Adventures in Time

Tulip Time
Tulips on a snowy day

Remember to breathe Every good movement instructor has encouraged students in the studio with this phrase. When exerting yourself with physical effort it is potentially dangerous not to breathe, raising your blood pressure and straining your muscles. It seems obvious to just breathe, except we all need the reminder because sometimes we don’t breathe, and not only when exercising.

How many ways are there to describe it? Hold your breath, gasp for breath, forget to breathe, have the breath knocked out of you, takes my breath away

With phrases like these we suspend our action, hold still, wait for the next thing to happen. We are overcome with emotion in shock, fear, surprise, or grief, in pain, or deep in intense concentration.

In times of unpredictability we each need to raise our awareness to the breath, to assert our autonomy and breathe, rather than be held in a collective gasp, a population holding its breath.

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Tell me all about it

Reflect on your own resilience Breathing is your most basic point of control. Not being able to catch your breath is life threatening and breathing shallowly in your upper chest raises your anxiety. Deepening the breath draws you into yourself, settles your emotions, allows you to gather your strength. Use the moment of deep breath to feel your feet on the ground and pause before you act. It’s helpful to recall experiences of dealing with difficult situations in the past and how we got ourselves beyond them. Take the time to consider the lessons learned and how they might be applied in new situations.

No matter how hard we try to avoid it, there is no way to stop unanticipated and unwelcome news from arriving. I was recently reminded of this with an unexpected medical diagnosis. In my response I traveled down familiar side paths of reaction and arrived at the same place of transition I was headed to all along. I like to think I got there faster from experience. Time, we all want to believe, is under our control.

This month I have two books for your consideration:

The Child in Time Ian McEwan He is the master- I’m a fan. It’s very interesting to read this work from an earlier point in his career (1987). There are signature elements familiar to his readers and what have become cornerstones in contemporary fiction – the layered complexity of the narrative, the metaphysical exploration, and the sheer, breathtaking depiction of unspeakable loss. He toys with time and place with expertise and plumbs emotional depths we feel along with his characters. The Thatcher era political comments are quite timely for today. The tragedy and terror of child abduction strikes at every reader’s heart- and remains a danger. If you read this be sure to also view The High Street Abduction a recent video from BBC News. An adaptation of The Child in Time will air on BBC and PBS starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk Portia Nelson  This 35th anniversary edition contains her classic Autobiography in Five Short Chapters. The poem is an iconic statement on awakening to yourself, applicable at any age and repeatedly at every stage of life. The genius of her presentation is in a form so universally accessible to understanding it deserves your time.

Fresh Fig
Proof of Spring- Fig tree

Happy Daylight Savings Time!

 

P.S. Many Thanks to Ms Lizzie Cat for her Cattitude

All photos Claire Mauro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow*

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Shadows of white loom outside my window, wispy specters in the dawn light filtering through the trees. Closer inspection reveals them to be not early Halloween ghosts but a protection of sheets over the vegetable garden. A frost warning last night prompted us to abruptly change gears and burst into a flurry of activity to save the last gasps of our produce: the goodness of warm sunshine wrapped in tiny cherry tomatoes, slender string beans and the most prolific pepper harvest of recent memory. We want to enjoy it all before we let it go.

Like most people I always have a to-do list or, more truthfully, multiple lists. Making the list is never a problem, it’s the crossing items off where I get bogged down. Take for example my office reorganization. I have a plan, a checklist of actions, and then there is reality. Inside my office are files and piles, the recordings of complete project work from start to finish, the inklings and images of work yet to do and the supplies and research materials needed for that work. They lay there mute a lot of the time and I can just close the door on them and turn my attention to the more vocal of life’s pressing responsibilities, at least until a deadline calls. Living matter over inert! Often this is the broadest brush spurring me to action, a nurturer’s triage of choices.
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Cleaning the closet is another of the to-do items that frosty mornings force into awareness. The prospect of changing over the closet contents from warm weather to cold can prompt the filtering of good intentions through the dictates of those who vigilantly guard against clutter turning into hoarding.

We can choose to “Discard it, donate it or take a picture of it if you can’t completely let go.” Maybe these exhortations are an act of contrition for excess, and of course that’s ok. How do you feel about ownership of things? Are you more of a sentimentalist? Do you like symbolism and feel comforted by things that hold memories? Can a fraying sweater be something that keeps you warm and represents your honeymoon destination, a symbol of love and commitment? Pragmatism is ok, too. It’s a luxury anyone can indulge in. Working to put food on the table and provide necessities doesn’t rule it out. By all means go minimal if that’s your desire. Or maybe a windblown bird’s nest brought indoors by a child can sit on the porch until it crumbles, representing the joy of discovery and the impulse to lovingly share. Conversely the item that reminds you of a friendship gone down in flames should not torment you any further!!
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Inundated as we all are with advice and marketing strategies for everything from dish soap to political positions, often the wisdom of keeping one’s own counsel goes by the wayside. Step away from the newsletters and broadcasts and even your list-making and instead take a moment or two to listen to the sound of your own breathing. Pause to feel the ground under your feet. Visualize the sights and sounds of a favorite destination, recall a particularly stirring piece of music or the soaring feeling of mastering a jump shot or a tennis serve. Take comfort in the intangible, it will lead you to your roots.

*Shakespeare2016

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All photos Claire Mauro

Why Parsley?

Early Spring Forsythia-1So what is it about parsley? The curly green stuff has been on every restaurant dish we can remember. It’s been a staple in our grandmothers’ and mothers’ kitchens, flat and fresh, all our lives. We use it all the time. Parsley accents both the sweet and the savory, bringing out the best in everything around it. This fresh green herb adapts to any cuisine and improves any dish. Parsley freshens your taste buds and it also brightens a bouquet—making it beautiful and practical. Curly or plain, mild or pungent, parsley is humble yet essential because it contributes to our well being. Plant it in the Spring and harvest a sprig at a time, because a light touch of parsley can lift up your day! Continue reading