Moonrise

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courtesy of pixabay.  

9:07 p.m. Friday, June 9, 2017.  It’s showtime and we are standing on the crest of the hill, facing east.  Where’s the full moon?  The sky has that summer haze, and the horizon is looking cloudy.  So we wait.

How to Wait for Moonrise:

Stand tall.

Feel the grass prickle your bare ankles.

Wrap your arms around your beloved and inhale his summer-rich scent.

Hear the swallows chortle as they ride the evening breeze.

Notice the cooling air on nape of neck.

Continue returning to the moment and practice patience.

The best things in life are free.  There it is, whole and entire, now visible in the dusky sky.  It travels quickly, changing from white to an orange-mauve hue, gaining in brilliance with every minute.  Yes, I could be in the city indulging in any number of entertainments, but this is where I want to be.  On the hill.

May you find a place, a moment, of beauty today.  It’s worth waiting for.

 

 

 

 

 

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Yellow

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Hazel-Atlas Glass Co., Ovide creamer/sugar in yellow platonite, circa 1950’s

When teaching the Alexander Technique, I often malign the visual sense, accusing it of being way over-developed to the exclusion of other senses, and often to the omission of the kinesthetic sense.  But what about using this well-trained sense to assist in returning us to our fully-embodied selves?

A definition is in order.  Kinesthesia is our neglected sixth sense, giving us information about our body; its position, size, and movement. Basic kinesthetic distinctions include:  tense, free, balanced, unbalanced.  It is these qualities which we learn to discern in the practice of the Technique.

A word about the cream and sugar set.  I found these sweeties at the West Liberty Labor Day Festival.  Wilma and I were trudging back to the parking lot on a sizzling sun-drenched afternoon, having strolled the festival grounds for hours.  I was hot.  I was tired.  I was tense and unbalanced.  Along the final stretch of booths, a table of $2 items, on which sat the cream and sugar beauties.  The saturated yellow color made me happy.  I perked ‘up,’ so to speak.  I moved up into length and width, a refreshing boon at the end of the festival day, as restorative as a glass of ice water.  Free and balanced.

Yehuda Cooperman, an Alexander Technique teacher living and working in Israel, offered these gems on ‘yellow’ at a Cincinnati AT teacher workshop:

  • Paint the yellow between you and your student.  Before you direct, you must paint, and the painting is by two painters; teacher and student.
  • Step by step….so she (the student)  sees she is supported by yellow.
  • I have to give myself to those forces, to discover from my pupils, the yellow.

What on earth was he saying with this on-going reference to ‘yellow’?   Perhaps he was alluding to the ineffable, the life force that animates.  As a Reiki practitioner, I often visualize color moving through my hands, but the colors change, depending on the person in the session and the moment.  Yehuda had a powerful association with the particular color of yellow, and used it to good effect in his teaching.

Returning to your visual sense, let the color of something you see today capture your attention, and allow its vibrance to take you ‘Up.’

 

 

 

Blackberry Basking

blackberries-846895_640So much work!  So worth it.  The blackberry patch at the farm was prolific this year. Branches were covered in sweet-deep-purple-blackness.

Now for the rest of it.  Poison ivy. Everywhere.  Heat and humidity.  Pervasive.  Gnats, mosquitos, buzzing, whining.  Check. Purple-stained fingernails for days.  Ugh. Sharp thorns leaving puncture wounds in the hands and arms.  Did I say heat?

I picked berries one evening only.  Mike picked all the rest of the time, and he has my undying gratitude for his fortitude.  It’s been one of the few perks of having a new hip, that I was not up to the challenge of hours bent over berry bushes.

The sun and the moon and the breeze and the good green earth grew the berries.  Mike harvested the berries, and I ‘processed’ them.  ‘Processed’ is kitchen-speak for all manner of procedures:  freezing, drying, sorting, washing, storing, and baking.

But first, there’s basking in them.  This involves standing in front of the baskets, hands clasped together in delight.  Also required to be a true bask-er-of-berries, is the eating of them, preferably one at a time, feet planted on the lane, breeze cooling the back of the neck, and all sweetness savored.  The Alexander Technique community would call this ‘good use.’  Yes, and living the good life.  Have yourself a berry day.  Find whatever brings you sweetness—–

 

 

 

 

A Murmuration

 

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Saw one!  I had read about mumurations and longed to witness this natural wonder somewhere in my lifetime. Who knew that place would be the hill?

First, a definition.  A murmuration is a flock of birds flying together. Lots of birds.  The flock dips, turns, splits into smaller groups, then merges. The patterns formed in the sky are wave-like, spiral-shaped, and varied. How they do this is a great mystery, but ornithologist Claudio Carere of Rome, Italy suggests that in addition to acoustic and visual cues, a bird may even use the tactile sense of onrushing air from close neighbors to help guide its direction.

Thousands (Mike and I are guessing starlings) flew over the hill cabin as we stood on the west-facing porch last evening, jaws dropping in stunned silence as a wave of wings shimmered over our heads. The hairs on my arms lifted with the fly-by breeze.  We dashed through the cabin to the east-facing porch, where the show continued, the flock descending onto a fence row of trees.  The branches bent with the weight of bird bodies.

The wing-generated-breeze whooshing across my arms returned me to Wednesday afternoon’s Alexander Technique class. Students were invited to ask themselves two questions:

1.  What am I touching?

2.  Where am I breathing?

These simple questions, offered by on-line colleague and AT teacher Lauren Hill, are intended to return us to what Mr. Alexander called The Self, the integrated Mind/Body.

Check in with yourself now and then.  Notice what surfaces you are touching.  Where does your body move with an inhalation?   An exhalation?  Glory in your design, which permits you to experience the world via your senses.  Here’s to an alive day—–

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Your Sit Bones

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Here’s a research project for you….find your sit bones!  Although we assembled in a Worthington Ohio church and were not seated on a boat dock, singers at Capriccio Summer Camp went in search of their bony protuberances (the ishium) of the pelvic bowl, also called ‘rockers’ (yes, you can rock on them).

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There they are, the two ‘loops’ you can see descending from the pelvis.  Although our thighs rest on a sitting surface, they are not the gravity bearing structure as when standing.  When seated, gravity is traveling through the head, down the spine, along the pelvis and through the sit bones, into the surface on which you find yourself seated.

As I write this description and think through its implications, my legs are now doing less work and there is more ‘give’ at the hips, always a welcome change since I live with osteoarthritis and have a total hip replacement on my left.

Also, when I allow my sit bones to receive the path of gravity, I find my back muscles do less work as well.  This is always a relief.  Back muscles have work to do, yes, however, we often give them way too much to do.

Let the design of your structure, head on spine, spine meeting pelvis,  rockers beneath pelvis….let this support you, and your muscles will provide the tone and effort needed.  Just enough.

 

 

 

 

 

On the Hill

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“Such cloud as there was seemed benign and friendly: little patches of cotton-wool cumulus drifting lazily across a blue sky; the occasional wisp of high stratus, but no ominous mares’ tails; nothing that would disturb the rambler or the swimmer.” Alexander McCall Smith, Emma: A Modern Retelling

As I cloud-watch on the hill, the soughing of the wind in the oak grove is akin to ocean waves on the beach.  For this Midwestern girl, the scent of June -growing- things is as alluring as salt-saturated air on the coast.

In lieu of an oceanside cocktail with little umbrella, I will soon enjoy the hill’s happy hour beverage of choice; lemonade with a splash of beer, served over lots of ice.  Oh, my.  Toss back a few peanuts with that, and, as the colloquialism goes, “Life is good.”

Let’s backtrack to that peanut tossing.  You knew this was coming.  There will be no lounging on the hill without tending to good use, yes?  Dear Readers, you may be thinking my life is spent in constant vigilance to Alexander Technique principles.  Not so.

All that matters is the occasional return to thoughts of good use….with”good use” defined as “moving the body with maximum balance and coordination of all parts so that only the effort absolutely needed is expended.” That’s Sarah Barker’s definition, found in her 1978 book, The Alexander Technique. I have yet to come across a better one.

And where this peanut tossing is concerned, tossing back a few with head leading is much preferable to scrunching down into my cervical spine (neck), just so that I can get a few peanuts into my mouth.  No need to pull down, compress, or contract.  This is true for peanut tossing as well as typing at my computer, driving the car, talking with a friend over tea, and whatever else I may find myself doing on this fine day.

May your day have a lovely cloud or two in it, and may you toss back your peanuts with…..I just have to write it…..poise and presence!