Camping in November


When you reserve campsite 48 and it’s only one of 2 occupied in the whole park

It’s been quiet here at Almost as quiet as it was at the above campground, last Saturday night! My writing has not been flowing but the activity has been real. Up soon: a post of my recent exploration with mudras. What have I been up to?

Camp -and see Cooper- every month


Amazingly, no drool

We’re up to the 5th month in our year of sampling a night in nature together, once a month. October and November brought: less-crowded parks, sleeping bags that feel nice and warm, versus sleeping bags that feel just annoyingly hot, and a profound need for a softer camping mattress. (In December we’ll use the new ExPed double-wide that I just bought!)

For several of our trips, we’ve selected parks that are not far from where the newest member of our extended family – my mother-in-law Mary’s new Goldendoodle, Cooper – lives. We pack up from a night spent on impossibly hard ground, slug some Via coffee and plump up some freeze-dried food with hot water (and eat it), and then head over to where the dog is. After too many years of not having a dog regularly in my life, this has been great.

Our “Camp Every Month” initiative has changed. Or it has simply revealed previously-unknown riches. It began as a “we have all this gear and we like being outside” thing, but I’ve found that it delivers big gains in the spending-time with family (the husband, his mom and dog members) area. It’s also been a good way to explore some parts of Minnesota that I don’t know so well. We have encountered things like pretty little German churches that are surprisingly …in Iowa; tiny cafés with camouflaged jeeps in their lots, which sell tall coffees to go; beer cheese pizza to go with an yummy “ski jump” mocha ale; a surprisingly good brew pub in Rochester, and remote little river beaches with eagles, at least once a month.

Foot injury recovery

I recently wrapped up 6 sessions of physical therapy which included some exercises designed/picked to improve my running efficiency. To continue that valuable work, I have just started some Pilates work at Core Studio.

I’ve been slowly building up my miles, on my thrice-weekly runs. It’s been refreshingly less time-consuming, to have shorter runs on my schedule: it has allowed room to sleep in, and also extra weekend time for bicycling with friends. Did you know that you can ride your bike, mostly on protected trail, all the way from downtown Saint Paul to downtown Stillwater, now? Here’s the new trail segment that has made that possible.

Yoga: practice and teaching

About mid-year I backed off on my endeavors to do peacock pose, unsupported, for two minutes. This happened when we took a 2-week road trip vacation: finding a wall when you’re doing a lot of camping can be a challenge, as can wearing an orthopedic boot for two months. My intentions to practice yoga every night faltered at this point.

After taking a class about mudras in the spring, I wanted to learn more, so I’ve read a few books about it, which haven’t been as helpful as I’d hoped. This happens often with books relating to yoga! So, to investigate it personally, I’ve been doing some exploration with a specific mudra (Prithvi), during my near-daily meditation. Stay tuned – perhaps I’ll have some results to report, when I post my article here about mudras.

In September, I took a workshop on body-image sensitive yoga, organized and hosted by the Emily Program. It was a good weekend of learning about sensitivity and of meeting some wonderful people. The immediately actionable items were: find and use different cues, in lieu of using words like “weight” or some of the food-inspired cues I’ve developed, in my teaching. (Welcome to my mind: I like the idea of feeling like a puddle of pudding in restorative poses, but perhaps there are people who don’t.)

In the workshop I also found unexpected encouragement to share photos of myself when promoting my yoga classes. So, I’ve been experimenting with yoga selfies, which was something I’d shied away from, mostly out of fear of setting an example with my body that others may not be able to follow or learn from. I have some limitations, but likely fewer than other people. But alas: people want to see what their potential yoga teacher looks like, and such photos can also share my own stories of struggles and discoveries.

Given that most yoga poses require the use of both arms, this means I’ve been using my phone’s self-timer a lot more – in fact, I had to download an app (Photo Timer+) that gives me a little more flexibility, so I can spend a little more time getting into a pose, or to capture an unexpected view or two (i.e. background scenery that creates compositions I don’t see until I see the photo, afterward). It’s been fun, even though I erase a lot of the outtakes. Some of my inspiration has come from Dianne Bondy, Jessamyn Stanley, and Vivienne McMaster. I even bought a little bendy tripod to use, though more often I’ve just removed a shoe, and stuck the phone into the shoe, lens facing me. You don’t need shoes for yoga anyway, right?

I’ve also been reading some Mary Oliver poetry, as part of my home practice. Now and then I share a poem at the end of my yoga classes. Most recently, I shared this one, as it reminded me a lot of our experience outdoors, last weekend, under a nearly super moon:

That tall distance where
the clouds begin,
the forge that pounds out the lightning
and the black porch where the stars
are dressed in light
and arrangement is made for the moon’s path-
it’s these I think of now, after
a lifetime of goldfinches,
meandering streams,
lambs playing,
the passionate hands of the sun,
the coolness under the trees
talking leaf to leaf,
the foxes and the otters sliding on the snow,
the dolphins for whom no doubt
the seas were created,
the spray of swallows gathering in autumn-
after all of that
the tall distance is what I think of now.

~Mary Oliver, “That Tall Distance” from Felicity (October 13th 2015 by Penguin Press)

Reading, watching, listening

So little time, so much to consume. Here’s what I’ve managed to see, read or listen to in the last several weeks.

Some shows: West Wing (this is my first time through. It started as a salve, back when House of Cards came out, and now it’s just great TV and also a salve, again), Arrow, iZombie, The Kettering Incident (gorgeous cinematography, creepy story), Shameless, Stranger Things (just a scary, creepy story with tons of terrific 80’s pop culture reference to appreciate or criticize), and The Get Down. (Baz Luhrmann. So beautifully choreographed!)

Movies: Deadpool (fun: hilarious), The MartianCarol (beautiful, bittersweet) on DVD. In theater, of course: Star Trek Beyond (this Trekkie gives it the thumbs-up).

Books: I’m enjoying Jade Chang’s “The Wangs vs. the World“. Other recent reads I recommend: Jacqueline Woodson’s “Another Brooklyn and Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End“.

Podcasts: West Wing Weekly, Call Your Girlfriend, and Millenial.

Broadcast channels: I watched surprisingly little coverage of any of the recent presidential campaigns, as the yellow tint to a lot of it repelled me. I did listen to some, on the radio. I’m very disappointed that Hillary did not win. Like others, I was very surprised, too. This election taught me some things about what is going on in this country. I have more reading and also more reaching out, to do.