Called Away

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Pecans. Koinonia Farm’s primary crop.

Here we are, all together as we sing our song, joyfully. Here we are, all together as we hope we’ll always be.’

The summer we were married (1981!), Mike and I lived on South Georgia’s Koinonia Farm, working as interns. Each and every community lunch began with the singing of ‘Here We Are.’ It has been an ear worm these past many days. Confined to home and hearth, I practice being present to Mike, to my students now online, listening for spring bird song, appreciating the breeze on my face.

But the lure of my devices! The world wide web calls my name, and I answer. Stay informed? Yes. Repeatedly watch the video of the New York hospital hallways? No. And this is where the Alexander Technique practice of Inhibition comes in. Pause. Stop. And when ‘called away’* by yet another news feed, another heart-rending headline, make a choice.

Here we are. All together.

(*today’s posting inspired by a phrase from Lynn Levin’s poem, ‘Song of My Cell Phone,’ ‘Called away. I am always called away…’)

 

Rowing

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Looking for an inspiring read? Here’s my pick: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Meticulously researched, but reading like a suspense novel, Daniel James Brown weaves a gripping tale of the working-class boys from Washington State who made history at the 1936 Olympics.

Here’s a timely excerpt: George Yeoman Pocock, builder of boats, giving advice to one of ‘the boys’:

‘He told Joe that there were times when Joe seemed to think he was the only fellow in the boat, as if it was up to him to row the boat across the finish line all by himself. When a man rowed like that, he said, he was bound to attack the water rather than to work with it, and worse, he was bound not to let his crew help him row.’

Fellow boatmates, we can row these choppy waters. Together.

*Local Prologue Bookshop owner, Dan Brewster, welcomes online orders. Two books and a jigsaw puzzle arrived a few days ago, along with a cheering note from his staff. If Brown’s book is not in stock, I’m sure Dan can get it ordered for you.

Checking In

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OSU online classes begin next Monday. Over the weekend, I greatly appreciated colleagues Mio Morales and Jennifer Roig-Francoli, who hosted webinars for those of us who are new to online instruction. With 96 in attendance, an international gathering of Alexander Technique teachers, it was a heart-warming time to provide each other support, mostly by simply being present to one another.

How is your life changing? Write and let me know.

Be safe. Be well——I’ll close with a few words sent to my students last week: ‘I am holding you in my AT-teacher-hands, with gentle guidance at the meeting of head and spine. Give yourself a moment for returning to ease and freedom.’

(a Lake Cowan lotus, photographed from my kayak)

‘May I have a word?’

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allow

pause

embrace

settle

permit

regard

receive

Select one and allow it speak to you. Less is more.  This list consists of words I find myself using when teaching the Alexander Technique. The less I say, the better. Pausing helps to keep me from talking too much. Students have their own discoveries to make.

Less is more. It’s a practice to embrace in everyday life. Less furniture means more space. One can settle into the surroundings with peace. Less household spending permits more funds for travel. Less indulgence of sweets means a healthier regard for the digestive system.

One word only. Choose yours and live with it for a day, receiving its gifts.

(Image by StockSnap on pixabay. Thanks!)

 

 

 

Choose

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Choices. They are made countless times each day. When to get up, what to wear, make the coffee or purchase on the way? And then there are the big choices, a life partner, for example. I chose one 38 years ago, and continue choosing him every day.

The practice of the Alexander Technique is all about choice. We get to choose. We are not automatons, although it sure can feel that way as we plod through the waning days of winter. Try ‘The Procedure,’ an alternative to the trudging habit:

Choose Self-Awareness. (Feet on floor. Head on spine. Where am I possibly tense?)

Choose to Pause. (Often the Pause is enough. Mind/body re-organize. Just stop the habit, whatever it is. Trudging, maybe?)

Choose to Direct. (‘My neck is free.’ Or, ‘I allow my head to move forward and up.‘)

Spring is on the way.  On Sunday morning’s farm walk with Mike, I heard a spring song from a warbler along the west fence row. Add a little AT thinking to your next stroll, and you will find your Self in springtime before you know it—-

Enjoy the Ride

 

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 ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.’

The first written record of this adage is found in an 1840 Thomas H. Palmer Teacher’s Manual. It was popularized in song lyrics by British writer, W. E. Hickson (1803-1870). OSU Alexander Technique students were asked to re-write this time-honored advice, with Mr. Alexander’s principles and practices in mind.

If at first you don’t succeed,

  • you need Constructive Rest.
  • try it differently.
  • remind yourself, the waist is fake-news!
  • correct your body map.
  • release tension and then try again.
  • find another way and know it’s okay.
  • do less.
  • take a lap, or maybe a nap.
  • try it in Monkey.
  • enjoy the ride.

Thanks to: (Sasha, Sara, Garrett), (Srinija, Demetra, Kai), (Jade, Jacob, Max) and (Edie, Alexa, Megan, Yang).

 

 

Gray

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My new winter coat, gray. Leggings and tunic, gray. The Honda I drive, a lavender gray. Overhead, dull gray.

Day after dark day, the sky is a bland blanket draped over trees and rooftops. Fog. Damp. This is the scene in central Ohio. Twice a week, under, you guessed it, gray skies, the OSU Alexander Technique class meets. One day only, the first day of class, did we see a glorious pink and orange sunset out the studio’s west windows.

Night falls as class begins, and this is what we’ve been up to—

Constructive Rest, AT Talks, Thinking-in-Activity (most recently, Arms-on-Back-of-Chair), hands-on lessons. Devoting 180 minutes of one’s week to an AT class is no small commitment. Time is at a premium. The academic demands are many. So when the instructor says, at the conclusion of Constructive Rest, ‘You have all the time you need,’ it can sound clueless, uninformed, and downright impossible.

However. In this moment, you do have all the time you need. Just this breath. In it is the world. The mere typing of those words resulted in me pausing, leaning back into my chair, and sipping water from a waiting glass. Often I  get so ‘busy,’  water glasses can be found all over the house, partly full, all forgotten.

In the grayness, pause. Breathe. Sip. Timeless time.