You Should Do Yoga

I remember when I discovered yoga.

I was 16 when I got my hands on that first book – one of those thick-paged, hand-sized volumes that breaks down the poses with pictures of people in pastel unitards, awkwardly cut out of their original environment, floating on stark white backgrounds.

The internet not being quite the instantly gratifying go-to resource it is today, I think this initial taste of yogic goodness came from the discount bin at Winners.

I used that book.  Considerably more than I used the Yoga Journal I got later, since anything requiring me to keep daily entries tends to go the way of figurines from great aunts and bathroom wall-hangings – that is: dusty and forgotten.

But that book, I used.  Along with videos I found on sale at a department store (yeah, I’m thrifty), led by a lovely fitness coach whose name I no longer remember, but who was the perfect combination of cheery without being perky, and experienced without being obtuse.

I remember when downward dog made my arms ache after five seconds, and chaturanga consisted of a direct flop onto my chest.  But I laid my mat out in the backyard, and I sun saluted til my heart was full and the grass was flattened for the rest of the afternoon (much to my dad’s chagrin).

I haven’t become a yoga master in these last 12 years. I haven’t even become a yoga instructor. Sometimes my only practice is the 5 minute wake up series I do each morning, the bones of which I put together during those first years, some more advanced poses gradually worked in.

But it doesn’t matter if I can’t do a handstand without the wall, or I’m only just working toward bringing my foot to my head in King Pigeon.  One day I’ll get there, and if the goal is one thing that keeps me coming back to rest in child’s pose, that’s all I can ask for.

When I don’t do yoga, I feel pained – both physically and mentally. My brain is jumbled and my body is compressed.  But when I stretch out on that mat and sneak a glance to notice how my form has improved – my leg nearly straight in One-Legged Downward Dog, my hand finally flat on the ground in Extended Triangle – or when I remind myself to take a great, healing breath in Warrior II … that’s when I remember why I do yoga.

I do yoga for me.

And you should do yoga, for you.
 



Five Practical Reasons You Should Yoga

  1. It makes you bendy. When I pretzel into some weird pose while I’m on the couch watching TV, I remember yoga gave me the tools to become a noodle.
  2. Pull up your sock without dropping your take out. Focus on a spot up ahead, bend that knee into a kind of Tree Pose, and say goodbye to uncomfortably balled up stockings at the toe of your shoe!
  3. Insta-relax at work. A quick forward fold, or a seated twist not only releases tension in the back, neck, and shoulders, but also forces you to tear your eyes away from the computer screen for a few seconds.
  4. Yoga is besties with Sleep. The internet simply abounds with relaxation sequences. Akin to meditating, those calm, cool poses will clear your mind and chill out your body so you’re snoozing as soon as the light’s out.
  5. Happiness, yo. I don’t need to quote studies for you. Deep breathing, exalting the beauties of nature, selflessness – all these things tend to make people quite happy. And yoga tends to contribute to all these things.

IMG_4794 *Lou

Well, Rounded

I’ve been dabbling in visual art a lot these days.

Drawing is always something I’ve wished I was better at. Since it seems that the “waiting for my talent to steep by not drawing” approach just isn’t working, maybe setting a goal to draw every day, and posting some of those on here, will result in some sort of positive incentive.

So basically, send me cookies, please?


“Fae”

This one is from many eons ago (read: university), and I’ve always kind of liked it, simple as it is. If I remember correctly, I just doodled the outer shape on the paper and it begged me to turn it into a whatever-this-is.

As Michelangelo famously said, “I saw the angel in the marble, and I carved until I set him free.”

fae-colourized-watermark

And no, I did not just compare myself to Michelangelo.

*Lou

Blank

I saw the title of my document and thought I had named it that.  Turns out I just hadn’t named it anything at all, and that seemed to fit best.

Isn’t it funny how that works out?

It’s in your eyes
Unmissable this time, no lies
No playing pretend, no hiding out,
like I can’t see that broken piece

Floors fall away,
And you are left, it’s not a choice,
not a pick your pleasure moment
No pleasure at all, just broken

I wish I could believe
in children growing up into trees
In make believe, in time to leave
But breath, my breath it breaks

So turn your back,
On ceilings that spin into space
on shapes in the clouds, and thinking aloud
Of potions that change you around

I miss your childlike eyes

street_flower

Photo-a-Day

It’s an interim post – don’t you hate those?

I would like to announce a new project I’m undertaking.  Mostly because the more people I tell, the more likely I am to actually stick to it (just like I’ve stuck to posting a blog every week…).

My goal is to take (and of course post) a photo every day for a year.

That’s it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s an iPhone shot or a fancy DSLR capture; the point is simply to recognize and celebrate something beautiful, or iinteresting, or funny every day.

Now, inevitably I’ll miss a day … No, on second thought, let’s start out positive.

To get your eyes on this action, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram (I’ll be posting each image on both).  My handles appear below, magically, like bunnies and doves and sawed-in-half ladies.  Poof!

I most humbly thank you in advance for your support!

*Lou

(Oh by the way, if you think this is a real snazzy idea and you want to do it too, make sure to let me know so I can follow you back! I’m using the hashtag #photoaday! I know, original isn’t it?)

Twitter:: TransientReel

Instagram: MyTransientReality

Day 1, just for a taste

Day 1, just for a taste

Simpler Times

In memory of a simpler time, or maybe just a time with more time.

She said, I recall the stars, their gaze,
As we watched from the hill at the skyline they made
All those shimmering windows into angelic homes
Where dinners on tables were spread

I recall my dismay at the light, in the East
The sun rising up, for the seventh time that week
Dimming those views into far off cloud castles
Hiding their lives from our eyes

And I recall, she went on, a sigh at my side
Your sigh as their brilliance faded, then died
Leaving only a pale blue and fierce golden sky
Where moments ago families had dined

I recall that we spent that day dreaming, she said
About life in the mansions of the heavenly, or the dead
Whoever so sainted to live out their time
Behind perfect white beacons of timelessness

But it’s months now, or years now, overlooking the sky
Filled with day shifts and rush hour and chicken pot pie
And I lean, only just for a moment sometimes,
Out the window, to see darkness polluted by light

And I wish, she concluded with a more fervent air
That we hadn’t worked so hard to get almost nowhere
I can see that hill from the edge of the porch
Just West of the grocer’s, then a touch to the North

And I wonder if cloud people in floating cloud beds
Stare down at us Earthings, shaking their heads
Wondering why so much bustle, so little poetry and prose
They have only one life, yet they race to its close

Then she smiled and looked out at the darkness up there
Tinted yellow by street lamps, and she played with her hair
She was silent and pensive, her story complete
A plea for memory, and deep breaths and no more dreamless sleep

IMG_1636

Adieu

We all deal with loss in different ways, and no one path is necessarily more suitable than any other.

This loss, far from death, has too it’s own grieving regime.

Say goodbye
Fragile you, so small
And yet, now lost, you leave a void
Belying a significance not before known.

A phantom touch,
you leave behind a ghost
that too will fade in time, be lost
and we will carry on, as we were

For childish, vain, we cannot be,
Should not be, there is so much more
with so much less and so we soldier
On but loss remains,

Gently etched in scar tissue here,
A vacant space.

The Lake, of a Morning

The other day I was listening to a story on the radio.

A journalist/researcher who had the fascinating job of tracking the sounds and story of a “dying” town in British Columbia was talking about an old man she met while working there – a high-line fisherman who lives, like the rest of the community, pretty much off the grid.

The thought of what that man must see each morning when he arises to go to work inspired this piece.

*Lou

Barely, morning breaks
A pale suggestion at the Eastern edge,
Periwinkle creeping like a sleuth along a navy wall,
Rimming tree tips, hilltops, sky

The inky water lies
Still unbroken, soundless
Creaks and croaks of the dawn harkeners
silent yet, asleep unburdened by their impending charge

The crunch of footsteps cracks the reverie
Unexpected, but not unwelcome.
Heavy with the weight they bear,
Sharp stern, woven mooring, wooden hull

The canoe slices the glass surface
Fractures the lake into a million tiny ripples
that reflect the purpling sky, sway the reeds,
wash the dock in cool, indigo waves

The gentle motion of the wake
awakens small inhabitants, moved to voice
The rasp of the cricket, the throaty trill of the toad
Join the robins and wrens to receive the dawn

And I, a simple bystander floating here,
Do not comprehend this morning song
But lie in the midst of it all, alive,
Awaiting the call to sing along

DSC02900

In Interim

Part III seems to have gone the way of the 6th Fire and Ice novel (albeit on a much smaller scale).  That is: never arriving!

Since that section of Mirrors starts breaking down the crux of the story, and since it’s the last part I’ve written, I’ve decided to hold off until I’ve written more on that story.  Thanks so much for reading the first sections – I’m hoping this will become a little novella in the future.

And, in lieu and much belated, a poem.

Cheers,

Lou

I watch you till, until
the tree-shaped shadows stretch across
your bending back

Now, aware of the hour, you unclasp
each finger, of late become a vise
around the handle of your staff

Adjusting slowly, you stretch each joint
Scuff in the dirt with a once-black boot
Straighten weary shoulders and just
See

Smile, in the direction of the wood
Taste scents on heavy air, feel
the whispered wind, the spin of earth

Tired as you are, hungry
for sleep, fresh-baked bread, more daylight
You see through the forested windbreak
You see the trees

.

An Old Reflection – Part II

Here is the second piece of Mirrors.  You can read Part I here.

I’m definitely feeling a pull to continue this story, now that it’s floating around on the big wide web!

Part III is coming tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

Part II

Alice looked up from her notebook. The sun had set behind the weeping willows on the estate across the street, and her room had grown too dark to write in any longer without additional light. Wearily, she pried her fingers from her pen and flexed them, one at a time. The joints on the middle and ring fingers cracked, proudly announcing the retreat of her youth. She reached her arms above her head, arched her back. She was just about to do the whole routine over again when she heard Elsie calling from the bottom of the stairs,

“Alice, dear, supper will be on the table in five minutes.”

“Thanks Elsie. I’ll be right down.” Damn, where had the afternoon gone? She couldn’t quite recall, thanks to fuzzy writers-brain, but she was pretty sure she had sat down just after lunch, about one thirty. It was six now, according to the wall clock next to the window. No wonder her hand was cramped. Alice flipped quickly back through her notebook, stoically maintaining her pact to never re-read until she had finished a chapter, but curious how many pages she had written. Forty? She should really offer her services as a stenographer – the pages were barely legible, but those were real words, real scenes; potentially viable publishing fodder.

A rapping below the floor came from downstairs. Supper! Alice closed the notebook and locked it into her desk drawer. She was not actually worried about anyone stealing or reading her work, but instinct nagged her to protect this pulpy offspring, nonetheless. She put the key on its chain back inside her shirt and rose from the chair. Both knees and some unknown joint in her back popped as she stood. Giving her whole body a quick shake, she unlocked the office door and headed down the hallway to the stairs.

Elsie was laying out the cutlery as Alice came into the kitchen.

“Oh Elsie, let me do that. I’m really sorry, I was all caught up.” She distributed the two stacked plates to their respective sides of the table and went to get glasses from the cupboard. Elsie shook her head and smiled.

“Writers-brain, I know. Did you get much done?” She gently took the china teacups from her employers hands and set them back in the cupboard, grabbing two glasses instead. Alice smiled sheepishly.

“A lot, actually. I don’t know if any of it is good, but once it’s down, it can always be tweaked, I guess.” Surveying the completed table, she sat in her chair and tilted it onto its back legs. Elsie walked past her to the sink, unobtrusively pushing the seat back onto four legs as she passed.

“Well, I hope you are done for the night. Hal mentioned something about bringing home dessert. I assume that means profiteroles picked up from the freezer section, but I’m sure he wants to spend the evening with you.”

Alice nodded contentedly, “That’s fine. I might not be able to move my fingers tomorrow as it is. Sometimes I really wish I could get a train of thought going on a computer, but all that buzzing and harsh lighting throws off my concentration.” She flexed her fingers thoughtfully, “I think I’ve gone down a ring size…”

Elsie laughed, and they both looked toward the foyer, hailed by the sound of the door opening and Hal’s hasty removal of coat and shoes. A few seconds later he appeared in the doorway still wearing his hat, holding a box of store-bought éclairs. Elsie winked at Alice and went to check on the chicken.

“How’re my two favourite girls?” Hal tossed Alice the frozen box and set his hat on Elsie’s bent grey head as he went to the sink. “I don’t even want to know what is on my hands after a day like today”

Elsie carefully removed the hat, “And I don’t want to know what is on this!” she laughed, hanging it gingerly on the back of Hal’s chair. All three chuckled companionably, and Elsie placed the steaming roast chicken in the center of the table.

“Are you sure you don’t want to eat with us?” Hal asked. Either he or Alice asked nearly every night, and always heard the same answer.

“Oh no. Boundaries are very important. And besides, I’m a vegetarian!” Elsie smiled warmly and excused herself. A few seconds later the back door opened and closed softly, as Elsie made her way to the guest house. Hal turned his attention to his wife and reached over the squeeze her hand.

“How did the writing go today?”

“I wrote a lot. Either that or I fell asleep for five hours and someone else wrote a lot.” She smiled. Hal knew she wouldn’t give him any more specifics. He’d come to accept her closed-mouth approach to writing. She had once told him she felt that if she spoke her story aloud too soon, it was like leaving young children out in the cold. In a way, he understood what she meant, though he would have liked to feel a little more special and in the loop than everyone else who got to see the pieces only when they were finished. He squeezed her hand again and dropped the topic.

“How was work?” Alice asked, rising to get the milk from the fridge.

“It was kind of like selling houses in a crappy economy. Oh wait, that’s exactly what it was. It was long and tedious, and let’s just say I’m glad to be home!”

Alice laughed.

The two had a nice dinner, chatting amiably while Hal ate the carrots off of Alice’s plate, and she ate the broccoli off of his. They had an éclair each, but Hal had plans with Rolf, his business partner, that Alice had completely forgotten about.
“I’m sorry to tempt you with cream puffs and then bail,” Hal said as he put his hat back on his head and started toward the door, “You look so pretty tonight…”

Alice shook her head, “Don’t be ridiculous. And, I know.” She tossed her head playfully and kissed him on the cheek as she passed with their dessert plates. ”Besides, I feel like I was on a roll today. If my hand is too stiff to hold the pen, I can at least record some ideas for the next chapter.”

After Hal had left, Alice climbed the stairs to her office and locked the door behind her.

***

An Old Reflection

Greetings!

A few years ago, I started a story that held a bit of a mystery, and I decided to let it unfold as I wrote, instead of planning out the “truth” of it. I found myself extremely drawn to the characters – essentially opposites of each other, living completely opposing lives.

For some reason or other, I stopped working on this one, but I intend to continue it at some point.

I will post this in a few installments – and maybe even write some more in the meantime.

Enjoy

Mirrors

As she walks up the front path, she can’t help thinking that it would be nice if it were a winding, mile-long track through fences entwined by ivy, and majestic weeping willows. There might be cobblestones along the road, and she wouldn’t mind them tripping her up, because it would feel like England, and Spring, and Jane Austen.

But all too soon she is stepping over a browning weed pushing up through a crack in the pavement, reaching the door. The chipped red wood opens with a lurch, a symptom of the coming spring, and she enters the parlour, which is really just a four foot square area with coat and shoe racks lining both walls. Shrugging out of her jacket, she steps from linoleum onto warped hardwood; instantly, her demeanor changes. Footsteps become soft echoes of themselves, and the squeaky spots, all committed to memory, are cautiously avoided as though she treads a maze she can only complete without waking the great monster. She can hear the television in the back room, a sports game of some sort. It occurs to her that she should have looked up who is playing what games in case he decides to discuss his favourite teams at supper – occasionally he takes a break from shoveling down his food and most of hers to mention a fact about his day, and lord help her if she doesn’t appear to take an interest.

She is nearly at the stairs when a starling outside the hall window catches her attention. The small bird ruffles its feathers as it rests on the ledge. It is small, and black, and would fit in the palm of her hand. She could keep it as a friend, though not in a cage – never in a cage. Someone to talk to on lonely days, someone to love.

Her distraction breaks her focus – one traitorous foot finds a loose floorboard. The sound is short, a hesitant squeak before she quickly adjusts, but the damage is done. Abruptly, the sound from the back room stops, preceded by the click of the remote’s power button. With only seconds to think, she seriously considers running up the stairs to her office, locking the door, tilting a chair under the handle. In a split second she calculates the distance from her window to the ground two stories below – the jump shouldn’t result in anything more than a twisted ankle. If she could just –

“Announcing your presence, are you?” He steps through the doorway and then he is looming over her, his stare dwarfing her as much as his six and a half feet. She looks up at him, slowly, as though he is an unidentified animal for whom eye contact may either spook, or set mad. His prominent brow further shadows dark, deep-set eyes; eyes she gazed into on their first date, whose playful, humourous glint drew her in. Now, they bore into her and she imagines flames leaping out, singeing her hair and igniting her blouse.
“I –”

“Now I’ve missed half of the game.”

Again, she tries, but the words stick in her throat, “I –”

She cringes, despite a conscious attempt not to, steps back and finds that she is cornered between the wall and the staircase. She looks to her right. The fifteen steps stretch on for miles, and she is certain that the fifth stair has a pressure switch that will fold the whole staircase in on itself, creating a slippery ramp that will send her back down into ravenous jaws. She swallows. The words unstick.

“I’m sorry. I was just going to get some writing in before Elsa prepares supper. I think you can still catch the last … period.”

She holds her breath. Lord help her if he is watching football. His eyebrows rise and she waits for the inferno to scorch her lashes, her lips. He shows his teeth; she imagines a cavernous maw, bits of rotting flesh and bone from the last meal stuck in pointed teeth, each the size of her thumb.
“Leafs’re getting their asses kicked,” he grumbles as he shifts his weight back and slowly rotates his bulk to face the room he just vacated. She lifts a careful foot to the first stair, reaches her right hand to the rail. He looks over his shoulder. She freezes, her head turned to the taupe threads of the stair-runner, his face in her peripheral.

“When Elsa calls, you get your ass down here. Everything will be ready by the time I get back from Ralph’s.” She watches as he takes in her trembling fingers still reaching for the railing, and she knows he is savouring his effect on her. She seizes the banister as though it is his throat, digging in her fingernails, savouring her own, equally satisfying, if imaginary, victory. He turns once more and re-enters the back room. She waits until she can hear the game again, then walks briskly up the stairs, pointedly avoiding the fifth step.

He had waited for the squeaking of the floorboard to lease the anger piled up from having no one to throw it at all day; she is safe from reprimand until dinner. She reaches the door of her office and enters, opening it just enough to slide through. She turns the lock behind her, and tilts a chair against the knob for good measure. The grate over the window filters the diminishing sunlight into slats across the thick Berber carpet.

–End of Part I–