On Cleaning

More and more the things we do to nurture and sustain ourselves get relegated to others, or given short shrift. How fast we can get something done takes precedence over doing that thing well and fully. Generations of women who didn’t “work” outside the home, knew and appreciated the godliness of cleanliness. I remember my grandmother and the pride she took in the whiteness of her sheets blowing on the line in her back yard, my aunt talking about cleaning her kitchen as a spiritual practice, the zen of twice-yearly cupboard cleaning…. To this day, I shake the blues, agitations and angst by clearing a closet, scrubbing a pot, deep cleaning the fridge… The world becomes a little clearer, a little shinier when even one thing is well cleaned.

For more on the beauty and benefits of cleaning…

Cleaning and doing chores aren’t activities that our culture appreciates much these days, yet Sufi mystic Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee understands housework as being essential for a healthy spiritual life. “As…
  from dailygood.org

Gratitude

It’s Turkey day and I’m holed up at home with a runny nose, watery eyes and a deep cough.  After the 2-week bronchial jag I mumbled through in September/October, I’m not taking any chances with this one.  Pulled out all the stops and even tried that crazy rub Vicks Vapo-Rub on your feet, don socks and climb into bed approach to soothing a nighttime cough (incredibly, it worked!)  So no parties or gatherings for me.  Plague dogs stay home!

And yet, I’m eternally grateful to have a quiet day to putter.  I’m grateful for the puddle of sun warming my feet.  I’m grateful for the stack of unread housing magazines and the time to peruse them unfettered by obligations.  I’m grateful I’ve got everything I need to pull together a wonderful turkey dinner for myself.  And, I’m eternally grateful that Chicken Little’s dad is a hands on dad and, as luck would have it, on parent rotation this holiday.  I’m so happy not to expose her to my germs and grateful for the luxury of time to rest.

Speaking of Chicken Little.  She’s a little gratitude generator all by herself.  No one can match her wicked sense of humor.  She’s a model of acceptance and unconditional love.  How can I not be grateful for her?

I’m also grateful for all the wonderful people in my life – family, friends, clients and all the folks who help me get by and do what I do.  I don’t say it enough but THANK YOU!

Wherever you are, however you’re celebrating, I wish you a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

High Gloss

Door – London, England photo courtesy Ari He

If you’ve ever lusted after those gorgeous European doors featured on posters and highlighted in decor mags everywhere, you’ll be thrilled to know I’ve discovered their secret!

While on a busman’s holiday helping my dearest friend manage the design and decor decisions for her new house, we stumbled into an amazing paint store – Ricciardi Brothers in Morristown, NJ.  And what should they have on display but one of said doors, painted (with brush mind you) a deep glossy black.  I couldn’t help but pet it.  Smooth as silk and gleaming.  I was in color heaven.  The brush strokes were almost invisible and I could only imagine how magnificent the finish would be had it been sprayed.

The secret – an oil-based enamel from Fine Paints of Europe.  Unlike their American counterparts, the base for FPoE colors is clear.  Here in the USA paint base is generally opaque – think white or grey resulting in less vivid and often grayed colors.  Using a clear base allows for the deep rich and true colors associated with European doors.  An enamel finish results in the incredible gloss.  Colors can be matched to just about anything.  The company offers oodles of color decks — my Christmas wish list runneth over — including one to match the Pantone color spectrum.

So if you’re in the market for a truly spectacular color check out Fine Paints of Europe.  BTW – they aren’t limited to enamels.  The company also offers a line of interior acrylics.  Personally, I can’t wait to start painting!

Confusion

“Suffice to think what God, truth, justice, honesty, communism, fascism, and so on mean in different human societies to see that much of our trouble lies in the fact that we confuse speaking with thinking.” – Moshe Feldenkrais

Practicing

“Never practice more than three or four hours a day.  No one can concentrate longer than that, and you must spend the rest of your time learning about life and love and art and all the other wonderful things in the world.  If a young person sits in the practice room all day, what can he possibly have to express in his music?” – Arthur Rubinstein

Sage advice from a master.  Imagine a world where we all took time to actually enjoy life.  If we took time to see the beauty around us, had the energy to support those we love without ourselves feeling overtaxed, spent time enjoying each other… In other words, imagine a world where we were truly engaged in the act of living instead of simply “doing”.

Are you willing to work toward a life fully lived?  I am.

Slow Mo

What happens if you take a few moments to live in slow motion?

You might find your world opening up.  You might find you notice yourself doing things you never realized you did.  You might find that some of those things you do are getting in the way of what you would like to do.  You might find yourself growing in awareness until you can catch yourself the moment before you act.  You might find that slowing down and noticing give you options you never knew you had.

That’s what happens during Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class.  For sure the movements can seem peculiar.  They weren’t when you were a child.  The lessons, done in slow motion and increasing awareness are based on natural movements, part of our shared human developmental repertoire.  The impact of doing them can be incredible.  How so?

Here is an interesting article on one woman’s journey from pain to ease.

For you yoga practitioners – I’m not suggesting you give up something you love.  I don’t believe in an either/or kind of world.  I simply suggest you give ATM a try.  Who knows, maybe your yoga practice itself will become deeper and more effective.

Curiosity

“Curiosity is something that goes from the inside out, not the other way around – and it exists before you have experience.”  – Moshe Feldenkrais

 

Think about your best teachers?  Weren’t they the ones who indulged your innate curiosity?  The ones who let you explore the areas of a subject that called to you (and in the process required you to know more about the subject as a whole)?

Yes, there may be a curriculum, a general knowledge that speaks to being educated.  But how that knowledge is imparted – that is where the rubber hits the road.  The truly great teachers are those who know how to ignite the spark of curiosity in their students; then sit back and watch as the students approach the subject with a hunger to learn more.

The recitation of facts and figures does little to whet the imagination.  But make a subject relevant – therein lies the key to worlds of learning.

 

Maturity

“…to achieve maturity one must be prepared to change and give up cherished beliefs and habits…”
-Moshe Feldenkrais

Like the old proverb about being unable to twice dip your toes into the same river, you can’t change AND stay the same.  It is both literally and figuratively impossible.  Yet how often do we try to maintain the status quo after life-altering events?

I hate to get political but the obvious is, well, so obvious that it calls out to be called out.  The southern coast has been ravaged by two hurricanes in as many weeks.  Two more potent storms are gathering.  Will they, too, pummel the already battered states, or lash out at other coastal areas?  Only time will tell.

In the aftermath of hurricane force winds and seemingly endless rains and floods, the real questions are “What did we learn?” and “How can we rebuild in a way that minimizes future risks?”

Both Texas and Florida are old hands at surviving tropical weather patterns.  They each handled their disasters in their own distinct ways – differently than on previous occasions – showing steps toward a more mature approach to safety, security and planning.  What they do next will have a huge impact on the future.

Will they rebuild as before without changes to building and zoning codes?  Will they choose to continue policies designed to defy nature?  Or will each state take time to assess the storms’ impact and take steps to work with nature, harnessing her innate abilities at water and storm management?

The belief that somehow we have a god-given right to destroy the natural environment will always come back to bite us in the butt.  Like it or not, the environment we pillage for personal gain is the very same environment we rely on for our very existence.  Air, water, land – none of these are replaceable.

One of my fondest dreams is for Americans to stop squabbling about “climate change” and to focus instead on what we all truly desire for ourselves, for our children, for their children’s children – clean air to breathe, fresh water to drink, beautiful environs in which to live, work and play.

Learning from disasters is a mark of growth.  Working with Mother Nature in rebuilding shows maturity.  Is America ready to give up its teenage notions of infallibility and take a few small steps toward adulthood?