H—Headstand

I don’t have too many memories before age five, but sometime in the mid-70’s, I remember my Granny standing on her head. She would’ve been in her mid-sixties. She was a feisty one, my Granny. One of my favorite stories is the time the neighbor boy squirted her with a water hose. The details are a little fuzzy, I think she was dressed up and headed somewhere important. Anyway, she nursed her grudge and waited out her revenge. One day when he was all dressed up for church (or was it the prom?), my Granny had her water hose ready and soaked him down.

When Granny stood on her head with my sister Liz and me, I seem to recall her crashing down. I texted Liz about it recently: “Do you remember? Did she hurt herself?” In my blurry memory, Granny broke her toe.  

Liz confirmed the head stand and speculated on a melodramatic, “Ouch!” I could see where a five-year old might equate that reaction to a broken toe. Maybe Granny even shouted, “I think I broke my toe.”

For the next ten years or so, I stood on my head. And for a couple of years in the last ten or so, I picked it up again in my yoga class. I haven’t practiced in a while, but I do remember some benefits—you know, the type of benefits a person forgets and must Google and the type that might motivate a person to just do it.

The Alternative Daily lists 11 Reasons to Stand on Your Head.

  1. Increases Your Focus
  2. Reduces Stress
  3. Strengthens Shoulders and Upper Arms
  4. Helps with Fluid Retention
  5. Develops Core Strength
  6. Gives You a Free Facelift
  7. Improves Your Circulation
  8. Improves Digestion
  9. It’ll Make You Happy
  10. It’s Empowering
  11. Impress Your Friends

On my first attempt in years, I started with a pillow and hands flat on the floor, placed the top of my head on the pillow and my knees atop my elbows. Since I was in the middle of the floor, I held the pose for about ten seconds without extending my legs. This was before I Googled benefits. Based on what I read about fluid retention and core strength, I moved my pillow next to a wall beside the couch. With the top of my head on the pillow, I walked my feet up the side of the couch and allowed my heels to rest on the wall. I counted to ten and then used the couch to assist in returning my feet to the ground. I might add that I felt empowered and focused, happy and not a bit stressed.

On another day, I Googled—proper headstand. YogiApproved.com listed more benefits such as stimulation of the pineal gland, hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which causes the other endocrine glands to coordinate and function better—as well as improved condition of the brain, eyes, and ears by the increased blood pressure. This website recommended not practicing against the wall lest you use the wrong muscles.

And so I set out to stand on my head properly. This time I laid down my neglected yoga mat. As recommended, I brought my hands together and interlaced my fingers, “making a basket,” with forearms flat on the floor in a triangle shape. Then I placed my head on the floor with the back of my head in my cupped hands. Here, I departed from the steps listed by YogiApproved.Com and used my ottoman to help lift first one leg and then the other into a perpendicular position. And you know what? I am stronger than I realized and maybe a little feisty like my Granny.   

I appreciate you for reading my A-Z Challenge post today. After a year at home, I wanted to mix it all up a bit and thought you my like a few suggestions. This April, I’m sticking to a theme of action: mental, physical, and spiritual, things I might already do or haven’t attempted in years or maybe never. You know what else I’m doing this month? Click here to see: AbstainBalletCartwheelDevoteEncourage, Forgive, Google.

C—Cartwheel

Around nine o’clock on a Sunday morning in March, I rocked in a swivel chair on the covered deck out back. I took a deep breath, looked around, and listened to the day. The doves cooed from the tops of nearby trees. A neighborhood rooster crowed about a block away. The sun shone gold in the grass, and the good earth called my name. I remembered once hearing that the soles of your feet can absorb the earth’s energy. There were more benefits I couldn’t quite remember.

I slipped off my house shoes and stepped barefoot into the grass. I wonder if a fifty-one-year-old woman could do a perfect cartwheel—I said to myself. I turned one just to see. It was imperfect. My groin pulled—I probably should have stretched—but it was a cartwheel. My legs made it into the air. I can only guess they were nearly perpendicular to the ground and that my toes were not pointed. No one videoed or saw. I landed on my feet. I can only imagine that was the ugly part. My legs didn’t quite make the circle. Instead, they fell forward at an angle, and I settled into some sort of squat. I decided perfect cartwheels needed practice and that one cartwheel a day would be enough practice for now lest I hurt myself.

On the following day, Monday, I decided to give the cartwheel another try. This was close to ten o’clock after my morning walk. Another attempt at perfection. This time I stretched out a bit in the living room on the area rug in front of the television and read a few pages of book I hadn’t been able finish, The Confessions of St. Augustine. I closed my book, rose to my feet, and to speed along the process, left my tennis shoes on. I walked out my back door and around to the side of my house where I was sure my neighbor who raked leaves in his back yard couldn’t see me. I raised my hands in the air and pointed my right toe. My form had already improved. I have no idea how bad this cartwheel looked. Thank God my husband missed the spectacle through the window. This time I came crashing down. Somehow, I ended in a somersault of sorts on the soft green grass. I was fine all the way down to my groin, and I sat there in the grass and giggled.  

On the third day, I stretched once more and then didn’t have the energy to try one lousy cartwheel. What’s the point? I thought to myself. What does it matter if a fifty-one-year-old woman can do a perfect cartwheel? I did ten pushups from my knees. And twenty squats instead. Surely that’s greater than a cartwheel, I reasoned.

Feeling sure that the grass held a mysterious power, I took my shoes off once more on the fourth day. A cartwheel a day keeps the doctor away, I said to myself, or is it apples? Maybe I should add more apples into my regimen. For some reason, I had some fear, but I tried again. I want to say this one was better than the other two. Still, I decided if the grass holds power, it isn’t strong enough to perfect a cartwheel in three attempts for this fifty-one-year-old woman. At this point, I’m asking myself, how important is a cartwheel at this stage in my life? And here’s my own answer: If the cartwheel gives me joy, even the joy of telling this story, then I suppose, it’s worth a try.   

By the way, this isn’t me.

I appreciate you for reading my A-Z Challenge post today. That means a lot to me. This April, I’m sticking to a theme of action, mental and physical, things I might already do or haven’t attempted in years or maybe never. You might not want to try this at home. Then again, maybe you do. Let me suggest some stretching for whatever you choose.

B—Ballet

Ballet. Technically a noun, a verb in theory.

Photo by Luis Gallegos Alvarez on Pexels.com

I danced from age three at Ada B. Coons, School of Dance, and then with a series of teachers until my first year as a modern dance major at the University of Oklahoma. All of that seems eons ago. These days I sometimes dance in my living room. Before the lockdown last March, I thought about finding a class for adults. Just recently, the idea of virtual classes occurred to me. My point (no pun intended)—ballet might not be your thing, but the world wide web has so many things. Carpe diem.

When I decided to take some extra action this April, I Googled—ballet lessons youtube. I looked no further than the video from the Royal Academy for Dance at Home. Just over seventeen minutes, this lesson sounded perfect for a fifty-one-year-old woman, who hadn’t done a single plié in years. Instructor Sarah Platt coached me through a warm-up and shared tips on posture and pliés before a cooldown complete with eyelash batting practice. Now I have eight more classes to try. By the way, these classes are targeted at the 55+ crowd. Lesson number two includes tendus and battements glisse. Lesson three—ronde de jambs and port de bras. Lessons four through nine—new sequences.

Thanks so much for reading today. For this April’s A-Z Challenge, I hope to stick to a theme of action—I’m thinking both mental and physical, continued current activities, those of days gone by, and possibly a few never attempted. You might not want to try this at home. Then again, maybe you do.

A—Abstain

People like to make New Year’s resolutions. I like to make New Month’s resolutions. Anything is doable a month at a time, and the first of the month seems like a good time for a new beginning. For April, I’m abstaining from alcohol. By the way, I realize the irony of the announcement on April Fools, but I do not jest.

As far as the A-to-Z challenge goes, I’m choosing a theme of action. My actions of the past year have largely involved sitting on my butt and typing words and reading books. Speaking of large and butts—something must change. And so this month instead of imbibing daily, I will attempt to take more action. I have a celebration planned in May that includes sun and a swimsuit and a beach. So let’s see what sort of headway I can make concerning my beach body, and let’s see if I can take twenty-five more actions to distract me from my alcohol habit. My action plan is somewhat sketchy, but I suppose I will figure it out, like I always do. One day at a time.  

Photo by @thiszun (follow me on IG, FB) on Pexels.com

I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot

So I did a little thing yesterday. On Monday I received a text message from Houston Methodist that said, “As a patient we are pleased to inform you that you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine now based on your age and health risk status.” I would like to think I’m fairly healthy, but I have seen a few doctors this past year. I can’t help but believe that my mother pulled a few strings from above. Within days I made my appointment.

I took my morning walk and then drove to the Houston Methodist administration building in the medical district. I felt very young in the crowd of people there. I waited ten minutes in a moving line. The shot was just a little pin prick, overall painless and quick. I was back home in close to an hour, and that included a fifteen-minute evaluation period for allergic reactions. With my booster follow-up scheduled in three weeks, I’m thankful to be able to return to the work force soon without fear and to take myself out of the unintentional spreader pool. Especially as Texas lifts the state-wide mask mandate next week on March 10. According to MSN.com, “Texas has recorded more than 2.3 million cases of COVID-19—with nearly 5000 new cases on Wednesday—and more than 43,500 fatalities since the start of the crisis…The state is averaging 297 deaths a day.”

I felt very young in the crowd of people there. The shot was just a little pin prick, overall painless and quick. With my booster follow-up scheduled in three weeks, I’m thankful to be able to return to the work force soon without fear and to take myself out of the unintentional spreader pool. Especially as Texas lifts the state-wide mask mandate next week on March 10. According to MSN.com, “Texas has recorded more than 2.3 million cases of COVID-19—with nearly 5000 new cases on Wednesday—and more than 43,500 fatalities since the start of the crisis…The state is averaging 297 deaths a day.”

Three Minutes with Denise

I love new beginnings—the opportunity to start over—to get my mind right. May March bring you joy, fulfillment, perspective, and hope.

A few weeks ago when I stayed with my daughter in Dallas, my bestie Denise let me do some of Lauren’s laundry at her house, which was awesome. Even better, what comes next. Our conversation started like this. “Blah, blah, blah…I’m angry,” I said.

She sat in her chair beside me, listened to my woes, and said, “Do you know where your thoughts are when you’re angry?”

I thought for a moment and said, “The past?”

And she nodded her beautiful face up and down and launched into some sound advice.

I said, “Wait, could I video this?”

Denise coaches golf. And for me, life. She should have her own YouTube channel. Our backstory goes like this—I crashed her birthday party when she turned five. I went uninvited with another friend. That’s how we met. The year was 1975. Later, we shared homerooms—first, second, and third grade. I was always happy to see Denise’s name on the list for my class. Flash forward through twelve years of school, and then I didn’t see her for almost twenty years. We became besties closer to age 40 when we realized we lived within twenty minutes of each other. There’s something about having friends who know exactly where you are from, and I’m just lucky to have a few of those.

W is for Walk on the Wild Side

Crystal came to Houston for a stay,

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Walked around a bayou known as Brays,

Snapped photos with her phone along the way,

Squirrels and birds and dogs stopped her to say,

They said, hey babe, talk a walk on the wild side.

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side.

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

This post inspired by Lou Reed and A Tribe Called Quest also inspires my morning walk. Can I kick it?

Yes, you can! Have a great week, Everyone!

A is for Apple

 

Do you have a favorite apple? Mine is the Honeycrisp. Pricey for an apple, but worth every sweet and juicy bite. And we all know the saying about apples and doctors, so I picked some up on my last run for groceries.

I drove over to Austin back in December for a birthday celebration with my lifelong friends Pamela and Denise. Pamela was in Mr. Hale’s fifth grade class with me, and I crashed Denise’s five-year-old birthday party uninvited. We grew up together, and we continue to grow together by sharing cool things like skydive simulations and apples.

Pamela left. Denise right.

Before I left Austin that weekend, Pamela packed me a snack of assorted nuts in one Ziploc bag and apple slices with a squeeze of lemon in another. We hugged and said our goodbyes, and I hopped back into my car for the return trip home. I sped down Highway 71 lined on both sides by barbed-wire fences and open pastures, and I slowed down in the small, one-stop-light towns all while enjoying some good apple love. The lemon adds a freshness.

Yesterday, April 1st, I came across the A-Z blogging challenge. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some extra time on my hands. This seems like a good month to take on a challenge. So for April I’m committing to blog each day using the letters A-Z as inspiration, skipping Sundays, and sticking to a gratitude theme.

A to Z Challenge

I’m sure I need a master plan, but for now I’m taking it day by day. After my morning walk, I headed to the kitchen to cut up a Honeycrisp. But lo and behold, I had lemons in my refrigerator, too, and so…

The Honeycrisp. Mmm.
To lemon or not to lemon?
My apple snack for later is in the bag. So is today’s challenge.

I Have a Secret (On Anti-Aging)

A few weeks ago on my last trip to Oklahoma, I met up with my beautiful forever friend Starla who happened to be visiting at the same time from California. We’ve been friends since second grade, and when you’re 49 like us, that’s forever, right? Even with the distance, we make an effort to see each other every year or two, our phone visits in between are always good for the soul, and there’s nothing like those special friendships that encourage and uplift you, make you laugh and let you to have a good cry, and always pick back up right where you left off.

“Your skin looks fabulous,” I said, mesmerized by her radiant face.

“I’ll tell you my secret as long as you don’t blog about it,” she responded. I’m just kidding, you guys—she didn’t say that, and I did later ask if I could share her BIG secret. Truthfully Starla said, “I’ve been eating collagen protein since April, every morning in an açai bowl with frozen cherries and coconut. You can buy the açai as a puree in the frozen section of the grocery store.”  

When I arrived at my local HEB, the details of our conversation escaped me, so I bought smoothie ingredients—bananas and strawberries and unsweetened vanilla almond milk and a one-pound cannister of the anti-aging factor. At home I threw that all (not the whole pound, just one scoop) into my blender with some ice and frozen blueberries, and voila! Health in a glass. Today is Day 7, and I kid you no more, I can see a difference in my sun-damaged hands and my nails, too.

Purely Inspired is not paying me for this advertising (but they should).

One scoop of collagen peptides includes 18g of clean protein, 18 amino acids, and a B-vitamin complex to support metabolic energy. It’s gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, non GMO, and both KETO and PALEO certified, not to mention my extra servings of fruit each day.

Benefits of Collagen Peptides (according to supplementpolice.com)

  1. Collagen improves the health of skin and hair.
  2. Collagen reduces joint pains and degeneration.
  3. Collagen helps in weight loss.
  4. Collagen improves the health of nails and teeth.
  5. Collagen detoxifies the liver.

Benefits of Forever Friends (according to Mrs. Ward, my 9th grade English teacher and me)

  1. Forever friends encourage and uplift you.
  2. They make you laugh.
  3. They don’t mind when you cry.
  4. You can always pick back up right where you left off because you’ve known each other forever.
  5. They are the fountain of youth, literally.

Starla has one more secret. She’s a Plexus distributor and swears by the Joyōme Illuminating Day Serum and Intensive Overnight Repair. For more information go to https://plexusworldwide.com/home. Starla’s sponsor number is 2876670, which should give her credit if you place an order. Sending good vibes your way! Thanks for reading today!

The Tip of the Iceberg

Photo by Tatiana on Pexels.com

I look at my reflection in the mirror this morning and notice my throat splotching red. But I teach school, and school’s out for summer. I shouldn’t have one iota of stress. I stop for a moment to consider my thoughts. You know those thoughts, the ones you can’t shake?

Present thought—the iceberg. You know, the whole picture—the tip of the iceberg you see above the surface and the huge mass you see below. It’s like how you know a person based on what you see, but you can’t see past the surface, or maybe you can see just below the surface but not too much deeper without asking some heavy questions. When I started Googling images to illustrate this fuzzy point in my head, I stumbled onto Freud’s iceberg theory, and he said exactly what was on my mind. Weird, right? My brain forgets so much these days. I know the theory. I just didn’t remember that Freud fathered it. Anywho, I studied a bit and hope someone else might find the information helpful.

According to Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalytic theory, the mind can be divided into three separate parts with varying purposes:

  1. The conscious part includes what we can sense in the moment—thoughts, memories, feelings, and wishes.
  2. The preconscious part consists of memories we can pull into our conscious on cue for a specific purpose. For example, you walk into a restaurant to have lunch with a friend, peruse the menu, and say, “What do you like here?” Looking at the menu will prompt your friend to remember.
  3. The unconscious part comprises the bulk of our minds—unpleasant or unacceptable thoughts, memories, habits, urges, reactions, and feelings outside the realm of our conscious awareness, such as anxiety and shame, conflict and broken hearts.
Image courtesy of https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-unconscious-2796004

Freud compared the levels of the mind to an iceberg. Above the surface, you see the tip of the iceberg representing the conscious. Below the water, observable at surface level is the preconscious. The massive part of the iceberg extending too deep to be visible represents the unconscious. According to Freud, the unconscious mind affects our behavior and experiences without our awareness or understanding. We all have a storehouse of memories and emotions that we push down deep to forget. Verywellmind.com explains it all very well and dedicates a whole page to psychotherapy. It has been shown that continued self-examination leads to emotional growth over time, and I’m all for growth of any kind.

So as my throat splotches red and I contemplate why people (including myself) do what they do and say what they say and make the same mistakes over and over, the answer according to Freud is pretty simple after all.