Start Your Engines

Revving Up For a New Year

Happy New Year!
Happy Monday!

In an attempt to keep things  fresh, relevant, and fun (for me . . . and maybe for you, too), I'm going to be making a few changes here on the blog over the next few months. Nothing drastic (although you never know . . . ). Just different. Change is good, y'know? 

On Mondays I'll still . . . 

Begin cup

but not every Monday.
Just some Mondays. 
And it'll be just a little bit different.

"Change only happens in the present moment. The past is already done. The future is just energy and intention."
               --- Kino McGregor

So here we are, at the beginning of a new year. A time when many of us make resolutions or goals or intentions for how we want to move forward in the new year. And I know a lot of those resolutions or goals or intentions have something to do with . . . moving more. Getting stronger. Improving our balance and flexibility. Working on our fitness.

Maybe even . . . trying yoga.

So today, I'm going to Start Your Engines with some yoga talk. Because if there's one thing that revs me up and gets me moving, it's yoga!

IMG_2132

I've been doing yoga for a long, long time. I actually credit yoga with . . . saving my life. WHUT? Yeah. I do. If not for yoga, I doubt I'd be doing most of the things I do today.

I don't talk about it much, generally, and I think I've only mentioned it once or twice here on the blog, but I have rheumatoid arthritis. I was diagnosed with it shortly after Erin was born, and it took a while before we got it under control and I could move again without pain. Of course, some of my joints are completely trashed now (both wrists - and especially the right one, and one of my knees), but thanks to a combination of good medical care, new drugs, a decent attitude, and commitment to moving every day . . . here I am . . . 30 years later and still able to do (pretty much) anything I want to do!

At a time when I could barely lift my arms over my head (let along think about sitting on the floor), my rheumatologist suggested I try . . . yoga. I thought he was nuts. I had done yoga before my RA diagnosis, so I really couldn't imagine it would be possible again. But I gave it a try. It was really hard at first. I took it slowly, though, and kept at it. Before long . . . I was moving easier and feeling better. My flexibility increased; my pain decreased. I got more confident about moving again, and I saw how important a regular and consistent commitment to moving (even when it didn't feel so great) was for my body. It changed me; it saved my life!

So . . . I am totally committed to practicing yoga.

Yoga offers so many benefits. Gentle movement is good for your joints. It builds strength - and especially core strength. It improves balance and flexibility. It makes a mind-body connection, which is helpful for reducing stress. It can offer spiritual growth/self-actualization if that's your jam. It is a great thing to do at any age -- but it is particularly beneficial for aging bodies. And more recent studies are showing it can even help reduce brain shrinkage, which is a huge benefit. (I've included a link to a Psychology Today article in the "curated resources" section below.

Before the pandemic, I went to studio yoga classes once or twice a week. I did stretches and sun salutations at home every day, but mostly my yoga was studio-based. The pandemic changed all that, of course, and I had to scramble to figure out an at-home way to do yoga. I tried a few for-pay online based yoga programs (they often offer "free trial" periods), finally making my way to Yoga With Adriene. And there it was: My new at-home yoga "studio." Now, I do yoga every day, and I love it. (This is one of my pandemic silver linings.)

I know a lot of you are already familiar with Adriene, but for those of you who aren't . . . here are a few things to know: First, Adriene offers a huge and ever-expanding catalog of classes for free through her YouTube channel. Next, each month Adriene pulls together a collection of her classes organized around a "theme" and publishes a calendar with links to the daily classes. Again, free. And then, each January Adriene offers a brand new 30-day yoga series featuring all-new classes suitable for every level of yogi. And, again . . . free. (There is a for-pay subscription option, where subscribers get access to Adriene's Find What Feels Good app and a few other subscriber-only goodies. I have chosen this option after enjoying her classes for a couple of months. I feel like what she's offering is worth my financial support. But the fact that her classes are offered free - and ad-free - is just . . . amazing.)

I know several of you are thinking about giving Adriene's online yoga a try. Or maybe you haven't really given it a thought before. But today, I'd like to give you that little friendly nudge - to Start Your Engines and . . . Try it!

IMG_2065

Right now, Adriene is offering a brand new 30-day yoga series called Breath. It's free. It's YouTube based. It's for every body. It's for YOU. (Click here for more information or to sign up for daily email reminders.) It's a great way to stick your toe into this whole yoga thing . . . or, if you're already a yoga-person, it's a great immersion into yoga breath technique. 

"Yoga is not for the flexible. It's for the willing."
            --- Anonymous

If you're thinking it's too late now because  you missed the first days . . .
I say . . . Nope. Your "day 1" can be any day you choose! Who says you have to start on January 1?

If you're thinking 30 days is just too much. . .  
I say . . . No worries! No one says you have to do 30 days in a row. You can set your own yoga schedule and spread the days out however you want.

If you're thinking your body isn't a "yoga body". . .
I say . . . Every body is a "yoga body." (Even if arthritis has trashed your joints.)

If you're thinking you aren't "flexible enough" for yoga . . .
I say . . . We do yoga to become more flexible, not because we're already flexible.

If you're thinking you don't have the right clothes or equipment to do yoga . . .
I say . . . Got sweat pants? Got a t-shirt? A yoga mat is helpful, but you can just do yoga on your floor if you want.

If you're thinking you can't do those moves . . .
I say . . . Yeah, at first very few people can. But if you keep at it for 30 days, you'll be amazed at what you'll be able to do! And Adriene suggests modifications, so yoga can work for everyone.

IMG_2093

So, what do you think? Have I convinced you?
Are you ready to roll out your mat and give yoga a try?
Start YOUR Engines . . . and c'mon along.

"The body benefits from the movement, and the mind benefits from stillness."
            --- Sakyong Mipham

==

For further exploration, check out my Curated Resource List:

 


Dark Mornings

It's so dark when I wake up these days!
Cold, too.
It's hard enough to get out of bed in the morning, but the dark makes it so much harder.

But, y'know. . . twinkle lights help.

As much as I miss the daylight (and I do miss the daylight), sitting in the magical glow of my twinkle lights in the morning, sipping my coffee and beginning the day . . . just isn't all that bad. Mornings just seem more gentle and peace-filled when the twinkle lights are turned on.

It's Monday. Turn on some twinkle lights, and let's . . . 

IMG_1948

On Mondays, I usually share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up! 

This week, I've got some holiday inspiration for you. So. Let's get to it!

==

"Winter is a season of recovery and preparation."
            -- Paul Theroux

IMG_1950 2

Recovery . . . because it's been such a long and hard year.
Preparation . . . for whatever comes next. 

When I found that quote last week, I thought it was perfect for how I feel about the approaching winter. Rather than dread its arrival, I'm trying to embrace it as an opportunity to reflect and figure out how to move on.

==

IMG_1947

This week, it's all about inspiration for the holidays. 

I know that for most of us, the Chanukah/Christmas/New Year's holidays look very, very different this year. We're celebrating in isolation. We're not traveling. There are no parties, concerts, parades, or celebrations. Things are quiet. Really, really quiet. 

But that doesn't mean we can't have any fun!

==

Eat

Try this charming antipasto wreath for your next Friday Night Snacks or holiday home happy hour. It's festive AND tasty! Practice making it for yourself to enjoy at home this year -- so you'll have perfected it for next year . . . when you can take it to a gathering with your family and friends.

Drink

Have you always been curious about making your own homemade Irish Cream? Maybe this is the year to give it a try (using this quick and easy recipe from Smitten Kitchen). Next year, when it'll be safe to share food with our friends again, you'll be all ready to give the gift of tasty, festive beverages, having tested it out this year.

Be Merry

Just because we're isolating ourselves for the holidays doesn't mean we won't be giving gifts. Are you stymied trying to figure out how to deliver gifts while still practicing appropriate social distancing? Are you looking for some creative ways to bring the gift-giving magic to a pandemic holiday? Well, check out these suggestions for "doing gifts" in 2020.

Deck the Halls

Finally, I'll leave you with . . . Claus Dalby. Claus is the "Danish Martha Stewart" -- only he's a lot more charming AND he does his own stunts. I started following Claus on Instagram over the summer. His garden design work and his photography are simply stunning. Over the last few weeks, he's been posting his holiday creations -- flower arrangements, wreaths, gift-wrapping -- all with Claus' unique flair and Scandinavian style. Just wonderful stuff. Spend some time in Claus' world . . . and be inspired! (Next year I'm definitely going to try making one of his wreaths. They are amazing.)

==

And that's it for me on this dark Monday morning!
Here's to a good Monday -- and a great week -- for all of us.


Is It Just Me?

Or are the days flying by??? Because . . . how can it already be Monday again?

But it is!
Time to . . . 

IMG_1880

On Mondays, I usually share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up! 

So. Let's get to it!

==

"Nothing ever seems too bad, too hard, or too sad when you've got a Christmas tree in the living room."
        -- Nora Roberts

(Ain't that the truth?)
(Even if it's not a traditional Christmas tree. And it's just . . . lights?)

IMG_1883

==

IMG_7969

Winter . . . is coming. Here in my corner of the world, the snow hasn't cranked up yet. We've had a dusting, sure. But nothing that sticks around. Yet. I know it's coming, though. Those snowflakes! They WILL pile up! I'm sure that, like me, you've heard that "no two snowflakes are alike." But did you ever wonder where that profound "factoid" came from???

Turns out . . . it was Wilson A. Bentley who made that discovery! Wilson -- or "Willie" as he was known to his friends, was the first to collect and photograph snowflakes -- over one hundred years ago. You can read all about it here. It's a fascinating story, and the photos are amazing . . . considering it was so long ago, and all he had was a "bellows" camera!

89924-wikimedia3
(Public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

==

IMG_7449

Here are a couple of interesting "book-ish" links for you to check out this week:

First, I found this really interesting list of (pretty much all) nonfiction titles put forward by Smithsonian scholars as their "favorite books of 2020." This is a fascinating collection of books -- and especially for those of you who enjoy reading nonfiction.

Then, in the totally go-ahead-and-judge-a-book-by-its-cover category, I found this list of the the 89 best book covers of 2020. I'm always intrigued by book cover designs, so I love these kind of lists . . . even if it takes more than a "pretty face" to get me to read the actual book! Which one is YOUR favorite???

==

(Speaking of books . . . be sure to tune in tomorrow - Tuesday - when Bonny, Carole, and I reveal the next Read With Us Book selection! Exciting news!)

==

Instagram logo

Every once in a while, I share an Instagram account that is particularly fun to follow. This week, I'm going to suggest @lizandmollie. Follow along for delightful "comics" that will make you smile . . . and feel BETTER!

Screen Shot 2020-12-06 at 9.47.46 AM

==

The-little-things-of-life-4162499_1920

One last thing!

As you're looking for holiday gifts this year, don't forget to visit Green Hat Woodworking for some unique, interesting gifts. (Yeah . . . the Green Hat Guy IS my son. I have no problem with shamelessly promoting him.) You can find him on Etsy at Green Hat Store or on his website.

Screen Shot 2020-12-06 at 8.01.17 PM

==

And that's it for me on this Monday morning!
Here's to a good Monday -- and a great week -- for all of us.

 

 

 


It Sure Feels Like a Monday

That means it must be time to . . . 

IMG_1721 2

On Mondays, I usually share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up! I don't know about you, but . . . it seemed like quite a long and leisurely weekend to me. I really need to get things revving and moving this morning.

So. Let's get to it!

==

"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want."
        --- Bill Watterson

IMG_1722 2

==

IMG_9538

It's been a while since I've featured a word here to . . . start your engines. Let's dig in, shall we?

First, it's time for the folks at Oxford Languages to select their Word of the Year for this dumpster fire of a year. I don't know about you, but I've been anticipating their selection for 2020. Could it be . . . "Blursday?" "Doomscrolling?" "Lockdown?" "Flatten the Curve?" Nope! Turns out . . . instead of choosing a word for 2020, the Oxford folks have decided to highlight the entire pandemic's swift and sudden impact on the English language! Instead of choosing just one word to represent 2020, they have created a report: The Words of an Unprecendented Year. (Personally, I think "unprecedented" could have been the word for 2020. . . )

Next, I found this fun look at 25 words that are their own opposites! (Seriously. If you have fun with words, you're gonna LOVE this one.) I had never heard the term "contronym" before . . . but I am absolutely intrigued - now that I know it.

==

IMG_7449

It's been a tough several months. And it looks like things are going to remain that way -- dark, isolated, kinda scary -- for awhile yet. Oprah to the rescue! Yes. Oprah has put together her list of seven books that help her "through the tough times." Check out her list here, and maybe find something that will help you get through these tough times. 

== 

IMG_8564

Sadly, it looks like our best (and safest) options for travel . . . will continue to be from our own armchairs - and computer screens - for a while yet. Here are a couple of interesting destinations for you:

First, let's head to Turkey! Click here for a look at the fabled honey forest in northeast Turkey. This adventure comes to us via the New York Times as part of their The World Through a Lens series -- launched early in the pandemic as a way to help us visit some of the world's intriguing sites without having to leave our homes. This is a fascinating look at beekeeping traditions in a most beautiful corner of the world.

Then, for something completely different, let's take a quick peek at a preview of The Costume Institute's upcoming show (currently postponed) (I think you can guess whyAbout Time, which shows us how fashion has changed in the last 150 years . . . and how it hasn't. Looks intriguing!

==

IMG_8120

And now . . . for a wonderful little claymation short film . . . that reminds us all that nobody is normal, and that however weird you feel inside you're not alone.

Screen Shot 2020-11-29 at 8.53.46 PM

Click here and then click in to this sweet little 80-second film by Catherine Prowse. It's a great way to start your day!

==

And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.
Here's to a good one for all of us!

 

 

 


Monday Morning

means it's time to . . . 

IMG_9761

On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up! 

So. Let's get to it!

==

"It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light."
            --- G. K. Chesterton

IMG_1413

I'm sure this is a quote most of you have heard before, but when it popped up in an email late last week, I got to thinking about it again. A lot. Right now, it's so easy to be heavy. As in bogged-down-HEAVY. The pandemic. The "transition." The environment. The polarization of our people. The holidays during the pandemic we're all so tired of. Heavy business, all. 

It's important, though . . . amidst all this heaviness . . . to try to be light. Laughter is good for us! Really. It is. According to psychologist Brian King,"the reality is that people need humor all the time. Humor, and the laughter it inspires, is our built-in mechanism for managing stress. It provides relief when times are tough, improves our mood and helps the mind and body calm down." 

So, with that, I've decided to dedicate this Monday's Start Your Engines post to . . . lightening up! Because we all need a little frivolity, laughter, a bit of silliness, and even a quick hit of serotonin in our lives right now.

==

IMG_1517

A Little Frivolity

Don't you think it would be fun . . . a little frivolous . . . light, even . . . to walk into your bathroom and see one of these shower curtains hanging there? The full text of your favorite book on the outside, plain white shower curtain on the inside. (Which means, of course, that you couldn't read while showering. But still. You'd know the words were there.) Books, Beatles lyrics, the dissents of RBG . . . so many to choose from!

Laughter

Tired of reading (or listening to) books that reflect . . . life . . . a little too much? (I'm looking at you, Shuggie Bain.) Maybe it's time for a good knee-slapper of a book! Enter James Tate Hill with five audiobook recommendations that might be good for a laugh. According to James, "you'll laugh; you'll cry; you'll forget for a few hours to check the news." Sounds good to me!

A Bit of Silliness

Maybe you heard about this during election week (when you were seeking a diversion, any diversion), but there is a new fashion trend out there: $590 designer scratch-and-sniff t-shirts! Yes! You can read all about them right here in the NY Times (where they describe what it's like to be the proud owner of such a t-shirt - cherry scent - along with the history of scratch-and-sniff technology) (hint: better living through chemistry) or on a variety of fashion sites (like this one). Total silliness.

A Quick Hit of Serotonin

Okay. I'm not really embracing the TikTok thing, but there are a lot of TikTok videos out there that make me smile and add some levity to my days. Usually, TikTok videos land in my consciousness through Instagram or because someone forwarded them to me somehow -- but over the weekend, after reading this article about "The Rainbow Man" I visited TikTok myself -- and spent some time getting my own "quick hit of serotonin" thanks to the wild, homespun, totally creative dance videos of Mark Kanemura (former dancer for Lady Gaga) -- who is QUITE the performer. It's like . . . short, home-made videos of lip-syncs by a dancer sometimes in drag and always with props and wigs and sparkles. Absolutely silly and very frivolous, maybe check out some of his videos next time you want a quick hit yourself. (And if you are a fan of the Broadway musical "Wicked" . . . do watch the video where he looks like Elphaba ready to defy gravity. You will not be disappointed.)

==

And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning. 

Here's to a good week for all of us.
Lighten up!

==

Remember . . . tomorrow (Tuesday, November 17) is the day Bonny, and Carole, and I will be hosting the book discussion for The Women of Brewster Place both on our blogs AND in a Zoom meet-up at 7pm (Eastern time). If you're interested in joining the Zoom meet-up and haven't already done so, please let me know in the comments or in an email (see sidebar). We're looking forward to the discussion!

 

 

 

 


What a Weekend!

Was that EVER a weekend, huh???

But now, it's Monday.

Time to . . . 

IMG_1468

On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up! (As if we NEED any rev-ing THIS week. . . )

So. Let's get to it!

==

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
            --- Margaret Mead

IMG_1441

That quote has been hanging with me for days now. Margaret Mead's words started bubbling up in my brain on about . . . oh, day 2 of Election Purgatory. And they just got louder and louder all weekend. Until it became so clear . . . that truer words were never spoken!

==

IMG_0844

So.

Now what?

Well.

I have a few suggestions for you:

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is by making a donation to Fair Fight, Stacey Abrams' organization. Check out Fair Fight's website to learn all about the organization and what they're doing. We've certainly seen the results of their work -- now let's help Stacey organize for the Senate run-off races in Georgia  -- and then move her message to the rest of the nation!

Write Some Postcards! Get involved with the Georgia Senate runoff races from the comfort of your own desk. All you need to do . . . is sign up here -- at Vote Forward. Get your pens and your postcards ready! Let's do what we can to encourage the vote and shift the balance in the Senate.

Follow the News . . . Not the Noise. In the early days of the pandemic, I started following Jessica Yellin, former White House Correspondent for CNN, on Instagram. She quickly became my "go to" news source -- she carefully sifts through the noise to find the news. She continued to be my most trusted source throughout the election. Check her out! She is GREAT. Really. You can just follow her on Instagram to access her excellent reporting -- or, if you like what she's doing, you can support her through Patreon, too, and get even more of her in-depth stories and interviews.

Become a poll worker/election inspector in your community! Do your part to make future elections fair and accessible. It's interesting work, kinda fun, and . . . well . . . let's just say it's never dull! Click here for more information -- or contact your local city or county clerk's office for more specific requirements and needs in your community.

==

IMG_8564

President-elect Joe Biden (oh, how it pleases me to string those words together!) declared on Saturday night in his first speech to the American people, “This is the time to heal in America.” A good way to begin doing that . . . is to remember and revisit the things that make our country great!

Maybe . . . check out the Fifty project of The Atlantic, where they are showcasing photos from each state -- adding one state each week through 2020. Maybe . . . pick a random red state . . . and take a good look at the wonder and the beauty that is there, in this wonderful country of ours.

There is much to celebrate. 
There is also much to heal.
Let's start . . . somewhere.

==

And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning. 

Here's to a good week for all of us.
Keep moving!

 

 


Jump Start

Okay, friends. It's Monday. Time to . . . 

IMG_9402

But. You know what? 

This week? I kinda . . . got pretty much nothin'. 

(In fact, I could use a good jump start myself.)

So while I'm usually . . . let's just say. . . a lot more together.  This week? Well. This week I'm merely attempting to cobble things together as best I can and hope for the best.

==

"We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy."
            -- Winston Churchill to the Canadian House of Commons, December 30, 1941

IMG_1342

Yes. We're a tough bunch of badasses. Non?

==

But . . . 

Try as I might . . . to NOT pay attention to the news this week (because it's only polling guesses - and we know how unreliable and meaningless THAT is) . . . I failed Yesterday morning I caved.
I looked at the headlines. 

Mistake. MISTAKE!
DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!!!
(May Day! May Day!)

I death-spriraled myself into a near-catatonic state.
(And it was especially dangerous because it was also snowing at the time.)
I ended up drinking too much coffee, too -- with no food to balance it out. So there I was. Jittery. Depressed. Deep in full-on Election Despair. And looking forward to my pre-dinner cocktail . . . at 10:30 am. (And even factoring in the time change, that is Never Good.)

Things were looking Very Bleak, Indeed.

Eventually, I hauled my (very sorry) ass up to my meditation cushion . . . and I listened to this. (Which is not a meditation at all, but a talk.) It's about facing fear with compassion. By Elizabeth Gilbert. (Yeah. That Elizabeth Gilbert.) And, friends? It helped. In fact, it made me cry. Her talk is about facing fear with compassion . . . for yourSELF. Her voice is soothing and reassuring, full of love. She quotes Winston Churchill (the quote I included above). I'm glad I listened.

I'm telling you about this . . . 
because maybe you found yourself in similar dire straits over the weekend.
Or maybe you'll find yourself there today.
Or tomorrow.
And maybe it will help you, too.
(So click in to that link if you need a boost.)

I'm feeling better now.
(Although it wouldn't take much to set me off again.)

Let's just hang in there and support each other.

Okay?

==

One more thing. . .

I found this article helpful for some much-needed perspective when it comes to interpreting election results as they filter in. We aren't likely going to know the results on November 3 (unfortunately). I know you know this . . . but the article brings provides some much-needed grounding, and a sense of what we may experience.

==

Hang in there, everyone.

Just. . . hang in there.


Now, More Than Ever

. . . it's time to . . . 

IMG_9761

On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

This week . . . we're down to the final week before the election. Tensions are high. Overwhelm is everywhere. Weariness is dragging us down. I don't know how you're faring, but I . . . kinda can't stand it. So this weekend, I thought a lot about things I can to do to get through this week with (what remains of) my mental and emotional health intact. It's not so much about starting our engines as keeping them humming this week!

So. Let's get to it.

==

"If it's out of your hands, it deserves freedom from your mind, too."
            --- Ivan Nuru

IMG_1173

Oh, Ivan. What a great quote! Wise words, for sure. But . . . so much easier to say than to do.

The thing is, though . . . most of us have already made up our mind regarding who to vote for in this election. Shoot . . . a lot of us have already voted!

So we've done what we can.
It's out of our hands.
Now . . . we need to free our minds.

Keeping up with the news this week? Not gonna help you! Last March, Lori Gottlieb of the Atlantic said, "Bingeing on up-to-the-minute news is is like stress-eating -- it's bloating our minds with unhealthy foods that will make us sick." So now is the time to . . . walk away from the news. Stop the doomscrolling. The latest Trump outrage or poll result or newest endorsement will not make you feel any better -- and it won't give you that certainty we're all craving right now.

What to do instead?

==

Get outside!

According to a Cornell study earlier this year (pre-pandemic even), just 10 minutes in a natural setting can help people feel happier and decrease the effects of both physical and mental stress.

10 minutes!

So. Take a lot of outside breaks this week. (Maybe every time you feel the urge to check the latest headlines?) Go for a walk around the block. Plant some bulbs in your garden. Look around for the prettiest leaf you can find. Sit on your patio and watch the birds. Anything. Just get yourself outside -- every day!

==

Meditate!

Whatever that means to you. It doesn't mean you need to sit down on a cushion with your legs crossed. (Although that's a fine way to meditate!) Maybe your version of meditation is . . . knitting. Maybe it's walking. Maybe it's praying. Maybe it's mixing cookies. Maybe it's winding yarn. Meditation . . . is really any way for you to be mindful of whatever it is you're doing -- which calms your mind, slows your breathing and heart rate, and helps you relax and de-stress.

And if you're looking for some music to accompany your meditation practice, I have one to suggest to you:

(Sorry - this is just a screenshot and won't actually play if you try to click the "start" arrow. Here's the link.)

IMG_1272

The Wong Janice creates beautiful cello music for meditation and relaxation. Although it may sound a little new-age-kooky, her music is created and designed to relax you! This track, for example, is based on 60 BPM (beats per minute), which is the optimal tempo to get your heart to relax. The music is beautiful, and can serve as a restful accompaniment to any kind of meditation. Give it a try when the stress and fear start creeping in!

==

Move!

I won't harp on about the value of fitness in combatting stress and worry (I do enough of that around here as it is), but . . . moving and getting the blood flowing is a Really Good Thing when you're trying to stay calm and carry on. Take a walk. Do some jumping jacks. Turn on an exercise video. Dance around your kitchen. Just move!

And if you're looking for a gentle yoga stretch, here's a good one to try:

It's Yoga With Adriene's latest Halloween release . . . Yoga for When You Feel Dead Inside. It's designed to get you up and moving when you really feel hollow and empty and, well, dead inside. Like . . . now.

I tried it yesterday. It's gentle - so even if you've never really tried yoga before, it's a good place to start. (And if you've never watched a Yoga With Adriene video before, don't be alarmed by the opening minute. It's her annual Halloween special practice - and she's doing a zombie parody of her usual opening. She doesn't continue the practice in zombie mode.)

==

Watch a movie!

Kill some time and de-stress with a lighthearted movie (or two). Nothing heavy or overly dramatic this week! Here's a list of 31 Feel-Good Movies That Will Definitely Make You Smile (from Oprah Magazine).

Do you have any movies to add to Oprah's list? 

==

Listen to some music!

The Atlantic has put together a Spotify playlist especially for this week! Twelve songs to "express impatience, agitation, and hope." Give it a listen -- it's a fun list.

What songs would you add?

==

And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning. Let me know if you have any other strategies for staying calm in this stressful final week before the election.

Here's to a good week for all of us!
Hang in there.

 


Good Morning!

It's Monday. 
Time to . . . 

IMG_0841

On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

==

"Sometimes carrying on, just carrying on, is the superhuman achievement."
            ---- Albert Camus

IMG_1036

==

IMG_6475

I know I've shared my love for Ann Wood Handmade here on Mondays past, but . . . I've got a new Ann Wood pattern to share with you.

If you are looking for something charming and whimsical - and quick-and-easy to make, besides - check out Ann's latest FREE pattern: Chickens! So much fun. (I think making a few of these chickens would turn any frown upside down.) (And who doesn't need that these days?)

==

Instagram logo

If you think it's fun to peek over the shoulder of an artist at work, have I got an Instagram account for YOU!

@alicelovesdrawing creates beautiful flower illustrations using a variety of techniques with mixed media (pen and ink, pencils, watercolor, gel pens). It is fascinating to watch her creations come to life! If you ever look at finished illustrations and think, "How did they DO that?" Well . . . Alice will show you!

==

IMG_8120

Are you a fan of the movie/miniseries versions of Pride and Prejudice? Do you have a favorite Mr. Darcy? If you do (and even if you don't), you might enjoy checking out this fun article ranking "every Mr. Darcy" (including an edible version!) (as in cake).

C'mon . . . who's your favorite???

==

IMG_9766 2

Doesn't it feel like it's been a really, really long time since you've heard a choir sing? (It has been.) (So no wonder.) I think that's why this virtual choral performance brought tears to my eyes. Listen. It's a treat!

==

And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us!
Hang in there.

 

 

 


Monday's Rolled Around Again, Folks

Time to . . . 

IMG_0894

On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

==

"There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind."
                                   --- Mr. Rogers

IMG_0974

==

IMG_9766 2

A couple of weeks ago, Carolyn wrote about Vicky Barone's Kindness Cards in a blog post, and the whole concept won my heart. So I ordered some!  Vicky offers a batch of 30 cards for free (although you do need to pay shipping), and you can order extra batches of 30 for $5. (You can also donate to underwrite the printing and distribution of more free cards.)

My cards arrived in mere days. And, friends . . . these are Very Nice Cards. (Bad desk shot in the morning darkness.)

IMG_1011

Back view.

IMG_1012

And what am I doing with my cards? Well. I'm sticking them in every library book I return. And I'm including them in any mail or package I send. And I'll leave one behind whenever I take my dad in for a doctor's appointment. And I'm carrying a few with me all the time because . . . you never know when inspiration may strike.

Maybe you'll want to order some Kindness Cards to pass along, too.

==

IMG_8564

Still avoiding museums and movie theaters? (I am. . . ) If you're considering heading to the movies or visiting a museum, this article from the New York Times provides some helpful information and guidance. And if you're not able (or willing) to visit a museum, here are two great exhibits you can visit from the germ-free comfort of your own home:

Appearances Can Be Deceiving: Frida Kahlo's Wardrobe - Visit this fascinating exhibit showcasing Frida Kahlo's wardrobe and personal belongings at the Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City.

Her Story: A Century of Women Writers - This fabulous exhibit features 24 influential American women writers, and is currently showing at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. 

I'd love to see both of these exhibits in person - but wouldn't be able to even if it weren't pandemic times. It's nice to be able to visit exhibits like this from my computer now. (Something I probably never would have thought about doing pre-pandemic.)

==

IMG_7449

If you like crime/mystery stories . . . and you like historical fiction, too . . . you may be interested in this list of 17 Crime Fiction Series That Use Real Historical Figures As Sleuths

It's a fun list. We've got . . . Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë as sleuths, for example. Abraham Lincoln. Charles Dickens. Geoffrey Chaucer, even! If you're looking for a new crime series to sink your teeth into, be sure to check out this list.

==

And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us!
Hang in there.