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Snow Maiden

My Soul

by Peter Mayer
There are a hundred billion snowflakes swirling in the cosmic storm
And each one is a galaxy, a billion stars or more
And each star is a million earths, a giant fiery sun
High up in some sky, maybe shining on someone

And deep inside a snowflake, I am floating quietly
I am infinitesimal, impossible to see
Sitting in my tiny kitchen in my tiny home
Staring out my window at a universe of snow

But my soul is so much bigger than the very tiny me
It reaches out into the snowstorm like a net into the sea
Out to all the lovely places where my body cannot go
I touch that beauty and embrace it in the bosom of my soul

And so brief and fleeting is this tiny life of mine
Like a single quarter note in the march of time
But my soul is like the music, it goes back to ancient days
Back before it wore a human face, long before it bore my name

Because my soul is so much older than the evanescent me
It can describe the dawn of time like a childhood memory
It is a spark that was begotten of the darkness long ago
What my body has forgotten, I remember in my soul

So we live this life together, my giant soul and tiny me
One resembling forever, one like smoke upon the breeze
One the deep abiding ocean, one a sudden flashing wave
And counting galaxies like snowflakes, I would swear we were the same

Oh my soul belongs to beauty, takes me up to lofty heights
Teaches sacred stories to me, sanctifies my tiny life
Lays a bridge across the ages, melts the boundaries of my bones
Paints a bold eternal face on this passing moment, oh my soul

~*~

Wishing you beauty and a happy forever.

One of my dear teachers sent me an exerpt of desiderata today.  Good advice to tuck into the heart:

 

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
Be on good terms with all persons,
Speak your truth quietly and clearly,
and listen to others.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
Be gentle with yourself;
no less than the trees and stars you have a right to be here.
Whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Whatever your labors and aspirations
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.

 

–Max Ehrmann c.1920

This mind has a life of its own.

It invents infinite lists…
of tasks to do,
of whos to be,
of conversations to replay,
of facts to analyze,
of images to dissect,
of memories to revisit,
of futures to find,
of art to create,
of words to compose,
of dances to choreograph,
of stories to live…

of needs
of wants
of likes
of loves

and so it goes…
on and on.

I’m immersed in the mind as I sit with it all,
the time ticking by and I’m…
Impatient.
Anxious.
Hungry.
Thirsty.
Itchy.
Too hot.
No, too cold.
I’m entirely too dog-covered!

I need a cookie.

and I’m…
smelling flowers that are wilting.

and I’m…
waiting for this 15 minute self-imposed morning meditation to be over,
so I can go on with my *very important* day.

I have forgotten what the point is.

I try yoga-teachering myself, in an attempt to remember,
but the undone stuff calls, waits, looms, threatens, even.

Then, a subtle shifting.

A clicking.

Faint on the periphery
a thousand cicada tymbals vibrate
their persistent little stream of sex and magic.

The chorus swells
into a tidal wave of sound
breaking through
scattering the thought-sandcastles

the mind awash disintegrates like salt

and in the undertow…
the present.

I think I do more reading in the colder months than the warmer ones, how about you?

My leisure time in the summer seems consumed by flowers, bull frogs, and butterflies. In the dark of winter I will spend hours reading in the bathtub or bed, but in the summer I’m usually too exhausted by daytime existence and heat to read in my usual haunts. Reading for fun happens mostly in little snippets of time, mostly while I’m in transit –  like in the car being shuttled to a family function, or while waiting for someone’s luggage at an airport, or in a too-long line at the bank.

 

If you’re looking for something to read this summer, here are a few Book Quickie Reviews of the stuff that occupied my winter nights:

Title:  Fowl Weather 

Author: Bob Tarte

Why I Read It: It has a duck on the cover! (I’m a bit bird-brained in case you haven’t noticed).  I spotted it on the shelf at the Goodwill.

Synopsis: It’s the memoir of a kindred spirit who chronicals life with his menagerie. In his own words, it’s the story of, “how thirty-nine animals and one sock monkey took over my life.”

Highlights: Bob Tarte makes me seem normal by comparison. He’s funny and taught me a lot about my ducks.

Most Relate-to-able Quotes:  What can you ever say to a dead duck?  

It bothered me that I’d exhibited more patience with a duck than I seemed capable of extending to my mother…

 

Title: Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Why I Read It: It was a good book day at the Goodwill.  I hadn’t read anything by Gladwell, but I’d heard good reviews about his work. The idea of thinking without thinking was compelling.

Synopsis:  Through a wide range of case studies and behavioral research Malcolm explores the cognition behind “gut feelings.”

Highlights:  I am in awe of Gladwell’s ability to synthesize information from many different lenses into such a coherent picture of unconscious cognition.  He weaves together research and examples from such far flung fields as marital communication to military strategy (actually those two domains may not be as disparate as they seem on the surface) to museum curation.  It was as fascinating as it was well-written.

Recommended to: Folks interested in psychology will love this book. Also, firefighters and police officers, and others who must make quick, high-stakes decisions would benefit from this information as well as educators and policy makers.

Best Quote:

We live in a world saturated with information. We have vitually unlimited amounts of data at our fingertips at all times, and we’re well versed in the arguments about the dangers of not knowing enough and not doing our homework. But what I have sensed is an enormous frustration wtih the unexpected costs of knowing too much, of being inundated with information. We have come to confuse information with understanding….we are desperately lacking in the latter (Gladwell, 2005, p. 264-265).

Title: Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses

Author: Claire Dederer

Why I Read It: Yoga and Memoir – these are a few of my favorite things!

Synopsis: Dederer shares her experience of coming to terms with motherhood and balancing a career with family life through a (sometimes reluctant) yoga practice.

Highlights: I love stories about the transformative power of a yoga practice.  Dederer tells her story with a wickedly funny kick.

What surprised me: I wasn’t expecting from such a funny flippant lady the depth of knowledge and insight with which she wrote about the women’s movement of her mother’s generation and the cultural trends in our own generation.  She challenged me to think more deeply about my own relationship with my mom and the social and political factors that defined mom’s generation and how that might have led to some of her baffling behaviors.

Best quote:

Without our mothers and their mass 1970s exodus to who knows where, we might not have gotten those crucial years of learning who we were.  I am not sure any of the mothers meant to give us this gift, this terrible gift of freedom…they bought our freedom with their courage (Dederer, 2011, p. 297).

——-

Disclosure: I signed up to be an Amazon Affiliate, which means 1.) I can use their book cover images in my posts without having to worry about them suing me, and 2.) if you use one of the links I provide in the blog to purchase the book on amazon.com I’ll get like a nickel or something.  I’m disclosing this so you will be aware that if you click on a book link, our electronic “footprints” will be walking together toward amazon.

 

 

 

 

Before last week I’d only visited Vegas once. On that trip the company couldn’t have been better.  We saw a fantastic show (Mystère), a fascinating exhibit (Bodies), and we drank champagne while watching the Bellagio Fountains dance to the tune of an Elvis song. The whole affair lasted about 36 hours, which was enough Vegas to last me several lifetimes.  The excess of it all was… well… excessive.   If America was Panem of the The Hunger Games, which I guess it is in Suzanne Collins’ post-apocolyptic world, then Vegas could be the Capitol. And I’d probably live somewhere around District 11. That’s how far removed I am from Vegas.

These days I am quite content to work in District 11 and watch the flowers bloom and the bees buzz, ya know? So I was ‘meh’ about going there for a business trip last week, but it was something I was compelled to do.

 

By day two in the Capitol I felt like this:

crazy

 

…as a result of too much everything everywhere.

I realized then we needed to make a major detour, lest I start attacking things Katniss-style. And that was when I stumbled upon exactly what was needed: a place to watch the flowers bloom and the bees buzz.

detour

The wonderful Sharon Prier led the way.  She guided us on a hike through Red Rock Canyon, which culminated in a beautiful yoga practice.  It was the highlight of the trip.  Thank you so much Sharon for your guidance and presence.

Red Rock Canyon Yoga Hike

Red Rock Canyon Yoga Hike

 

 Any worthwhile detours you’ve taken lately?

Title: The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards

Author: William J. Broad

Why I Read It: As a yoga practitioner and teacher, I have experienced the transformational power of the practice, so I was curious to see how Western science, a reductionist endeavor, would parcel out a holistic experience and to what effect.  The book looked and quacked like science when I flipped through it quickly at the bookstore. Besides, Yoga Journal said it was “a well-researched book that belongs in the library of every yogi” right on the book’s cover.  Surely I needed this?

Synopsis: The author, a journalist and yoga practitioner, gives a brief account of yoga’s history and describes some of the gurus’ claims on health, mood, healing, sex, and creativity.  He smatters in various sorts of research tidbits in the attempt to substantiate those claims or refute them.

Highlights: The book provides an introduction to some researchers and practitioners of interest.  The chapter on the risks of yoga was an original and helpful contribution that added to my knowledge base for particular poses.

Lowlights: If you’re going to use the word “science” in a book’s title, you really need to bring it. The science reporting here lacked rigor and clarity.  It was a mishmosh of personal anecdotes and poorly explained studies delivered with the sort of content and writing style better suited to a gossip magazine. I give you an example: “Ranjit Singh was an ugly little man who liked to surround himself with beautiful women” (p. 13).  What this has to do with yoga or science is beyond me. Also, I think the author tried to cover too many topics with too little depth and he was overly focused on the sensational (like the sophomoric chapter on sex) at the expense of the substantial.

 

December is half over and I have had too little farmy fun to show for it.

My work life this semester was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  For starters there were over 800 preschoolers involved.  I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. I stopped counting at the beginning of November when we were at 786. Add to that my little afternoon friends who I visit, the usual weekly yoga classes, and a new teaching gig: a university course called “Piyo.” When I was asked to apply for the job I had no idea what “Piyo” was or how univeristy physical education courses worked as I had never taken any as a student. Piyo turned out to be a blend of Pilates and yoga, and I invented the curriculum as I went. After chaotic mornings with preschoolers, Piyo was my saving grace. The course turned out to be the most fun and authentic teaching experience I’ve ever had.  I got to completely nerd-out on anatomy and delve deeply into somatic learning. And while I have taught several college courses, I have never before taught one barefoot.  After teaching the course barefoot all semester, I’ve come to the conclusion that shoes change everything about the teaching experience.  Shoes make your feet all claustrophobic and rob you of sensation and connection to the environment. They make you teach like “I’m somebody wearing shoes”…which is to say all formal and like you have somewhere else to go or like you’re going to step on something disgusting or dangerous.  Who knew?  Anyway, it was just awesome to not have desks, to kick off shoes, to cut the lights and learn cool stuff. The students, freshmen and juniors, were the youngest college students I’ve ever taught and they were unexpectedly fabulous.  They were an interesting, smart, fun, diverse, and engaged group that gave me much hope for the future.  It was such great experience.

Today I finished grading, posted grades, and completed an article review. Tomorrow I meet the last of the preschoolers for 2013, write recommendation letters, and then I’m free from university obligations for this year and I intend to get back to farmy fun and hopefully experience some goaty goodness.

whatmatters

First, thank you, thank you to last week’s yogis.  Donations went to the Red Cross for disaster relief in the Philippines.

There will be two more Thursday night yoga classes this year before I head into the depths of the cave for hibernation.  See dates and details below.

 Thursday, November 21 @ 7:00 p.m. This is a pay-what-you-can donations class with 100% of the proceeds going to the Memphis Union Mission.  $50.10 will provide 30 Thanksgiving meals for those seeking food and shelter at the mission.  If you have gently used coats to spare, donate those too as they are currently having a coat drive.

Thursday, December 5 @ 7:00 p.m.  This is a pay-what-you-can donations class with 100% of the proceeds going to Church Health Center.

Both classes are in my cave, fireside.  Expect a slow, restorative practice focused on relaxation

For more information e-mail valetar@aol.com

berriesIn the garden I did no crime.

–Tori Amos

The raspberry bush has been sputtering out berries this summer and I’ve been racing the birds to get them.  It’s our relatively peaceful version of The Hunger Games. Victori spolia.

Did you know that the raspberry fruit is not a true berry? Neither did I until I read a report from Cornell Univeristy. The fruit is apparently an “aggregate of many individual drupelets” with each drupelet being “anatomically analogous to a cherry.”

Who knew?

My garden raspberries are different from the ones I buy at the store. They are sun-warmed, sweeter, and burstier.  Each of their drupelets is an explosion of sunlight, frogsong, and butterfly wings on the tongue. They have virtually no shelf life. Frogsongs fade fast when plucked from the earth; you must eat them while their echos still vibrate to taste the music.

Berries in general are highly perishable. There’s a significant loss of vitamin C and polyphenol antioxidants within just a couple days of harvest. So I’ve been inventing ways to infuse my cells with berry goodness as often as possible.  Here are just a few of my favorite berry treats.

july 20 2013 011

While they need no accompaniment, sometimes it’s fun to let them frolic with friends.  It’s really fun to sing along with Tori Amos’ Raspberry Swirl as I spin them around in a blender.  I toss in strawberries, a squeeze of lemon, a squirt of lime, and a splash of cranberry juice and grape juice.

This concotion makes yummy popsicles.  I call them Raspberry Zingers.

july 20 2013 014

Sometimes I throw in a little peach to a get different texture.  After filling the popsicle molds, I add a dallop of yogurt and a dash of milk to whatever is left in the blender to make a smoothie.

Fun fact: The phytonutrients in raspberries and strawberries have anti-inflammatory properties when consumed regularly (about three times a week).

Another fun way to get my berry bliss on and to make myself feel incredibly fancy in the process is with “spa water.”

july 20 2013 012

The idea is to send sliced fruit floating in water for hours to infuse the water with flavor. I’ve been experimenting with variations, but so far my favorite is sliced up strawberries, squished raspberries, cucumber, a little squirt of lime (or sometimes lime slices), and fresh mint.  This week the pineapple basil is making a spectacular comeback after the rain we’ve had, so I added a few leaves. It’s tasty!

Fun fact: Raspberries are rich in vitamin C, fiber, and vitamin K.  They also contain folate, vitamin E, and potassium.

It’s that time again…

yoga & Tea July 2013 Invite

You may pay what you can OR bring something(s) from their wish list:

Items for shelter:

 Umbrellas,  Batteries (All sizes), Flashlights, Pots and pans, Cooking/eating utensils, Tool set, Blankets, Towels (bath and face),       Twin sheet sets, Pillows, Twin mattress covers, Standard pillow covers, Dish towels, Dining room chairs, Microwave, Refrigerator, Chest freezer, Living room set (sofa, love seat and chair), Toilet tissue, Paper towels, Facial tissue, Dish washing liquid, Cleaning supplies, Bleach, Light bulbs, Laundry detergent, Irons

 Items for women:

Handbags, Wallets, Jewelry. Watches, Perfume, Gowns/pajamas, Slippers, Robes, Hosiery, Socks, New panties (all sizes especially plus sizes), New bras (all sizes especially plus sizes), Perm kits (African-American hair texture), Hair coloring, Feminine hygiene products, Journals, Day planners, Disposable cameras, Phone cards, Movies (VHS) for adults (Non-violent content), tooth paste, Bubble bath, *Subscription to Commercial Appeal 

Items for children:

Toys (for all ages), Books (for all ages) (English & Spanish Languages), Dolls, Cars and trucks, “Dress up” jewelry/clothing, Video games, Children’s videos (English & Spanish Languages), Footballs/basketballs, Portable cassette/compact disc players, Child seats (for the car), School uniforms, Backpacks, Diapers (all sizes), Baby wipes, New sippy cups/pacifiers/bottles, New children’s underwear (all sizes), New socks (all sizes), Slippers, Robes, Pajamas, Strollers, Potty Seats

Food Items:

Canned meat (tuna, salmon, etc.), Canned vegetables (corn, peas, etc.), Dry goods (beans, etc.), Sugar, Juice boxes

School Supplies

 Notebooks, Pencils, Crayons, Folders, Pencil Sharpeners, Pencil Box, Backpacks, White Loose leaf paper, Rulers, Dictionaries, Calculators, Lunchboxes, Small assignment notebooks.

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