Archive for the 'Self-care' Category


Thursday, November 4th, 2010

I am laid up in bed with a spot of pneumonia in my right lung, diagnosed right after I voted on Tuesday. I’ve been resting since then, since I think it’s the result of a cold/cough that I didn’t rest enough for over last weekend, and which seized the opportunity to invade. Since Tuesday, then, pretty much all I’ve done is read, be on the computer, watch TV, and sleep (or rather, TRY to sleep, since the painful lung makes it as hard to find a comfortable position as advanced pregnancy did), and lie abed. I did take a short walk yesterday, in the balmy afternoon. It left me panting and exhausted.

Unfortunately, my boys have the next 2 days off school for conferences. Fortunately, so does their babysitter, who is here all day so I can stay abed and she can run them outside. Somewhere after 4yo Guppy was born, I learned that resting and self care were not frivolous indulgences, at least for me, but necessary at times to keep going, both in the short and long term. This lesson took me a long time to learn. As I’ve written before about napping, I didn’t think I was capable of it for a long time, till I practiced. Now I’m queen of the 20-minute snooze. Same thing with resting and taking care; it’s a skill that takes practice.

This time, at least, I’m helped by my husband G. Grod, who was able to work from home the past 2 days, and who keeps reminding me that if I don’t rest now, all of us will suffer for it later.


I’ve fortified my sickbed well. I’ve got a warm duvet, Euro pillows for back propping, a yoga bolster for knee propping, a lap desk and my computer. Books, comics and magazines to read, throat drops, lavender spray, books to blog about, notebook, journal, tissue box, water bottle, giant mug of ginger tea with honey and baguette slices with butter. I am dressed warmly in comfortable clothes. I have a scarf wrapped around my head to keep my ears warm. I plan only to leave the sickbed for bathroom breaks and lunch, and possibly a little smackerel of something around 3.

Here’s what I’m not doing: making phone calls, making lunch for the kids, mediating their fights, keeping them to the usual limit of one hour of screen time/day, catching up on insurance paperwork, doing laundry (even though the boys don’t have clean socks–they’re wearing dirty ones), putting away laundry, straightening, puttering, stressing out. I do have the lurking feeling I should be darning socks, or rather learning to darn socks, then doing so. But I’m gently pushing this aside for now. I’m sick; if I don’t rest I’ll likely get sicker. So might as well rest, since I’m fortunate enough to be able to do so. And since I’ve practiced it enough that I’m actually capable of doing so. Sounds quiet downstairs. I think I’ll sneak down and heat up some soup.

Nap Tips

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Whoa, I am seriously out of the practice of blogging, and intend to get back to it, right now. A busy summer combined with many deadlines for other writing work meant a new routine. I still don’t have the hang of things even though school’s been in a month already, but I’m going to give it a go.

With limited time, items on my to-do list get removed in favor of others (as writing for my weblog has, of late), and this provides useful insight into what I value. Yes, of course, there’s always the fooling-around-on-Facebook factor, but in general, if I have a few things to get done a day, the list will go something like this:

1. Food
2. Sleep/Nap
3. Work
4. Reading

On some days, I would probably put sleep ahead of food.

I wasn’t always like this. Most of my life I considered myself incapable of napping. I would go and go and go until I collapsed. Even having a child didn’t make much of a dent in this. I tried to nap, but didn’t know how. Instead, I drank more coffee. But when I was pregnant with my second child, and my first was a toddler? THEN I finally needed to nap. So I practiced. I learned. And I got good at it. Both kids have stopped napping, but I try to have one every day. I am certain that even this small bit of extra rest is good for my body and mind. Here are a few of the things that help me to nap.

1. Lay down at a regular time. 12:30 to 1:30 is a good ballpark. Much later and you risk interfering with night time sleep.

2. Plan a light rest, not a marathon. You and your body benefit from reaching the second stage of sleep, not deep sleep. Twenty to thirty minutes is a good amount of time.

3. Quiet your mind. Turn off the TV, radio, computer. Read a little. Loosen restrictive clothing. Here’s a technique that works for me: Close your eyes. In your head, name five sounds that you hear. Next, name five things that you feel. Open your eyes, and name five things you see. Now repeat this cycle from four, to three, to two, to one. The person who taught me this technique swore that by the time I got to one I’d be asleep. I’ve proved her wrong more than once, but not very often. This is a good meditation to slow down my monkey mind.

4. Set an alarm if you’re worried about missing something. Give yourself about thirty minutes. Resting the body and trying to quiet the mind, even if you don’t fall asleep, are beneficial.

5. Hack a nap. Drink an ounce of lukewarm coffee or tea. Lie down, try to fall asleep, and twenty to thirty minutes later you’ll wake as the caffeine hits your system. I’ve seen this called a caf-nap or nappuccino. I’ve tried it. The benefit is I wake alert and ready to go. The downside is sometimes it’s harder to drop off to sleep, and I don’t get to enjoy the coffee.

6. Practice. Napping is a skill. Sleep is important. Don’t give up.

No Apologies

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Every day at 4pm, Mary Lucia of the Current plays a “No Apologies” track. One day, it was Meatloaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” which I sang to my bewildered kids at the top of my lungs. I hadn’t even known I knew all the lyrics.

I was reminded of this idea of no apologies when I read a piece on failure by Elizabeth (Eat Pray Love) Gilbert in the 10th anniversary edition of O magazine, which I borrowed from the library. Yes, I sometimes read O. Turns out I’m their demographic. Guess what? Not gonna apologize for it.

Anyway, the piece isn’t groundbreaking or revelatory.

Can we lighten up a little?

As we head into this next decade, can we draft a joint resolution to drop the crazy-making expectation that we must all be perfect[?]

But I liked what I was left with when I finished, which was the sense that not only should be expect to fail and forgive ourselves for it, but we should laugh at our ridiculous expectations of universal success, and maybe even actively embrace failure. In that spirit, then here is a short list of things I’m currently failing at:

1. cutting back on caffeine and sugar
2. keeping my house minimally clean (e.g., ungross bathrooms)
3. blogging regularly
4. managing money
5. weeding the yard (not only did our thistles spread, then flower, but they went to SEED)
6. being even tempered with my kids and not calling them idiots on occasion (deserving occasions, IMO, but still)
7. keeping up with my online feed reading
8. managing my inbox (1300 in my home box, dunno how many in the blog box)

I’m sure there’s more. I’m far from perfect. I don’t get it all done, or done well. And I’m not going to apologize. So there.

“A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

I’m a snob, so I’m always wary of the label “Oprah’s Book Club.” But I actually find her magazine pleasant to flip through. A book-group friend liked Oprah’s favorite books of the decade list, and picked Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth for our next meeting. When I began to read, I felt wary, too. It felt very self-help-y and new-age-y.

Is humanity ready for a transformation of consciousness, an inner flowering so radical and profound that compared to it the flowering of plants, no matter how beautiful, is only a pale reflection?

I put my suspicion aside, and read on. And I really appreciated what I found. Tolle writes that the basis of much pain and suffering comes from the ego. Once we can recognize that, we can break free and be on the way to who we truly are.

Knowing yourself goes far deeper than the adoption of a set of ideas or beliefs. Spiritual ideas and beliefs may at best be helpful pointers, but in themselves they rarely have the power to dislodge the more firmly established core concepts of who you think you are, which are part of the conditioning of the human mind. Knowing yourself deeply has nothing to do with whatever ideas are floating around in your mind. Knowing yourself is to be rooted in Being, instead of lost in your mind.

This is by no means a fun, fast read. But it is rich and thought provoking, especially for those of us who have trouble settling the mind, or quashing unkind thoughts. At the fear of overstatement, I think this could be a life-changing book, even if just in small positive ways. And which of us couldn’t benefit from that?

Safe Sun?

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Some breaking news for those who like to bask in the sun. The Environmental Working Group has released its 2010 Sunscreen Guide. The not-so-good news? Nearly all commercial sunscreens contain ingredients the EWG says to avoid, including oxybenzone and vitamin A. There are only a few dozen the EWG recommends. You can search for their recommended sunscreens, or you can plug in the name of the sunscreen you’re using for you and your kids. Warning: the latter is likely to be worrying and discouraging. All of the ones I had in the house were there.

Is there cause for alarm? This piece, from the Huffington Post and with the advice of a dermatologist, says no. In spite of what alarmists may say or imply, if you’re going to be outside, properly applied sunscreen will help protect against skin cancer, so it’s better to use it than not. What’s safer than that? Staying out of the sun entirely, wearing protective clothes and headgear, or at least avoiding the peak hours.

Is there cause for concern? Yes. The FDA has not established guidelines for sunscreens, so there’s not regulation on dodgy ingredients. Further, there’s almost always conflicting information on what’s a good or bad ingredient.

What I did was throw away the old, badly rated sunscreens, then bought a tube each of two of the EWG’s recommended brands, Badger Unscented SPF 30 and Vanicream SPF 30. I got the Badger at my grocery co-op, and the Vanicream at Target, so neither involved a special trip.

And, for those still delusional that tanning beds are safer than the sun, a new study from the U of MN shows they increase the risk of cancer, even with the investigators looking at new types of tanning beds, which use a UV spectrum different from the sun and alleged to be safe. (The latter detail is from a scientist friend, though not included in the article.)

So, to sum up. No sun is safe sun in regard to skin cancer, though it is the best source of Vitamin D. Enjoy the sun in moderation. Be safe and smart about your choices. Use a safer sunscreen, and use it correctly. Reapply as needed. Stay out of the sun between 10 and 4. Wear a hat. Cover up.

I started using tanning beds when I was 17. I worked in a tanning salon for 9 months when I was 20. Then I had to see a dermatologist about a patch of skin; he cut it and several others out and found they were dysplastic–possibly pre-cancerous. He told me to never use a tanning bed or lay out again. Since then I’ve had more than a dozen patches of skin removed. Usually a patch has to be cut out twice. Once for the initial test, and again for complete removal. At the risk of stating the obvious, this is unpleasant and painful. I’ve been lucky–no melanoma. Yet.

Be careful out there.


Thursday, May 27th, 2010

I don’t know the exact date, but it was sometime in May 2000 that I started taking yoga classes. Since then, it has been the only type of exercise I have been able to continuously practice. I’d tried running, swimming, Jane Fonda, aerobics, in-line skates, etc.

Yoga worked, I think, because it was exercise, concentration, meditation and breathing to calm my monkey mind. Or rather, TRY to calm my monkey mind. I go to one or two classes a week, and hope to up it to two to three. Someday, I tell myself, I’ll have a home practice.

In spite of ten years, I still feel very much a beginner. There are some poses I still can’t do, like Crow and Handstand. But there are others I can, like Headstand, that I wasn’t able to for a long time. Also, I’ve learned the pose names both in English and many in Sanskrit, and know how to modify if I need to take a break in class.

Today I have an ambitious goal: bike to a harder class than I’m used to, and bike home. Not sure this is a good idea; not sure how it will go. But I think I’m going to try.

Mothers Day; They Got the Memo!

Monday, May 10th, 2010

On previous randomly (to them) designated important-to-me days, my boys, 4yo Guppy and 6yo Drake, have not really gotten on board the whole “be nice to Mom” thing. Night wakings, early risings, yelling, hitting, screaming and the occasional sickness have been the norm. Earlier this year on my birthday, that changed. And yesterday, Mothers Day (US) was similarly lovely.

The boys woke late-ish (about 7:30am), we had a family snuggle, then they brought me juice, coffee and pastry in bed. I read several chapters of my book, then we all got dressed and went to a Bull Run Coffee Shop and Rustica Bakery, then to Kitchen Window to purchase a mug that Guppy had picked out for me. (Love it!) Then to brunch at the Red Stag Supper Club, where the boys devoured the smelt fries. Later that afternoon, I went on my first long bike ride, the first one, too, that was riding for the enjoyment of riding, not to reach some destination. (Though I did figure it was time to turn around when I saw the Welcome to Fridley sign).

Supper that night was baked salmon wrapped in prosciutto, and salad with pears, cranberries and smoked almonds. THE BOYS ATE THIS! Or, most of it. But what a huge improvement over the olden days, when they would refuse anything mixed up (like a salad) or foreign (like fish and prosciutto).

All in all, a lovely day with a good mix of family time and quiet time.

And on Her Birthday Weekend…

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I, Girl Detective, rested, and let other people do the cooking.

Friday night, supper at Cheeky Monkey. I greatly enjoyed the muffuletta sandwich and grits with bacon. Until they had their Reflux Revenge.

Saturday morning, breakfast at Red Stag. Crab cake, 2 poached eggs, tarragon aioli and mixed greens.

Still full at lunchtime.

Saturday supper, Solera, with JP Samuelson and 2 awesome grill guys whipping up the tapas: Chorizo Stuffed Dates with Smoked Bacon; Octopus Ceviche with Citrus, Pepper and Cumin; Tempura Squash with Pumpkin Seed Romesco; Grilled Short Ribs with Sunchokes and Baby Carrot; Roasted Beets with Duck, Walnuts and Palhais; Sherry Glazed Pork Belly with Morcilla and Lentils; Scallops ‘a la Plancha’ with Serrano Ham and Saffron; Grilled Asparagus with Lomo and Mahon; Braised Rabbit and Artichokes with Lemon and Egg. And that’s not all, oh no, that’s not all! While the rabbit was rich enough to be dessert, I couldn’t forego the ice cream trio: coffee, butterscotch and tangy cream cheese.

Apres supper, a Sprite at Mayslack’s while listening to Guns N Roses loud, louder and loudest, in a failed attempt to meet up with friends.

Sunday morning, breakfast in bed. The boys finally got the memo! For the first time on a birthday or Mother’s Day, 4yo Guppy and 6yo Drake weren’t sick, didn’t wake in the night, didn’t wake before I did! They brought in home made cards, then went to help G. Grod fix me breakfast in bed, though they were very confused as to why I would want such a thing. (To read more of my book, of course.)

Sunday afternoon. A global lunch at Midtown Global Market. G had a ham and cheese croissant, the boys had corn dogs, and I had a huarachazo. Then we picked up the chocolate-orange cake that Salty Tart chef Michelle Gayer and I had brainstormed on and which she brought into being. It’s coming to room temperature now, and should be perfect after a simple supper tonight. For which I _might_ wash some lettuce.

And did I mention the lovely well wishes and cool prezzies? I’ve had scores of emails, in the face of which it’s impossible not to feel loved and appreciated. A lime-green pair of high-heeled sandals with matching tank from sister Sydney, the bundt pan I’VE WANTED FOR FOREVER and the Lou Barlow cd I’ve wanted since Duff noted it was one of her faves of ‘05 from my sister Ruthie, an awesome Minnesota dish towel from my friend The Hoff, an electric kettle (since I’ve ruined countless stovetop ones), a mini Bodum, and a CD from G that he really was excited about. A copy of Baked of my own from G’s grandma. Plus lingering happy memories and waves of wellness from the yoga retreat my mother-in-law sent me on.

Thus far, a tremendous day. Last year was rather difficult. This year will be better. I’m feeling fortified for it.

“Eat, Drink, & Weigh Less” by Mollie Katzen and Walter Willett, M.D.

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

The year after my 40th birthday I was very smug. Life was largely good. 41, however, has not been so kind. Weight gain, blurring of up-close vision, aching knees and joints were among the harbingers of age. As is my wont, I threw a flurry of attention at diet books, got several from the library, then ignored them for weeks. Several I returned. But Katzen and Willett’s Eat, Drink, & Weigh Less I renewed and finally read.

Simply, this book is what most everyone should do about their diet and health. Eat better (not less or more) and move more, and your chances for things like heart disease, diabetes and other age-related maladies are reduced. Throughout, Willett lists the long-term studies that prove what we know already: eat better, exercise more, and we’ll be in better health. The book is structured around 9 pieces of common-sense advice, such as eat more veg and fruit (but fewer white potatoes), choose good fats like olive oil over bad ones like trans fats, choose whole grain rather than simple carbs, and stay hydrated.

Additionally, Katzen, the author most famously of The Moosewood Cookbook (from which I learned to cook), includes a wealth of simple recipes and food advice. I tried several of the recipes, like the vegetable broth with peas, the vinaigrette and the avocado butter; all were easy, healthful and tasty.

For those looking for a diet book, this contains a quiz, a 21-day plan, a portable plan for travel and non cooks and maintenance advice. For everyone, though, is the short, sweet warm-up plan and the advice to practice the advice until it becomes standard practice.

What this book lacks is an emphasis on fresh, seasonal, local foods. For that, though, there are other books like Mark Bittman’s Food Matters. What this book does is make common sense health improvement easy to understand and easy to implement. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, or suffering from the lurking knowledge that your diet and exercise are not what they could be, this is a smart, helpful book to have on the shelf. Worth owning.

Anecdotal Evidence: Cold/Flu remedies

Monday, November 9th, 2009

All three of my boys are back at work, school and daycare this week after the flu visited each of them over the past 2 weeks. Thus far, I didn’t get the flu, though I did get a small cold that passed quickly. The flu incubation period is 5 to 8 days, so I’m not out of the woods yet, but if I am, I credit these three practices for it, along with the lightness and short duration of the cold last week:

Neti pot, rinsing with warm salt water once or twice a day.

Vitamin D, at least 1000 mgs, up to 3000.

Rest. When I felt tired and could, I laid down to nap, and I went to bed early, sometimes when the kids did, for 9 or 10 hours of sleep.

In addition, I’ve been washing hands and using hand sanitizer, taking an Emergen-C packet every day, trying to keep fluids up, taking Sambucol (an elderberry syrup), and Sinucheck. There are many reasons I may have avoided the flu and only had a mild cold. Given I’d been caring for three coughing, very sick guys for two weeks, though, I think my exemption probably was due to the preventive measures, and the neti pot, vit. D and rest seemed to make the biggest difference in my overall well being.

What More Do I Need?

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

At the Sun Times (link from Morning News), Roger Ebert remembers wondering, as a student:

What do I really need that isn’t here in this room? Its dimensions are a little more than twice as wide and deep as I am tall. I don’t know, maybe 150 square feet? Here I have the padded wood chair in which I sit tilted against the wall, my feet braced on my straight desk chair. I am holding the three-inch-thick Paul Hamlyn edition of Shaw’s complete plays. This room contains: A wood single bed, an African blanket covering it, a wood desk and its gooseneck lamp, a small dresser with a mirror over it, my portable typewriter, a small wardrobe containing my clothes, a steamer trunk serving as a coffee table, and two bookcases, filled to overflowing. What more do I actually need?

I enjoyed reading Ebert’s description of his book collection and office, and his admission–only toward the end!–that he’d miss his wife. I am a reader, but also a weeder of books. This has led to moments of regret, though few compared to the number of volumes I’ve gotten rid of. My husband G. Grod is more of Ebert’s stripe. Given his druthers, he’d never get rid of a book. (Alas, we are not the king and queen of infinite space. Or many bookshelves.)

I was thinking along the same lines as Ebert just this morning, as I worked in my office, organized books on our shelves, and spent time in our back bedroom and porch. Those three spaces–bedroom, porch, “office” (aka closet) are about all I’d need in a living space. They comprise my fortress of solitude, for whatever scant time I spend there to read, write and rest. Food and company I find elsewhere. (The latter, in the form of my two boys, usually finds me, first.)


reading porch

Last Pedicure of the Season

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Sandal season is mostly over, but for those remaining warm days, I wanted one last pedicure. Funds are short, so I knew this would be a DIY endeavor using materials on hand. You can modify this for time considerations by leaving out steps, but this list will provide a comprehensive at-home pedi. (Adapted from this article by Shandley McMurray at Kaboose.

1. Remove polish. Use acetone remover for faster results, and use cotton balls, not tissue for better absorbency.

2. Soak. I added kosher salt to warm water along with a few drops of tea tree and lavender essential oils and soaked for five minutes. I’ve also used milk beyond its expiration date with cinnamon and nutmeg with good results. Rinse and pat dry.

3. Buff. Use a pumice stone or stick, like the Diamancel Food Callus Rasp, on heels and other rough spots.

4. Exfoliate. Rub a mix of oil and salt or sugar. You can use olive oil, massage or body oil mixed with brown sugar or kosher salt. Rub upward toward the heart for a few minutes, then rinse and pat dry.

5. Trim nails. Use a clipper or scissors to cut straight across.

6. Moisturize. Use a thick cream.

7. Soften. Use cuticle treatment, like Dr. Hauschka’s Neem Nail Oil (the bottle, NOT the pen), or Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. The oil for exfoliating also works. Rub gently into cuticles.

8. Push. With a washcloth or soft stick, GENTLY push the cuticles back to make room for polish.

9. Remove again. Sweep a cotton ball soaked with polish remover over each nail again, so there’s a clean, non-oily surface for polish to stick to.

10. Polish. Apply a base coat, two coats of polish and a top coat for best results. Be patient, and give each coat a minute or two to dry between layers, then at least fifteen minutes at the end. Seche Vite is widely regarded as the best quick dry top coat. Look for polishes without toluene, formaldehyde and Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), like Sally Hanson Salon Nail Lacquer, OPI nail color, and Zoya, which is vegan-friendly.

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

My weeklong vacation ends today. My husband G. Grod took our sons, now-6yo Drake and 3.5yo Guppy, to PA to visit friends and stay with family. By all accounts, they had a wonderful time while I got to enjoy a week-long stacation. Several people asked me what I’d do with the time. Unlike vacations past, I made no hard and fast plans, and knew going in that whatever project to-do list I set would be theoretical. My priorities were rest, rejuvenation, reading and writing. I did all those things and more:

Bought chocolate and cupcakes from Local D’lish and Surdyk’s on the way home from dropping the boys at the airport.

Bought the John Hughes High School Flashback DVD set at Barnes and Noble, with Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Weird Science. (see recent entry on John Hughes.) Bough new Mercy Watson book, Something Wonky This Way Comes, and Shaun the Sheep DVDs, all ostensibly for Drake’s birthday. (But perhaps akin to a bowling ball inscribed with “Homer”.)

Had two girls-only tea parties using my china tea set.

Played Lexulous with my sister Sydney this week. (More accurately: got beat soundly by Syd on Lexulous this week.)

Went to five yoga classes in seven days, adding to my normal classes at Neti Neti by returning to lovely TaraNa and visiting the serene One Yoga.

Attended the Mad Men premiere party at Jax with my friend K8.

Mad Men party @ Jax

Saw the original Day the Earth Stood Still at the Heights.

Got my knives and scissors sharpened and bought a sharpening steel and new cutting board at Eversharp.

Cleaned out my linen closet but didn’t find the missing bathroom floor tiles to be replaced.

Swam laps at the Jim Lupient water park.

Got my brows waxed at Extrados.

Got my hair trimmed at Wave.

Got my nostril (re-) pierced at St. Sabrina’s.

Finally watched Kurosawa’s take on MacBeth, Throne of Blood.

Read 200+ pages in Infinite Jest; I’m close to the end!

Attended the Simple, Good and Tasty dinner at The Strip Club with my friend K8

Simple Good and Tasty @ Strip Club

then stayed up till 1am to watch the finale for Top Chef Masters and the premiere of Top Chef Las Vegas.

Attended a Project Runway party for the All Star special and the Season 6 premiere at my friend KM’s. (Go, MN designers!)

Finally went to Town Talk Diner with my friend Queenie.

Stayed up late, slept soundly, and made my own double cappuccinos every morning (my husband G. Grod usually makes them for me; I finally learned how to do them myself.)

double capp

And this morning, my last, I went to “gentle” yoga with Jeffrey at TaraNa, then to Crema Cafe for a local organic scramble and a Sonny’s latte (that’s a regular latte with a scoop of their espresso-infused Crema ice cream!),

Breakfast @ Crema Cafe

then stopped at Mitrebox to pick up Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Bomb cupcakes, then to Local D’lish to pick up Kettle Corn, Honey Walnut Fig and Peanut Butter Cup cupcakes, all to welcome the boys back. (Again, ostensibly. See above comment about bowling ball w/Homer.)

What I didn’t do: work in the yard, organize and clean. Fret.

I’ve had a terrific week, and I can’t wait to see G and the boys. I believe (and hope) I’ll be a better mom in the coming weeks because of this break. Maybe I’ll even have more energy to tackle some of those tasks I put off.

“The Woman’s Book of Yoga & Health” by Linda Sparrowe

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

The entire title is a bit unwieldy: The Woman’s Book of Yoga and Health: A Lifelong Guide to Wellness by Linda Sparrowe with yoga sequences by Patricia Walden. I call it The Purple Book for short, and I refer to it so frequently I have never lent it out. I’ve even considered dissecting it so I could take certain sections with me on vacations or breaks instead of toting the entire nearly 3-pound book. Thus far, though, it’s intact, and it’s gone with me on short weekends and long family trips. If you are a woman with even a passing interest in yoga–even if you’ve never tried it before–I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

It begins with three series: Essential, Energizing, and Restorative. Sparrowe recommends practicing at least three times a week, and fitting the practice to your needs alternating essential with energizing or restorative if you’re injured or run down. The subsequent chapters offer further specific information, health advice and yoga sequences for a comprehensive array of issues: menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, back injuries, headaches, depression, and more. Yoga sequences are illustrated by clear photos and detailed descriptions, along with benefits and cautions.

This book is a terrific reference, and I’ve learned a great deal about yoga from using it, even though I’ve never read it cover to cover. I can always find at least one yoga pose to suit my circumstances, and usually have to restrain myself from doing more. I can almost always fit in three yoga poses a day, even at my busiest and most harried. What I like best about it, though, is its practical approach. At core, it recommends eating, resting and exercising in moderation.

No matter how often you do yoga, you can’t hope to prevent or heal your health problems without making other lifestyle changes. If you practice yoga, but continue to eat poorly, get very little sleep, or stay in abusive or stressful relationships (in either your personal or work life), chances are you’ll continue to get sick.

While it’s the kind of advice that seems so obvious it doesn’t need to be stated (and many medical doctors don’t), Sparrowe does it in a reminding manner, not a nagging one. I’ve had this book since it was published, nearly seven years ago. Not many books have that kind of staying power, especially ones that can be reductively classed as self-help. This one, I’ve found, is a keeper.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Room of My Own

Monday, May 11th, 2009

For Mother’s Day, I de-crapified our back bedroom and unblocked the door to the closet/my office, which has been variously blocked over the past three years by a glider, crib, and changing table. I dusted, re-arranged, and brought order out of chaos.

This is the back room, which I envision as a reading room:

Reading Room

And the closet office:

Closet office Desk, detail

The other side:

Behind desk Dresser, detail

It’s small. It’s a closet. But it’s clean and well lighted. I’m reclaiming it.

It’s mine.

Hey, Wake Up!

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

April’s In Style magazine has “Ten Ways to Wake Up Beautiful“, a surprisingly simple list of tips to wake looking and feeling better. For example: Wash your face early in the evening, rather than later. Sleep on your back, with your head elevated. Have more protein and fewer carbs at dinner. The article includes brief explanations and the complete list, and falls into the “can’t hurt/might help/why not?” category for me. (Link at MSN Lifestyle)


Thursday, April 30th, 2009

I recently returned from a week in Miami, FL. I was careful and wore sunscreen, hat, protective clothing, sunglasses, etc. Even so, I got a mild sunburn on the back of my legs where I missed some areas. Even so, I thought I did well for being a week in the sun.

Then I got back to MN, went to a party in the park on Saturday, and sunburned my nose, which is now peeling.

Miami sun: nearly nothin’. Minnesota: lobster nose, then snake nose. Nice.

What I Did, And Didn’t, Do on my Family Vacation

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

My husband G. Grod, 5yo son Drake, 3yo son Guppy, and I just returned from a week in Miami with my family. We had a good time, and did a lot of fun things. But it was very different from my expectations beforehand.

Here’s what I thought I would do on vacation:

  • Read several books and magazines, both fun and substantive.
  • Go out to movies.
  • Watch DVDs at night.
  • Go out to dinner at nice restaurants.
  • Catch up on my online reading. (I had a list of 200+ unread feeds, and it wasn’t getting smaller.)
  • Catch up on my blogging.
  • Play Scrabble with my sisters.
  • Sleep in.
  • Have a swanky, kid-free spa day.
  • Go to the pool and play with my kids.
  • Go to the beach and play with my kids.
  • Use liberal amounts of sunscreen and avoid sunburn.
  • What I actually did:

  • Spent time with family. Better got to know my sweet 2you nephew, Bird.
  • Returned a book with only 100 pages to go before trip. Read one fluffy book. Made a bare start on another.
  • No movies. Only dvds were parts of Scooby Doo, Madagascar and Monsters, Inc. with kids.
  • Read one magazine, In Style, on the flight home.
  • Went out to several lovely dinners at nice restaurants: Versailles (Cuban), Andiamo Pizza, Matsuri sushi, 5300 Chop House, Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink.
  • Made a dent in my online reading, but got nowhere near to zero.
  • Barely blogged.
  • Played Lexulous with my online friends. No Scrabble with sisters.
  • Didn’t get uninterrupted sleep because of, variously: kids, strange bed, and extreme bedding choices of sheet or duvet making me either too hot or too cold to sleep.
  • Had a pretty good spa afternoon.
  • Went to the pool and played with my kids. Went down the giant slide. Saved Drake from drowning when he bolted down the slide himself. My mom saved him from drowning with he barged into the deep end where Guppy threw a ball.
  • Put ice on gigantic head lump Drake got when he ran full speed into the plate-glass sliding door, thinking it was open.
  • Went to the beach and played with my kids. Built a sand castle with moat. Decorated it with pink seaweed. Wondered if seaweed was edible, but didn’t feel like experimenting. Contentedly watched castle gradually reclaimed by ocean. Got sunburned on knees and back of legs. G. got bad sunburn on top of feet. Boys? Maybe a little pink.
  • So, mostly good. As usual, G. and I wished for even more downtime grown-up time. Lessons learned: Boys need to learn to swim. Be more even more careful about sunscreen. And adjust expectations and pack lighter for things like books and movies.

    Hydration, Hydration, Hydration

    Monday, March 30th, 2009

    From The Breakfast Club:

    Claire: I have a really low tolerance for dehydration.

    Andrew: I’ve seen her dehydrate, sir. It’s pretty gross.

    Since winter seems unable to give up its death grip around here, I had another look at “10 Ways to Great Winter Skin” originally in the Feb 2009 In Style magazine, reprinted at Shine from Yahoo.

    Particularly useful, I thought, is the assurance that having any old lip balm is more important than using an expensive one. I find, though, that petrolatum and SPF in formulas like Chapstick can be drying, so they’re a mixed blessing.

    I also like the DIY humidifier of a damp washcloth hung on the doorknob. The cleaning and maintenance of humidifiers is a giant PITA, so I’m much more likely to do this.

    “The Cult of Done”

    Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

    From Bre Pettis, via Boing Boing.

    The Cult of Done Manifesto

    1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
    2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
    3. There is no editing stage.
    4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.
    5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
    6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
    7. Once you’re done you can throw it away.
    8. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.
    9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
    10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
    11. Destruction is a variant of done.
    12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
    13. Done is the engine of more

    I think this might be the way to approach the kind of everyday stuff that has overwhelmed me, in general all my life, but specifically since the birth of 3yo Guppy. I have mail, email and magazines from February 2006, when he was born. Not helpful.