Cory Taylor’s bookwas recommended by a local librarian, after I told her I was looking for a good read, and appreciate a well-written memoir. What a gift, public libraries!
As a person viewing the world through an Alexander Technique lens, I am always on the look-out for well-expressed descriptions of what Mr. A. called The Self, the body/mind in which we each reside. Taylor provided an excellent one. She is writing about her childhood experience of body and consciousness:
‘I never thought of my body at that time as something separate from the bodies of the dog, or the kookaburra, or the mother cat up in my sister’s sock drawer. And I certainly didn’t think of my body as separate from my consciousness. They were one and the same thing, consciousness being a bodily sensation, just like sight, or touch, or hearing.’
We study the Alexander Technique to recover our childhood connectivity to the natural world, and to restore our body/mind integration. It’s a return to our inherent structure and our place on the planet, and does not require adding on something new. May your Alexander Technique practice bring you the poise of your youth today—–
Truth-telling. Not enough of that in this present political age. Since I’m not in control of our society’s unleashed lying habits, I’m proposing to start here:
Be honest with myself.
Hmmm. As in, a long, hard look in the mirror? What I see there these days is my mortality.
You too can stare death in the face with a read of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and OtherLessons From the Crematory, by Caitlin Doughty. It is not for the squeamish or faint-of-heart, but I found it to be bracing and yes, refreshing. Death is acknowledged. No lies. No subterfuge.
My Alexander Technique teaching studio has two skeletons in daily use, along with multiple anatomy tomes. Some students are uncomfortable with considering the bones beneath their flesh, and a bit of light-hearted cajoling is required for a engaged lesson of curiosity about the body and its structure.
Facing the truth of death and decay is to embrace living. In a death-denying and truth-negating culture, this can be a radical practice. Let’s begin with some courageous honesty all around, and who knows, we could be contributing to a new cultural norm; telling the truth!
May 26, 2017. At the kitchen sink, washing up the breakfast dishes, I realize there is an orchid inches from my face. It bloomed! It’s been ready to pop for weeks, and today was the day. Morgan! Thank you. Hello.
I see her in all things small and delicate.
She was born May 26, 1984 and had 9 months and 3 weeks to be here. 33 years later, Mike and I are sitting on the cabin porch, remembering the Saturday she arrived in our Oakland Avenue upstairs bedroom. Mike recalls when the midwives told us Morgan had physical markers for Down Syndrome, I was so captivated to have her next to me, it didn’t seem to matter what they were saying.
We look out over the fields, study the clouds, sip our beers. Then he tells me a story I had not heard before. The first Father’s Day after Morgan’s death, he was walking the farm. Along the north fence row a deer snorted and stamped, attempting to distract Mike, and sure enough, there in the grasses was a new fawn.
In 1988, my father died suddenly of a heart attack, and having lost my mother 10 years earlier, I was officially orphaned. Often I found myself in a one-sided conversation with my parents, and once in a while, imagined hearing back from them.
One of those times a ditty began to sing itself in my mind’s ear, and although the melody has been lost, I do remember the lyric: Make a little beauty each day….It’s all that’s asked, all that’s required, just make a little beauty each day.
Yes. Making beauty. A roast chicken, a song, an Alexander Technique lesson, a pleasing arrangement of pottery and pictures on the mantle, a linen napkin under the sterling silver at dinner. A kind word, a lavish party. A photograph. A friendship. A marriage. A life you can love. It’s enough.
In this spring season, when the natural world is wild with making, may you be inspired to make a little beauty too. It’s all that’s required——
Thanks Mom, for giving me a turn on this blue-green planet. I miss you, 40 years gone from us. Happy Mother’s Day.
Down by the Ohio River this past weekend, attending a family reunion. Of my mother’s 8 siblings, three survive; Aunt Maebelle, Uncle Roger and Uncle Jack. The uncles were in attendance and what a joy to spend time with them, and with a big crowd of Saunders folk; many cousins, their children and grand-children.
Cousin Roger Jr. gave remembrances of each one of the aunts and uncles, and we all kept telling our stories as we ate Aunt Wanda’s brownies and looked at old photos. A picture-perfect day at Raccoon Creek Park, situated on land my Grandpa Connie once farmed. The breeze blew brilliant white clouds through a bold blue sky, the food tasted so good and the hugs were even better. Trees along the creek shimmered in new lime green leaves. The sound of many conversations wafted around the shelter house. All of us very much alive.
Those who have gone before were present too. They came to life once again in our stories and our memories. A big Thanks to the ancestors for being there with us—-
*As this is an Alexander Technique blog, I would be remiss to not bring to your attention the lower-left photo. Head leading and body following, indeed! Any baby or toddler is the very best of AT teachers, if we would just notice their inherent good Use of Self.
‘I’ve got the sniffles.’ That sounds innocuous. A cold virus is anything but. Two holiday parties and a long-anticipated lunch date missed. A week-end lost to a Benadryl-induced stupor.
With high expectations for December good cheer, it’s extra disappointing when an illness comes to call instead. And after falling ill, we are then admonished by cultural norms to do battle against the bug. As if it wasn’t enough to find ourselves unwell, now we are to rally for a fight.
Be proactive? Yes. Fight? No. How about practicing a few Alexander Technique principles instead? Observe Self. Note unpleasant cold symptoms. Note the mind’s response to them. Pause. (This is the Do-Nothing part.) Choose what happens next. Perhaps choose this-
‘Try a Little Tenderness’ Tea: Boil water. Pour. Add a tablespoon of honey and a squeeze or two of fresh lemon. Cup mug in hands. Inhale to the best of your ability and then sip. Add Rest. Repeat as needed.
I stop for a mochawith vanilla scone on the way; my treat for having the courage to get my blood drawn. As I walk into the Plaza, the receptionist who greets me wears bright aqua eyeglasses and makes me smile. The intake staffer has photographs of her 4 sons (yes, FOUR) pinned to a wall of her cubicle. Three nursing staff, one of them very pregnant, laugh over a hot flash story as the blood pressure cuff tightens around my arm. Voices murmur in the patient room next door.
Some previously diagnosed thyroid cancersare being downgraded to chronic conditions, but not the kind I had. With cancer cells migrating to several lymph nodes, these were removed in 1991, along with the thyroid gland. Radiation treatments followed, and required long bouts with hypothyroidism (think fatigue multiplied by 10). The annual check-up brings this time to the forefront. Sobering? Yes. Bad memories revisited? Yes. Gratitude for all the years I’ve had since? Yes!
Waiting to be called for the blood work, I scan the room, wondering at what chapter each person is in their cancer story. I wish all of us well, take a deep breath, and offer one of my beautiful plump veins to the phlebotomist. The results, a few days later, are what I have come to expect. All clear. All good. Proceed with life.
And so I do. Hopefully, with wide-awake-ness at the glory of being here at all. And may you do the same, this perfect fall day of full sun and cool breezes, with people to love and life to savor.