I’ve always considered myself to be a generalist, of sorts. For example, I resisted specializing in environmental policy, already quite specialized, and chose communications instead of a particular policy focus.
Well, that was another lifetime, but recently, I’ve described my yoga teaching as covering the entire prenatal-to-death spectrum. I teach toddlers, preschoolers, school-age kids, adults, prenatal, postnatal . . . but I’m finally thinking I need to specialize, at least a little bit.
My father has always said, “If you want to know what someone wants to do, just watch what they do.”
Musing on this tonight and anytime I have to make a decision. My philosophy on fear is something I teach in prenatal yoga: you have to go into it, the uncomfortable feeling, but that doesn’t mean it goes away, just that you can do what you need to do anyway.
Actual birthday was very quiet because she had been running a fever and we kept her home from school. Party? Total opposite. Kind of a mad house with a dozen kids making masks, playing with toys, roasting marshmallows, and eating cake in a tent in the living room – but everyone lived to tell about it and Maya declared it the best party ever.
After: With the birthday wall decor.
M2 came down the stairs this morning and declared: “Mom, you have to measure me to see if I’m really 5.”
Nearly-five has already been amazing us this fall with improved attitude and independence.
Still an avid drawer and artist with a significant attention span for those activities, her artwork is detailed and story-oriented. And, oh my goodness, board games. A couple of months ago, M2 developed an interest in and attention span for board games that can often outlast her parents.
Now in PreK (in a mixed-age Montessori classroom), M2 is desperate to learn to read. She recently discovered the graphic novel and has been rapidly consuming the DC Public Library supply of them (we have to be a bit careful, because 5 is not the target demographic for many of these).
This time last year, M2 wore her Cinderella dress so much that she wore the sparkly lace layer right off it. Now, princesses have taken a back seat to spies, superheroes, and other adventurers.
Surprising how many of my favorite photos from the last 12 months were captured on my phone or my little pocket camera, but captured they were – from last birthday cake to this one. (Captions with locations and comments on the photos can be found on Flickr.)
What your answer and mine probably have in common is that heros tend to be people who have consciously decided to contribute their energies to positive change in the world. That is also my definition of Karma yoga.
Yogis toss the work Karma around quite a bit. The popular notion of karma as “what goes around, comes around” isn’t quite it. Different religions and philosophical systems have different interpretations of the same basic concept of the energetic impact of your life’s actions, but in yoga, karma as selfless service is one of the possible paths to enlightment:
The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit kri, meaning ‘to do’. In its most basic sense karma simply means action, and yoga translates to union. Thus karma yoga literally translates to the path of union through action.
Not all of us are prepared to dedicate our entire lives to a cause, but we can all consiously decide how we want to participate in the world.
Need a little more inspiration? In honor of Mahatma Ghandi’s 143 birthday, MC Yogi posted a video tribute:
The Power of We
That’s the theme of this year’s Blog Action Day, an annual event designed to “unite the world’s bloggers by posting about the same issue on the same day, in order to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all.”
“The Power of We is a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet half way around he world.”
Ideas for Taking Action: Democracy Requires Participation
You might have heard that this is an election year in the United States. The next 4 years of executive branch governence, the entire U.S. House of Representatives, and 1/3 of the U.S. Senate offices are up for election. Not only that, countless state and local races for state and city government, school board, and more will affect our lives in sometimes very immediate ways.
In DC, for example, nearly half of the city schools lost their librarians to budget cuts this school year. Last spring, DCPS cut staff funding for librarians at all small elementary schools, those with fewer than 300 students. Some schools were able to fund their librarian out of their general budget, others used PTA fundraising money to support their libraries, but that still left 57 schools without librarians. All summer, parents volunteers have been working hard to get funding restored and to make this an election season issue. Mayor Grey, who directly oversees the school system, is not on the ballot but the city council and “State” Board of Education members for Wards 2, 4, 7 & 8 and At Large members are. What do you know about your candidates?
Perhaps learning about your election candidates seems like a small thing, but as a concious decision, it is karma yoga.
Want to do more? Consider going door to door for candidates to get out the vote. Distressed that DC doesn’t have a vote in Congress and our presidential election outcome is not really in question? Virginia is considered a swing state in the presidential contest and Maryland often has hotly contested congressional races . . .
Hatha Yoga and Karma Yoga
How about free yoga for doing good? Lululemon is sponsoring election day yoga classes around the DC metro area, including my 6:30 am class at Capitol Hill Yoga. So get up early, get your yoga on, and hit the polls before the crowds.
Read More Power of We Posts
Moms Clean Air Force Embraces the Power of We – Moms Clean Air Force invites you to join them.
The Power of We: A Blogger’s Musings – Strocel.com talks about how taking a stand is stepping out of her comfort zone.
Blog Action Day: “The Power of We – The White House blogs about their very cool “We the People” tool which allows anyone to petition the president directly.
Apparently, now that I’ve made yoga my job, I need a new hobby. Last week, Maya and I treked out to the suburbs in rush hour traffic (OMG, people do this daily?) and came back with these.
Maya has been asking to play the violin for well over a year and we’ve been putting her off. I looked into it last fall, but was overwhelmed enough with her starting full-day school, ballet, and gymnastics while I attempted to turn teaching yoga into a living.
For ballet and gymnastics, parents simply sign up and then
cajole drag take our child to once-a-week lessons where we sit around with other parents and/or a book/laptop for 45 minutes and bask in the glow of an excited gymnast/ballerina afterward.
Preschooler instrumental music lessons on the other hand, at least Suzuki method style, are a high-parent-commitment endeavor. Parents don’t have to play, but they do have to attend lessons, take notes, and guide daily practice. I’ve opted to join in with an instrument because I played as a child and I’m gambling that practice is less of a battle if I’m holding an instrument too, plus (as Mac pointed out), I’ve been looking for an excuse for years to pick up violin again.
I did pick it up yesterday and while my technique is certainly very rusty, I discovered that some of my decades-old Suzuki repertoire is still there as I played Lightly Row from memory. That’s a good thing because we’re spending the equivalent of a significant car repair to refurbish my grandfather’s violin (the one in the photo is a loaner), so I’m pretty much committing to two years of lessons for me no matter what Maya does.
While I've got several blog drafts in the works and ideas for more, I don't seem to find as much time to post here as I'd like. When the puddles seem a little dry for jumping here, you can often find me elsewhere online:
Jen Mueller Yoga is my professional yoga teacher page. This is where I post about the benefits of yoga, yoga philosophy, yoga resources in DC, and my teaching schedule. I sometimes cross-post here, but not usually.
Care2 is a b-corporation site for news and commentary about social issues to promote civic engagement and build support for its sister site, thepetitionsite.com I'm a regular contributor on environmental, food, and health issues. My more personal Care2 blogs will be cross-posted here and I typically push my all articles out on Twitter, but you can also subscribe to my author page RSS feed.
My personal Facebook profile is where I connect with people I know. I post links to Puddle Jumping in DC, social commentary and personal updates not worthy of a blog post, photos of my daughter, and links to interesting or fun things online.
Disclaimer: I generally don't friend total strangers or friends-of-friends whom I don't at least know as an acquaintance. Regular students in my yoga classes should feel free to friend me if they'd like updates of a more personal nature.
My Jen Mueller Yoga profile page is where I share yoga articles and resources for DC yogis and parents of little yogis. Anyone can subscribe to those updates simply by "like"ing my page. I don't cross post most of this to my personal profile so my Facebook friends with an interest in yoga should "like" my page to get my professional updates.
My Twitter feed is broader than either of my Facebook feeds. I post yoga updates, select personal updates, photos from my Instagram or Flickr feed, and links to articles I've written or am reading. Topics beyond yoga include breastfeeding, environmental news, parenting, and social issues. I follow Tweeters on those topics as well as local businesses and DC bloggers.
Delicious is my online filing cabinet. I tag articles I might want to reference in the future on breastfeeding, child development, environment, health, parenting, sustainability, and yoga. I don't necessarily share these on other channels but they sometimes get referenced in blog posts.
Pinterest is my magazine clipping file and someday list. In addition good visuals on the topics above, I pin potential art projects, DIY ideas, inspirational or beautiful pictures, places to go or things to do in DC, and info-graphics.
Worked with me, met me once professionally, or just want to network? That's what LinkedIn is for.
While I love them, I don’t read as many Dr. Suess books in my kids yoga classes as you might think. Unless you’ve regularly read bedtime stories to a skilled bedtime avoider (so they always start a little later than you’d like), you might not realize that Dr. Suess writes fairly long books. But the above illustration from Mamiverse.com (via Daily Cup of Yoga) reminds me that I should really get more creative about incorporating some of these.
Excerpts from conversations with my 4-year-old after picking her up from school today:
M: "Can you help me because I don't know what homework is?"
J: "Do you want an example of how a knock-knock joke is supposed to work?"
J: "Ok, knock, knock."
M: "Who's there?"
M: "Cars who?"
J: "Cars I love you."
M: peals of laughter, "Knock, knock."
J: "Who's there?"
J: "Cars who?"
M: "Tree!" laughs even harder.
J: Getting ready to close the rain cover on the bike trailer,"Ok, now remember that because of the rain, I won't be able to hear you while we ride home. We'll just have to talk when we get there. [15 min, max] Unless it's important, then just yell."
. . . a little later, about half-way home
M: SCREAMING FROM THE TRAILER!
M: something that sounds like it could be "LOOK AT THAT CASTLE!"
J: Since there's no obvious castle, stops on the side of the road and turns around: "What did you say Maya?"
M: "LOOK THAT BUILDING OVER THERE [a church we pass about twice daily]! IT LOOKS LIKE A CASTLE! IT LOOKS JUST LIKE A CASTLE!"
J: "Yes, yes it does." (And important is relative.)
On the agenda this afternoon:
Both very important inquiries.
My original intention for tea was as a birthday treat. But the end of October was so full of birthday and Halloween that fancy tea didn't make the cut. Barely a blink later, we found ourselves in January with the Groupon expiration looming and having read a few reviews of the Mayflower that tea wasn't really child friendly after all. I almost passed the Groupon on via the neighborhood listserv, but another mom convinced me to just get dressed up and go.
Verdict: No, it's not really child-friendly, at least not for 4-year-olds. The staff was professional, but not warm. I'm guessing that I'm not the only person who purchased a Groupon explicitly to take a little girl to tea because the hostess asked to see it before taking us to our table. Our waiter kept most of his disapproval hidden as he warned me to (I forget his exact wording) to keep a close eye on Maya – implying that she would pour her tea too fast, let it overflow, and burn herself or (worse?) make a mess. Maya was, of course, oblivious to this and I knew she wasn't going to even try to pour the tea herself so we busied ourselves with enjoying our tea.
But I'm sure the staff are getting a lot of little girls in what is normally an adult restaruant now as the Groupon comes due, so we'll cut them some slack. In fact, 3 little girls came in all dressed in their finest during the 40 minutes we were there. The manager, on the other hand, seemed very happy to see when she checked to see if our tea was "just delightful," but she probably doesn't wipe up many spills.
Maya did great, really. She remembered to use her napkin instead of her sleeve (mostly) and to keep her elbows off the table. She tried several of the sandwiches and enjoyed quite a few of the desserts. I doubt you are supposed use your spoon to eat the whipped cream and lemon custard provided for scones, but that seemed a small concession.