Deep Thoughts with Martha Graham

A few years ago, I came across this quote in the course of some random internet trawling that had nothing to do with Martha Graham, dance, or even artistic expression:

You don’t have to believe in yourself or your work.  You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU.

Martha Graham to Agnes De Mille

It really struck me. So I wouldn’t forget, I emailed it to myself and there is sat, in the deep, dark depths of my inbox for some number of years. Recently, I came across the note and thought that Martha Graham would make a good topic for this blog. Of course, today’s post is more of a random survey than a thorough examination of her artistic legacy, but I am just being open to the urges that motivate me.

Did I ever tell you that there was a time in my life that I wanted to grow up to be a dancer in Martha Graham’s company?  It’s true. Although, even in those days I had a hard time visualizing myself living as a starving artist living in New York City.  But there really was a moment in time that I was willing to consider giving up my comfortable, Southern California lifestyle to be a Graham dancer.

Graham technique was very captivating for a young Cynthia whose training up to that point had mainly focused on the classical ballet lexicon.  Not wearing shoes, using the floor in such a way, sure those were novel, but the biggest difference was the power with which one moved.

You see, in classical ballet you are trained to hold your center of gravity roughly around your diaphragm. This enables the lightness and quickness of the legs and feet. Think about lifting, lifting, lifting all of your energy up from your pelvis. Then cap that lift at the shoulders and close your rib cage around it. That energy turns into a little ball that floats around in that area above your waist. You lock it in there and hold it tight, then you move around it.

In Graham technique, you drop your center of gravity below your belly button. I didn’t know anything about Kundalini yoga at that time, but now I would say that you locate your center of gravity in your svadhisthana chakra. All motion then originates and radiates from your center, initiated by either a contraction or release. It creates a very powerful way of moving.

Here is a short video of Graham technique:

Martha Graham (1894-1991) was an innovator during a time of tremendous artistic innovation. She is sometimes referred to as the mother of modern dance because of the thoroughly developed technique and prodigious repertoire that she created. Graham’s early dance training was at the Denishawn School in Los Angeles where she eventually taught before moving to New York City in the 1920’s. There she began creating her own work. She is noted for creating 181 ballets over her 70-year career. Among her students was Merce Cunningham. Isamu Noguchi created sets for many of her ballets including the 1944, Aaron Copeland commissioned, Appalachian Spring.

 Here is an excerpt of Appalachian Spring with Graham dancing the lead role:

 Ok, back to the quote. The thing about it is that in this statement, she completely eliminates the role of ego from artistic expression (at least in principle). What she is saying is that you don’t have to think you’re great (or even good) and you don’t have to like what you create. Your job is just to be open to the act of creation. There are a lot of people who have used a lot more words to express this same idea. I love how Graham is so no-nonsense about it.

Is there something creative that you’ve been putting off?  Maybe it’s time to do it.

Rosemary-Lemon Bread

Among my various around the house activities these past few months, I couldn’t help to succumb to the siren call of trying to make homemade bread. It was a big deal; there were many (mostly imaginary) obstacles for me to overcome to attempt such a culinary adventure: my fear that it would be complicated, my disinterest in kneading, my lack of proper bread pans, and the absence of yeast in my pantry. Over zoom happy hour a while back, my friend mentioned that she had found a really easy recipe for rosemary-lemon bread that you make in a cast iron Dutch oven. I’m not sure what all she said after that, I only heard certain words which continue to ring in my mind: rosemary, lemon, crusty, soft inside.

I wiped away the drool and demanded that she send over the recipe immediately!

Now, what about the yeast? Mr. Man was planning on making a trip to the market, so I let him know that he had better come home with yeast because I needed to make this rosemary-lemon bread as soon as possible. I’m not saying that he didn’t wind up going to multiple stores on his quest, but he did return home triumphant.

Our first attempt was a moderate success. I think the dough wound up really sticky and that it didn’t achieve its full potential in terms of how much it rose. But it was tasty, and more importantly, the smell was incredible. It merited another attempt for that reason alone.

This past weekend I tried again. I was able to correct the two issues from my previous attempt and it came out even better than the first time around. I’m so excited to have made bread!

*If you are not already a bread maker, before you attempt this recipe, be warned: I feel that this is a gateway recipe that could create a lot of enthusiasm for and interest in making more/other kinds of bread (at least that is what has happened to me).

Williams-Sonoma Rosemary-Lemon No-Knead Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 5/8 cups water
  • Cornmeal as needed

Directions:

  • Combine flour, yeast, salt, rosemary, and lemon zest in a large bowl.
  • Add water, stir until blended (it will look like a mess, it’s ok).
  • Cover with plastic wrap and rest in a warm (70-ish) place for 12-18 hours (I tucked mine into the oven with just the oven light on overnight).
  • After 12-18 hours your dough should have grown quite a bit and it should be bubbly/lumpy looking.
  • Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle with a little flour and fold it over itself a few times (it should be easy, when it stops wanting to fold, it’s ready to rest). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  • Get a tea towel ready with a light coating of cornmeal. Using just enough flour to keep it from sticking, form the dough into a ball. Place it on the cornmeal towel, seam side down. Dust with more flour and cornmeal and cover with another tea towel. (My dough ball quickly turns itself into a dough blob. It’s the thought that counts, right?)
  • Let rest for 2 hours (dough should double in size and should not spring back when poked).
  • At the 1.5-hour mark of your dough ball rest, put your Dutch oven (including lid) in your oven and preheat to 450. You want your pot to preheat for at least 30 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the oven. Uncover the dough and use the bottom towel to pick it up. Carefully dump it in the pot (I got cornmeal EVERYWHERE, just sayin’). You can shake the pot a little if it looks too wonky. You also can use a knife to cut some slits in the top of the dough (it feels like a very professional-baker kind-of thing to do). Put the lid on and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for 15-30 minutes (until the top is golden brown).
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pot for 10 minutes before turning it out (I like to dump it out on a clean tea towel, otherwise I get cornmeal everywhere all over again).

I recommend having softened butter handy and digging in while it’s still warm.  If you want to keep yourself from eating the whole thing, cut it in half right away and run some over to your neighbor.

Rose Petals by Any Other Name

Recently, I have had an overwhelming urge to make the most of the natural resources around me. Anything growing in my yard (or my neighbor’s yard) has been fair game. Among the many, various, ridiculous things that I have been up to, one of my favorites involves rose petals from the wild, old-fashioned rose bush in my backyard.

This rose bush has those wonderful, fragrant blooms that open all the way up and immediately fall apart. So as much as I would like to bring them inside and put them in a vase, they are terrible roses for cutting because as soon as a bloom opens, it begins to disintegrate.

It turns out that there are more uses for roses than just looking at. Since I’m a fan of the Trader Joes rosewater facial mist, I wondered if that was something that I might be able to make myself. And so, I began down a rabbit-hole of things to make with rose petals. Rose petals are anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. That is why they are such a popular ingredient in fancy skincare things. The lovely smell is a plus.

*If you are going to make anything with rose petals, make sure that they haven’t been treated with pesticides.

First, I decided to make rose water. It sounded like a nice thing to do. Rose water can be used directly on the skin or hair and can be ingested. There are two methods for making rose water: extraction and distillation.

Extraction involved putting rose petals and water in a pot and simmering gently.  When the rose petals lose their color, your extraction is complete. Strain out the petals and store the finished rose water in the refrigerator. Mine comes out a sort of dark pink/brown color.

The distillation method sounded like it would involve all sorts of equipment and knowledge, but I was delighted to learn can be undertaken at home as well. I felt so science-y! For this technique, put a heat-proof bowl in the center of a pot, then surround it with rose petals and water (I used roughly equal parts fresh rose petals and water). Place the lid on upside down and place ice packs on top. This encourages the condensation to collect in the bowl in the center of the pot. Again, a low simmer is best and once the petals have lost their color, you’re done.

Here’s the thing about distillation: it yields much less rose water although it is clear and said to be of higher quality.

What I consider a bonus is that you still wind up with a good amount of extracted rose water in the pot, so you might as well save that too.

full yield of distilled rosewater in front, half-empty jar of extracted rose water behind

I’ve been using my rose water as a toner and my skin loves it, especially if I’ve gotten a bit too much sun.

Next, I took rose water one step further and made rose syrup. I followed the extraction method then immediately added sugar to the warm, strained rose water (one-part sugar to two-parts rosewater worked for me) and stirred until it was dissolved.

This produced a delicious smelling if still unattractive brown-ish result. But when used for a cocktail it creates a delightfully pink drink.

Rose-y Gin Drink (help me come up with a better name please!)

  • 2-parts gin
  • 1-part fresh lime juice
  • 1-part rose syrup
  • Shake with ice
  • Serve up

Rose syrup is a common ingredient in Persian desserts (rose ice cream for one, which I do intend to attempt soon). There are probably also fun ways to use it in baking which I probably won’t get around to for a while.

dried rose petals

Of course, I have also been drying rose petals so that I will have a supply handy when needed. I have only begun to scratch the surface of uses for rose petals!

Loving-Kindness Meditation

rainbow

I’m feeling so sad for the world today.

Sometimes, when I’m having a hard time getting a grip on my feelings or keeping my energy focused where I want it, I find a little meditation can be very helpful.

I’m not a regular meditator, but I always feel better when I do. If I meditate on my own, I generally will do a mindfulness meditation, just focusing on my breath and being where I am.  But today’s feelings seem to merit a different kind of meditation. A loving-kindness meditation.

Loving-Kindness meditation, also known as a Metta meditation, is a form that focuses on both self-love and compassion for others. As with most things, there are several versions of the “right” way to do Metta meditation, but I feel comfortable in saying that part of this practice is showing yourself the compassion to accept that however you choose to practice it is the right way for you.

The basic structure of this meditation is that you first focus on yourself, then on one, specific other person, then on the collective.  You can do multiple variations of the specific other. You can also identify the collective as all humanity, or the whole world, or even the universe – or you can do multiple variations here too.

Insight Timer has a bunch of free, guided loving-kindness meditations. I tried this 10-minute meditation with Mark Zelinsky that I thought was nice.

If you want to try it on your own, here is my take on a loving-kindness meditation:

May I be happy
May I be well
May I be safe
May I be peaceful

(now for another – think of someone specific)

May you be happy
May you be well
May you be safe
May you be peaceful

(now think about the whole world)

May we be happy
May we be well
May we be safe
May we be peaceful

Namaste.

Around the House

What have you been up to around the house?

We have all been at home for a long time now. Have you been doing quarantine-inspired stuff around the house? You know what I’m talking about:

  • Make banana bread (check)
  • Make bread (check)
  • Make that fluffy coffee (I haven’t tried this yet; I worry that it might be too delicious and take over my life)
  • Clean your closets (at this point, I only need the clothes in my sweatpants drawer, but I might regret getting rid of everything else, so I’m holding off)
  • Take an online class (check)
  • Crafts (check) *more about this later
  • Gardening (check)
  • Marie Kondo your whole house and garage (Ay caramba! No way!)

The list of possibilities is endless really. I’m sure that I’ve missed some good ones.

I haven’t done anything major, but I have done a few little things here and there that have really made a big difference in how I feel about my home. For me, when I finally break down and do something that I’ve been avoiding, I know that it was worth it because I feel taller when I’m finished.  I know, it’s a little strange, but there is no other way to describe it.

For me, sticking to little, bite-sized projects is key. When I think of a big project that I’ve been wanting to magically take care of itself (like reorganizing the kitchen), I get a feeling of dread that quickly leads to anxiety and avoidance. So, I have been thinking about my kitchen reorg as a bunch of small projects. Sometimes I do one a week … or less, but it’s not so overwhelming. In that spirit, reorganizing the kitchen became:

  • Clean the refrigerator (like where you take the shelves out and wash everything)
  • Move the coffee maker
  • Find a place to store the ice cream maker (even though we use it a lot, it doesn’t need to live on the counter)
  • Clean the cupboard under the sink
  • Find a new home for that silver tray that has been living on the counter for the past XX years
  • A bunch of other stuff that I haven’t started thinking about yet

Even cleaning the refrigerator was tackled one shelf at a time. It doesn’t matter that I did it slowly, I still felt taller when I was finished.

I’ve also made some progress with consolidating/organizing/purging some of my other clutter catchers. Sometimes, just moving whatever doesn’t belong out of a particular location is enough to jump start some sort of resolution to the issue, like when I collected the various piles of books from the various locations around the house into one, big pile in the middle of the living room. I may have had to stare at it for a week, but one day, motivation took over and I organized the whole mess (including re-homing many).

book stack
some of the books that were re-homed

Anyway, I was feeling relatively productive and accomplished about staying home until I saw this story about an artist who is painting flowers ALL OVER her home. It is so whimsical and happy. I mean, look at those doors!

I don’t think that I’m going to start painting flowers everywhere, but I do think that I will keep trying to find little ways to make the most of my home. How about you?  Have you tackled any around-the-house projects?  Did you feel taller when you finished or is that just me?

White Tutu Moments

After my YouTube ballet class the other day, I got sucked in to watching a video of one of my favorite white tutu moments – the “Dance of the Cygnets” from Swan Lake. It is just so wonderful.

The choreography by Lev Ivanov, circa 1895, features four ballerinas performing a relatively academic, yet precise series of steps. Oh yes, and each is holding the hand of the girl next to her and the girl next to that girl. Dancing in tight quarters like that means that they really need to be together on the movement. If one girl goes up when another is going down, it could be a disaster.

Every time I see this piece, I get the biggest smile.  I don’t know why it makes me so happy, there is something about the combination of all those pas de chats and the tuba that sparks so much joy in my heart. Marie Kondo could never get me to declutter this dance.

I love the repetition and the way that they use their heads – talk about rubbing your head and patting your tummy!  And then they have to do it all linked up together like that.  There is not a lot of room to maneuver there.

Thinking about this made me ask myself what my other favorite white tutu ballet moments are.  If I’m not willing to say this is my ultimate favorite, what are the others?

Of course, “The Kingdom of the Shades” from La Bayadere is a great white tutu moment. No one even bothers to produce La Bayadere anymore, everyone just wants to see that one scene. Those arabesques just keep going and soon the stage is full of white tutus.

And then a different sort of white tutu moment came to mind, the pantomime in Act II of Giselle.  I just love romantic ballet pantomime. It is so corny. It makes me smile every time.  Myrtha, The Queen of the Wilies is so fierce. I guess she is supposed to be the villain, but she is a boss.  I just love when she tells Albrecht,

“You.” (points authoritatively)
“Will Dance.” (hands make a rolling motion over the head)
“To the Death.” (arms crossed at the wrists in front of the body, hands in fists)

It’s no cygnets but it does make me smile so big.

I can’t find a clip of just that part of Act II, so here is a clip of Myrtha’s variation instead.

I hope you enjoyed a little white tutu ballet interlude on your Wednesday.

April was National Poetry Month

Full disclosure: I meant to post this last week when it still was National Poetry Month, but last week got the better of me. And even though National Poetry Month might not be a timely topic right now, poetry itself is timeless.

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? For me, it’s one of those things that I know which still surprises me every time it comes around.  This year I got a wild hair (recently, I’ve been very inspired to initiate new projects that keep me away from my writing — just wait, there’s more to come) to post a poem on my social media every day. I’m not much of a social media poster, so it was going to be a challenge but why not give it a try.

I went on a hunt for my poetry collection, digging books out of various places (yes, some were in the garage). I managed to post almost every day through April 21. Because I hadn’t started out in a very organized manner, some days I would spend a few hours browsing the collection to find something that spoke to the day.

I did find some treasures in my hunt and I’m going to share them with you here.

53

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s Sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

e.e. cummings, from 100 Selected Poems

The Manoeuvre

I saw the two starlings
coming in toward the wires.
But at the last,
just before alighting, they

turned in the air together
and landed backwards!
that’s what got me—to
face into the wind’s teeth.

William Carlos Williams, from Selected Poems

Weight of Abundance

On days when sun blazes hills awake,
when still damp earth aches dark possibilities,
when crooked teeth of dilapidated barns
and crumbling stucco of lost missions
hum with stories they cannot forget,
I look at my freckled hands and try to find
a cartography for this desire to know
that seems stitched into me, into any
who live where one wakes to a horizon
that is continually blurred by low fog.

Stories are as abundant as the trees
and vines that are repeatedly heavy
with fruit. What to dig up? What is enough?
In a garden so thick with weeds, sustenance
bleeds with what is pressing upon it.  So
days slur past, fat and happy, until
the eye sights it driving past, or the hoe
upturns the hidden artifact.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle, from There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air

*fun fact: I came to possess this book at a conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs). I had designed the booth for one of the lead sponsors and needed a pass to supervise the install, so why not go back while the conference was in full swing. I met Iris and we talked about northern California and the biography of Charmian Kittredge (Jack London’s wife) that she was working on (I love biographies about interesting historical women written by women). I bought her collection, put it on my shelf, and forgot about it until this project. Better late than never, it is really a lovely volume (and, it turns out the Kittredge biography is coming out this fall).

**synchronicity: the day that I posted this poem I had been journaling about how there are so many wonderful things to do and to learn and how it can be hard to pick where to invest your time and energy (which is the raison d’etre behind this blog — to explore a lot of things a little bit; to look at the little things hiding between big things). Then I opened the book to this poem which perfectly expressed what I had just been noodling.

The Somnambulist’s Handbook (In memory of James Tate)

By accident, night fell and scraped its knees
against the ragged edge of the horizon.
We called the oozing blood sunset.

I pushed it, and night fell. It spilled its ink
all over everything. The goddamn moon
still shined though, as bright as my rage.

The older you get, the more you fall, night.
As regular as clockwork, the sun goes
then down you come again, all bruised.

After night fell, stars danced around its head
like in the old cartoons. Right afterwards
we both blacked out, til morning came.

Are you drunk on your own beauty again?
Keep falling like that and it will be lights out
for good. Night, don’t pretend you can’t hear!

Imagine night never falling again.
Sun, pure witness. So let night take the fall,
though we’re the ones who need the rest.

Night fell. Someone called the police, who came
with guns drawn, shouting “Stand down!” Shots were fired.
Black, poor night never had a chance.

Succumbing to the armies of despair,
night fell. The terms of its surrender were
to free us all to dream again.

Amazing, how night can fall without sound—
no scream, so silently we hear wolves howl,
forever in awe of its grace.

Rafael Campo, 2016 Bat City Review

What I was reminded of from trying to play along with National Poetry Month is that poetry is fun and that I should make a little bit more time in my life for it.

Anabel and Sally Turn Two Today

Can you believe it?  Yes, Anabel and Sally turn two today. How perfect is it that Kitten Tuesday falls on their actual (made-up) birthday, Cinco de Mayo, and it’s Taco Tuesday.

Even though Anabel and Sally don’t eat tacos (Sally has tried before, he thinks he likes people food), Mr. Man and I are going to make the most if this fortuitous alignment of multiple celebratory excuses and have margaritas and tacos (just like any Tuesday only the same). Anabel and Sally will get to split a can of wet cat food and each get their own bowl of crunchy food (just like every other day only the same).

I remember thinking last year how grown up they had become, but it turns out that they still had some growing up left to do. One thing I’ve noticed from my almost-daily brushings is how much their coats have come in. It makes me so happy because I remember when they were going through their awkward phase and it seemed like they weren’t going to have long hair!

Another byproduct of their burgeoning maturity is that they tolerate our little grooming sessions a lot better than they used to.  Anabel doesn’t try to escape every time (although I do still have to brush her first or she will hide from me for the rest of the day). No matter where he is, Sally will come over and hang out right next to us while Anabel gets brushed. I think that partly he is patiently waiting his turn and partly he is rubbing it in to his sister that she has to get brushed.

Over the past year, Sally has become even more of a chow hound. He knows when it is time for breakfast, and he lives for getting his crunchy food snack. It doesn’t matter if I put their dishes right next to each other or in separate rooms, half the time as soon as I turn around, I will find him eating out of Anabel’s dish. Anabel only occasionally even acts interested in food. I suppose when one is as beautiful as she is, one can derive sustenance out of the ether.

One great habit that Anabel has begun to cultivate is sleeping between me and Mr. Man in the bed at night. I love snuggling kittens in the bed, and she is a great sleeper (I’m hoping to pick up some hints via proximity). Sally still sleeps on post on the corner of the bed. I wish he would cuddle because he is so snuggly, but it is also nice to have a guard cat on post at night.

Mr. Man and I make sure to let Anabel and Sally know that they are special every day. I don’t know if it will matter to them very much that they turn two today, but we are going to celebrate anyway.  If you’re feeling like you need a reason to celebrate today, feel free to use the kitten’s birthday as an excuse and pour yourself a margarita!

Happy Earth Day

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Today, Wednesday, April 22 marks the 50th celebration of Earth Day. So happy Earth Day everyone! Established in 1970, Earth Day began as a way to raise awareness about pollution and other environmental issues and to serve as a catalyst to inspire people to modify their behaviors and to provoke policy change. It is now the largest secular holiday on the planet.

I think the great thing about Earth Day is that there are so many ways that you can participate. This year, it would be really easy to make a point of not driving today.  You could plant a tree (or just tend to your garden). Maybe you’ve gotten lazy about recycling, today is a great day to recommit to it. Maybe make a point of using less electricity today by keeping the TV turned off.  Or set a timer for the shower so that you use less water (no, I don’t really like this suggestion either, but thought I should throw it out there anyway).

There are loads of small actions that you can take or commit to. Maybe pick one of those things that has been niggling around in the back of your mind and look into it a little more seriously. Mr. Man and I have been talking about switching to reusable silicon food storage bags (this is a big deal, I love a Ziploc bag). I’ve also been wanting to start composting; I’m thinking my first step for that is just remembering to put the coffee grounds aside every day for the garden.

Earth Day rhymes with birthday (not a coincidence, some savvy marketing guy did that on purpose). The date coincides with birthday of John Muir the naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the US. It was also identified as a good time to maximize engagement on college campuses being in that sort-of quietish time between spring break and final exams.

If you’re a fan of astrology like I am, you’ll note that the date also coincides with the beginning of Taurus season. Taurus is an earth sign and Taurus season is all about being thankful for and connecting to the planet.  That’s kind-of a cute parallel. The Moon Omens website has this nice article about Taurus season and Taurus energy if you are interested in reading more about it.

You can also go to the official Earth Day website if you are interested in finding a whole slate of live, virtual Earth Day activities. There is also a list of 24 different actions that you can take for the earth. Many of the actions are signing a pledge for this or that (to vote, to use less plastic, those sorts of things) but the one I thought sounded nice was to create some Earth Day or nature-themed art (wine cork fairy house = recycling).

However you choose to celebrate, I hope that you will do something nice for the planet and have a happy Earth Day today.

Are You Moving Enough?

Well folks, we’ve been participating in the national hermitage movement for a while now (has it been 4 weeks already?). I feel like so far it’s been one of those, this is only temporary kinds of things.  But now that hermitage has been extended until mid-May, we may need to start thinking about how to adopt a more sustainable routine. No matter what, I find that everything is better if I’m moving my body. How about you, are you moving enough?

One thing that has been cramping my style here is that it has been raining.  That makes it very easy for me to blow off any notion that I may have about going outside for a walk.  But regardless of whether I’m out there getting my steps, I still feel like I need a bit more movement in my days and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I need to workout at home.

There are so many options for home workouts these days. I bet we all still have a few workout DVDs laying around (I even found my old favorite, Callanetics on VHS in the garage a while ago – too bad we don’t have a VHS player anymore). I’ve seen a lot of paid content on offer – zoom yoga classes and stuff, but there is also so much free stuff out there, it seems crazy not to take advantage of some of it.

I started just doing yoga on my own a few weeks ago. It’s been good. I have a little routine that I put together for myself. I get to spend more time on poses that focus on my problem areas, I get to move at my own pace, and I get to include poses that aren’t that fashionable these days (like plow and fish). The little series that I have been practicing takes me between 30-40 minutes and afterwards I feel great – taller and aligned and ready for my day.

Not my current yoga situation

But the other morning I just WAS NOT IN THE MOOD. I knew that I need to move but I wasn’t feeling the yoga vibe. So, I dug out my Pilates notebook from college and had my own little mat Pilates session. About 15 minutes later, I was a new woman.

Then I was feeling motivated, so I did something that I have been contemplating for quite a while: I took a ballet class! I searched on YouTube and there were a bunch of options. Sure, my barre was my dining table, but it was a real ballet class with an accompanist, and I wore ballet slippers, so it totally counts.

Ever since San Francisco Ballet had to cancel their season, I’ve been seeing their clips of the dancers taking company class at home. If they can do it, I probably can too.

I was so delighted to find this ballet barre class from the Dutch National Ballet that was classic and straightforward enough that I could attempt to replicate the combinations.

My goodness, it sure was fun!  Ernst (the instructor) would demonstrate and then do the first side with you.  For the second side, you were all alone with Rex (the accompanist).  My brain thought that I totally got it, but my body was not so sure (especially my feet).

Somehow, I survived.  And somewhere deep, down, that little ballerina who lives inside of me woke up a little bit. She is excited at the prospect of inhabiting this body of mine again (I am too). Fortunately, there are no mirrors in my dining room to make either of us aware of how far away we are from the body that she used to inhabit.  It’ll be ok, we will just continue to show up for class with Ernst and Rex every other day or so and maybe eventually we will get my feet to start working again.

So that is my story about finding ways to move more at home.  How about you?  What are you doing?  Are you trying something new?  Something old?