Is it a closet, a coat rack, or a dresser?
Meet my chair-receptacle. On this day it's not so bad. Most of the time, I hang clothes from the backrest too. It seems to have a magnetic accumulating quality, much like white dog hair in the same room as black dress slacks.
My husband did his best to eliminate the chair proliferation by giving me a beautiful sweater rack he made himself. What you don't see nearby, is said rack, full of sweaters, sweatshirts, hats, and a few runaway belts. Minimalism isn't a practice I subscribe to, yet.
Each week, mostly on weekends, I undo the chair. I peel back the layers, fold the clean clothes, wash the not-so clean ones, and unearth the cushion. The thing is, I know as my busy work-week materializes, the chair will again go undergarment. But for a few days I revel in the satisfaction of a clear space; like when you organize a junk drawer, mow the lawn (or should I say shovel the driveway), or clean out your fridge.
My body, mind, and heart seem to benefit from this process too. Doing mindful movement practices regularly helps me cultivate a sense of hope, faith, and perspective. For me, unless I widen my aperture, things (life), become out of focus, hence why Mindful Movement classes include Metta Meditation and Guided Deep Rest. I figure if they help me, maybe they'll help someone else.
These practices don't need to be done my way...
I invite you to practice what feels good to you. Stay longer in deep rest, pray to a god/universe/divine goddess that resonates with you. Release tension, un-forgivenesses, shame, guilt, and blame. Focus on gratitude for all that's right in the world.
Perhaps you too have a chair-shelf, or a treadmill-rack, or simply know how it feels to be piled high with soiled laundry. You are invited to peel layers, cleanse your body/mind/heart, and unearth yourSELF.
Another go around. Round two. This again.
COVID interrupted my/our (husband and myself), empty-nest last year. One should be so fortunate that’s all the pandemic interrupted; blessings counted. Prior to COVD, our youngest (Sam), went off to college, and our second youngest (Alexa), left to finish her senior year, giving us a taste of the “quiet house”.
Alexa (I wasn’t aware in 1998 that Amazon would plunder her name or the way we consume...I digress) returned in March for online, remote, school, concluding her senior year with no official graduation. Sam came home too. At least they had each other to homeschool with... until they didn’t.
Sam returned to her NY school in September, leaving Alexa doing the laptop-jockey (a NYC job she started in June), from her bedroom, our kitchen, Markus’s old bedroom, my office, the living room, and God knows where else. Although Poppy loved this, I’m sure Alexa envisioned her career starting out much more exciting than in a restricted, germ-phobic home during a global pandemic; yikes.
As Alexa gears up for her transition to an apartment in NYC, I can hear the “quiet house” already.
For me (us), really ME – this being about my growth, experience, and transcendence; I’ll be confronted once again with questions, doubts, and wonderings. The “WTF” happened to four kids needing, expecting, looking for, and wanting me. The mathematical equations of my earnings, and career-opportunity losses while “bringing up the brood”. The “am I enough”, “what now”, “I could/should have done ________ better”, and all the messy regrets, joys, and memories between. Shiitake, that went fast; other than the time all four had the throw-up bug...that went slow, and stained a lot of carpets.
Once again, I’ll be the rusher-home from work to let Poppy out. I’ll seek comfort in knowing that all things are subject to change, and I’ll once more, do “the work”...the type that doesn’t pay. Where answers come from silence. Where a long run or walk, may help facilitate and integrate feelings and emotions of a raw heart. Now experienced, I’ll remember to offer myself radical self-compassion, deep forgiveness, and the opportunity to dream, dreams...things I’ve cultivated for others.
As for Alexa, with a name that popular, “the world is her oyster”. I hope she accepts endless exciting opportunities to grow, learn, and evolve. And she better invite me to a Macy’s Day parade when this social distancing thing is over!
During Monday’s Core-Flow class I invited the group to contemplate group-feel. I referenced Dr. Dean Ornish’s research on the reversal of heart disease, and the important variable of being part of a group.
Online movement programs such as Peloton (stationary biking), are revolutionizing how we’re working out. Since COVID, it seems there are two camps: those who’ve thrown in the proverbial towel (hence COVID-19 on the scale), and those who’ve discovered alternative movement opportunities. If you’re from the first camp, the missing link may be lack of “community”. If you’re the type of person who gets inspired from moving with a group, then moving alone, in front of your computer, may not be enticing. On the other hand if you’ve adjusted to the online COVID landscape, a Zoom class may fall easily into your day.
Although virtual synchronized movement gatherings require some adjusting, they have perks. We now move together, unbound by proximity. Social networks, limited by geography, are more inclusive and available than ever. Technology is making it possible for someone who once lived in Waterbury, to join our group from Pennsylvania (welcome Karen).
Mindful Movement classes are a supportive, collective cauldron where everyBODY is invited to move, sit, and gather. When you’re ready to add yourself to this magical recipe, join us; the Zoom-room is always open.
Many of you have asked how teaching using Zoom is going?
I won't lie...I miss your faces, our parking-lot discussions, and our movement community as a whole. However, until things return to in-person meet-ups, Zoom is going well.
From my daughter, Sky's childhood bedroom, I've created a space I love; I hope you've found an inspirational space for movement of your own. Near my office table I sit each week awaiting the Zoom doorbell. Although, I see only a small window of your home, and sometimes a name on your Zoom box, I feel your presence. After sharing stillness, movement, and meditation with you, my day feels whole. I feel "tucked in", on the evenings we gather.
My wish for you is that your work on your mat follows you to the office, within your home, and beyond.
Thank you for your commitment to our community, for believing in me as a facilitator, and for joining this movement and stillness adventure.
Wishing you health, love, peace, and spirit in 2021.
Receiving should be easy, right? It should come natural. After all, to survive in a group one must give and receive. Working together is how we evolved and "beat" the odds. Some people fall prey to rugged individualism and a Me vs. We society. Others, like myself, sometimes empty their inner-cup, unable to ask for or receive abundantly.
Being from a family where endless giving was the norm, my ability to receive is often hindered. When I first began booking massages, I incessantly talked to the masseur because I felt guilty. My brain knew I was paying for a service, but I had a fear of taking up space. I was raised with a strong work-ethic, being generous, contributing, and muscling through difficult things; relaxing in a receptive mode created a cognitive dissonance of sorts.
I've been exploring the underpinnings of my hesitation to receive freely. First noticing the feeling in my body when I'm offered help, or schedule a me-time activity. Questioning the inner voice that rushes to "no thanks,” or "should I,” and unlearning the habit of refusing help, and pushing away generosity. Finding my own balance in this equation has been a lifelong process, and continues still. In my fifth decade, I'm closing the gap, and moving toward a more sustainable give and take cycle that's congruent with the life I want to experience.
Being in a symbiotic relationship with Mindful Movement supporters has buoyed this journey. I'm fortunate to share space with you, show up in my vulnerabilities, and receive your trust.
May you receive abundantly this season,
Noun: A high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture. Something that gives great pleasure.
Verb: To give great pleasure, satisfaction, or enjoyment to; please highly.
I'm on a mission; an attempt to sooth pandemic ambiguity, anchor turbulent nerves, and expand conscious awareness. I'm in persuit of things that delight. Caveats being: they're nearby (I'm not going anywhere anyway), somewhat simple, unadulterated, and they provoke feelings of peace.
It didn't take me long last week to be delighted while on an evening walk. The horse barn up the road from my home had decked the halls.
A star. One five pointed, radiant star in its modest appearance invoked a moment of magic, a motionless period of peace; time stopped. Awe. Home. Home in my body, heart, and soul.
To delight, is to please someone greatly. We are sometimes unaware of how profound our contributions are. Whether you're decking the halls, writing cards to loved ones, or baking delicious treats for family, I wish you much delight in this season.
Sending peace and light,
We often want to make changes. We set intentions, buy products, schedule our calendars, and push start. We know how we want to feel, and what's in our best interest, yet get in our own way; over, and over, and over. What starts out as exciting, often becomes boring, old news, and less shiny; it happens to me too. I recently had a super busy day: vet drop-off, work, mail errands, food purchases, and Poppy pickup. I felt stressed, overwhelmed, and a sense of "I can't do it all". What I needed was to shake off the stress. So, I dreamt of a way to make me-time happen. I decided I could run for 20 minutes between the time I mailed my package and picked up Poppy.
After that, I came up with all the excuses of why I shouldn't run: it's too cold, I'll be sweaty after, I'll have to pick up the dog after 5pm (she was ready 5-6), 20 minutes is barely a warmup, why bother...
Perhaps you can relate?
Here's the thing; I heard my brain, but chose to ignore it. I did run those 20 minutes. It was cold (I would've rather been drinking hot cocoa), I picked up Poppy in a sweaty shirt, and on the later pickup schedule.
You know what though? That run was the most rewarding run I've had in a long time. No, not distance, speed, or time; rather because I honored my needs. I gave myself a gift. I felt a sense of worthiness. And I kept my promise; even after my brain tried to derail my intention.
For those of you curious about Poppy’s (class mascot), wellbeing:
After minor surgery, and a nail trim, she’s doing fantastic. Her stitches are healing well, and she’s taken full advantage of receiving medication disguised in spoons full of peanut butter...not sure who’s enjoying this process more, Poppy or my husband?
On a recent walk, I noticed heart shaped leaves dancing on a mostly barren tree. It reminded me of how when we face life's immense challenges and hardships, we can feel stripped, raw, and bare. I used to tape layer upon layer of preverbal duct tape over my heart when life served me heartache; not to shut it down, but to contain the pain long enough to function. Since I've made the connection that movement, meditation, and breath-work help me metabolize, and move through emotions, I've put away the duct tape (most always), and use these tools.
In WOW class this week, I shared the following message from Joan Halifax:
Cultivating a strong back and soft front, “is about the relationship between equanimity and compassion. A strong back is about equanimity and our capacity to uphold ourselves, especially during difficult times."
“All too often our so-called strength comes from fear not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine. In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence. If we strengthen our backs, metaphorically speaking, and develop a spine that’s flexible but sturdy, then we can risk having a front that’s soft and open, representing choiceless compassion. The place in your body where these two meet — strong back and soft front — is the brave, tender ground in which to root our caring deeply.”
“How can we give and accept care with strong-back, soft front compassion, moving past fear into a place of genuine tenderness? I believe it comes about when we can be truly transparent, seeing the world clearly — and letting the world see into us.”
— Joan Halifax
Mindful Movement classes contribute to building a strong supportive back, while inviting you to connect with your soft, supple heart.
Autumn's dichotomy leaves (pun intended) me whiplashed every year. I'm torn between the visual, gluttonous consumption of VT confetti trees, and feeling the dread of imminent darkness and shortened days.
Emotional ripples undulate through my chilled bones as seasons shift. They tug at my tunic, yelling "pay attention," beg me to notice, and plead to be observed. In years past I've tightly gripped to the dwindling energetic daylight, shunned the lengthening nights, and ran away from increasing melancholy.
Interconnectedness to circadian rhythm invites me year after year to widen my aperture; to learn the season's lessons. To not busy past the wisdom and intelligence of nature. To not pile heavy blankets of comfort foods over my resentment of winter's arrival. To not mourn my spring and summer sunrise routine, and begrudgingly surrender to hibernation patterns.
As years pass and wisdom seeps in, I'm learning to honor the cycles, and respect that decay is humus for next summer's abundance. Shortening is required for lengthening to return; this interconnectedness is the secret and sacred sauce. What we leave to compost matters. We all play a part in this magical, intricate system.
The low-pressure warning lights up on my dashboard, followed by a thump, thump; never a good sign when you’re in rush-hour traffic on the highway. My only option: pull off into the slender emergency lane hugging a long row of guardrails. With every passing car and truck, my little Forester shook and swayed like a matchbox figurine. My mind went to the worst-case scenario: I’m going to die in the breakdown lane. A flat tire had sidelined me on my morning commute. After turning on my four-way flashers, I panic-dialed 911. An unfamiliar, shaky voice blurted out: “I’m on interstate 89 with a flat tire and I’m scared. Could you please send the State police to put out some flares...people are driving extremely fast.”
Expressing to the dispatcher, a stranger, “I’m scared” felt completely foreign. I abhor feeling dependent, reliant, or needy, full stop. As a mom, sister, daughter, wife, and business owner, my attempt to be an example of strength is immersed in my identity. After all, I share with women that physical strength is essential for health. I taught my daughters to be strong and independent, and less of a damsel in distress. I raised them with the “superman’s not coming” mindset; like I’d grown up thinking. I’d always preferred the deep sense of security that you can only get from being genuinely self-reliant. After this brief vulnerability reflection, I got back to problem solving.
A call to a local tow service confirmed a $150 minimum charge. Hmm, that’s like two new pairs of running shoes; no way. I know what you’re thinking; don’t you have AAA, like other responsible adults? You’ve heard of Murphy right? As in Murphy’s law...after being a card holder for eleven years, I gave it up this past summer. I mean really, I hadn’t gone anywhere due to COVID, so I thought what the heck. Note-to-self: you do have a daily commute, silly me.
Option two, call my husband at work. At the risk of appearing meek, I called, he answered, and was on his way. In the meantime beautiful, bright, blue lights on a green cruiser, (normally a nerve-racking event), pulled up behind me. Cars and trucks slightly slowed, and I got to work changing the flat. To be clear, the state trooper wasn’t getting out of his car. It was me, all me. Here goes: Jack the car, remove lug nuts (wearing black pants today – priceless), donut at the ready. Navigating the narrow space between the guardrails and tire was tricky business. I’ve never been so thankful for: agility, flexibility, and strength; thank you socket wrench and Pilates. All was going well until the jack collapsed. At this point my husband and a coworker pulled up asking what I was doing? “I’m changing the tire”, black, greasy hands proved my efforts. They took over, thankfully.
Later that evening, my husband detailed countless dangers, I narrowly escaped; including getting injured when the car collapsed on the tire (I may or may not have forgotten to set the emergency break). For a moment I felt anxious, and scared again at the thought of what could have been. Then I took a deep breath and reframed my thoughts. I’m both strong and weak, connected and untethered, lost and found, each and every day. I’m blessed to fumble my way through this thing called life in a cozy VT community. And on this morning’s commute, I was thankful for not just one superman showing up, but three.
Becky Widschwenter- Mindful Movement with Becky