Making Do

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Seven Oaks

To follow-up last week’s post, here’s a quote from Diane Ackerman’s gardening memoir, Cultivating Delight:

As with all creativity, Paula’s art (landscape design), requires spontaneity bound by restrictions.’

Ackerman’s design requests included preserving large swaths of the standard suburban mowed lawn, preferred by her husband. Paula had to ‘make do’ as she sketched and schemed, not able to utilize the full panoply of her talents, but work within the boundaries of a client’s preferences.

My mother did it too, this ‘making do.’ She made a life of it. Her ability to create a lovely, if tiny, home for her family, was often about lack. On my father’s teaching salary, the end of the month usually found us dining on beans and cornbread, no steak to be found.

And my Alexander Technique community ‘made do’ on Sunday afternoon, meeting in a Zoom Room for a Seven Oaks Reunion. Seven Oaks Retreat Center, in Madison County Virginia, is the location for an annual outstanding Alexander Technique Workshop, cancelled this year in response to the pandemic.  Within the parameters, and yes, confinements of a Zoom Room setting, director Jan Baty, and the workshop faculty created a lovely microcosm of a Seven Oaks week.

Making do. We can do this. We are doing this. For the fortunate who have not been ravaged by COVID-19, or suffered as loved ones take ill, we can make do. Hardship? Constraint? Limitation? Yes. Make do. The creative life awaits.

 

 

Gardening

 

abundant, profuse, extravagant, voluminous, plentiful, prolific, lavish, robust

That’s the garden these days. Each morning, weeds are pulled, branches trimmed, the bird bath refreshed. These mundane tasks, surprisingly, give joy. How so? For one, I am outside. All is lush and lovely. (See above vocabulary list.) Also, utilizing Alexander Technique principles means I get to be in the present moment while also in the garden.

Here’s how: Bending, I am both The Puller-of-the-Weeds, and The Observer. As such, I can consider the ‘means-whereby’ the weeds get pulled. Perhaps less force in yanking of  stems?

Less effort worked for a patch with loose soil and shallow roots, but now I am on to a section with deeper rooted weeds. Now what? Noting my response to the more strenuous requirement, I pause, returning to standing. Considering what might be most ‘mechanically advantageous,’ hips are invited to move back as my head and spine travel up and over.

And here am I. Just here. By giving thought, care, and attention to the ‘how’ of the task at hand, I am nowhere else. What a gift, this returning, over and over again, to Self-Awareness,  Inhibition (The Pause), and Direction (Choice). The Big Three of an Alexander Technique practice.

It doesn’t have to be a garden where the Alexander Technique intersects with daily life. But I certainly wish for you a beautiful bloom this glorious day—-

Season’s Greetings

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The semester wraps this week, and it’s a return to the rest of life. With the holiday season upon us, that’s good timing. To all the blog’s readers, I wish for you refreshment and restoration during the month of December. May your hearts (and bodies!) be light, and may you know the beauty of your existence on this one-and-only earth.

Best wishes for the holidays, and I will write again in the new year of 2020—–

Hummingbird Clearwings

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Photo is a bit blurry, but still better than pixabay’s. They move so incredibly fast, it’s a challenge–

A life-long resident in the state of Ohio, never had I sighted this wee moth, until moving to our current home last summer. It resembles a tiny hummingbird, but with the antennae and legs of a moth. It’s a wonder.

Last Sunday, neighbors had gathered in the garden gazebo, everyone partaking of Mike’s home-made ice cream. I stepped inside to fetch a couple water glasses for the guests, and on my return, all were in a state of amazement and awe. A fine gathering had become an extraordinary one with the appearance of two hummingbird clearwings, who were intently extracting sweetness from nearby blooms.

And this Alexander Technique teacher observed her guests vibrantly lively in their movements and expressions, their eyes sparkling. I was witness to the happy circumstance of beauty and wonder taking the human form into length, width, and ease. Beauty can do that to a person, and it was a delight to find the hummingbird clearwings having this effect on my dear neighbors.

Seek Beauty today—-

 

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.

 

 

House and Home

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May I trust the eddies, the still waters, the fast-moving current, as Mike and I travel in our little boat to the quiet cove of our next home. We are being carried on the current that is always swirling beneath and around us, taking us through our lives, and now to the place where we will continue to love and laugh and yes, if we are fortunate, grow old. Moving Day! It’s in our future. May our new home be waiting for us this very day.’

The above was written in my April 2018 journal. The new house was waiting.  On to The Week of the Move. July 27th we received the keys, and Jill and Em joined us in the garden gazebo for pizza and wine. Our first guests! It was the only space with a table and chairs, left by the previous owners. Next day, the first items to go through the front door were Sylvia’s paintings.

A moving company hauled all furniture and boxes. Surprisingly, there is so much stuff that does not fit neatly into a packing box, and so, we loaded up our car and truck, Bob’s trailer and Cari’s behemoth vehicle too.  Yoga mats, pillows, family heirloom clock, rugs, chairs, spices, potted plants, rocks. Rocks, you ask? Yes. Collected from every place visited, I display them inside and out.

How our friends, the Thornocks, did it, I do not know. The five of them stood on the curb of their Seattle-area home, each with a suitcase and carry-on, contacted Uber, rode to the airport in 2 cars, hopped aboard a plane for a cross-country flight, ending up at their new Savannah, Georgia home after visiting friends in the Midwest. They left behind an entire household, to be moved without them. During their week’s journey between the old and the new, they were the last guests at our long-time home, which was fitting, as both Nancy and Paul were instrumental in preparing the property for sale several years ago. In fact, Nancy did such an amazing update and home staging job, we stayed longer than expected.

And so, a house has become a home. The ease of daily life in the new spaces is what I wish for each of you today. Ease in your shelter-home, and in the ‘always-home’ of your precious body.