Category Archives: Guest Post

Because I just got taller

I had a biennial physical this week. Everything was great and one vital statistic was better than great: I am a half-inch taller than I used to be.

I attribute it to yoga. A steady yoga practice can put space into one’s spine to counter the compression that comes over time. I began practicing yoga more than 5 years ago and now I’m aiming for 6’2″ before I die, so that’s a lot of yoga (and a lot of years! I’m clever like that).

In honor of this half-inch, I share with you today a guest post by mom and yogini Kim Shand, a yoga teacher who writes about finding the calm within the storm that is parenting. Her grown-up secret? Balasana — the pose of the child.

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Rethink yogaI’ve been a mother for 23 years. My husband and I have raised two children to the point to adulthood, if not complete independence. We navigated pee-wee soccer, teen acne, and way too many prom nights. We survived the transition when they left for college. We endured the roller coaster ride toward degrees. We are now waist deep in the ”kids are back home” adventure.

When your children are babies you feel the excitement and the trepidation of not knowing what’s ahead of you. Having conquered the unknown, I had a perception of myself as an experienced parent. Now, with two 20-somethings in the house full-time, I am once again facing down the ravine of unknown territory. As I enter this new phase of post-parenting parenting, I find myself once again leaning heavily on the lessons of my yoga practice to find the calm within the storm.

Child’s pose is always an option. It used to be that time outs were a useful tool for the children, giving them time to calm down and choose a better course of action. Now they are an appropriate tool for me. ON the mat child’s pose is an opportunity to pull back from the intensity of the practice and check in. OFF the mat, a mental child’s pose steps you back and take a few deep breaths.

My husband and I had taken a long weekend away to reconnect and recharge, leaving our house in the hands of our children who needed to remain on their work schedules. Although I love to travel, I always have a sense of joy in returning home to my own kitchen, my own bed and everything familiar. Walking through the door of our home on a Tuesday afternoon, I fully expected the comfort of the familiar. I was greeted with something I’d never seen before.

yoga child's poseThe kitchen sink was piled with dirty dishes. The smell of rotting food pervaded. The family room had piles of laundry.  For some reason I couldn’t possibly fathom, a soaking wet towel was lying on the wood floor of the kitchen.

It was time for child’s pose.

Maintain a beginner’s (child’s) mind. No matter how long you’ve been practicing, your body is different every time you step onto the mat, and what you need is different. Approaching each yoga pose as though it is your first allows you to stay open to new possibilities without predetermined ideas of what works and what your limits are.

My child’s pose allowed me to call my son at his office and and resist the temptation to launch an assault. I asked what had happened in the house. He explained that there had been a power outage leaving them without electricity for 3 days. They couldn’t run the dishwasher. The ice in the freezer had started to melt, so each morning they put a towel in front of it before leaving for work. They were showering at friends’ houses at night and then changing into work clothes in the family room because it had the most windows and natural light at dawn.

Release your attachment to the outcome: Each time you try a yoga pose you get stronger. Mentally and physically you create change by putting out effort without your ego demanding a specific outcome. It makes no difference if you stick the pose perfectly or struggle and fall. The benefits are always there.

Could my grown children have emptied the ice from the freezer to avoid the flood? Maybe used a bigger towel (or several)? Would I have washed the dishes by hand in the same situation? Was it feasible to neatly fold the clothes they walked out of before putting clean clothes on? It’s all possible.

On the other hand, their effort created a benefit. My vision of an outcome was not their vision. My kids have very distinct personalities all their own, and (hard to believe) not everything about them is a reflection, or indictment, of me. The dishes got washed. The clothes found the laundry room. The wooden floor dried out. Two young adults didn’t end up feeling like they came up short.

Relax with what is: This is simultaneously the most difficult and the most useful single lesson a yoga practice can offer.

Kim Shand is the founder of Rethink Yoga. She travels nationally on a mission to inspire people to take control of their health, how they think, and how they age, through yoga. Kim brings a lighthearted, honest approach that stays relevant to students’ experiences. She motivates her students to find their power, their joy and to be “All In. All the Time.” Follow Kim on Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube.

Guest post: Sheri Shares the Perils of the Penii

It’s a busy summer, and I’m not at the ‘pooter as often as usual. To keep my seat warm in my absence, I bring you some of my favorite guest bloggers on Fridays in July. Maybe you already know them, and maybe you will find someone new to follow, but either way you are in for a treat.

Stepping in today is my longest-lasting friend in my whole life, my sister, Sheri. Sheri coaches people from all walks of life, sometimes with her intuitive skills and sometimes with her business skills. What her clients may not realize is that most of the time she’s using both. She lives on the Western Slope of Colorado with a bunch of pen!ses her husband and three sons.

I have three sons. Having been raised the middle of three girls, I have discovered a lot and have a lot to learn!

James is 17 months older than Bryce, who is 14 minutes older than his twin brother, Ryan. With their births, I had suddenly been immersed in testosterone and all of the “boy” things that go with that. This story accentuates just some of what I have learned along the way. And with James now almost 14 and the twins at 12 ½, I’m sure there will be many more surprises ahead.

Foreshadow #1: Right after the boys were born, we were friends with a couple of other families who had only girls. The joke the boys’ father would say to the other dads was, “With boys you only have one penis to worry about; with girls you have to worry about ALL of them.” We’d all laugh, not knowing what might come.

Foreshadow #2: When the boys were 7 and 8 (hopefully before they had any thoughts of being sexual beings), another father warned us about “the sock.” Apparently he had raised boys and had frequently found “sticky” socks in the boys’ bedrooms. I’ll allow you to fill in the blanks here.

The story
: It was a normal day around our house – our three sons playing outside, running inside, making lots of noise, etc. James was then in 6th grade, almost 13. His twin brothers, Bryce and Ryan, were just finishing 5th grade. James’ best friend was Corey, the neighbor boy who is in his class.

That week, a local pediatrician had visited Bryce and Ryan’s 5th grade class to talk about sexuality. They each came home with a “kit” complete with a sample of deodorant and a pamphlet containing FAQs. In the letters that came home from the school about the presentation, we had to sign a permission slip and it was suggested that we, as parents, use this opportunity to discuss sexuality with our kids, answer any questions, etc.

Each evening, as I put the boys to bed, I’d ask each of them about what happened at school that day, what did you learn, etc. I also used this as a time to open the conversation about the presentation at school about sexuality. Neither of the twins wanted to talk about it and would get giggly and tired. That was the extent of our sex talk at least for that evening.

James had had the same presentation just a year prior, which prompted him and his friend, Corey, to ask questions and tease his brothers about the topics of puberty, male and female gen.italia, ejacu.lations, mens.truation, etc. No wonder they didn’t want to talk about it!

The next day, Bryce reported that James and Corey were telling the other neighborhood kids about what they found in James’ parents’ (me and my husband’s) bedroom…a cond.om! First I was embarrassed and upset that James and Corey were snooping in our room. Is there no privacy? (The answer when you have kids – especially this age – is no!).

Then I knew that we would be talking about sex with the boys – beyond the giggles, being embarrassed or tired. We talked to James and Corey (and also told Corey’s parents) about the boys being in our room, snooping through our stuff, and also about the concept of trust. Later that evening we lined up all three boys. We talked about what happened, what they found (which included the cond.om) and opened up the floor for questions. We got all kinds of questions and had a great discussion about sex.

I was glad that a lot of the “boy” questions were directed to my husband, who did a great job handling this delicately – like an expert. Looking back, I know that this was a great way to start the ongoing conversation about sexuality with our kids. Perhaps it was part of a divine plan…

I walked away feeling like we had done a great job handling this situation…a parental pat on the back. The next day I found an open condom in our front yard (with a torn open wrapper nearby – our brand) and realized that God probably had provided this opportunity and that God also has a great sense of humor!

What did I learn? I keep a much more detailed inventory of our “supply” and the “accouterments” we have in our room. I’ve considered buying a locked cabinet, but I think it might cut down on our spontaneity (what little there is when you have kids). I try to keep the lines of communication open with each of the boys and realize that we have just begun to walk this path. They are still embarrassed when I ask about a special girl or overhear one of them talking about “going out” with someone (they are heading into 7th and 8th grades), but I keep my maternal patience, curiosity and love for them as they are growing into fine young men.

The good news is that so far, I have not found any sticky socks and I think that is a bonus!
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Present Tense

You know things are dire when you are hoping for a root canal. If the antibiotics kick in by tomorrow afternoon (fingers crossed tightly), Tessa might be able to keep the tooth stub for a few more years. The goal is to hold on to it until she’s a dental adult. Please continue to think toothy thoughts for us (and thanks for the ones you’ve already sent).

After my middle sister, Sheri, guest posted for me, I also blackmailed asked politely asked my youngest sister to tell how she became a New Age Republican. Well, that’s half-right. Her Republican part was the same as Sheri’s and mine. But her New Age path was not.

From Tami:

So my sisters both speak of life-altering moments when their chakras expanded, their minds enlightened and their 3rd eyes opened wide. So when was the moment I became “one of those” New Age people? What if there wasn’t one? 

Being present
Several years ago my life and business coach Bill Brakemeier asked attendees what we wanted to get out of his Embracing Your Potential seminar. I thought the other attendees were more evolved than I was because they all said they wanted to “be more present.”
 
Puzzled, I didn’t know that being present was something I should aim for. I thought that some day I would understand and that I, too, would want to learn to be more present.
 
In the time that has passed I’ve learned that being the last-born — along with the lucky benefits of wearing hand-me-downs, living up to my athletic and intelligent older sisters’ reputations, getting to do my own activities only when there was an opening on the already full family calendar, and getting the last 27 seconds in the bathroom before the yellow Chrysler station wagon left the driveway — being the last-born delivered with it the ability to be present.
 
Being present allowed me to love the time I would spend with my son Dominic putting together puzzles. It allowed me to find gratitude in the middle-of-the-night wakings. When my grandparents each died, I didn’t mourn their passing with sadness. I celebrated their liveliness. When my husband Gino was so, so, sick, being present allowed me to make each life-saving decision with clarity and certainty.
 
Yes, presence has been quite a gift.
 
Healing and modern medicine
A gifted massage therapist enabled me to continue my new age normalcy. We called the massage room in her house “God’s Room.”
 
When I broke a finger and the doctor told me I might have to have surgery to reattach my tendon, Suzanne spent night after night after night breaking up scar tissue in my injured finger. When we got the slightest movement out of that finger, she assured me that surgery wasn’t necessary. The doc confirmed her prognosis. This was when I made the jump from “believing” modern medicine wasn’t always the cure-all to “knowing” modern medicine isn’t always the cure-all.
 
Hypnotherapy has helped me manage and alleviate pain. Hypnobirthing helped me bring Dominic into the world, and hypnosis meant the end of chewing tobacco for my husband (an “A-Ticket to Heaven” Catholic). Gino‘s current use of hypnosis is to reconnect his memory to his legs, reintroducing him to the way he used to walk. To neither of us did hypnosis seem at all strange. Among other things, this fell into the category of “won’t hurt, might help.” And indeed, it does.
 
The power within
When Gino and I became Body-for-LIFE Champions, I learned the most about my own power. My Grandma (who died 3 years ago today) had always told me I could do anything that I decided to do. It took 12 weeks to prove it to myself. After I lost 30 pounds, 7% body fat, and 7 dress sizes, I became one of those “before and after” stories that people view in disbelief. At the end of 12 weeks I realized that Grandma was right. This revelation has gotten me through many, many tough situations.
 
Last year when Gino Gino got Guillain-Barre Syndrome was when I most needed to be aware of my inner strength. (It is also when I realized I am still grateful for modern medicine.)
 
Everyday New Ager
I’ve been in the publishing industry for more than 10 years. Deciding what books we could and could not help market, there was always a stack of books on the night-stand. The ones that got read first, and most thoroughly, were on the spectrum of New Age / Self Help. Wine in hand, my business partner Kim and I would enjoy in-depth, after work discussions about the juiciest books.
 
The book industry brought me face-to-face with many New Age notables. I’ve shared a platform with Jay Abraham, Mark Victor Hansen, and Jack Canfield; held the hands of Louise Hay, shared a prayer with Doreen Virtue, and gotten a reading from Monte Farber.
 
Unlike my sisters, I’m not sure I ever experienced that one eye-opening moment. And oddly enough I still find comfort in the same Lutheran church I attended when I was my son’s age. Does it deliver all of the answers to life and the after life? I’m not sure.
 
But is a good place for my son to learn to believe in something bigger than himself, and how to treat others with love? You bet.
 
.So here ends the story of how my inner beliefs were formed. Naw. It was probably the time I drove Lori’s car before I had my license and prayed to each and every GOD ever exalted that I wouldn’t get caught. Yeah. That’s it.

 
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OK, everyone. You can relax now. I’m out of sisters.

Wait a second…what was that about my car???

photo, l-r: Tami, Sheri, me. For a slightly older photo, click here.