Yes

 

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In Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding, Ellen is observing her brother-in-law George, her eldest daughter Dabney, and Ranny, her next-to-youngest child:

He had, and he gave, the golden acquiescence which Dabney the bride had in the present moment—-which Ranny had.’

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language tells me that when we acquiesce, we ‘assent tacitly.’ We consent, comply, accede, concur, and this last one is my favorite, we ‘find rest.’

This exquisite gem of a sentence is found near the end of a story in which a 1920’s Mississippi Delta family gather for the wedding of the firstborn. Throughout, various family members are brought to the forefront, their foibles and rich humanity aptly depicting the beauty and also the dark side of family life.

But that phrase, ‘golden acquiescence’! It’s a yes to life, an affirmative to all of it. In the present moment, we can shine.

May you acquiesce to this moment. Find rest. Say yes.

 

 

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Surprise Me

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the first!

Weekend retreat. Friends. Cabin in the woods. Soup. Wine. Laughter. And needle felting.

What is that colloquial question…..’Who knew?’  Yes. Who knew I would delight in a brand-new experience, thanks to Cindy, who, in addition to bringing quiche, wine, and her wonderful self, also hauled bags of wool skeins, small white envelopes of felting needles, textured yarns, felt squares.

With a minimum of instruction, Cindy soon had Deb and me happily ensconced on the couch, surrounded by mounds of wool and scraps of yarn. We proceeded to cover the room with shreds of wool, scraps of felt, squiggles of yarn, and all the while birds flitted past the surrounding windows. Exclamations varied from gasps of pain when a needle missed its mark, to amazed wonder at the intense red head of the woodpecker.

And Deb had this to report, post-weekend, as she continued to create the most extraordinary felted animals. ‘I found you don’t need to jab super-hard all the time.’ She had stayed at the cabin for a couple extra days, and was, I believe I can accurately write, surprised to find herself immersed in a new pursuit.

Long-time readers of this Alexander Technique blog could surmise about where this  post is headed. Does ‘Light vs. Heavy‘ ring a bell? Or perhaps, ‘More-With-Less‘? Both recent postings, they address the on-going question in A.T. Land—-how much, or rather, how little is required of me, of you, to skillfully and adequately accomplish the task at hand, whether it be washing the dishes or making a felted creature?

Thanks, Deb, for this A.T. reminder, received via text as I resumed the daily rounds back in the big city. Most any and everything can be done with less, giving us more ease. I raise my felting needle to that!

 

Room

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Leonardo DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man

Can we permit ourselves to trust air, to rest in its embrace? Consider water and air, and the creatures living in each element. Imagine a spotted trout living its life in the clearness of a spring-fed stream. Water surrounds this beautiful creature, as air surrounds beautiful us.

Ohio University music majors ended their Wednesday Wellness class with a thought exercise I call The Singing Six. In it, the six directions are acknowledged: up, down, side, side, back, forward.  Following the exercise, they reported an enhanced ease in their bodies, and a vitality often not available to them in the late afternoon hours.

Can you allow yourself to receive the support air provides, from all directions? Next time you catch yourself utterly absorbed in the minutiae of the day, pause please, and note the air, the space, around you. Enjoy expansion of your physical self within the air element. You will, most assuredly, have all the room you need.

More With Less

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Where do we find it? Support, that is. Singers conjure up complicated explanations and practices in the quest to support their sound, and much of my work as an Alexander Technique teacher is assisting them in re-thinking their understanding of support.

Could support for singing, for standing, for sitting in this chair, for mixing up the evening meal’s cornbread batter, could all of these activities of daily life require less of me, rather than more? Less effort, less striving, less trying.

As you might have guessed, my unequivocal answer is ‘YES.’ Less is more. Doris Janzen Longacre’s cookbook title comes to mind; More-with-Less. Let’s apply this revolutionary thought to where you find yourself right now, reading this post.

What could you do less of, and still be engaged in reading? What could I do less of as I write this post? Less thigh grip. Less toe gripping in my boots. Less pulling in of my arms as I speed-type on the keyboard. There. An unsolicited, but most welcome, full breath. More with less.

(About the cookbook: As newlyweds making home, Longacre’s cookbook was our go-to source for meal planning. I used it so much it fell apart, and after decades, it finally went the way of the recycling bin, with a few pages saved for the kitchen’s 3-ring binder. Enter a January thrift store expedition, where I found, unsought, this copy in excellent condition. May you too know the delight of an unexpected boon this very day.)

 

 

In Residence

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A recurring dream theme is of a house with unexpected, unknown rooms. Exploring the new spaces brings wonder and amazement. Sometimes it’s a large ballroom on the top floor, and once I dreamed of a house built into the side of a mountain, its inner walls the underground stones.

I associate these dreams with unexamined or unlived parts of my life. (i.e.–I love to dance, yet rarely do. Therefore, the dream of a spacious ballroom.) The ballroom dream can be understood as an invitation from my subconscious to occupy my body more completely.

And this is the primary practice of the Alexander Technique, to be fully resident in one’s body; at home and occupying all the rooms of the body-house. As you read the remainder of this post, check in with yourself. Are there regions of your body in which you are not residing at this moment? Common areas of non-residency are the back, the feet, the thighs.

When we are ‘in residence,’ we become more available to ourselves and to others. As Victorian-era homes would announce, ‘Mrs. Kelton is in residence on Wednesday afternoons.’ Ready to receive the world, welcoming in life.

 

 

 

 

 

Views

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Within the 12-pane window is a universe. Small oaks in the foreground, their rusty leaves framing the distance. Meadow grasses of pale, tepid beige. A sagging wire fence.  Fence row tree branches etched on overcast gray sky.  Dun-colored rolling fields beyond. A slice of red barn and silver roof. Deep, thick pine grove the only green. Distance hills in mist and dark.

If there is anything in the world more beautiful, I have no need to know what it is. This beauty will suffice, and does, each and every time I’m on the hill.

And then there are the mundane, even scruffy views, especially this time of year. Old piles of snow, an aging doughnut shop sign. With a beauty all their own. We each have a window to the world at any given moment; the view out a car windshield (see photo above, on back roads to a Ft. Wayne, Indiana friend), a sliver of sky seen from the office desk, a quick glimpse out the kitchen window as morning coffee brews.

Hill views not required. Receptivity is.

 

 

 

 

 

Light vs. Heavy

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There is a certain kind of heaviness and insulation we can grow used to. The body can feel strange when it inhabits the world in a lighter way, when it encounters a form of happiness or fulfillment for which it has no apprenticeship. A lightness and litheness that gives us a sense of ease, movement and potential….

David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea

Where are you on the light-to-heavy scale? And what are your preferences? Do you like the feeling of heaviness and insulation?  I sure do in the winter time. After last weekend’s snow/ice storm with below-zero temperatures, venturing out required two layers of socks, a hefty pair of boots, lined pants with leggings underneath, multiple pullovers, coat, hat and hood. Completing this ensemble with bulky black gloves, the total effect reminded me of Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story, lurching down the sidewalk on his way to school.

I look forward to summer days of warm breezes, arms and legs bare to the sun, when getting out the door requires nothing more than sliding on a pair of flip-flops. Until then, it’s heavy on the insulation and light in spirit!

Car trips, domestic tasks, writing at my desk, reading a book, laughing in a coffee shop with a friend, all these daily activities are experienced differently when giving some attention to my physical self, inviting length and space. In the midst of this cold snap, as we welcome the heaviness and protection of our winter layers, include a light heart and a few Directions for good use. The phrase I found myself using yesterday was, ‘Lengthened, widened, grounded.’

Stay warm. Keep safe. Be light.