Category Archives: Daily Musings

Anything but hopefully not everything that comes to my mind. I do try to filter out the fluff, really I do.

Pilates Plus Life

Sometimes the only choice is to keep on going.

Sometimes the only choice is to keep on going.

I read something online recently that pulled at my heart and mind.  It’s a notion that I’ve heard over and over again throughout my years in the Pilates world:  that we Pilates enthusiasts must embrace our lives beyond Pilates because there is more to life than Pilates.  On the one hand I say, here here!  On the other hand I sadly say that sometimes my life feels all about Pilates.  There are a couple reasons why, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone which is why I’m inclined to share.

I am not wealthy now and I never have been.  I grew up with divorced parents and lived with my single mom.  I left my home state when I graduated from college and moved alone to a place where I didn’t know anybody.  It happened to be one of the most expensive places to live in the United States of America and I’ve been hustling ever since.  I have always been determined to follow my dreams.  Dreams first, everything else second.

This has meant that pretty much all my resources have gone into my Pilates training and little studio.  I don’t know from experience, but I imagine that wealth affords us a bit of distance between time and money.  We can luxuriate more in the fun of life because we don’t have to be earning every available moment to cover our bills.  For me, the link between the time and money has always been pretty short.  It’s meant that I haven’t had the spare time to build community around other pastimes.  I’ve done my best and have had pockets of fun here and there with dance, tennis, and other interests, and I do love my craft projects, but these days life is mostly about work.  And family.

Aside from work, I did also manage to find a mate out here in the wild west and we have a son.  My husband has his own business.  Between our businesses and our child, we are packed schedule-wise.  I don’t like it at all.  In my head or out loud, I complain about it most days.  Which I realize is a personal problem that I can address.  But there it is.  Dreams first.  Neither my husband nor I is ever ready to throw in the towel at the exact same time that the other one is so we keep on going.  With time I do believe that we have become more tenacious which is a blessing and a curse.  As a means of emotional survival, I keep working my mind to find the little nuggets of joy that sparkle up my days.

I tend toward the introverted side of the scale and along with that goes being sensitive to my environment.  I noticed something back when my teaching practice was really full and I was talking for several hours a day all the while engaging in the peculiar brand of relationship that Pilates instructors have with their clients (I call it intimacy with strangers).  I stopped listening to music or NPR in the car (I love music and have always listened to the radio) – I needed the quiet.  The fullness of my teaching practice and my sensitive nature demanded that I retreat when I wasn’t working.  Which was fine, but where were the fun social activities?  There weren’t many.  That could be fine for a span of time right?  We all have different phases of life.  I also live far from longtime friends and family so I don’t have those regular social interactions happening around me as I would if I lived back in Michigan and I have a sort of wacky spread out family anyway.  All that adds up to even less social time.

Then I became a mom and I tried to do it my way.  I was determined to keep my work with my little studio right under our home, and even more than that I was determined to keep connected to my son.  My dream of being a mom has always been my biggest and dreams come first.  I’m glad that I’ve done it my way even though it has been the most difficult thing that I’ve ever done – by far – and I’m not even four years in.  Compounding the challenges has been the extreme loneliness.  I never joined a moms group because I didn’t have time – I work when other parents play with their kids.  Unlike working moms who still have their colleagues, I work alone and I’ve become much clearer on the boundaries between professional and personal relationships thanks to a few instances of professional relationships gone “bad”.  Bottom line is that it’s hard and lonely to do things in an unconventional way.

Looking back I can see how it all fits together to create the life that I’m currently living.  The life that frustrates me.  My singular focus on following my dreams no matter the cost, the challenge of building a life far from my original home, how I needed to respond to the particular demands of my work, and how that all set me up for being even more isolated as a new mom than I would have otherwise been.  It’s true that it’s my design and that I have the power to change it.  But it is also a rather tangled web of desires and knowing which thread to pull free in order to loosen it all up is difficult.

I’m trying my darnedest not to feel pitiful, I’m trying not to whine.  But I’m also trying to understand.  I’m trying to figure out why I’m not perfectly happy living the life of my design because clearly this was not the plan.  I’m pretty sure that I’m close to cracking it, I’ve got almost all the pieces perfectly in place.  In the meantime I mull over the ideals and compare them to my reality and try to stay positive.

When I read that same old idea, one of my guiding lights in putting together my life I felt sad and compelled to dig a little deeper into the topic and shed some light on the complications that make setting up the perfectly balanced life such an involved project.  Against the odds, I do believe that we can all get there.  Sometimes writing it out serves us toward that end.

Sometimes the Rocks at the Bottom are Laced with Gold

fruit and veggie jewelry

In other news, check out this gorgeous jewelry made out of fruits and veggies – amazing!

I’m surprising myself lately.  The first surprise occurred a little over a week ago when I posted a picture of my long hair.  Honestly it was partly because I’ve been advised that blog posts are better received when they have a picture, but there was another reason that I shared in the caption of the photo.  Namely, that I was about to do something momentous by getting a haircut.  Ironically, the thing of significance didn’t happen until a week later because I got the appointment time late by a half an hour and then our family car had a slight problem that rendered it immobile.  Even then, I had to persevere a bit more until I really struck gold.  Which sort of makes this all a bit more significant, because I’m remembering that hair is like that.  Especially curly / wavy hair.  In my years of experience dealing, or not dealing as the more often case is, with my hair I’ve learned that there is a brand of high maintenance that curly hair demands.  I’ve come to think that curly hair has something to teach us about being gentle and accepting of ourselves.  Indeed that is how I’ve learned to make peace with my hair.

The second surprise occurred when I realized that in spite of my general nonchalance, my head typically looks quite neglected to the point that I’ve become rather self-conscious about it, I was suddenly devoting quite a bit of attention to my hairstyle.  This is because I’d reached a point of extreme frustration with how my hair looks and I was becoming increasingly obsessive about getting my hair shorter and layered.  The funny thing is that nobody else seemed to think that this was a good idea.  I’m talking years here.  Years of playing with the idea of more layers and getting talked out of it by everybody.  Years!

After my haircut yesterday I was disappointed.  Yesterday was also meant to be our boy’s first-ever haircut with someone other than Mr. Twist, but he chickened out.  So we made a plan to go back today.  Somehow that second visit in the wake of my disappointment was enough to empower me to insist upon the change that I’ve been wanting for years.  Years!  The idea that if my boy had the opportunity to watch me get my hair cut, yesterday he’d been napping during my cut, perhaps he’d be more amenable to the idea of sitting in the chair himself was helpful when I pleaded my case to my hairdresser.

What finally convinced my hairdresser to give me layers?  I told her that I’d basically been hating my hair for several months and so it wouldn’t really be that big of a deal to hate my hair for a different reason.  In fact, a little variety would be welcome.  Essentially, I’d arrived at rock bottom.  Finally she agreed.  After years.  Years!

I got my layers, and I declared to my husband, another long time deterrent of the layers that became a mild obsession, that the layers are here to stay whether he likes them or not.  Because I like them.  I can’t believe how much I like them, I feel  like the guy who finally eats the green eggs and ham (except that I wasn’t the one pushing them away, I was just the one listening to the others who were encouraging me to push them away – somehow that seems like an important distinction to make).  Our boy also enjoyed his first haircut and has been talking about both our haircuts all evening.  Indeed it was something of a momentous occasion.

The third surprise is that for the first time in years I like the way my hair looks.  Now that I can honestly say that, I cannot believe that it took me so long to get here.  But strangely enough it seems all the more fabulous for all the effort that it took to get here.  Maybe there is something to be said for hitting rock bottom, sometimes.

Pulling Back the Bowstring

Is it that mercury is in retrograde?  Maybe that’s why I feel paralyzed by memories lately.  Or maybe it’s that I’m nearing the twentieth anniversary of my high school graduation.  I have images burned in the recesses of my mind and these days they are drifting to my conscious thoughts as I build a train track with my son or sit and crochet his trail blanket.  I believe that they are photos from my high school year book and yet I haven’t seen that thing in years.  It’s somewhere in my mother’s Michigan basement.  Recently, when I realized that I was remembering a particular image, it slowly dawned on me that I had no idea where it came from, I thought to look through my photo albums and track it down, but had no luck.  It must be in that yearbook…  As far as I know, my graduating class was the first to receive an email account when we entered university in the fall of 1994.  Which is to say that my memories exist in a book and in my mind, and cannot be tracked down on the internet.  That’s sort of strange to me, that the thing that I use daily to find information of all kinds yields no access to my personal history.  The only way to my past is through personal contact.

And I sort of like that idea.  I like to think about the people that I remember from high school.  I like to hope that they are doing well.  I like to remember them with fondness for perhaps no other reason than they were my companions during a particular period in my life, albeit not one that I would like to revisit or enjoyed all too much.  I pretty much endured high school.  I could see that it was something of a stepping stone and I made the most of it.  And those people that I knew then, they kept me company.  They made me curious.  They entertained me.  And so I think that it would be nice to see them.  For some strange reason, I think that it would be nice to see them.  Because I’m pretty sure that it will mostly be awkward, I mean the truth is that there’s probably a good reason that we haven’t kept in touch.  And yet, I’m still curious.  I’d still like a little entertainment.  And I have all these feelings of fondness toward the folks that I went to high school with.  A few individuals sure, but the whole lot of my graduating class really.  I’d like to give them a hug and say, keep up the good work, whatever it may be.

I’d also like to offer a friendly piece of advice to the current high schoolers out there who are electing their class officials:  elect the ones that are good at planning a party.  Yes, I know that this is nearly impossible to predict twenty years into the future, but I gotta say that it sure would be fun if it worked out that way.  Is there some sort of inverse relationship between the chances of being an elected class official and the chances of having it together enough as a twenty year high school grad to be able to put together a reunion?  I’m sorry, I know that sounds a bit insulting, but frankly our class officers are surprisingly lame in this department and I find it something of a disappointment.  The sad fact is that there may very well not be a reunion for me to attend and that bums me out.

All these sentimental feelings that I’m having are giving me the notion that I ought to attempt to throw the ten-percent-of-us-that-would-actually-attend a party and yet that seems rather far fetched for a lot of reasons.  But there’s one that looms big in my mind – strangely it’s not the part about it being a whole lot of time consuming work – and that is that the people that I think about the most probably wouldn’t come.  Isn’t that always the way?  Especially with high school.  We were essentially a bunch of strangers who happened to be the same age and more often than not the ones that we found interesting didn’t reciprocate.  A whole bunch of flying arrows missing targets.  But one never knows, maybe that bowstring will grow tense enough to propel that sort of grandiose idea into flight and actually hit something.  Or maybe I’ll just write a few letters and invite a few folks out to California.  The sunshine sure feels nice in February.

Anyway, Mercury will soon be right.  And I hope that my head will follow.  It’s a strange kind of thing thinking vaguely about people that I barely knew twenty years ago over and over again.  A strange thing indeed.

Our New Hampshire Visit

I really do love to visit new places and see how other folks live.  Given that I’ve been following bloggers who live in the northeastern United States of America for the past couple years and that some dear friends and family members also have strong ties to that region, it was fun for me to poke around and see what I noticed.

Once we left RDC, we didn’t have a plan other than to get to the farm where we would be spending the night.  Given that Sunday was my husband’s birthday I let him decide what we’d do.  I’d already mentioned Christine’s recommendation of the local Science Center to him, since I’ve come to appreciate her unsurpassed skills as a connoisseur of all things beautiful.  Given that our boy has been asking to see animals for weeks and we’ve repeatedly opted not to visit the zoo due to busy days, he thought that spending time with animals was in order.  So we stopped at a shop and asked where we could catch glimpse of some living creatures.  And sure enough, they confirmed what we’d already heard, so up the road we went.

nhnsc sticker

My first stop was the bathroom and it was there that I formed my first impressions of the place.  I have had one other public restroom experience that comes close to the one that I had right off Squam lake and that was in the Louvre.  (Sure you have to pay to pee, but the individual rooms are cleaned after each and every usage!  I rejoined my husband in an exhilarated state, very eager to spend more money for the sheer expression of my enthusiasm.  The only thing for sale though was highly stylized toilet paper and he immediately vetoed my plea.)  What could possibly trump super clean toilets?  Compostable ones!

compostable toilet sign

Better in so many ways.  Perfectly odorless!  Respectful of nature!  Water conserving!  I could go on if I actually knew anything about compostable toilets.  But I don’t.  Someday though, I will learn.  And if there was ever a good idea worth spreading, I do believe that compostable toilets fit the bill.  Straight out of the gate, this place had earned my highest esteem.

Meanwhile, my poor husband was having a different sort of experience.  Our son has a thing for girls about four feet high, and he was love sick since we’d just said goodbye to his newest object of affection.  That coupled with the fact that it really was his nap time made for a very crabby little boy.  When we passed another girl along the path, he reached and cried out for her, “girl!!!”  And he continued to do so for the next half hour.  The first exhibit was not a live one and somehow my husband had the idea that perhaps all the exhibits were actually just examples of taxidermy.  He was ready to demand our money back right then and there but I convinced him that they wouldn’t have said “live” animals unless there really were some.  So with crying babe in arms, we pressed on.  But we went right instead of left.  We passed through what we thought was one exhibit but didn’t see any animals and I conjectured that the enclosures were so big that perhaps the animals were off sleeping, or even more likely scared away by the repeated and impassioned cry, “GIRL, GIRL, GIRL!”  After what seemed like a very long time (crying babies make every moment drag on forever don’t they?) we arrived at a pond and spent some time watching a salamander.  With the thought that perhaps the only creature we were going to see was a salamander, we continued up a trail until it became clear that we were entering the woods and leaving the well traveled path.  Lucky for us we turned around and then things started looking up.  We did see a couple more girls and they were gracious enough to entertain our boy’s whims.

We dabbled in some of the very cool exhibits.  This is where I had a bit of a revelation, because I was actually enjoying myself as I read the small snippets of information about the natural world.  I have never been one to enjoy zoos, museums, or any place that presents broad swaths of information without much depth.  I like to dig deeply into topics of interest.  But being with a kid, keeping tabs on him and having a few spare moments in between to read an interesting fact here and there gave me a new insight into why such places can be enjoyable.  It’s actually pleasant to be able to take in some interesting facts about the natural world while making sure that our kid doesn’t cause himself bodily harm while he explores the exhibits in his own way.  I do love it when I realize another little way that my life has changed for the better since becoming a mama.  And the exhibits were really fun for our boy too.  As we went from one to the other, I became more and more impressed.  And then we saw the bears.

bear photo

That was really fun.  Dare I indulge myself with how cute and cuddly they looked?  To borrow my son’s current affirmation, oh yes!  Along with other guests, we spent a good long while appreciating those bears.  I was reminded of the funny things that the bear does in this quirky and very enjoyable read as I watched the antics of the smaller bear while he sat right in front of us.  Husband and boy continued on through the exhibit at a leisurely pace.  I had become quite cold (how about that weather?!  Bless New Englanders for living in a place where Mother Nature’s most temperamental side is so often expressed!), and hungry so I beat a hasty retreat to the car.

We left Squam lake happy and had a lovely drive to Breakwind Farm just outside of Concord.  Except.  We missed an exit.  And so we had to turn around.  But the only way to do that was to cross through a toll plaza.  We had to pay to leave and we had to pay to return.  So essentially we paid one dollar to make a u turn.  Which is fine on one hand, I’m all for chipping in for such well maintained roads.  But, as our hosts at the farm pointed out, in principle it seemed a little contrary to the state motto.  Which by the way, is so catchy that it’s the only one that I actually know by heart.

Our time at the farm was brief but really enjoyable.  Patti and Rick impressed me with how sensible and thoughtful they are.  We got to hear fun stories about chickens and squirrels, and not so fun ones about other rodents.  Our boy got to sit on the tractor and then watch Rick move it around.  Their kitty cat is a sweet cuddly bundle of silken-fluff and she was happy to let our little one pet her, a rare treat since our cat back home barely tolerates such things.  While our boy napped, we stole some time to swap ideas and gain insights into the local culture.  Rick is the one who told me that the outhouse is a celebrated status symbol in their neck of the woods (just do a search on and you’ll see on your screen what any New Hampshirite sees upon entering a bookstore, according to him).  A funny idea to me, but after those compostable toilets I was really tuned into the topic.  We found them through airbnb and apparently so do many others.  It was cool to be part of the stream of international folks who stop in for a visit and catch a glimpse of the renaissance of the small organic farm.  I imagine that it is fun for them too as life on the farm is full of work and frustrations.  Having the company of friendly and enthusiastic guests must ease the daily burden of the never-ending toil that is running a small farm and learning all the while.

We enjoyed dinner at a fairly common restaurant.  Since most places are closed on Sundays, we didn’t have that many options.  It was sort of like eating at the house of distant relatives which made the experience all the more appealing since so many people who are dear to me hail from the vicinity.  But the real gem came in the form of one particular magazine from October 8, 1951.  Honestly, I do not think that I could have been happier.  Happy as in if the whole trip was for the purpose of my discovering this one thing that I’ve been dreaming of finding for years, I would have been okay with that.  Both Amanda and Christine have waxed on about thrifting no matter the circumstances and I’ve always wished that I was the sort of person who thrifts.  But I don’t manage to set enough time aside for such things to yield the results of my ambitions.  I’ve always thought that thrifting was the sort of thing that one had to do consistently to experience any measure of success.  Or perhaps it’s just a matter of having access to the right places.  Every once in a while though, I make a serious score.  Oh how I love the thrill of satisfaction that comes from acquiring a treasure with minimal outlay!  As we were being led to our table, my eye spied some shelves filled with old magazines for sale.  Once we were settled in I looked up the exact date of the issue of my desire and then the hunt was on.  The magazines were ordered by year, each one wrapped in a plastic sleeve.  It didn’t take long to find what I was seeking.  After putting $8 rolled up to fit through the hole in the honor system box, I had my catch.  Here are the pics, taken right on the floor of our home office, just to show that I’ve got the real deal right here with me.  I’m still reveling in my luck at getting to experience first hand so much of the fun that I’ve been reading about for nearly two years!

JHP and Peters, page 1

peters, page 2

peters, page 3

peters, page 4

On the morning of our last day of vacation we followed the recommendation of our hosts and headed up Mt. Kearsarge.  It was an absolutely beautiful drive.  We agreed that it would probably be bursting with fall colors in just another week, but for us the woods were still an extravaganza of lush greens.  Upon checking in at the state park gate, the very friendly park steward told us that we only had to pay if we were planning to stay (at the onset our idea was just to drive up and drive back down).  Her common sense-driven leniency mitigated any lingering sense of injustice that we may have had from our experience at the toll crossing and we were feeling pleased to visit such an all-around lovely place.  When we reached the end of the auto road, the parking lot was cloaked in fog.  As we stood there, the fog rolled off to reveal a spectacular view.  The boys became enthusiastic about hiking but I preferred to stay warm in the car and to clear my head by writing some of my thoughts down.

With that we completed our sojourn in New Hampshire.  I do hope to be back soon.  It is a truly beautiful state with friendly folks and all sorts of hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered.

Taking Pilates on the Road

Excepting a couple weekend jaunts in October, we are now home for a while and I must say that I’m happy to be here.  I do love to travel, but I am challenged by the sense of upheaval that I always feel when leaving home.  My Pilates routine did end up suffering a bit over the past couple weeks.  That’s a bit of a bummer for me, but I’ve come to realize something about My Pilates Body Boost:  it’s become my new Pilates reality.  When I finish up the project, I’m just going to keep on going indefinitely.  Falling off the wagon a wee bit for the benefit of sharing some new and wonderful experiences with my boys was a perfect trade.

Perhaps my sense of upheaval upon departing home has to do with the fact that I tend to pack a lot of life into my days.  As we were getting ready for a long day of travel that began at four am, I was getting crabbier and crabbier.  Mostly I was thinking about how impossible I’ve made my life to leave and ironically (at least in print) how impossible it is to take with me.  You know, the irrationality of emotions.  The result of all this brooding was that the computer stayed home and so did all my herbal supplements and breast-milk-boosting vitamins.  Upon choosing not to pack that all up, I repeatedly told myself as I puttered around:  I’m going to rely on tree medicine and stress-free living for the next week.  It mostly worked, the only thing lacking was sleep.  But the trees and the sounds of the lake (minus the power boats), made up for that within twenty four hours of our arrival.

In the middle of Thursday night, my husband woke me from a deep sleep when he said:  “Oh my, a giant spider!!!”  This is perhaps the worst thing that a person could say to me in the middle of the night.  (When I attended sleep-away camp as a teen my tent-mates claimed that I would sit up in my bed during the night frantically screaming “bugs, bugs, bugs!”)  I am a city mouse, no two ways about it.  And my city of choice has remarkably few bugs, which really works for me.  That night, after having a few freak outs in which I frenetically brushed off my entire body and vigorously shook my hair, after going to the bathroom, after my husband thoroughly checked the bed and realized that there was not actually a spider but that he’d had a dream, after I laid in bed for nearly two hours, after my son cried out the name of his current 11-year old object of affection but by some grace did not actually awaken, I realized that I had myself a bit of insomnia.  So I got out of bed and wrote out all my thoughts which is roughly when this post took shape.  The cool thing is that I was no worse for it in the morning.  Tree medicine is potent stuff.

My time at Taproot’s Squam gathering kicked off with Phoebe’s class and what a joy it was!  Meeting Phoebe was a real treat for me.  She is the picture of poise and honest good sense, in my opinion a perfect combination.  I had intended to make something with my favorite pair of overalls from my youth as the point of the class was to weave something special from our childhood into a new toy.  It hadn’t occurred to me that a goose would be the ideal animal for me to make since it was my main nickname as a child, until I was sitting there in class.  I made the goose but didn’t end up finding a way to involve the overalls that didn’t completely take away from the goose.  So another project awaits me.

mama goose

Which brings me all the way back home to one of my very favorite places that I have been meaning to share with Adele ever since we met.  I am hoping to have a post on Castle in the Air very soon.  Throughout my days at Squam, I kept thinking of Castle in the Air, I guess that it’s my local source of what Squam does for so many people.  More on that to come, I promise.

It wasn’t long before we broke the ice with the other families in attendance.  Kids take care of that, which is great for parents who might tend to be shy at large gatherings of people far from home.  Being part of the family flurry made for non-stop entertainment and kept the feeling awkward-at-being-in-a-new-place to a minimum.  It became something of a private joke, since this most frequently occurred when I was the only adult with a couple kids, how many times I was mistaken for somebody else’s husband’s wife or child’s mother.  Clearly in the eyes of camp we were something of a unit, an entertaining and appreciated unit.

snack with a view

When we conceived of the idea of attending the gathering we were looking for a vacation.  That meant that there had to be something for us both to enjoy and so Friday was my husband’s day to express his creativity in the woods.  He took  Thea’s class which he really enjoyed and we’ve got some beautiful photos to show for it.  My personal favorites are below.  As I am a lover of all varieties of moss and tiny plants, I asked my sweetie to take the first one and he graciously complied.  Thea gave her class participants a little gift which I ended up with since it’s perfume.  Funny, because I’d been fantasizing about perfumes that serve a higher purpose rather than just being headache producing.  I love that this one is also bio-energized just like my favorite skin care products (again, a couple other posts on the topic are in the queue.)  But really I love that coming so far from home, I am reminded of what I love most in my little world and find new connections to those loves in the wider world.  To me, that’s some of the best that adventure has to offer.

moss varieties

floating leaf lake squam

As far as my Pilates workouts, I just did them in the cabin while the baby slept.  But we did manage to capture a few shots of me by the lake.  One of my favorite things to do with him is to collaborate on creative projects.  He is such a talent and so perfectly complimentary to me in that he is the one that makes so many of my visions come into being.  It is so wonderful to go on an adventure as a family because we bring the best of ourselves, the relationships that we share, along for the journey.  Here are the best ones in no particular order.

open leg rocker


shoulder bridge


leg pull front




balance control




double leg kicks


single leg kicks


I loved the fair and so wish that I’d had some money to spend on all the beautiful wares.  Hopefully by next time.  Phoebe’s booth was such eye candy!  But my favorite booth was Stephinie’s because it was a such a pleasant surprise to see her there.  Seeing her beautiful baby quilts, silks, and garlands live and in person was a real treat.  They are stunning.  I especially loved her new garland with the phases of the moon.  Someday…

Rockywold Deephaven Camp is an amazingly beautiful facility.  Being there really clued me in to what makes Squam possible in some ways.  I’m not sure why it didn’t dawn on me before, but Squam is sort of like camp for crafty adults.  And if you’re going to go to camp, you want to do it where people know how to camp.  It seems that generations of camp enthusiasts at RDC have perfected the balance of rustic charm and creature comforts.  Being there once makes me hungry for more, to be sure.  The beauty of camp is that it brings us back to ourselves and then we take that experience back into our world to live our days with a little more fullness, joy, and communion with all the life that surrounds us.  The magic of camp is within us all the time, it’s just good for us to go into the woods to rediscover it periodically, once a year at least.  In the between times, we can cultivate that magic in any number of ways.  I’m thinking of one book in particular that has often served me as a reminder for the potential within us that camp reveals.  And so it is that I return to the normalcy of life, with a little more magic woven in than before thanks to my time shared with some lovely companions on lake Squam.


Time to Return to Life (with Pilates, of course)

I finally clued in to the reality of these days:  I need to refine my focus for the next couple weeks.  Next week our family heads East to attend the Taproot Gathering, and I am just now wrapping my head around the idea of tidying up loose ends and preparing for unplugging.  It will be a quick trip for us, but a much needed break from the normal.  As I gather my wits, it’s dawning on me that the timing is perfect.  Once we return, I’ve got a solid two months of special projects and happenings in my professional and personal life.  So it’s seeming all the more sane to get organized, unplug, and then re-enter with a renewed sense of vigor and enthusiasm for what awaits me.

I will continue with my Pilates Body Boost, but I won’t share any thoughts or developments on the topic here for a couple weeks.  I’m letting myself off the hook for any writing projects other than the ones that demand to be completed (in other words, the one’s that stand between me and myself – because those sorts do pop up at the most unexpected times, there’s no planning for them).

So here’s to returning to life in all senses of the phrase but always with Pilates!

She Works Hard for the Honey (because there ain’t much money)

I think that the best way to address what is running through my mind right now is to simply begin with the overarching statement: being a working mom is difficult. I don’t know anybody who would disagree with that statement, at least not in the presence of a working mom.

I’ve been trying my hand at having it all since my kid was born just around a year and a half ago. Here’s my version of having it all: having my kid with me nearly all of the time and working. This has evolved as he’s gotten older and more interested in leaving the house, but my original scheme is laid out pretty clearly here. There have been so many moments over the past year when it seemed to me that I surely must be mad for attempting what I did, and yet, I could see no other way. While I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I remember, and am so very grateful for the privilege, I also am passionate about my work. And so, it has always seemed to me that the only way to be happy as a mom is to be a working mom. And somehow, I can’t see how being a working mom can be easy, and so I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I’m pretty sure that this all gets easier though. Kids get older, we adults get more savvy, things generally fall into place with greater ease. But, man oh man, the first couple years of the first kid? Thank goodness time keeps moving forward!

Back in the days of my thriving business when I was svelte and brimming with confident enthusiasm, I had a few women approach me about wanting to become Pilates instructors. They were interested in completing certification programs at the same time they were planning on having their first children. This struck me as strange. There is, of course, the most obvious reason right? That Pilates is based on controlling the very part of our body which is decidedly no longer under our complete control once that sperm and egg get together. But to me there was another curiosity, why would a person want to jump into the biggest unknown of their life and take up an entirely new discipline and career at the same time?

Now that I’m a mom, I think that I have a better idea about at least part of it. We have a need as mom’s to defend our natural providence over the course that our lives take. This was for me, absolutely essential. If I am going to have even a chance of always being present and ever-yielding to my baby who is entirely dependent on me, then I’m going to have to be well-cared for. And only I can determine what well-cared for means to me. As far as I am concerned this logically extends to the work that we do and with that how we spend our valuable time and energy. To have work that is not fulfilling on a deep level as a mom would be very difficult for me. But in my adult years, my work has always been dictated by my dreams. I realize that not everybody is so lucky. But when motherhood knocks, it seems that people wake up to themselves a little bit more with the realization that work must be meaningful in order to be granted our attention.

There is another thing going on with regard to Pilates, and now seems as an appropriate time as any to bring up the point: Pilates is hard work. But most people don’t realize that until they actually do it. Especially not over here in California where the work Pilates is used to describe such a broad range of exercise experiences and types that it takes a real-honest-to-goodness-body-sleuth to figure out what each and every body is doing (if one really cares to know, that is). While the extent of variations on the theme, Pilates, is large and problematic for many reasons, the fact that not everybody is working hard in the same effective way is par for the course. And so, plenty of people are operating under the false idea that Pilates is some sort of fluffy exercise that women with an excess of resource do. Wrong, wrong, wrong. (Okay, maybe a little right, given the price tag of a proper investment in Pilates). But make no mistake: the people who are doing actual Pilates are working very hard and very deeply, for a long time. That is the only way to get a bonafide “Pilates Body”.

While I did not pick a whole new career, I did reinvent my career along with getting pregnant.  (Well, I did start this little blog, mostly out of necessity:  a creative outlet was very much needed).  I still call myself a Pilates Instructor and Studio owner and yet everything is different. How I do my work is different. How I prioritize my time is different. Well of course it is, in so many ways I am starting over again. And so it would seem that there are some universalities to being a working mom. While we each go about it in our unique way, we will each be forever changed by being a mom. I hope that for each of us, we find more of who we are in our time with our children and in our time with ourselves in our work lives. This, to me, is the logical progression of a life well lived.

And while, I have suffered at the mercy of my own frustrations, more than at any other point in my life in my short tenure as a working mom, I know that I am capable of so much more than I was before. As time marches on it’s inevitable forward trajectory, I see that there can be no other place for me than further along my path than I once was as a fit-go-getter who was ever so slightly intolerant of my sisters’ struggles to find more of who they were.

And while, there may not be much money in these first years, there is oh so much honey.  So for now (but not always), sweetness will have to suffice.

Yuletide, the dark underbelly of Christmas.

Well, I hate to be a scrooge. But. It would seem that some sort of scrooge or grinch has designs on the our family Christmas celebration. This is definitely in keeping with our experiences throughout the year of 2012. This was the year when I marveled at how many times I considered the notion of rock bottom and while people in my family don’t necessarily think of things in those terms, there have been challenges at everybody’s doorstep this year. The year that we ought to forget, just as soon as it actually ends.

But, clearly, in our individual and collective lives, we have far more goodness than badness. And so I thought that I’d turn to my keyboard with the hope that a bit of writing will put things in perspective. There was a point, when my husband was boiling with anger and frustration (I know just how he was feeling) and while I was feeling empathetic and quite sorry for him, I was also thinking that this is all going to be laughable pretty soon. I mean really. How could more things go wrong for people who love Christmas as much as we do and who are as well ordered as we are (type A all the way)?

So let’s see….

My step-father died last month. He loooooved Christmas. Just like me. Just like my husband.

So we were that much more determined to have a quiet and merry Christmas celebration with my mom here in California. But, she’s sad. We are all sad.

Then, two days before Christmas, my husband got hit with a virus. He was in the sort of misery that makes a person consider the lightness of death vis a vis the heavy burden of severe distress of the digestive system (ahem). I played nurse, we cancelled all activities involving people coming to our house which meant that cleaning and childcare didn’t happen. This also happened to be the day that I started my period and the morning that I was past due for a “sleep in” with my husband on baby duty. And it was raining, cats and dogs. After speaking with an advice nurse, considering just what would happen at the emergency room (he was really in a state of misery), and carefully evaluating his condition, we decided to follow the nurse’s instructions for restoring fluids. It worked and as the sun set, he declared to be feeling a tiny bit better. By the next day he could get out of bed. That was Christmas Eve. Oh good!

But there are certain things that my husband always does to celebrate Christmas in honor of his deceased mother who absolutely loved Christmas. Christmas is the day that my husband and his father remember his mother and these personal rituals are very important to him. But he had to forgo them all. We had to tell his dad not to come because we did not want to risk him catching the ferocious bug that ravaged my husband’s body.

(At this particular moment I am feeling quite adamant about the custom of quarantine and rest when ill. Why people are so careless about this, I do not know. But we are pretty sure of the person who is responsible for this situation, and I must admit – with reservations – that if he were a person who celebrated Christmas, we would give him a lump of coal, and an earful. But that is why I have this lovely little cyber space.)

Also, we have very little money (like so many others, I know), and for us this means dramatic cutbacks on Christmas spending. Which is fine. Sure. For the best. Definitely. And yet, we love the fun of Christmas presents. But the truth is that we would not have had the time or energy to wrap them and keep them secret. For example, my mom and I just decided to go shopping together. That way we could buy each other exactly what the other wanted. Not so romantic. But we were happy.

We have purchased a lot of food. Which will be consumed, but not on the original schedule. We had a non-traditional breakfast which I ruined in my husband’s eyes by using sprouted whole wheat flour instead of the regular all purpose flour. I’m trying to keep the healthy of us healthy and bolster up my husband’s body. But, of all the meals, I picked the wrong one. He was quite unhappy with the situation and with me.

Then came the baby’s bout with the bug. Which isn’t so bad, so far. Except that we are now treating his waste as if it were radioactive. The bathroom has become a toxic dump with my husband the sole employee, since so far my mom and I have steered clear of the big bad germs. So my mom, the baby, and I all headed to the Pilates studio in order to use the bathroom. By the time we got back, the baby had had another episode contaminating all sorts of clothing on the three of us, and my husband had successfully stopped up the toilet by mistakenly flushing one of our reusable cloth baby wipes down with the evil vermin.

Over breakfast we shared memories of serene Christmases spent with loved ones. Those memories blended in my mind with the prose that I indulged in during the baby’s Christmas Eve nap. And it would seem that this Christmas is decidedly not going to make it on the the Top Ten Best Christmases Ever list.

But there were some really lovely moments:

When we turned the lights on the tree much to the baby’s enjoyment (we had left them off save a few minutes up till Christmas Eve)

Wrapping presents with my mom and realizing that now I’m part of the parent wrapping club. (It’s fun to assist Santa).

Listening to my husband read a Christmas classic over dinner.

Sleeping in thanks to baby.

Waking before baby in order to set up the video camera before he came out. Instead of rushing to keep up with him as happens nearly every morning, he seemed to know that we had something special in store for him.

Watching baby enjoy his gifts one by one. He still has more to open, he is napping now.

And many many more. Yes, there is plenty of good along with the rest.

While this is not the Christmas any of us would have asked for, it is the one that we have got.  It’s the one day that my husband expects to kick back and relax, which is a big deal these days in our little family.  The thing that I realized about Christmas today is that here in the US, it is the one break all year that we get save for a few businesses  being open.  Boy can we use a break!

I was thinking that it would be cool if we had one day like Christmas once a season.  One day when absolutely everything was closed.  All we can do is hunker down and mellow out.  Despite all our trials, it’s still a relaxing day for the simple fact that we don’t have much to do.  I like that, and I think that we could use a bit more of it.  Just another crazy idea that I cooked up…that and a tasty Christmas dinner are the order of this Christmas evening.  And once the babe sleeps, we adults plan to indulge in a bit of Christmas fun, just to put some smiles on our faces.

Merry Christmas!

Should I Stay or Should I go?

Our time with family yesterday, my recent walk down memory lane, and my current read (which I have a very difficult time putting down and find it very easy to think about during long car rides), have all come together in my mind to a few realizations.

Thus far in my thirty-odd years, I’ve noticed a common thread through most of my experiences: the constancy of transition. Here is the particular instance that weighs on my mind today. I was born in a city with a dearth of people. As a young child, I lived in that vacuous space and imagined ways to breathe new life into what was left. Presumably my father, with his love of architecture and tendency to dream was also engaged in a more tangible and adult version of this exercise (this is purely speculation, mind you). I left that city, upon which I’d laid so many dreams and hopes. I left and I often missed it terribly. But it seemed that I had to go. There were not possibilities for me there. I was facing a mismatch within myself and the easiest thing to do was to go. Now, truth be told, my parents left. One and then the other, while I was still a child living with them. So, to be fair, my departure wasn’t so much a departure, as a lack of returning once I was of the age to choose for myself where exactly I would begin to work on making my dreams reality. But to me, given the heavy burden of being part of the small community that stayed back in the 1970’s it felt like I’d left. And in the past few years, as returning would be a very cost effective choice compared to continuing to live where we do, the possibility to return has been considered and discussed. But always with the decision to stay put, for now.

Living in Oakland has felt like a good compromise because there are so many characteristics that Oakland and Detroit share. But my husband doesn’t agree. He grew up as an only child out in the country, he’s used to considerably fewer people and, in tandem to me, he holds on to the possibility of returning to his roots. And so it seems that someday in the future I may have to venture even further from my home, to a different sort of place all together. I must admit that while I can conjure up a romantic version of such a life, it is not nearly as appealing to me as staying here or going all the way back home. I find myself engrossed in this element of Weiss’ story and wishing that it could be so simple for me (the beauty of reading another person’s story, right?).

I’ve got my coping mechanisms for urban living all set up, but there is an underlying philosophy that guides me through my days in the city. Living with my country mouse of a husband has brought this philosophy more to the fore front of my mind as I am drawn into debates about why things are the way they are here. But being amongst family members living a small town kind of life, and thinking about my childhood now with the analytical capabilities of an adult, have left me wanting to clarify this mental approach to life in the city a bit more.

There is a complexity to urban life that I really enjoy. The way that so many different people share a small space and in so doing are forced to improve upon themselves is stimulating and interesting to me. I like how life in the city forces me into change. I have my introverted tendencies to be sure, and I think that is why I like the city. Because I’m surrounded by people, the environment sort of makes up for the gap that my personality would tend to create. More specifically, I like that I’m forced to compromise, have patience, empathy, and compassion. And in the midst of all that work, I can put in a hard day (or decade, is more like it) of dream work, and end up with something approaching the life that I’ve always envisioned for myself.

In a smaller kind of place, be it a town, the country, or a less populated urban area, there simply aren’t as many options for who to be, nor so many challenges to be more of who you are. In order to have a reasonably peaceful life, a person has to pick a way of being that fits into what others think of as acceptable. And while there may be more of a tendency for everybody to know everybody else’s business, there simply is more room to hide away with oneself. Put another way, there are not nearly the opportunities for personal growth and expansion. (Embedded in that notion is the assumption that personal growth and expansion are most easily won through relationships, perhaps there is another way of which I am unaware.) While I’ve chosen mostly traditional ways of life for myself, I have enough off-beat tendencies and interests to lead me into too many awkward social situations in a place where people are used to a lot of personal space and a lot of sameness. I much prefer to be in a place where abnormal is the accepted normal.

As I reflect on my Detroit memories, and draw more adult conclusions about what was probably going on for the adults who were shaping the life that I was so fond of, I realize that in their own ways, they must have been grappling with these issues. Clearly personal philosophy, broader trends of culture and society, and personal desires all meet up uniquely for each of us individual humans. But there is also the magical something that only comes together through our joint efforts and intentions. I’d venture to say that every populous is thriving or declining as a result of its mojo reserves. (It seems to me that Detroit could use a big shot of that kind of mojo.) And furthermore, that each of us, everyday, wakes up to our place on the planet and makes a choice about how we are going to contribute. Shall we throw our hat into the ring, or throw in the towel? Shall we stay and do either? Or shall we go and do neither?

I feel like I’ve been walking this line most of my life and while I seem to do okay with the level of uncertainty that comes in hand with such a predicament, I am beginning to have the feeling that maybe someday it would be nice to know for sure and for good, where am I really going to give it my all for the long haul? Perhaps this is just a passing notion given my current mental dabblings. Perhaps not, and at some point my husband and I will have the sort of collective reckoning that Zadie Smith so artfully described in White Teeth (remember the scene between the two boys once they were back in the same city? Perfect! I’ll never forget what she conjured up).

I suppose for now I can take comfort in the fact that Detroit taught me to be careful where I call home. To be sure that I’m in it, 150% and that I’m willing to go long mile after long mile for my little spot of comfort on this big planet. We each have different things to learn in life, perhaps this is one of my things. For now, I have plenty to keep me occupied, a home that I love with a family that I wouldn’t trade for anything. For now and I suspect, for always, transition reigns in at least some corner of my life.

Forget bliss, ignorance is dangerous

Whenever I hear one of those news stories about a stupid mistake gone bad I wonder if I might have the capacity to make the same mistake and consequently suffer the same ridicule. Today I was reminded of this little idea of mine and by the luck of grace, I am still here.

With the help of other’s hands, I have a couple mobiles to hang from the ceiling for the entertainment of babes and adults alike. While the crafting world is full of ideas for beautiful decorations, I have yet to come across good instructions for properly hanging these works of art. And I must admit that often, these projects get the better of me and take a considerably larger amount of time to complete than to conceive. So it’s been nearly a year and they are finally going up. Or so I thought…

Because it turns out that it’s quite complicated to hang a mobile, even when I’ve already spent a couple hours planning out just how to and made sure to have all the materials at the ready. The space in which they are to be hung is wired for ceiling lights but we never installed them because the wall sconces provide adequate illumination. So I thought that the screws holding the lighting hardware in place offered a convenient solution to my problem of how to go about attaching these beauties to the ceiling. I was well on my way to getting the job done when my sister (who was lending me a hand), said that I’d need to seal off the wires. What? This seemed to be the time to give my very smart and able bodied husband a call.

He arrived concerned that I’d decided to become an electrician. I explained that I had no such intention and that was precisely why I’d called him in the first place. Come to find out that I’d been doing all sorts of dangerous things. Things that violated codes and could have ignited fires under just the right set of unfortunate circumstances. He repeated the lecture many times, I assured him that I understood the error of my ways… in hindsight, of course.

Which is precisely the thing that makes me think that someday I may indeed the be subject of a news story. So, I’m newly committed to always asking for help and for constantly seeking more information. The fight against ignorance will surely keep me busy for a lifetime.