Saturday, April 20, 2013


One of the things I promised myself I would do on this journey is exercise. For over 25 years, I exercised a lot. For 15 years of that, I worked out 6 days a week, between 2 and 3 hours per day, learning and teaching taekwondo, juijitsu and other martial arts. It was my job, and an all-consuming one. Owning a business took some of the joy out of it for me though. When you're worried about keeping students, safety, inventory, rent, and all the other things that go with owning a business, sometimes it's hard to just enjoy the art, the workout, the people.

So, when we closed our dojo, for 12 years, I just stopped working out. Of course, back surgery did cut into my desire to exercise much. But I just walked away from it. And my body is showing the results of that decision. At age 60, getting back in shape is a lot harder than it was at 30. A LOT harder. I decided that gentle exercise was the way to go. Walking and yoga were on a very short list. I had done yoga on and off over many years, never actually as my only workout, but often as the adjunct. We used a lot of yoga asanas to stretch in martial arts classes as well. When I was young, I had watched Richard Hittleman on TV, and he introduced me to hatha yoga.

I started with a seated yoga sequence at home. It was nice, a good workout, but lonely. I am kind of used to a class environment. It's good to have companions on the journey, and a teacher to offer encouragement and tips on improving. When I started working at my new school, I found out that one of the other Spanish teachers was also a yoga instructor at a local gym. I just needed to get settled a bit before we got started.

When the Little Yoga Studio opened up, they were offering a class in "Yoga for Stress Relief". Oh yeah, sounded about right. So, about 6 weeks ago, we started classes. Kathryn Rhodes, you are a fabulous teacher! I can see improvement every week. I'm feeling more flexible and stronger already. My posture is improving. It's all good. I'll be sharing more yoga info in posts to come, talking about benefits, styles, etc. But for now? I'm enjoying the first, small changes.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


One of the most important changes I'm trying to make is to live with less. I don't mean to live in poverty, not physical, emotional or spiritual poverty. I'm just trying to make a smaller footprint, use less resources, and think twice before bringing anything else into the house.

So, over spring break, instead of heading to the beach like many of my colleagues, we headed north to our house to de-clutter. I used to have nightmares that I'd open my door and Ms. Neicy from Clean House would be standing there, telling me what a "hot mess" my house is. And she would have been right. My house was cluttered.

It used to be less of a problem, as when we were in the military, we moved frequently. Every couple of years, we de-cluttered, got rid of anything that was broken, worn, useless. We were only allowed a certain weight for our goods. But the seeds were there. Books always had priority!

So, we're going through everything we own. Do we love it? Does it have value? (That value can be intrinsic or extrinsic.) Do we want to pay to have it transported? At a certain point, everything has to be judged. There are two bags and a box wherever we're working. Throw away, give away (or sell) and pack. So, during Spring Break, we completely filled the truck with books, and took them to the used book store. Then, we completely filled it again with clothing, and gave that to Goodwill. And sadly, it barely made a dent. It's going to be a much longer process than I had hoped. But, it's that small change again, a start.

The small rental home we're in just now has shown me just how little I actually need. It's been lovely. There are a few times when I want something that's still in the other house, but I can make do. Cleaning is quick. I run the vacuum, dust, clean the bathroom, and I'm done. The dishes are done every night, no soaking till morning. The clothing is in order, and laundry is done once a week. It's folded, and put away immediately. Building new habits, one little bit at a time.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Big changes

Another change that ended up being bigger than I expected was our son's departure from the family home. I mean, it's what parents are supposed to look forward to, right? We welcome the baby, love and nurture and teach the child, and watch the young adult head out the door, diploma in hand, to their adult life.

Well, our son was an only child. He also took a rather meandering path toward that diploma. Four different majors, four different schools...six extra years. But he finally found his path, graduated (with honors, even!) and started a career. He just didn't move out. I suppose that he liked my cooking! Rents in the DC area are hideous, too. But suddenly, he moved. Not across town, or the state, or even to the west coast! He moved to a tiny island in the South Pacific. And most of the preparation took place over less than six weeks time. It was frantic and exhausting.

Now, he's a two day journey away, by plane. Sure, we can chat on Facebook. We can exchange emails. We've even managed a FaceTime conversation already. But there's a huge difference. Some good, some not. Obviously there's less laundry. I keep cooking too much, as I adjust to two appetites. The plus there is that I'm taking those leftovers in and avoiding school lunches. But I miss him.

It's strange. The person I probably talked to the most is no longer available. I pick up my phone to share a joke and I can't call him. We had deep conversations about politics, religion, philosophy. We share some viewpoints, disagree on others, but the disagreements are always discussed...not argued.

Adjusting to an empty nest has involved changes that I'm struggling with. More to follow.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bigger changes than expected

This blog is supposed to be about making small changes.but sometimes life has a way of forcing changes whether you're ready or not. So, since my last post, I've been dealing with some major changes! Luckily, none of them is due to health or job loss. But they were sudden and drastic.

First, my husband and I moved. After 23 years in one house, that's drastic enough. Luckily our son was able to stay in our current place for a little while, and we've been able to move gradually, sorting and discarding the detritus of those 23 years as we downsize. And even more luck, the son of our long time neighbors wants to buy and fix the house up! So no hassles about listing the place and waiting for a buyer.

We're in a small rental now, while we scout the new town for an appropriate place. We want one that is smaller than our old home, with enough yard space for a decent garden. I'm hoping that I never have to move again. We shall see. I am loving the lack of clutter, as we only brought the bare necessities. Every box we bring in is filled only with essentials. Over the last few weeks, we've been traveling back and forth, sorting, donating, throwing away, and generally looking forward to getting back to the calm, uncluttered new place.

As well, I've started to experiment with some of my interests that I had no time or room for in the old place. Making herbal teas and medicinal salves was the first forays into things that I've been wanting to do. Thanks to Mountain Rose Herbs, I've got access to all the things I've had no room or time to grow.