat in from the car, roll it out and see what happens.

Go buy some large floor pillows for my reading nooks.

Try out the jacuzzi tub.

Finish the song I started writing last night. It's mostly done, except I have the word "across" in there twice, so one needs to go.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Not Settling Can Be Unsettling


For a long time, I settled. I don't know why. Maybe I was too tired to fight for what I wanted. Maybe I thought I had to fight for what I wanted. So I just took what little scraps I found, not daring to look past them for more. The thought of not settling felt unsettling.

Like all the mud on the bottom of a pond would get stirred up. Even if it should be in order to get rid of the tires, grocery carts and rocks under there.

But this move to my lovely new space was not settling for anything. It was daring to want it. Doing the things I needed to do to get it. And getting it. And being here. And feeling amazing and free.

And feeling settled.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm Home

I am truly home. In beautiful space. In a beautiful town. And at long last with the ocean once again 50 feet from my door.

I grew up above the ocean. Barely 8 feet of yard, a climbable cliff and a sea wall separated us all of my childhood years. I went to sleep to the faint sound of the waves crashing and woke up to the murmured shouts of the sea-mossers. I spent my summers running along the sea wall burning my feet on the hot boulders and swimming out to the "Big Rock" with my father. My bed was in a corner of the house that was all windows, and it was high, so I felt like I was on a boat. My soul grew out into that space to the horizon.

And when I left, my soul felt crowded. I felt like Edna must have when she wrote "Inland"

PEOPLE that build their houses inland,
People that buy a plot of ground
Shaped like a house and build a house there,
Far from the seaboard, far from the sound
Of water sucking the hollow ledges, 5
Tons of water striking the shore,
What do they long for, as I long for
One salt smell of the sea once more?

People the waves have not awakened,
Spanking the boats at the harbor’s head:, 10
What do they long for, as I long for—
Starting up in my inland bed,
Beating the narrow walls and finding
Neither a window nor a door,
Screaming to God for death by drowning!— 15
One salt taste of the sea once more?

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

I was far inland for a while - Ohio, Sacramento, then back east to Somerville and Arlington. But still, too far inland. Then closer to the shore, but in the wrong place. A place I took out of fear that there was nothing else, and stayed there far too long.

But then, recently, I saw a place that my heart wanted. That I dared to want. That I got. And now I am here. In peace. In a place that beckons me onto the streets to stretch me legs and see the sites. A place that calls me out after dinner to walk along the shore, step down to the docks and run a hand into the water, yes, it really is there. To fill my lungs back up again with the salt air. To think "some day when I am very very old and dying, please bring me to the ocean and let me go." To wonder if that is morbid, and then realize, no, it's not. It's just love.

Sometimes when I see the mountains, I want to hug them. You can't really hug the ocean. But you can sit next to it and smell it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Moving In

It's beginning to look at lot like a home!

Movers came on Tuesday and moved me into my new home. Helper Mouse came and helped me unpack. Washer and dryer were delivered today (my first appliances!) and the Verizon guy is getting me set up with internet (borrowing the neighbor's until then. Thanks, neighbor!)

There are still boxes every where.

Here's what it looked like before:



Here's a slight after, at least enough to make it look habitable:


It's not nearly done, and there are a ton of empty boxes and paper to go to the dump (tomorrow!) and I have to buy a broom and dustpan and figure out where the pots and pans get hung and where to put a bunch of furniture and what the flow of the rooms is, and figure out where the art and lamps actually go, but it's getting there. And I'm waiting for it to stop smelling like someone else and start not smelling at all because it smells like me.

I've been pretty good in terms of keeping my head on and only once had a slight bit of embarrassment when an o.b. tampon fell out of some drawer the guys were moving and I had to surreptitiously pick it up off the ground. Smooth. I'm sure they didn't notice.

I love my kitchen, I love the breezes, I love the faint noises of the happy cooing baby and his parents that I heard early this morning, I love the birds in the tree and the crickets, I love my washer and dryer, and my stove and the tall ceilings and the space.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Urban Hiking

I found myself in Cambridge yesterday afternoon after lunch with a couple of hour to kill so I decided to walk around for a while. I had on my Keen walking shoes with Superfeet in them so I knew my feet would be happy. And the humidity had gone away, so I knew the rest of me would be happy. I walked around for an hour or so, but when I got to Harvard Square all of the weird people were out - the ones who want to hand you a grungy piece of paper, the ones who want to talk to you, the ones who want to sell you something, and all the ones who smell like different things.

I found myself rather overwhelmed by the humanity and had to escape. Thankfully I came across this gorgeous, gated, brick-walled garden at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, so I ducked in. There were a few other people lying in the sun or sitting on a bench, so I found a bench in the shade and lay down, watching the trees and the sky and the people. Wondering what things the people study there. Thinking about my mom when she was in college (she was a Cliffie, 'cliffe? However you write it. She went to Radcliffe. Back when the boys when to Harvard and the girls went to Radcliffe.) It was very quiet and dignified and relaxing there. So different from the scene a few hundred yards away.

That's all the hiking I'll get in this weekend, although a mountain bike trip is planned for this morning. The move preparations continue. The boxes are closing in on me and I scoot around my house like a hoarder must, turning this way and that to fit in between the boxes.

Coffee finished. Breakfast finished. Off to find biking implements before resuming the wrapping and boxing of things.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First World Problems

I'm afraid my new apartment doesn't have enough closets to hold my winter clothes and linens and suitcases.

I don't know where I'll hang my pots and pans. And my back packs and my boots.

I don't know where my couch will go.

I don't have a couch. Or a sofa. Or a davenport. Or a chesterfield.


Somehow, I think it will all work out.

Wednesday Wonderings

It's Wednesday, a longer weekend awaits (which I just realized), my stuff is all packed for my move and my mind once again turns north and I wonder where I shall take my boots next.

Then this morning I read Section Hiker's post about Mt. Passaconaway, part of which is apparently "psycho-vertical."

Which makes me wonder, is it psycho-vertical like Ammonoosuc Ravine?

Or more psycho because it's longer. I guess there is one way to find out...

However, I need to rethink the whole "get up at 3:30am and drive" thing. It sort of messed up my sleep for the next couple of days and I think it made me more tired on the hike up Kinsman. I might try to find a place to sleep up there if I decide to go. If I can ever figure out about camping, that will give me more options in the future, too.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Lost Art of Poetry Memorization

When I was in Junior High, we had to memorize a poem and recite it in front of the class. I, of course, chose the one that Ponyboy had read in the Outsiders, Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost.
Ever since then I've loved working on memorizing poems or stanzas that I love so that they are always in my head when ever I need them.

While visiting the Poetry Trail at the Robert Frost Museum in Franconia last week, I came upon another one which I wanted to live in my head.

Hyla Brook -
BY June our brook’s run out of song and speed.
Sought for much after that, it will be found
Either to have gone groping underground
(And taken with it all the Hyla breed
That shouted in the mist a month ago,
Like ghost of sleigh-bells in a ghost of snow)—
Or flourished and come up in jewel-weed,
Weak foliage that is blown upon and bent
Even against the way its waters went.
Its bed is left a faded paper sheet
Of dead leaves stuck together by the heat—
A brook to none but who remember long.
This as it will be seen is other far
Than with brooks taken otherwhere in song.
We love the things we love for what they are.

So, last night I worked on memorizing it so that I know it by heart. I read it aloud a few times (I think that poetry, like a play, is meant to be read aloud, so I always read it that way) then I listened to Robert Frost himself read it. At first I had the first part and the last part down, but kept forgetting the middle. I can usually picture words in my head so I made sure to look at each line. Then I wrote down just the first letter of each line to trigger the whole line if I got stuck.

It worked, and then I made dinner while saying it out loud over and over again. Then when I woke up this morning, I said it again. Now it's in my head, and can be taken out when I need a hiking cadence or something to cleanse the palate of my brain between tasks.

There are some Edna St. Vincent Millay sonnets that live in my brain, and I'd like to work on some more Frost poems. It's sort of like knowing a song by heart, you just do after a while.

Do other people do this?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Peak Bagging & Bagging a Peak

Peakbagger (n): A mountain climber whose principal goal is the attainment of a summit, or a specific set of summits.

Bag: Slang, To fail to attend purposely; skip

The day started at 3:30 a.m. I was meeting my hiking partner at 4:45 (which we decided was the earliest hour that was decent) for the 2.5 or so hour drive from Boston's south shore to the White Mountains.

I had set my things out the night before so all I had to do was dress, have coffee, eat First Breakfast and go. First Breakfast was 2 blueberry waffles with almond butter and smooshed banana on them. And coffee. (Second breakfast eaten in bits on the trail was an english muffin with butter, almond butter and banana. Lunch, again eaten in phases was roast beef and cheese on ciabatta bread. Snacks, not really eaten, were chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chips & almonds. Emergency food, not eaten, were a few ProBars.)

My stuff consisted of: Keen Voyager Hiking Shoes with Superfeet Insoles which have solved my aching foot problems. Smart Wool socks and sock liners. My pack which has water, toiletry bag (TP, contact solutions, band aids, emergency blanket, chap stick, etc), windbreaker/rain coat, food (lunch & snacks), map, and Blizzard (the dog). Then the flowered bag has my wallet, phone, extra clothes to drive home in, the hiking book and other random stuff that I need but that doesn't come up the mountain with me. My Leki hiking poles live in the car.

The Plan: North and South Kinsman, via Mt. Kinsman Trail and Kinsman Ridge Trail.


We were at the trailhead a little before 8, and on the trail by 8:07. It's a gorgeous trail, woodsy and damp and covered in moss. There are 3 or 4 pretty brook crossings.


My hiking buddy and I have very different speeds on the way up, which seems to work. I hike with the attitude of "this moment is all that matters" and wanting to absorb and study everything around me. Like this mushroom that looked like a jelly fish.
Or this bear scat.
Often she'll be quite far ahead of me on the trail, but eventually we meet back up. We are each hiking our own hike, and I know there are people more my speed to hike with if I want that, and there are people more her speed if she wants that. But this seems to work. And, to paraphrase Robert Frost, people hike together, whether they hike together or apart.

On this hike especially I was feeling like I didn't want to "get" anywhere, I just wanted to be where I was, fully. I wanted to look at the trees and think about why some trees had fallen over taking their root bed with them, and why others had snapped over about 4 feet from the ground. I wanted to photograph every mushroom and write about it. And then sit by a brook and think about it.

This was probably my 5th time on Kinsman, a mountain I just love, and I just wanted to hang out with it.

We took the .2 mile spur trail to Bald Peak, where I was last Sunday morning at 7:30am the continued on.

At some point near the ridge trail I decided I didn't want to go to the summits. I'd been to them before, and really just wanted to sit by the pond. I suggested to Stacey that she go bag the peaks and I'd meet her back at the pond. We sat for a while at the junction and ate, finally seeing a lot of other hikers - day and thru - and grateful that our journey up had been mostly free of other people.

After eating I felt livelier so we hiked the .4 miles to the summit of North Kinsman. We didn't find the actual summit which is a boulder on the side of the path but we found the ledge that was past the summit for the obligatory summit photo.

And the obligatory Franconia Ridge Trail photo, with Lafayette, Lincoln and Little Haystack across the notch. We climbed those a few weeks ago, and seeing those peaks from a distance really hits home what a trek that was. This is one of my most favorite views in all the world.


We started off towards South Kinsman, a mere .9 miles away. Yeah, mere. Somehow there was a resurgence of black flies, and .9 miles is not really that close and I was done going up and so we decided to bag the second peak. I have no need to summit for the sake of summiting and with that we turned around and headed backs towards the cross roads you can see in the map near the Kinsman Pond Shelter.

Here, back in the bug-free shade we ate some more lunch, met a lot of dogs (including 12 year old Gidge waiting for a snack), wondered about people who hike with no map or with a case of beer , chatted with other hikers about our plans and then headed over to check out the shelter area.

There are some tent platforms, which I slept on years ago, and a shelter that was rebuilt in 2007, bigger and brighter than the one we slept in years ago (after we realized that our tent wasn't really waterproof). Blizzard is reading the shelter journal where thru-hikers leave messages, notes and poems. There was also a book about how they built the shelter - bringing in all the logs by helicopter.

The shelter sleeps 14 on 2 levels and has a bear-box for food and toiletries and a composting toilet near by.

Then we reached the pond, which is just past the shelter. And there we sat. There was a little family near us with the kids happily splashing and asking their mom "what was the outhouse like?" There were lily pads and dragonflies and the general wonderment of being at a lake that you can't see unless you climb up a mountain.
After our time of leisure we headed down, and made good time - about 2.5 hours. We figured our total mileage to be about 9 miles with our different side trails and wanderings and our total hike time to be about 7 hours. Our total trip time was 8 hours 8:07am to 4:07 pm (yes, really.)
Some homemade hummus made the trip home easier and my Superfeet made it so that this morning I woke up with no foot pain. Just to be on the safe side, I put them in a pair of my Keen walking shoes and wore them most of the day. They are like an orthotic or something, keeping my feet from falling inward.

Post hike dinner was just a few vegetable potstickers from Trader Joe's and then 10 glorious hours of sleep. Breakfast was kale, leeks and mushrooms with some eggs.

Also, my legs don't hurt today. They aren't even stiff. It's very nice. I did however, take a nap this afternoon. Which was also very nice.

Now to plan the next trail...