with Lynne and Leslie
Tag Archives: yoga

Leslie’s “Yoga Every Day” Challenge: I can watch “This is Us” during yoga, right?

by SweetMidlife

I may have been watching a beloved fictional man die a heroic death while doing this yoga video. Or not. But probably.

Mondays always seem like a good time to start a challenge or a new thing, at least to me. There are theories for and against this logic, and of every diet or new habit I ever started on a Monday stuck, I’d have a body like Serena Williams, my room would be amazingly clean and I wouldn’t be stepping around shoes flung carelessly in a pile in the middle of the night.

I am still making my bed. Of course, I started that on a Saturday, so who knows?

Anyway, one of the things I have long tried to do in my life is a daily yoga practice. I’m not rich, nor do I have a nanny or an infinite amount of time, so I can’t go to either of the beloved studios within walking distance of my house every day, or even more than once in a blue moon. This is where Gaia.com, an online community chock full of yoga, lifestyle, spiritual and other videos, comes in (and no, this is not a paid post. There is no financial renumeration for what I’m writing, and I pay for my membership like everyone else.

There are offerings from beginner to advanced, and I’d say I’m a semi-advanced beginner. Perhaps not an absolute beginner, as David Bowie might say, but absolutely in the beginner-I-might-need-a-block-and-yes-this-is-as-far-as-I-bend zone. The Gaia people make it easy for us block-users, however, with some series that are geared to put you in the practice of having a practice. My favorite is “Yoga Every Day,” of which there are currently 358 episodes that run just 15-20 minutes. The site selects one of these for me a day, and since I keep forgetting to do it, I haven’t yet had the same one twice. This is a problem I’d like to have, honestly.

So since it’s Monday, and again, that seemed like a good time to do this, I am challenging myself to do one of these videos everyday for the next 30 days. They aren’t long, I can do them from my brand new yoga mat (also, incidentally, made by Gaia, and I bought that with my own cash, too) and they start my day in a good way because they make me do SOMETHING.

This morning’s was titled “Santosha,” the Sanskrit word for contentment, which at this point of great potential change in my life seems really appropriate. For me, it means that I hope that big things are coming for me, but that I am praying for contentment in my current state and appreciation and contentment in whatever those changes are. The teacher is Steph Schwartz, who I like because she has a calm voice and plays the accordion to start the class. It’s cool. I like her words about intent and peace, and know that she probably didn’t mean me to be playing last night’s “This Is Us” On Demand as I did this practice. But my DVR cut off the end and I only have so much time before my kid wakes up, so…Sorry, Steph.

I’m gonna be better. I have 30 days!


I made my bed today. Is my life going to change forever now?

by SweetMidlife

Just call me angel, on a made bed, angel!

Leslie here! I write you today from my hippie mommy grotto, lying on my scarf and twinkle light-strewn bed, which I made about a half hour ago.  You’re probably wondering why I’m making such a big deal out of making my bed, which I am, because it was cool that I did that and I rock. Because I am an adult person who learned the skill of bed-making roughly 40 years ago, one would assume it’s one I’d mastered.

And I have. I’m serious. I just never do it.

But there’s a train of thought, espoused by presumably put-together people like “The Power of Habit” author Charles Duhigg, that it’s worth it to take the time to tuck in my sheets, straighten up the comforter and even add some of these stuffed animals living around here doing nothing but being cute. Not only will it make my whole room look better, but it could be the first steps toward a great day, and even a great life.

Not convinced. But I’m listening.

Anyone who’s ever lived or gone on vacation with me knows that making my bed is not usually part of my morning routine (neither is neatly folding and putting away my clothes, but that’s a whole other situation.) It’s not intentional – I just don’t usually take the time to do it, because I feel super-busy from the moment I get up. I could blame it on being a mom, but I didn’t make my bed when I was childless, either. It’s not that I don’t know that doing so makes your room look prettier, and makes the bed a lot more inviting when you crawl into it at the end of the day.

I just don’t do it.

But this morning, after doing a yoga video and hanging up the clothes that have been looped over the footboard for a week, I changed my sheets that had child-deposited crumbs on them, replacing them with spiffy fresh-out-the-laundry ones, and then actually fluffed the pillows. I even moved the mail off and put it on my desk instead of just chucking it on a chair or something.

Why is this supposed to be important? Duhigg calls making the bed a “keystone habit,” that sets the tone for the rest of the day. He writes that “making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.”

He’s not the only one. According to the Huffington Post, there’s a whole mess of evidence that making the bed is important because it not only gives you a sense of pride (because you’re not a Messy Leslie) but because it sets an intention. I know about intention from yoga, the idea that everything in your life, from your yoga practice to what you eat to how you dress, is done thoughtfully and with purpose. And that makes so much sense – For instance, I am much more likely to stick to my healthy diet if I plan my meals. Ditto for my workouts – saying “I’ll probably fit it in at some point sometime today most likely yeah that’s the ticket” never works for me. I do better when I either do it first thing in the morning or plan some activity where there’s accountability, like meeting my trainer at the gym or walking my son to school with my mom. Even stronger than my messiness is my aversion to letting anyone down.

So this is where making the bed comes in – If I can take the time to do the most basic thing, just putting back together the bed I just got out of, that sets that intention – there’s that word again – to then make sure I do other things that should be habits, like flossing, or putting my shoes back neatly on the rack, or putting my son’s lunch bag on the doorknob so I don’t forget it. And that’s all before I left the house.

I am not expecting my life to change overnight – I’ve been loose-goosey with the organization and such for 46 years, so these bad habits aren’t going to be changed overnight. But the only way to see a change is to start one. Even a little one. Be the change you want to see in the world, they say.

My bed’s that first change. And it’s super pretty, too!


Hair grease, yoga and happy birthdays (plus a giveaway at the end)

by SweetMidlife

Hi!! It’s Lynne! It’s been about a month since Leslie and I have posted on this here blog, first because we kept meaning to get around to it and didn’t, and then because our web host shut down our site for a bit because we were getting too many spam comments! We’ve fixed that, the time and the spam thing, so now we’re back, peeps!

So, there is a bunch of stuff that we want to write about, including an upcoming post about an amazing friend who started a business to take care of other moms (that is coming next week), and a post where Leslie was going to interview me about my theater that does shows for kids, because we have shows coming up this weekend and I really want people to come, and we might still do that. But not now. Because today is about me, and that’s about me too, but it’s about me having me time. Leslie actually just wrote about that, so we Streeter Girls are into that.

My son has school in the morning, so I decided to do something fun for me. There is an yoga studio around the corner from me that I have never been too, because I have talked myself out of it when I could go to the gym I used to attend or just do it at home. But this seemed like the day to let that go. So I had my son dressed and ready for school, and he looked extra cute, because it’s picture day at school. And I put on my yoga-iest outfit, and I grabbed the brush to brush his hair….. and I was greeted with an oil slick. Because he decided to put like a half pound of hair grease on himself as a way to help me out. Yeah.

I can’t even.

So I tried to wash it out without giving him a shower, but that didn’t work, so I gave him a shower and washed his hair, and there was still a 1/4 pound of grease left, and then I dressed him, and then he said he wanted to wear his fire fighter outfit in the pictures, and I was like YES because there is a hat involved, and you wouldn’t see the Eddie Munster of it all in his streaked head, and I scraped out more grease, and brushed it, and then we finally got to school, and they said that the pictures would be taken during chapel so he couldn’t wear the hat then but he looked less Munster-ish and maybe like a small skunk. It’s a’ight.

So then I went to yoga, and I didn’t have a mat or towel and they loaned me one and it was so chill, and I could do a lot of the poses, but not all of them, and that was okay, because it didn’t matter, and I wasn’t self-conscious in a bad way but I just focused on me and my breath and my joy and it was awesome. And I thanked the teacher at the end and I said that it was my first time there and she said “But not your first time at yoga?” and I said that no, I had practiced before, and she said she could tell, and that made me feel nice, even though I often felt like I was doing a new yoga pose called “The Waiting Uncoordinated Person”. But that was all good. Because I felt awesome. And I feel awesome. And there are still 12 hours left in my birthday!

Because I’m HAPPY!!

I often have these expectations for special days like birthdays, and Christmas, and I feel like I only have specified times to breathe and take care of me, and that feels like more pressure, and I measure my good time against some target I can’t even explain or quantify. But starting with last Christmas, I decided to not do that. To just enjoy the day, and the birth of Jesus, and the Chinese food and the friends who are family. And it was wonderful. And that is what I am doing today. No expectations that it has to be the best day. Just doing what I can.

And that makes it the best day.

So if you are still reading this, I would love for you to tell me of a time where you just went with it and took care of yourself, and if that hasn;t happened in awhile, tell me how you would LIKE to do that. Write in the comments below, and I will pick a person to give 2 tickets to my theater’s upcoming family shows in Hanover, MD this Saturday. Cool?


Non-Zen thoughts that went through my head during this morning’s yoga class

by SweetMidlife

Yoga can make you as chill as this sleeping child on a plane. Of course, he was acting afool ten minutes before he passed out from foolishness-related exhaustion. But you feel me.

This is Leslie, and I am a bad yogi, I am more Yogi Bear, Including the picnic baskets.  

Still, I have been doing more and more breathing and moving on mats in tranquil rooms with twisty, Zen people all around me like a multi-generational Pinterest board. And my body, including my problem knees and gnarly runner’s feet, seem to like it. My mind does too – I admit to checking my text messages from my mat, my iPhone hidden under my yoga blanket, when I first started back, because I was a bad person. But that was Two Months Back Leslie. Current Yoga Leslie is better than that. Most of the time. Allegedly.

This morning, during a very chill but challenging Gentle Yoga class, I tried to follow the instructor’s suggestion to being present in the class and to clear my mind of the thoughts I brought into the studio. My mind is old and watches a lot of “Law and Order” when it’s not working full time, paying bills and talking a 3-year-old down from a sleep-deprivation tsunami of nonsense, so it welcomes the clearing. The problem is, I was so chill that it was hard to block the weirdness that flowed in to fill the spaces vacated by “Bob The Builder:” I swear these are actual thoughts I had while doing a seated Warrior 1. I’m sorry.

  • “I wonder what this is under my foot…is that a peppercorn? How did I roll a peppercorn into my yoga mat? Have I been eating risotto over my yoga mat in my sleep?”
  • “Where do they buy their sconces?”
  • “I wonder if anyone here is vegan. I could eat the heck out of some curry right now.”
  • “I must ask what this essential oil she gave us is. Lavender? Maybe. Smells like cookies. Are there lavender cookies? Or does every smell remind me of cookies?”
  • “Seriously. Where can I get some curry? Who should I ask?”
  • “I really should have lotioned my feet more. I got Ashy Yoga Foot.”
  • “These yoga pants are really big. Have I lost weight or can I not properly buy yoga pants?”
  • “Why can’t I get “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” out of my head? That is not remotely what that yoga ambient noise song sounds like.”
  • “She said we didn’t have to use a pillow but I’m not too proud to use a pillow because I ain’t trying to hurt my back trying to look fly in a Gentle yoga class.”
  • “Crap. Did I fall asleep?”
  • “I’ma look for some curry on my walk home.”

Do’s, Don’t’s, and yoga pants: Sometimes you gotta

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me in these parts, as we’ve had visitors, a shared family cough we’ve been passing around like the worst gift you never wanted, and just a lot of stressful stressful siss boom ba. Lynne’s been holding down the fort beautifully, but if you’ve missed me, that’s what I’ve been up to.

And also yoga pants.

I am a 43-year-old former hardcore runner, boot camper and all around gym rat. That iteration of myself came within the last decade, starting in my early 30s. I was never the fastest or fittest chick in the place. But what I lacked in mastery I more than made up for in consistency, until my aging body, which had been warning me to slow down with some aches, pains and strains, finally decided I couldn’t take a hint and just started sputtering. The knees ached. The shoulder ached. The sciatica in the hip developed. (That sounds like something Fred Sanford had, right?)

So I had no choice but to slow way, way down. Somewhere in there I started looking for something active that would help my back, and settled on yoga, something I used to do all the time but gave up because there was only time after a while for the pounding, hard core exercise. Dummy. I went to several classes at the gym I belong to, and then bought a two-week membership at a local warm yoga studio, which was pricey but wonderful.

I decided if I was going to restart my practice, as creaky and blocky as I was, I needed to look the part, which meant going to the local Beall’s outlet and picking up two pairs of yoga pants. These are not Lululemon pants, because they are expensive and the owners of that company don’t apparently want my fat butt in them. These are more like Lololimeade. But they’re roomy where they should be and make my hindparts region look and feel better than it should (because cheese.)

Before I ever bought a pair I had read all sorts of fashion blogs that poo-poo the wearing of yoga pants anywhere outside of a yoga class, because they’re workout gear and everyone knows that wearing them out means you’re lazy. But I’ma tell you what – I am guilty. GUILTY. Because last week, when the young lady that sometimes cleans our house was here, I had to run to the bank, and was wearing said yoga pants around the house. I thought “I could change into gym shorts or something because I’ve not yet showered and don’t want to waste cute clothing on a dirty body, or I could just leave.”

And I left. And the seas did not boil over in a sartorial rage, nor did birds plummet from the skies, not did Tim Gunn jump out the bushes at the Wells Fargo to pants shame me. Maybe I got looks. I dunno. I was just trying to get some money out the bank. I am a somewhat public person where I live so I thought for a minute that I might be seen and judged by someone who knows me. And then I felt the sweet supportive hug of the yoga pants, whispering ‘You are good enough. You look fine. You don’t smell. And no one expects you to be Heidi Klum anyway.”

It’s now Saturday and I write you from the south Florida headquarters of Sweet Midlife LLC. And I am wearing yoga pants (not the same ones. The other ones.) Already I have run errands out of the house, including to get breakfast. And you know what? I don’t care. I would not wear them to work. I would not wear them to dinner. I might wear them on a quick run to Publix (OK, I did that yesterday. But I wore a nice shirt).

I understand rules and appropriateness. I also understand a bunch of people with more money and more assistants than I have (I don’t have an assistant, FYI) in New York ladling out edicts and rules to shame women into watching their every move in fear of breaking some fashion law (and so they’ll buy more stuff.) I’m not having it. I will look great when I need to. But when I’m running around it’s me and the yoga pants.

I might even wear them to yoga.


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