This blog includes reflections, creative work and resources. It is a glimpse of one person's journey within the realm of inquiry, experience with the human body and spirit. Look for ideas rather than answers. No claims are made. Perfection is not implied. I write as inspired to do so. Take what works for you, leave the rest. If you share anything from this blog, either verbally or in writing, please do your best to give credit where credit is due. Thank you for visiting.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Nuchal Ligament

I recommend Christopher McDougall's book Born To Run to anyone interested in human evolution, anatomy, kinesiology, inspiring characters, health, fitness, clearing the mind, competition and of course, running!  I've read this book a few times, each time coming away with something more.  The last time around, it was the nuchal ligament.  In short, it is found in distance running animals and aids in holding the head up.  Cats, pigs and primates do not possess the nuchal ligament.  Cats run, and run fast, but they run short distances to catch prey. 

An informative link:

Learning about the nuchal ligament inspired me to add the awareness to the runs I occasionally take through the park.  Then horses kept coming up in one way or another, during runs and elsewhere in life.  Eventually I found an online course in horse anatomy with an equine massage school.  [There's no intention to become a horse massage therapist!  Nor do I imagine I'll own a horse anytime soon.]  So far the initial part of the study involves comparing horse & human anatomy. 

I started riding lessons last week. Something that may be interesting is the shift from the time spent with predators (dogs & especially cats) to the behavior of prey animals.  I have a feeling this just may shift something within me on this and other levels.  Word has it horses read the rider's body and fortunately not the rider's mind.  In a sense, it seems riding is a body-meditation: being in the body, communicating calm & balance even when the mind is excited or afraid of an "unplanned dismount".  In order to accomplish this equilibrium, there has to be the presence of mind to be aware, to breath.     

Reminder for Neti Pot Users


I no longer use a neti pot on a regular basis but carry a bottle of saline nasal spray in my bag.  Having it on hand is helpful after I've come in contact with a sick person.  Sometimes I use it as soon as I know someone is sick, excusing myself to use the ladies room where I squirt my nose.  If you know someone undergoing chemotherapy you may want to suggest they speak with their oncologist about carrying and using saline nasal spray to prevent illness.   

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Yoga Props

A student in class asked about props.  Since 1996 most props I've purchased have come from yogaprops.net.  I prefer the cheaper, thinner mats over thicker and slicker ones.  When requiring cleaning I wash them on gentle cycle and hang to dry for a day or two, flipping every so often.  I like sturdy black blocks and wood blocks. The wood set I have was made by a friend but surely the ones available on line are as equally lovely.  When I first started practicing props weren't readily available.  The teacher suggested making your own blocks by duct-taping together equal stacks of old paperback books. If your mat wears out don't toss it as it can be handy for other purposes.  For example, I use an old one on the floor beneath the feet of an aluminum ladder for added safety.  


Friday, August 17, 2012

Farm Tour

Writing about a tour I attended at Essex Farm may not seem fitting for this blog but actually it is.  These farmers seem as interested in consciousness as they are interested in feeding people.  They don't come out and say as such but it is how I hear their message.  The tour didn't include a hay ride, petting goats or learning about their greenhouse.  As we walked fields of produce, passed barns and stopped at the draft horse pasture Kristin & Mark Kimball (Mark especially as he is the extrovert) provided their perspectives:

- "Sustainable" is a term some organic farmers prefer not to use.  It is an ideal to aspire towards but mostly a fantasy in the more real sense.
- They make choices daily which, for the most part, have to do with time.  Saving time now (a gardener can fuss about little things, whereas a farmer concerns him/herself with the best choice in the moment for the sake of efficiency) and what this choice means for future time (tomorrow, next year, 5, 10, 50, 100 years & on from now). 
- The questions they ask themselves continually, always weighing choices such as is this a time to just start up the tractor or should the draft horses be hitched up?
- The big concepts human kind has asked for ages and how they find these ideas and questions touch-down on their farm.   
- Human resources management and interacting with CSA members are the major relationships that go along with farming. 
- At the beginning of the tour Mark stated how our species will probably die-off as pretty much every species goes extinct eventually.  I agree with this notion and strangely felt at ease knowing our guide for the day was someone willing to discuss important, yet perhaps somewhat taboo subject matter.  I don't think we're all doomed in the near future in some end-of-2012-ordeal but over the long-term, well...  When we know nothing lasts forever, don't we appreciate the preciousness?
- Something returned to again and again:  MONEY.  The Kimballs seem concerned about their farm maintaining fiscal equilibrium.  I'm thankful and willing to pay a farmer who endeavors to make available healthy, organic food.  In survival there are the rules of 3's: generally a human cannot survive beyond 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter (maintaining 98.6 can be tricky), 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food.  Being a well-fed Westerner I struggle when skipping 3 meals in a row, in the case of surgery preparation for example.  I'm grateful to those who know how to produce food, are willing to take the risks necessary to do so and go through a lot of hard, hard work in the process. 

Essex Farm maintains an idealistic quality but in a form where questions seem to float in the atmosphere in a palpable sort of way, at least on the enlightening farm tour day. The parents with children may have expected more entertainment for their little ones.  As one who desired an educational experience of the farm I wasn't disappointed.

It was also a pleasure meeting the other attendees.  As we walked we discussed our own ideas, what we are doing and hope to accomplish in the future with the combination of seed, dirt, air & water and with animals.  Some were gardeners, some were farmers.  My future hopefully includes a decent-sized garden, some chickens and other animals to sustain my husband and myself with leftovers to share and trade.  We may even lease land to organic farmers.

If you would like to know more about Essex Farm and the Kimballs read The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball.  They are also featured in the documentary Small Farm Rising directed by Ben Stechschulte.  Stechschulte directed the documentary Three Farms, also filmed in Essex County New York, my currently part-time and hopefully full-time-in-the-future neck of the woods.  A director's cut of Small Farm Rising is due out at some point.  It is apparently even better than the original, which had to be edited to fit a PBS television time-slot.






Zentangle Workshop

Several weeks ago art teacher Kim Herman gave a Zentangle workshop at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Virginia Beach.  Zentangle was developed by Rick Roberts, a devotee of Eastern meditation and Maria Thomas, a letter artist.

The story of its beginning is basically as follows.  One day Maria was in her studio engrossed in drawing intricate patterns and the design of a single letter.  Rick entered the studio to speak with her.  She was so entirely focused on her piece Maria did not even realize he was there.  Later they discussed the incident.  Realizing her experience with concentration was much like his in the depths of meditation, they began to explore the idea of shaping the process for all, artists and non-artists.  They've broken the materials down to simple form:  small-sized, sturdy Italian paper that can be held in a person's non-dominant hand so a drawing surface is unnecessary, a small pencil, a black pen, a smudge stick and a little drawer string sack to carry everything.

The process brought me back to the ink flower-doodles found in my notebooks from grade school through college!  

Of course you can "Zentangle" without the little kit.  I appreciate the middle-ground Roberts & Thomas have found between being capitalists and generous.  As far as I understand they do not hold copyright on the Zentangle name.  In fact books have been published, You Tube videos and websites have been posted by many people to support the work.  It seems to be a community of people excited to share.  Roberts & Thomas hold a week-long training workshop in Rhode Island for those interested in teaching or simply wish to experience an in-depth period of drawing and collaborating.

Here is a link to the main website:

If you are interested please refer to You Tube and other website searches for more information.  For those who live in Hampton Roads/Tidewater, here is Kim Herman's contact information:  kim.herman@verizon.net   757-373-9735.

Below are snapshots of what I brought home from class.

It is suggested you date and sign the back of each piece when finished.
This is the first piece we worked on.  Patterns are named.  Kim introduced us to 4 with the first exercise.  Part of the fun is finding new patterns by studying repetitive forms found in nature and human-manufactured items and goods, translating them into a Zentangle, naming and sharing them. 
Here is an example of a start to a piece.
1) Make 4 dots in pencil, one in each corner of the paper. 
2) Create a frame, also in pencil, connecting the dots.
3)  Again in pencil draw a "string", a loopty loop if you will, within the frame.  Now you have sections inside the frame.
4) In pen begin your pattern within one space at a time