It’s Summer time, do you know where your toes are?

 

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I love when the universe sends me a message, even when it comes with an ouch! I was assembling a shelf last weekend and dropped a heavy-duty wheel attachment that glanced off my middle toe—on my “good” foot. Even though my toe throbbed non-stop for 24 hours I had to laugh. I’d been thinking hard about my summer goals and juggling those expectations with the siren call of outdoor adventures. I’m well aware of how push-pull of demands from outside can derail my focus and I was determined to stay on task. But experience has taught me the body has a way of “talking over” the voices of others. Pay attention! Yes it’s the barefoot season, with the summer solstice arriving at 12:24 a.m. on Wednesday June 21. Temps are in the 90s after our prolonged cold spring rains. Summer in New England is heating up.

ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING

A dear friend once came to visit and taught me a powerful lesson about stillness. In the heat of the day, after she had traveled so far, why not just sit together?? With the fan lazily moving overhead and the windows open wide we sat in companionable silence on the porch and gradually, with no outside interruption, words poured forth. Keeping perfectly still was a release, a rescue of sorts. So maybe this summer, in the heat of the day, just stop with the busyness. Sit in stillness – not for 30 seconds- try 5 minutes. As you stretch your awareness, instead of your movements causing a breeze you’ll be able to detect the movement of air around you. Be still another 5 minutes and you will begin to feel cool. You will actually have greater clarity to then get up and continue if you must—you might even shift your awareness of what is truly important.

 

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WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY?

It’s Travel Time. Road trips restore us by putting the horizon just beyond our windshield. Our car becomes a magic chariot, decanting us into a new landscape. In summer an old growth forest becomes a sandy shoreline; suburban sprawl a charming historic wharf; city streets a mountain retreat. Such was the case for my husband and I this past week. After days of endless inland rain we emerged into a sunny Wellfleet afternoon on the Cape.

 

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THE MUNDANE BECOMES SUBLIME

The daily catch of seafood and locally grown produce led the day. Our outlook brightened with the sun, and I noticed how we see each other differently across a table of nature’s bounty, enjoying the moment without regard for the tasks and chores and nagging questions left behind at home. The simple pleasures unfolded with a meal well-prepared, with engaging and artful hosting and the vibrant setting where all guests were made to feel welcome.

 

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REMEMBER TO PLAY TOGETHER

Within the shared moments, across the sand or across a table, new possibilities emerge. Mingled on the fresh scent of the breeze off the ocean that day was a tantalizing suggestion of new opportunity and renewed promise. O, Spring does lead to Summer! — in relationships as well as the progress of the seasons.

STAY CURIOUS

Walking on the sand we test the icy water. And leave some footprints to wash away when we leave. Despite the impermanence of our day excursion we feel more grounded, finding a respite from events beyond our view. As the day winds down we’re filled with the hope that lingers in the slowly setting sun.

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FOLLOW THE CURRENT

The beauty of stillness is that you can take it with you anywhere. Whether you embrace every invitation or not, when you work hard and play hard too, the interval in between becomes an important component of a healthy balanced life.

 

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Book of the Month: Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein

This is a gorgeous book for an imperfect time. There are lessons on the beauty and serenity inherent in the everyday, especially in the natural, slightly used and in need of repair. Charming collages combine with haiku creating a multidimensional experience for the reader. The text’s gentle prodding cultivates curiosity in both young and old.

A Bit of Movement:

Toes are in the spotlight in a summer weather, and I’m not talking about a fresh pedicure. How’s your toe alignment? Now that barefoot season is upon us, it’s the perfect time create an exercise habit for your toes. .A little Toe Yoga can set you up for a great day of fun in the sun.

Chris and I have teamed up for a sequence to start your day off on the right foot!

Stretches: Don’t just swing out of bed and start moving—take time to feel the surface beneath your feet. Notice the points of contact from toe to heel, then push off.

Stop at the kitchen counter while you prep your morning wake up drink- and  stretch your toes by lifting up from the heels.

Alignments: Sit and weave your fingers between your toes, shaking hands with your foot. Then hand-in-foot circle the ankle too.

Foot prints: Capitalize on this foot awareness by pressing your feet into your mat as you rise up into the warrior pose. Feel the power of your calves and thighs respond to this supportive grounding. You have enhanced the value of your workout by cultivating a strong and mindful base.

Something to Wear: Yoga Toes Sandals

Something for Fun: Foot Art – henna tattoos for the feet

Something Soothing: Foot Reflexology

Happy Summer Solstice to All!

Chris and Claire

Text Photos Claire Mauro

Yoga Photos Chris Primavera

Arancini,  Ceraldi

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Happy New Year Redux

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Whew, what a strange trip of a January, unfolding into a non stop season of no snow, wildly shifting temperatures and lots of riled up interactions. It’s time for another new year- this weekend I’m happy to welcome the Year of the Fire Rooster.

In a month usually reserved for quiet, restorative practices I’ve been expending energy in every direction. Even a surfeit of well-intentioned activities, an abundance of good things, can add up to too much. I had to back off and re-calibrate when an old injury had a major flare up, sidelining me. The body holds a wisdom our minds may be too preoccupied to acknowledge.

Lighter nourishment fits the bill when pain slows us down. And an inspiring book or two will help to maintain a positive outlook. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

SOUP
Here are three of my favorites on our table this month. The glory of root vegetables from my favorite farm markets provided flavorful comfort when I needed it most.
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French Lentil Soup
A puree of green lentils, carrots and simple seasonings yields a satisfying lunch or dinner. Leftovers simmered down make a tasty side dish at the next night’s meal. I love the chameleon aspect of the smaller green lentils, which turn brown when cooked. You can find the recipe on Epicurious.

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Golden Borscht
Using a classic recipe like this one I’ve had for many years, I switched up the usual red beets for more delicate golden ones and used kale in place of cabbage and simmered it with shin bones for added flavor. You can leave out the meat if you prefer.

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Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup
Boston’s NPR and Globe correspondent Kathy Gunst is a welcome voice in my kitchen. I tried her recipe this month using roasted winter vegetable soup and the flavors are sublime.

READ
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Put Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime on your reading list. Stories of childhood tinged with adult perspective are capturing my interest right now and Noah manages the ultimate sleight of hand. His humorous, enlightening, poignant and wise memoir reveals a repressive system of government and a social order imposed by a ruling minority, as seen through the eyes of a child. If you want to be reminded of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of art, not to mention the enduring bond between mother and son, look no further.

Happy New Year!
Claire
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Photos, Claire Mauro